15 February 2011

NAS ANTHRAX Report Released at 1100 ET...Standby for More..


HD/23; US/99; US/1; ATTN: HST/2

[ed.note: Hat tip to US/99 and HD/23. Suhkran and Sookria…LIMITED DISS until 1100 ET.]

Subject: EMBARGOED: NAS Anthrax report

Per your request, here are the news release and copy of the report, Review of the Scientific Approaches Used During the FBI’s Investigation of the 2001 Anthrax Letters.  The report and news release are embargoed until today, Feb. 15 at 11 a.m.  As a reminder, members of the committee that wrote the report will discuss the report’s findings and recommendations and take reporters’ questions at a one-hour press conference and public briefing today starting at 11 a.m. ET. at the Marian Koshland Science Museum of the National Academy of Sciences,  525 E St., N.W., Washington, D.C. (Entrance is at corner of 6th and E) Those who cannot attend may watch a live video webcast and submit questions via e-mail at hhtp://www.national-academies.org.  


14 February 2011

HAWALA-Follow the Money: Why Obama shouldn't increase democracy aid to Egypt

                Intelligence - OPEN SOURCE
NationalSecurityWATCH.org; US/1

Posted By Anne Mariel Peters

Foreign Policy -

 In short, the Egyptian government made it almost impossible for democracy organizations to do their work. >

One of the most enduring critiques of the Obama administration's record on democracy promotion in the Middle East has been cuts in democracy and governance funding to Egypt.   Well before the 30-year rule of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ended last Friday, Washington-based democracy groups had embarked on a high-profile public relations campaign to protest cuts to democracy and governance programs aimed at civil society, party-building, and elections monitoring.  The upheaval in Egypt provided an opening for a renewed push. The bipartisan "Working Group on Egypt," which counts Washington's top democracy promotion denizens amongst its members, called for President Obama to suspend all economic and military aid, but now such democracy advocates will likely renew their calls for increases in democracy and governance funding to Egypt. How could Obama reduce this funding now just as Egypt has witnessed a long-awaited "political opening"? 

The U.S. should promote democracy in Egypt, and the Obama administration has shown itself to be receptive to the idea. Yet increasing democracy and governance funding (or cutting aid altogether) is not the way to do it. The great irony of democracy and governance programs is that they will only be followed by desired democratic outcomes precisely where they are not needed: in environments where society already faces positive incentives to collectively organize as an opposition movement. If nothing else, the past three weeks demonstrate that Egyptians do not need foreign money, consultants, or democracy and governance programs to collectively organize and exert their demands; they simply needed a pooled set of grievances, digital and print media for communication purposes, and a big push from the "Tunisia effect." Egyptian society is already mobilized, and the degree to which it can organize itself is a function of how well it can manage to coordinate a wide variety of interests. This is not a matter of writing party platforms, distributing newsletters, or observing Western parliaments, but Egyptians' ability to negotiate among themselves. And if the generals decide to hold on to power, there is little that democracy and governance funding can do.
U.S. aid to Egypt has long been linked to its peace treaty with Israel. Following the 1973 October War, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat moved away from the Soviet Union, opened Egypt to Western markets, and in 1979 signed a peace treaty with Israeli President Menachem Begin. In 1975, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) reopened its office in Cairo and, for the first decade in its existence, spent funds equivalent to between 7 and 14 percent of Egypt's annual GDP on infrastructure, a Commodity Import Program (CIP), and Public Law 480 food aid; all sans the last came to be financed by Economic Support Funds (ESF) linked to the Middle East peace process. In 1979, Egypt began receiving military aid to a tune of about $1.3 billion per year, most of which was used to purchase American manufactured war material and send Egyptian officers to the U.S. for training. 

The Egyptian leadership has always strongly resisted any American initiatives that would manipulate the aid package to interfere in Egypt's internal affairs or leverage favorable foreign policies. Thirty-two years later, military aid to Egypt remains largely unchanged in volume or composition-- the major exception being the conversion of loans to grants in the mid-1980s. This stability is a product of the Egyptian military's strategic importance, the symbolic value of maintaining the aid's peg to that of Israel, the power of key stakeholders in the U.S. defense establishment, and the relatively small number of groups involved in annual negotiations. 

