Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mubarak suggests that the best solution for Iraq is a "fair dictator" that comes to power via a coup

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001067 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/20/2018 
Classified by DCM Stuart Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary: Codel Baird discussed Egyptian and regional 
issues with Egypt's political and business leaders on the 
margins of the May 18 - 20 World Economic Forum (WEF) in 
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.  President Mubarak, Intelligence 
Chief Omar Soliman, and presidential son Gamal Mubarak 
focused on the need for deep engagement to resolve the 
Israeli/Palestinian crisis and to hinder Iran's growing 
influence in the region.  On Iraq, Mubarak said "you cannot 
leave" but advised strengthening the military and allowing a 
"fair" dictator to come to power via a coup.  "Forget 
democracy," he opined, "the Iraqis are too tough by nature." 
 On the economic side, Egypt's business leaders regretted the 
lack of a U.S.-Egypt free trade agreement and asked the U.S. 
to push Egypt harder on good governance and democratic 
reform.  Codel Baird consisted of Representatives Brian Baird 
(D-WA), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jeff 
Fortenberry (R-NE), and Jim Cooper (D-TN); Representative 
Jane Harman (D-CA) joined the codel briefly on May 18.  End 
President Mubarak 
2. (C) The codel began by thanking Mubarak for his positive 
leadership on regional issues.  Mubarak said that he had 
advised Vice President Cheney and other U.S. officials not to 
invade Iraq and that "no one listened," but that now "it 
would be a mistake" to withdraw forces immediately because it 
would further open the door for Iran.  Asked about U.S.-Egypt 
relations, Mubarak confirmed that "we have very good 
relations with the U.S.," but "your administration is not 
well-informed."  However, "I am patient by nature," he said, 
in apparent reference to U.S. criticisms over human rights 
and democratization.   Congressman Shays encouraged Mubarak 
to engage with Iraq as much as possible and asked if Egypt 
would send an ambassador, to which Mubarak replied "no, I 
cannot do it.  When there is stability I am willing, but I 
cannot force civilians to go." 
3. (C) Asked about Egypt's reaction if Iran developed nuclear 
weapons capability, Mubarak said that none will accept a 
nuclear Iran, "we are all terrified."  Mubarak said that when 
he spoke with former Iranian President Khatami he told him to 
tell current President Ahmedinejad "not to provoke the 
Americans" on the nuclear issue so that the U.S. is not 
forced to strike.  Mubarak said that Egypt might be forced to 
begin its own nuclear weapons program if Iran succeeds in 
those efforts. 
4. (C) Asked about whether the U.S. should set a timeline for 
withdrawal from Iraq, Mubarak said "you cannot leave" because 
"you would leave Iran in control."  Mubarak explained his 
recipe for a way forward: "strengthen the armed forces, relax 
your hold, and then you will have a coup.  Then we will have 
a dictator, but a fair one.  Forget democracy, the Iraqis are 
by their nature too tough." 
Omar Soliman 
5. (C) Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS) chief 
Omar Soliman gave the codel an expansive evaluation of the 
key issues in the region.  He focused on Iran's growing 
influence in Iraq, with Hamas, with Hizballah in Lebanon, and 
with Shia communities in the Gulf.  To solve regional 
problems Egypt is working on three tracks - Palestine, 
Lebanon, and Iraq. 
6. (C) Egypt hopes to achieve something soon on the 
Palestinian track, he said, but neither side is ready to stop 
the vicious circle of violence, although most on both sides 
want "quiet."  Soliman's job now, he said, is to bridge the 
gaps on specific issues like border crossings, prisoner 
exchange, and bringing Hamas and the PA back together.  He 
hoped to see an agreement on borders for a Palestinian state 
by the end of 2008, and noted that as a practical matter very 
few Palestinian refugees would seek right of return. 
