Awkward timing — or a potentially restraining influence on the behavior of Egyptian security forces?
Asked about anti-government protests sweeping Egypt, and recent unrest leading to government change in Tunisia and Lebanon, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told journalists Wednesday that senior Egyptian military leaders are currently in town for annual bilateral meetings with their Pentagon counterparts.
“We actually this week are hosting senior Egyptian military leaders at the Pentagon for our annual bilateral defense talks, referred to at the Military Cooperation Committee, which is chaired jointly by Assistant Secretary of Defense Sandy Vershbow and Lieutenant General Sami Anan, the chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces,” Morrell told journalists Wednesday.
“So that’s just an example of how engaged we are with the Egyptians, even as these developments have taken place on the streets in Cairo and elsewhere, which I think State and the White House have spoken to in terms of our concerns about how they proceed in terms of non-violence and how they are reacted to by the government and so forth,” Morrell continued.
The American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The American Embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police.
On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011.
He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph.
The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office.
Here is the secret document sent from the US Embassy in Cairo to Washington disclosing the extent of American support for the protesters behind the Egypt uprising.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002572 SIPDIS FOR NEA/ELA, R, S/P
AND H NSC FOR PASCUAL AND KUTCHA-HELBLING E.O. 12958: DECL:
12/30/2028 TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, EG SUBJECT: APRIL 6 ACTIVIST ON HIS
U.S. VISIT AND REGIME CHANGE IN EGYPT REF: A. CAIRO 2462 B.
CAIRO 2454 C. CAIRO 2431 Classified By: ECPO A/Mincouns
Catherine Hill-Herndon for reason 1.4 (d ). 1. (C) Summary and
comment: On December 23, April 6 activist xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed
satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 \”Alliance of
Youth Movements Summit,\” and with his subsequent meetings with USG
officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks. He described how
State Security (SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his
return and confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling
for democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his Congressional
meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx contended that the GOE will never undertake
significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians need to replace the
current regime with a parliamentary democracy. He alleged that
several opposition parties and movements have accepted an unwritten
plan for democratic transition by 2011; we are doubtful of this claim.
xxxxxxxxxxxx said that although SSIS recently released two April 6
activists, it also arrested three additional group members. We have
pressed the MFA for the release of these April 6 activists. April 6’s
stated goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary
democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections is highly
unrealistic, and is not supported by the mainstream opposition. End
summary and comment. —————————- Satisfaction with
the Summit —————————- 2. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed
satisfaction with the December 3-5 \”Alliance of Youth Movements
Summit\” in New York, noting that he was able to meet activists from
other countries and outline his movement’s goals for democratic change
in Egypt. He told us that the other activists at the summit were very
supportive, and that some even offered to hold public demonstrations
in support of Egyptian democracy in their countries, with xxxxxxxxxxxx
as an invited guest. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he discussed with the other
activists how April 6 members could more effectively evade harassment
and surveillance from SSIS with technical upgrades, such as
consistently alternating computer \”simcards.\” However, xxxxxxxxxxxx
lamented to us that because most April 6 members do not own computers,
this tactic would be impossible to implement. xxxxxxxxxxxx was
appreciative of the successful efforts by the Department and the
summit organizers to protect his identity at the summit, and told us
that his name was never mentioned publicly. ——————- A
Cold Welcome Home ——————- 3. (S) xxxxxxxxxxxx told us
that SSIS detained and searched him at the Cairo Airport on December
18 upon his return from the U.S. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, SSIS
found and confiscated two documents in his luggage: notes for his
presentation at the summit that described April 6’s demands for
democratic transition in Egypt, and a schedule of his Capitol Hill
meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx described how the SSIS officer told him that
State Security is compiling a file on him, and that the officer’s
superiors instructed him to file a report on xxxxxxxxxxxx most recent
activities. ——————————————— ———-
Washington Meetings and April 6 Ideas for Regime Change
——————————————— ———- 4. (C)
xxxxxxxxxxxx described his Washington appointments as positive, saying
that on the Hill he met with xxxxxxxxxxxx, a variety of House staff
members, including from the offices of xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx),
and with two Senate staffers. xxxxxxxxxxxx also noted that he met
with several think tank members. xxxxxxxxxxxx said that xxxxxxxxxxxx’s
office invited him to speak at a late January Congressional hearing on
House Resolution 1303 regarding religious and political freedom in
Egypt. xxxxxxxxxxxx told us he is interested in attending, but
conceded he is unsure whether he will have the funds to make the trip.
He indicated to us that he has not been focusing on his work as a
\”fixer\” for journalists, due to his preoccupation with his U.S.
trip. 5. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx described how he tried to convince his
Washington interlocutors that the USG should pressure the GOE to
implement significant reforms by threatening to reveal CAIRO 00002572
002 OF 002 information about GOE officials’ alleged \”illegal\”
off-shore bank accounts. He hoped that the U.S. and the international
community would freeze these bank accounts, like the accounts of
Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s confidantes. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he wants
to convince the USG that Mubarak is worse than Mugabe and that the GOE
will never accept democratic reform. xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that
Mubarak derives his legitimacy from U.S. support, and therefore
charged the U.S. with \”being responsible\” for Mubarak’s \”crimes.\”
He accused NGOs working on political and economic reform of living in
a \”fantasy world,\” and not recognizing that Mubarak — \”the head of
the snake\” — must step aside to enable democracy to take root. 6.
(C) xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed that several opposition forces — including
the Wafd, Nasserite, Karama and Tagammu parties, and the Muslim
Brotherhood, Kifaya, and Revolutionary Socialist movements — have
agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a
parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an
empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011
presidential elections (ref C). According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, the
opposition is interested in receiving support from the army and the
police for a transitional government prior to the 2011 elections.
xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that this plan is so sensitive it cannot be
written down. (Comment: We have no information to corroborate that
these parties and movements have agreed to the unrealistic plan
xxxxxxxxxxxx has outlined. Per ref C, xxxxxxxxxxxx previously told us
that this plan was publicly available on the internet. End comment.)
7. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said that the GOE has recently been cracking down
on the April 6 movement by arresting its members. xxxxxxxxxxxx noted
that although SSIS had released xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx \”in the
past few days,\” it had arrested three other members. (Note: On
December 14, we pressed the MFA for the release of xxxxxxxxxxxx and
xxxxxxxxxxxx, and on December 28 we asked the MFA for the GOE to
release the additional three activists. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx
conceded that April 6 has no feasible plans for future activities.
The group would like to call for another strike on April 6, 2009, but
realizes this would be \”impossible\” due to SSIS interference,
xxxxxxxxxxxx said. He lamented that the GOE has driven the group’s
leadership underground, and that one of its leaders, xxxxxxxxxxxx, has
been in hiding for the past week. 8. (C) Comment: xxxxxxxxxxxx
offered no roadmap of concrete steps toward April 6’s highly
unrealistic goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary
democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections. Most opposition
parties and independent NGOs work toward achieving tangible,
incremental reform within the current political context, even if they
may be pessimistic about their chances of success. xxxxxxxxxxxx
wholesale rejection of such an approach places him outside this
mainstream of opposition politicians and activists.
SCOBEY02008-12-307386PGOV,PHUM,KDEM,EGAPRIL 6 ACTIVIST ON HIS U.S.
VISIT AND REGIME CHANGE IN EGYPT