By contrast, the economic aid program has undergone numerous renovations in size and substance. Until 2004, most of these efforts were focused on economic reform. The CIP, cash transfer programs, and capacity-building projects for business associations incurred the ire of Egyptian public sector officials, who would have preferred to have no strings attached. However, these programs also found support in a growing private sector that was organized around the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt and which ascended to political power under the recently-dismissed Ahmed Nazif government.  By 2004, Egypt's ESF funds had been reduced by about 25 percent from their 1999 levels, the product of a "glidepath" that was informally negotiated after Israel announced that it would no longer require economic aid. 

This shifted when the George W. Bush administration seized upon Egypt as a crucial case for its democracy promotion agenda. In the Department of State, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Liz Cheney and her successor, Scott Carpenter, adopted a twofold approach that focused on financial sector reform and revamping existing democracy and governance programs which, as one of my contacts complained, "included dredging the Nile in Alexandria and setting up an NGO center as an umbrella for the Ministry of Social Cooperation where only registered NGOs could benefit." Suggestions for financial sector reform were received well by the Nazif government, and in 2002, Cheney established the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA), which would dispense small grants oriented toward a range of political, economic, and social reform "pillars." Democracy and governance funding began to steadily increase, particularly for civil society groups. 

It was 2005, however, that was a crucial turning point. In June, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a speech at the American University in Cairo, "For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people." In the 2005 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) proposed a successful amendment stating, "That with respect to the provision of assistance for Egypt for democracy and governance activities, the organizations implementing such assistance and the specific nature of that assistance shall not be subject to the prior approval by the Government of Egypt." With this new mandate, the administration secured funds to establish a "direct grants" program for USAID-Egypt, which would provide aid directly to civil society organizations regardless of whether they were registered and approved as NGOs by the Ministry of Social Affairs. The year ended with the imprisonment of former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, which allegedly led the White House to pull the plug on negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement. 

The direct grants program allowed USAID to fund groups that had previously been blacklisted because they were either registered "civil corporations" or unregistered NGOs -- including Washington-based democracy giants like Freedom House, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and the International Republic Institute (IRI). Freedom House, which initiated its work in Egypt in 2006, targeted the "next generation" of activist youth with training programs, international exchanges, and networking opportunities with U.S. and overseas policymakers; most participants were involved in Egyptian human rights organizations, though some bloggers also participated. Freedom House also provided small grants for capacity-building activities in civil society organizations. NDI, which until then had received all of its Egypt funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, established an Egypt Office in 2005. Unlike Freedom House, NDI focused primarily on elections monitoring and capacity-building for political parties. By holding small meetings with foreign consultants, NDI worked with the National Democratic, Wafd, Democratic Front, Reform and Development, and new and old Al-Ghad parties on crafting party messages, writing newsletters, formulating campaign strategies, and producing training manuals for campaign organizers. It also trained hundreds of elections observers using a "train the trainer" method. IRI also focused on political parties, though after its Cairo chief gave an interview critical of the Egyptian government, the organization opted to fly participants to large, out-of-country meetings and study missions. 

In 2008, democracy and governance funding for Egypt amounted to about $55 million, but by 2009 the moment for this funding seemed to be drawing to an end. For fiscal year 2009, the outgoing Bush administration unilaterally reduced its economic aid request for Egypt from $415 to $200 million (plus a $50 million supplemental), while leaving its democracy and governance request at around $50 million. Yet congressmen favoring strategic interests, such as Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), successfully supported a cap of $20 million on democracy and governance funds in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act. This was the first time that Congress had acted to limit democracy and governance expenditures in a specific country by imposing an explicit maximum.  

The new Obama administration then terminated USAID's direct grants program -- though MEPI and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) could continue to finance unregistered NGOs. Democracy activists pointed out that this decision conflicted with the Brownback Amendment, which was couched in Egypt-specific terms until 2008 and then made global in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus. For fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration's request for Egypt aid upheld Bush's unilateral reduction requesting only $250 million in economic aid for Egypt, and in the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act Congress approved a provision that set a minimum of $25 million for democracy and governance funding -- still only half the amount spent between fiscal year 2006 and fiscal year 2008 -- and made available $50 million for the establishment of an endowment, deemed "The Mubarak Trust Fund" by democracy activists. For fiscal year 2011, the administration again requested $250 million in ESF, $25 million of which would be used for democracy and governance programs; the direct grants program has not yet been revived. 