7. (C) On Lebanon, speaking a week before the Doha agreement 
was penned, Soliman said the three problems are Syria's large 
influence, lack of power of the majority over militia forces, 
and weak Arab support for the government.  Syria is seeking a 
deal with Israel and the U.S. over returning the Golan and 
canceling the Hariri tribunal to lessen its meddling and 
Lebanon needs a strong, nationalist army.  Soliman bemoaned 
that the Arab states have too poor relations with Syria to 
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push them effectively. 
8. (C) On Iraq, Egypt meets regularly with Jordan, Saudi 
Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, and Turkey to discuss reducing Iranian 
influence.  The GOI must understand it has support from the 
Arabs and the U.S., not just Iran, he said.  Soliman 
advocated making Iran suffer economically to be "too busy 
with its people" to make problems in Iraq.  Reducing Iranian 
influence will help the Iraqi government become one, and not 
a competition between Sunni and Shi'a. he said. 
9. (C) Asked about the consequences of any U.S. strike on 
Iranian nuclear capabilities, Soliman said such an attack 
would not destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities and would only 
unite Iranians with their leadership and against the U.S.  He 
repeated the need to make Iran "busy with its people" by 
effective sanctions, citing the successful example of Libya. 
Asked about Sudan, he said that Egypt is still working to 
make north-south unity attractive, and to encourage talks 
between the GOS and rebels and between Bashir and Deby. 
10. (C) Asked what it means when Arabs say that the U.S. 
"should listen to us," Soliman gave the example that 
President Mubarak warned Vice President Cheney about the 
consequences of the U.S. invading Iraq.  Additionally, "your 
unilateral positions on economic aid are difficult." 
However, Soliman emphasized that Egypt is keen to continue to 
have a "very close" relationship with the U.S. 
Gamal Mubarak 
11. (C) Gamal opined that the "battle lines are clearer for 
Egypt than ever before" on regional issues.  The region "will 
not realize its full potential as long as geopolitical 
problems continue," he said.  With the Israeli/Palestinian 
problem in particular, "we are racing against time."  Gamal 
advocated close engagement by the U.S., Egypt, and other 
countries (NFI) in order to make practical improvements in 
the every day lives of Palestinians and develop a framework 
for a final deal, with borders as the key issue.  Other 
regional issues such as Iran and Lebanon are "much more 
complicated," he said; "the picture is not that rosy." 
12. (C) Representative Baird raised the issue of USAID 
efforts to assist conservation of Red Sea reefs, which Gamal 
agreed was an important issue.  Representative Shays asked 
Gamal's opinion of Syria President Bashar Al Assad, to which 
Gamal replied that "he understands the world better than his 
father," but that he is worried that opening up politically 
or economically could result in a loss of control. 
13. (C) Representative Harman asked for Egypt to do more to 
fight smuggling to Gaza through tunnels, perhaps by setting 
up roadblocks a few miles before the border to intercept 
contraband.  Gamal said that the border is a "shared concern" 
and Egypt is doing what it can to address smuggling. 
14. (C) Representative Fortenberry asked about how to counter 
a developing Iranian nuclear program.  Egypt and Saudi 
Arabia, as well as Jordan, are the "heavyweights" that can 
counter Iran, Gamal said, but he advocated movement on the 
Israeli/Palestinian track to remove a prime issue that Iran 
can use as a pretext. 
American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt 
15. (SBU) The AmCham group led by President Omar Mohanna 
(Suez Cement) lamented that the lack of a U.S.-Egypt FTA 
continues to push Egypt's trade towards Europe and away from 
the U.S.  They praised the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) 
program and advocated expanding it to upper Egypt, though 
they acknowledged that increasing Egyptian textile exports to 
the U.S. would be a sensitive issue in the U.S. textile 
lobby.  Karim Ramadan (Microsoft) praised the historic role 
of USAID in Egypt and asked that it continue with a focus on 
education and health, areas in particular need of development 
in Egypt. 
Source: 08Cairo167
الترجمة العربية: بقلم نوارة نجم

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