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

CAIRO 00000524 002.2 OF 002

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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