Most of the debate around these programs has focused on the dollar amounts and the terms of delivery. But a more useful debate might focus on the fundamental question of whether they work.  And here, the evidence is thin.  Between 2005 and 2009, when democracy and governance funding was at its peak, in the widely-used Freedom House ratings Egypt retained a steady "6" in Political Rights and a "5" on Civil Liberties, placing it squarely in the "Not Free" category. On media freedom, between 2005 and 2008 Egypt vacillated between Partially Free and Not Free. If anything, the 2005-2009 period saw greater crackdowns -- with the detention of journalists, revelations of police brutality, the imprisonment of Ayman Nour, and amendments to the constitution that expanded the use of military courts, restricted political party activity, and prohibited independent candidates for president. 

Of course, it may be unreasonable to expect that the micro-level work of democracy organizations would affect the macro-level results captured by Freedom House scores. Most staff that I have spoken with emphasize that their work is a "drop in the pond." One alternative, then, is the technique employed in a 2009 USAID audit of democracy and governance programs in Egypt, which evaluates these projects based on a mix of 1.) actual versus projected policy inputs, such as the number of public policy advocacy campaigns supported by the U.S. government; and 2.) project-specific impacts, such as percentage of U.S.-assisted courts with better case management. 

Unfortunately, metrics for project impact are difficult to identify, and all but one of the audit's indicators for civil society projects are measured purely in terms of inputs, such as the number of journalists trained or number of media outlets receiving training. This may be why the report concludes that civil society projects were among the most effective, despite the overall dismal finding that democracy and governance programs only achieved 52 percent of planned results. 

Unlike capacity-building programs, elections monitoring activities might also be considered useful in upholding standards of free and fair elections, or else provoking the condemnation of the international community. For instance, when President Mubarak declared that the country would hold free and fair elections, democracy groups trained an army of whistleblowers that they hoped would discourage the use of undemocratic methods to ensure the re-election of the ruling party. Furthermore, free and fair elections do not simply refer to process, but are linked to a range of upstream activities with internationally-recognized standards: equal access to the media, barriers to participation, and voter registration drives. However, this rationale presumes that the prospect of international condemnation can deter the authoritarian leader from the short-term allure of electoral manipulation and repression. Based on the hocus-pocus surrounding the 2005 and 2010 elections, as well as Mubarak's last-ditch effort to cling to his position -- this leader was not easily deterred. 

There is also the possibility that the best effects of democracy and governance projects are not a function of their intended outcomes. Many democracy organizations claim to be under no false pretenses that democracy and governance funding will bring about democracy in Egypt, but argue that good organizations will go without funding if U.S. aid is cut. Some activists emphasize that the mere presence of such funding, regardless of its effectiveness, sends an important signal to the Egyptian government and civil society. To withdraw such funding would be "part of an overall picture that is harmful." Yet others emphasize the normative commitment of the United States to promote democracy "against all odds" -- a moral imperative unrelated to actual developments in Egypt.

Returning to the big picture, the most fundamental problem with traditional democracy and governance programs is that they do nothing to change underlying power structures and regime dynamics. In their primary focus on elections monitoring, party-building, and grassroots civil society activism, these programs are supposed to remedy two important obstacles to democracy: 1.) the disorganization, resource depravity, and political passiveness of non-regime collectives; and 2.) the local population's disaffected attitude toward the democratic process. Yet these "obstacles" are rational responses of society to the real problem: authoritarian machinations, repression, and electoral manipulation. Democracy and governance programs attempt to treat the symptoms rather than the disease, and fail on both accounts...

13 February 2011

Thoth's Pharoah UpDATE, De Facto Mil-RULE becomes De JURE?

