A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Most Talked About Man in Egypt

Who has his own Twitter hashtag, several Facebook pages dedicated to him, and is the subject of intense discussion in the social media today? Why, it's the guy behind ‘Omar Suleiman.

In several of Suleiman's last TV appearances, including the brief one announcing Mubarak's resignation, an unidentified man appears behind the Egyptian Vice President. He has the very serious look of a bodyguard or security man, but if so, why did he appear on camera? In the picture at left, it's hard to avoid wondering if he's holding a gun at Suleiman's back or otherwise making sure he says what he's supposed to, after Mubarak's Thursday night fakeout. For the past day or so there's been a lot of speculation and a lot of jokes in circulation ("State TV announces there was no one behind ‘Omar Suleiman").

All the jokes aside, it turns out he's Staff Lt. Col. Hussein Sharif, commander of something called Group 64 of the Egyptian Special Forces. What he was doing there is still unclear. Bodyguard or enforcer?

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