Le Monde releases cables on US-Egypt relations, Egyptian military, and Gamal
Le Monde — and as far as I can tell, only Le Monde — has published two articles on the Egyptian military based on Wikileaks cable that have not yet been released, even on the French newspaper's site.
Here is a short summary of key points raised in the cables for those who don't read French, plus some context not in the articles:
- US sees Egyptian military as "in decline" and a difficult ally. "The generals long were our best allies but the situation has changed," a cable from August 2007 notes. This is shortly before the US Congress decides to withhold $100 million in military aid. Nonetheless they remain guarantors of regime stability.
- US sees Egyptian military as unwilling to adopt strategic reforms, instead concentrating on acquisition of hardware. US would like to see the Egyptian military more engaged in regional counter-terrorism operations, but it is refusing to do so.
- Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi is seen as the chief obstacle to US ideas for strategic reform, but is trusted by Mubarak. "Since his nomination, the extent of tactical and operational preparedness has been degraded. But Mubarak has confidence in him and he could still remain in place for years."
- Army is major economic player with interests in water, olive oil, cement, construction, hotels and gas stations, as well as a major land owner in the Nile Delta in on the Red Sea coast. (Sept. 2008)
- Obama Deputy Defense Sec Colin Khal met with three retired generals with high-level positions in the Egyptian Ministry of Defense — Mohamed Al-Assar, Ahmed Moataz and Fouad Arafa — on 31 January 2010. They told him that US military aid to Egypt was part of the Camp David accords and therefore not up for negotiation, and that the accords had been breached by allowing the ratio between military aid to Israel and military aid to Egypt to go from the agreed 3:2 to 5:2. US military aid is considered "untouchable". (This is probably still reaction to the 2007-2008 attempts to cut military aid by Congress, which were blocked by Condoleeza Rice.)
- In May 2007, then US Ambassador in Egypt Francis Ricciardone calls Egypt a "dictatorship" (Le Monde says he is the only one who dares do so) and says that the NDP is ready to run a campaign that would install Gamal Mubarak as president.
- Ricciardone says that Omar Suleiman had hopes "until a few years ago" of being nominated vice-president. He also adds that Suleiman "hates the idea of Gamal being president."
- Ricciardone writes that, in the case of Mubarak's death before he can install Gamal, a military coup is possible.
- Gamal promised US the end of the Emergency Law in 2006 (it is still ongoing.) It's also casually mentioned that Egyptian security services employ 1.4 million people.
- Gamal told US that opening presidential elections to a wider range of candidates (presumably by making independent candidacies easier) would be "a recipe for chaos."
Note that I am re-translating from the French, and that I have not seen the complete cables — let me know if you have seen them online elsewhere.
Update: The relevant cables are now out on Wikileaks' site.
- Briefing for Petraeus on Egyptian military. http//arb.st/h01a4S
- Notes on meeting with senior Egyptian generals, state of military http//arb.st/hbm29Z
- Scobey briefs Ross on Egypt's Iran policy. http//arb.st/gFZkAY
- Reflections on the Egyptian military. http//arb.st/gkBV9G
- On Mubarak's 2004 back surgery. http//arb.st/eWIJZG
- A cable comparison Sadat and Mubarak, from Sept 07. http//arb.st/ifZvtl
- Gamal advisor complains to US about econ. and mil. aid http//arb.st/eFNNj4
- 2006 take by Ricciardone on Gamal's chances. http//arb.st/dXui8f
- Gamal on the 2005 pres. and parl. elections. http//arb.st/hrZYo0