  Intelligence - OPEN SOURCE
US/121; RT/66; US/[redacted]; US/1MEMBER CONTRIBUTIONS       

 [ed.note: The Pharoahs’ Game of Vanishing Musical Chairs begins yet again, in this, the year of Thoth, and the beginning of the Egyptians’ FIFTH millenium (although, technically, Thoth, the Egyptian Scribe of the Gods, dates only to the Middle Kingdom, and it is only in it’s FOURTH millenium, but who’s countinig anyway…Back in the day, Prince and Priest were one-in-the-same, making for less papyrus-work all around. Eventually, papyrus scribing gave way to paper work, and before too long the Egytian magic pyrimid escalator was headed in the worn direction—down.

By the time the Greeks, the Romans and Napolean Bonaparte got finished with the Pharoahs’ choosen people, all they were left with was a large dollop of foppish, cocktail-sipping British expats and Gamal Adul Nasser, who gave the boot to the last of Egypt’s Pharoahs, launched the Suez Canal crisis and gave rise and credence to the Moslem Brotherhood. 

Five thousand years down the down escalator...

The seeming smiley-faced Islamic coat of arms is at the center of the Eagle of Saladin (a Kurd, actually) is from the Egyptian Revolution Flag, flown high from 1952 to  1958, precisely the time period of those disastrous events listed above.

That Egyptian Revolution was the last military takeover until the cash-hungry Defense Minster named Mubarak took over.

But it was not the Kurdish model they chose to follow, but rather that of the newly enterprising Pakistanis, as they came to be called after the Partition of 1947. There are literally over tens thousand  ‘generals’ an ex-generals to this day in Pakistani, and perhaps as much as 60+% of Pakistan's economy is controlled by the Pakistani Armed Forces PENSION FUNDS, as compared to the estimates of Egyptian Army portion of their economy of around 40%. 

As the very knowledgeable and connected Member US/[redacted] points out below, with a rising cresendo of echoes other analysts, including Member Judy Miller's report from the annual terrorism conference in Israel:

(Apparently apocryphal words never issued forth from the famous “DEEPGarageTHROAT,” as Washington’s reigning Thothite, Bob Woodward, has conceded and at least one claimant to that mantle-handle has also confirmed.

But sage advise, nonetheless…US/1]

I wrote this before M officially resigned [on a related, yet separate issue]. However, it notes some things that the lame brained clowns in the media do not know; the Army staged a coup, because M's son was changing the terms of the economic deal toward a real free and open economy. Oops, there goes 40% ownership in the country's economy that is the military's[…]

18 months ago, some businessmen worked to put together a group based on social account communications to push for M getting out and his son and the "reformers" getting in; they were somewhat co-opted by (1) the Army and (2)the western media and Al Jazeera--the western media because they saw away to be "on the right side of history", and Al Jazeera to get rid of M whom they disliked, and "stick it to the Jews--a radical Egypt would either force concessions out of Israel or there might be war, certainly a proxy war through Gaza and Hamas.

The Army had to put a stop to this. A lot of this was orchestrated to allow M to leave and have the crowds vent their anger at M but not the VP or the Army. Can these folks ride the tiger to a future they want? This is the story. The US media want the crazies to take over because [it's good for business in a flailing and failing industry…].[Member US/(redacted)]

February 12, 111 Saturday 16 AdarI 3871 22:20 IST
Mubarak's defiance surprised US and threatened 'chaos'

02 Feb. 2011

WASHINGTON - After a week of crossed signals and strained conversations, the Obama administration finally had good news: Late Wednesday, CIA and Pentagon officials learned of the Egyptian military's plan to relieve Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of his powers immediately and end the unrest that had convulsed the country for more than two weeks.

The scheme would unfold Thursday, with the only uncertainty being Mubarak's fate. "There were two scenarios: He would either leave office, or he would transfer power," said a US government official who was briefed on the plan. "These were not speculative scenarios. There was solid information" and a carefully crafted script.

But the Egyptian president decided at the last minute to change the ending.

"Mubarak called an audible," the official said.

The Egyptian president startled the Obama administration and many of his aides with an address in which he appeared determined to cling to office. The speech surprised and angered the White House, enraged Cairo's legions of protesters and pushed the country closer to chaos, current and former US government officials said in interviews recounting the events of the past 48 hours.

In the end, Mubarak's efforts only ensured a hasty and ignominious departure, the officials said. Within hours of the speech, Egyptian army officials confronted the discredited president with an ultimatum: Step down voluntarily or be forced out.

Mubarak's defiant speech - described by some US officials as bordering on delusional - was a final, wild plot twist in a saga that had played out in Egypt and Washington over the past 18 days. The likelihood of Mubarak's departure alternately rose and dipped as US military officers and diplomats quietly worked with their Egyptian counterparts in a search for peaceful resolution to the country's worst unrest in six decades.

By midweek, confronted with growing throngs in Cairo, labor strikes and deteriorating economic conditions, top military and civilian leaders reached an apparent agreement with Mubarak on some form of power transfer. The details of the plan - and how it unraveled Thursday - were described in interviews with six former and current US government officials who were knowledgeable about the details. Most of the sources insisted on anonymity in agreeing to talk about the administration's internal policy discussions and diplomatic exchanges with Egyptian officials.

Communication between top US and Egyptian officials had become increasingly sporadic early this week as Mubarak deputies complained publicly about US interference in Cairo's affairs. But then US intelligence and military officials began to learn details of the plan by Egyptian military leaders - something between a negotiated exit and a soft coup d’état - to relieve Mubarak of most, if not all, of his powers.

The plan went into effect Thursday with announcements in Cairo to pro-democracy demonstrators that their key demands were about to be met. A rare meeting was convened of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, and afterward a military spokesman released a communique that seemed to assert the army's control over the government. The statement stressed "the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation."

The statement prompted cheers among the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square anticipating an announcement of Mubarak's departure.

Hours later in Washington, CIA Director Leon Panetta made a scheduled appearance before the House Intelligence Committee. Asked about Egypt, he cited reports suggesting a "strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening." The CIA retreated from the assertion, saying the director was referring to news reports, but the agency's classified cables continued to point to a likely transfer of power in Egypt that day, according to two US officials familiar with the intelligence.

US President Barack Obama was en route to Marquette, Mich., for an event on wireless technology. Just before 2 p.m. Washington time, he took to the stage at Northern Michigan University to signal his approval for a transfer of power in Egypt that appeared to be only minutes away. "We are witnessing history unfold," an ebullient Obama said.

His words hinting of historic changes under way in Egypt were meant to express optimism without forecasting when Mubarak might surrender his powers, an administration official said. But the speech added to the growing anticipation about a speech by the Egyptian president set to take place two hours later.

A solemn-looking Mubarak appeared on Egypt's state television just as Obama was returning to Washington. The US president and his aides watched with increasing dismay as Mubarak criticized Western interference and ticked off a list of promises for the coming months. Although he referred vaguely to a decision to transfer "some of the power" to his newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, his tone was defiant and he offered no hint of stepping down.

US officials and Middle East experts who analyzed the speech said it was a case of extraordinary miscalculation on Mubarak's part. "It was a public relations disaster," said Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Egypt. The speech provoked roars of outrage from Tahrir Square as thousands of demonstrators began to march on the presidential palace and state TV headquarters, many of them shouting, "Leave, leave."

"Mubarak went off script," said said Scott Carpenter, a Middle East expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "But it wasn't what he said so much as it was the way he said it. He essentially agreed to say everything the army wanted him to say, but he couldn't say it the way people expected him to."

After landing in Washington, Obama assembled his national security team in the Oval Office to discuss the response. He sat down afterward to pen a first draft of his public response, choosing language that more clearly than ever put the White House on the side of the demonstrators. The final version began with this sentence: "The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient."

"It unmistakably aligned us with the aspirations of the people in Tahrir Square," said a senior administration official involved in the Oval Office meeting.

It was a crucial shift for a White House that had been the scene of sometimes heated exchanges between aides who pressed for a strong message of support for democratic change in Egypt and others who worried that doing so could disrupt the traditional government-to-government relationship with a key ally.

There was a discernible change in Cairo, as well. Within hours of Mubarak's speech, "support for Mubarak from the8 military dropped precipitously," said a US government official who closely tracked the events.

"The military had been willing - with the right tone in the speech - to wait and see how it played out," the official said. "They didn't like what they saw."

Even Suleiman, Mubarak's longtime intelligence chief, joined ranks with military leaders late Thursday . "He had been trying to walk a fine line between retaining support for Mubarak while trying to infuse common sense into the equation," the US official said. "By the end of the day, it was clear the situation was no longer tenable."

Mubarak was told Friday that he must step down, and within hours, he was on his way to the Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh. It was Suleiman who announced the change in leadership. At 11 a.m. Cairo time, the vice president stood before a television camera to formally declare the end of three decades of Mubarak rule.

"[Egyptian] President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country," Suleiman said. "May God help everybody."

Herzliya Diary III

by Judith Miller
Tablet Magazine
February 11, 2011
President Hosni Mubarak had not yet stepped down late Thursday night when Israel's premier national security gathering in Herzliya ended its 11th annual meetings on Israel's and the region's security. But the now departed president's muddled speech late Thursday night in which he appeared to step aside without formally stepping down was an apt coda to Israel's premier national security gathering in Herzliya this week.
The four days of meetings were an exercise in gloom, as the complexity and enormity of the threats confronting Israel became increasingly evident. Egypt's cyber-revolution—no matter how it turned out, several analysts suggested—could clearly threaten Israel's three-decade-old peace with Egypt. Rather than a quasi-credible Jeffersonian democracy, warned Shlomo Avineri, a former director general of the foreign affairs ministry now teaching at Hebrew University, history taught us that a military dictatorship, or chaos, or a government dominated by the anti-Israeli Muslim Brotherhood, or a "combination" thereof were far more likely alternatives.
Plus, whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood eventually came to power as a result of Egypt's uncertain political transition, several experts argued, any more "democratic" Egyptian government that more closely reflected the views of Egyptians would inevitably be much less friendly toward the Jewish state. It would also most probably be more supportive of Hamas and of Palestinian aspirations in general, less sympathetic toward the American-brokered peace process, and perhaps more reticent about challenging Iran.
While Egypt was the Arab state of most immediate concern, the gathering saw events in Tahrir Square as but a reflection of what analysts here spoke of as an underlying "virus"—the potentially destabilizing yearning for greater freedom in the Arab world, respect for human rights, and tolerance of dissenting views and ethnicities. Only at a gathering of proudly hard-nosed defense experts would such political goals be likened to a dreaded disease.
One of the less gloomy assessments involved Iran, the topic that had deeply depressed and divided last year's gathering. Recent American and Israeli intelligence assessments were suggesting that a combination of tougher sanctions and covert action—the assassination of Iranian scientists; the sabotaging of sophisticated parts and equipment; and Stuxnet, the "virus" that most Herzliya participants seemed to love and for which they privately claimed some pride of ownership—had delayed Iran's nuclear weapons ambition by two to four years. Dov Zakheim, a former American under-secretary of Defense, told the Jerusalem Post and conference participants that Israel did not have to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program. Thanks to its deployment of the Arrow 2 ballistic missile defense system, which relies on U.S. Navy Aegis missile defense ships in the Mediterranean, he said, there was now "less than a one percent chance that an Iranian missile would get through these defenses."
The newly bolstered confidence, however, did not prompt Israelis to stop blaming the Obama Administration for having "wasted" a year, as one Israeli defense analyst put it, by trying to engage and coax Tehran into suspending or stopping its enrichment program and other activities consistent with weapons-making efforts.
The experts also continued blasting the Obama Administration for pressuring Israel to return to the peace table by insisting that Netanyahu freeze all settlement expansion activity, a demand that had forced the Palestinian Authority to adopt the same position.
While several Israelis seemed, if not content, at least willing to tolerate the lack of progress toward renewing peace talks with the Palestinians and Israel's other foes—the status quo was the "worst alternative, except for all the others," asserted Martin Kramer, of the Shalem Center—others warned that the perpetuation of the status quo was unacceptably dangerous for Israel. Those who blamed Israel for failure to make progress on the peace front would use the stalled process as yet another justification for delegitimizing Israel.
One indication of the sorry state of the on-again, mostly off-again, process was the no-show by Yasser Abed Rabbo, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the only senior Palestinian official who was scheduled to speak at the conference.
His was not the only empty chair, however. Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, who had recently quit the Labor Party to form a new center-Zionist faction called Independence in order to keep his thankless Defense post, flew to Washington to brief senior American officials on the Mubarak mess. Nor did Bibi Netanyahu attend—the first time in the conference's 11-year history that an Israeli prime minister has not addressed the gathering. Israelis grumbled that Bibi felt that too many of the conference sponsors were hostile to him and his political agenda.
Senior officials who did attend were virtually unanimous in denouncing the Israeli government, arguing that Israel's political system had become utterly dysfunctional. Weakness, selfishness, and greed jeopardized the state itself, warned Tzipi Livni, chairperson of the Kadima party, the former minister of foreign affairs, and the head of the not-so-loyal opposition.
Much of the conference gossip focused on Israel's inability to take tough decisions given its corruption and increasingly bitter partisan divisions, a failure that has rarely been bandied about quite so openly.
At the session's end, Uriel Reichman, the president of the IDC Herzliya, lamented the tragic deaths of three IDC graduates. Yossi Dahan had volunteered to serve in the paratroopers, where he was a first lieutenant. He helped support his family by working as a night watchman at a house in Kfar Shmaryahu. One night two motorcyclists drove by the house and sprayed it with bullets, killing Dahan. His killers were never caught. He was a victim of organized crime, Reichman charged, crime that had penetrated even high levels of government. He named no names; he didn't have to.
The second victim, Roi Assaf, was on summer break in Sinai when he was killed by Muslim terrorists. He was 28 years old. He had done volunteer work in his hometown of Kfar Saba.
Nir Katz, 26, was a computer science major. He was killed in 2009 at the gay community center in Tel Aviv where he did volunteer work. His crime was being gay, Reichman said.
All three of these young men, Reichman said, embodied the spirit of Israel and had been killed for naught. Violence, he said, had become part of Israeli life. Israel needed not only a new system of government, one that was not paralyzed by religious and ideological divisions. It also needed a less violent, more moral and caring society.
It needed to rein in its own "fundamentalism," he said, by refusing to permit groups who cared little for Israeli values to control the country's education system and live off of tax-payer financial support. It needed citizens who would fight for their path and for a just state. It needed to recapture its vision.
[Information contained in BKNT E-mail is considered Attorney-Client and Attorney Work Product privileged, copyrighted and confidential. Views that may be expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of any government, agency, or news organization.]

12 February 2011

SECRET: Egypt Defense Minister Tantawi Classified Foreign Service Dossier

    Intelligence - OPEN SOURCE

          US/202; US/1       

Egypt Ruler Marshal Mohamed Tantawi's Classified Foreign Service Dossier

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000524
E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/16/28
REF: A. CAIRO 452 B. CAIRO 488 C. CAIRO 507
CAIRO 00000524 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Ambassador Francis Ricciardone for reasons 1.4 (a)(b)&(d).

1. (S) Summary: Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi will travel
to Washington, Tampa, and Chicago March 24-28. He will meet senior officials
in Washington and at USCENTCOM HQ in Tampa, and view U.S. civil defense
arrangements in Chicago. Mrs. Tantawi and as many as five senior generals
will accompany him. Tantawi will seek assurances that the USG will not
condition or reduce military assistance to Egypt in the future. He will
emphasize Egypt's continuing value to the United States as an indispensable
ally in the region, and he will press to return BRIGHT STAR to a full field
training exercise. The eighty-year-old veteran of five wars with Israel is
committed to preventing another one ever. But he is also frozen in the Camp
David paradigm and uncomfortable with our shift to the post-9/11 GWOT.
Recognizing that he is reluctant to change, we nonetheless should urge
Minister Tantawi towards a broader and more flexible partnership based on
shared strategic objectives, including border security, counter-terrorism,
peacekeeping and civil defense. End Summary.

2. (S) Border Control: Egyptian effectiveness in preventing arms smuggling
into Gaza is essential to stopping Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. When
the Secretary pushed hard on smuggling in October 2007, the Egyptians
finally got serious and agreed to open an FMF case that will deploy
counter-tunnel technology to the Rafah border. The case also includes
extensive training. The initial shipment of equipment is expected in June.
Training will begin this spring in the US, due to Egyptian sensitivity
towards having foreigners stationed at their borders. The Egyptians are also
building a concrete barrier wall on the Egyptian side to avoid a repeat of
the January incursion, in which thousands of Gazans poured into Rafah.

3. (C) The Egyptians insist that they are committed to do all they can to
stop smuggling into Gaza. They acknowledge the threat that Hamas poses to
their own security and to the peace process. They claim to have discovered
more than 200 tunnels since November 2005. Tantawi will argue that Egypt is
doing everything within its power but is not the only source of weapons in
Gaza. He believes that Israeli politicians are blaming Egypt for domestic
political reasons and resents the impact on Egyptian military assistance. He
will also urge that the USG exert influence on Israel to ease humanitarian
conditions in Gaza. 

 EGIS Chief Omar Soliman has the lead on negotiations with Hamas but Tantawi will also likely urge that Rafah be opened to ease humanitarian pressures in Gaza.

4. (S) With Tantawi we should acknowledge that the counter-tunneling
technology that we will introduce this summer will contribute to
interdiction efforts but does not represent a complete solution. Indeed the
Army Corps of Engineers experts who designed the system have told us that
the Gaza border represents a "worst case scenario" for interdiction. In a
March 6 meeting with NEA A/S Welch, Tantawi hinted that the Egyptians have
adopted additional measures at the border. We are still interested in a
trilateral meeting with the Egyptians and Israelis (ultimately perhaps to
include the PA) to share intelligence and tactics. So far the Israelis have
demurred. We should broaden the discussion to maritime interdiction efforts
and also addressing the weapons trail, which starts in Yemen and Sudan.

5. (S) Civil Defense: The Red Sea ferry accident in February 2006
embarrassed the Mubarak government and cost more than 1000 lives. Tantawi
will bring to Washington his mandate from President Mubarak to integrate the
military into crisis response management. On this he needs and will be
grateful for our help - a small but important advance against the MOD's
staunch resistance to engagement with us in shifting their priorities and
transforming their forces. ASD for Homeland Defense McHale has suggested
including Egyptian representatives in U.S.-based civil emergency exercises

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planned for spring and fall 2008, and inviting GOE officials to a civil
defense symposium at the Army War College this fall.

6. (S) Peacekeeping: Egypt has contributed to all UN and AU peacekeeping
efforts in Africa, and is sending 1300-1400 troops for the UN/AU Mission in
Darfur (UNAMID). Egypt has also offered UNAMID two additional mechanized
infantry battalions; the UN has accepted one. Despite our repeated requests,
the Egyptians declined to contribute helicopters; they simply do not have
the logistical and operational capability to operate in Darfur's challenging
environment. We recommend that the helo request not be raised again.

7. (S) Reform: In the cabinet, where he still wields significant influence,
Tantawi has opposed both economic and political reforms that he perceives as
eroding central government power. He is supremely concerned with national
unity, and has opposed policy initiatives he views as encouraging political
or religious cleavages within Egyptian society. In a speech on March 9,
Tantawi said one of the military's roles is to protect constitutional
legitimacy and internal stability, signaling his willingness to use the
military to control the Muslim Brotherhood in the run-up to the April 9
municipal council elections. On economic reform, Tantawi believes that
Egypt's economic reform plan fosters social instability by lessening GOE
controls over prices and production. Tantawi rejects any conditioning on
Egyptian FMF on human rights or any other grounds. Before this year he
thought that FMF was inviolable and regarded ESF as a layer of protection
against possible cuts to FMF. He will argue that any conditions on military
assistance are counter-productive. He will also state that the military is
not behind human rights problems in Egypt and that U.S. Congressional human
rights conditionally is mis-targeted.

8. (S) Washington interlocutors should be prepared to meet an aged and
change-resistant Tantawi. Charming and courtly, he is, nonetheless mired in
a post-Camp David military paradigm that has served his cohort's narrow
interests for the last three decades. He and Mubarak are focused on regime
stability and maintaining the status quo through the end of their time. They
simply do not have the energy, inclination or world view to do anything
differently. Nonetheless, for the benefit of Tantawi's omnipresent aides, we
should focus discussions on the future and how to operate as strategic
partners as we face the challenges of that future together. RICCIARDONE

[Information contained in BKNT E-mail is considered Attorney-Client and Attorney Work Product privileged, copyrighted and confidential. Views that may be expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of any government, agency, or news organization.]

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