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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wikileaks: Egypt recruiting spies in Iraq and Syria against Iran

An interesting cable about a meeting between Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen and Egyptian General Intelligence Service Chief Omar Soliman, April 2009. In it, we learn that Egypt is recruiting spies in Syria and Iraq to infiltrate Iran, that Egypt is just as upset at Iran as any other Arab state - and not just because of the nuclear issue; that Iran was smuggling arms and $25 million of cash into Gaza a month; that Gaza puts moderate Arab regimes in a corner (presumably because they don't support Hamas radicalism but their people do), that Soliman does not distinguish between Hezbollah and Iran at all. Excerpts:

Soliman said radicalism was the "backbone" of regional security threats, adding that radicalism in Gaza posed a particularly serious threat to Egyptian national security. Soliman said Egypt must "confront" Iranian attempts to smuggle arms to Gaza and stop arms smuggling through Egyptian territory.

We do not want incidents like Gaza to inflame public anger," Soliman said, adding that the Gaza conflict put "moderate (Arab) regimes" in a corner. To prevent another outbreak of violence, Egypt is focusing on Palestinian reconciliation and a durable cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. On reconciliation, Soliman explained, the ultimate goal was to return the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, as "Gaza in the hands of radicals will never be calm."

Iran is "very active in Egypt," Soliman said. Iranian financial support to Hamas amounted to $25 million a month, but he said Egypt was "succeeding" in preventing financial support from entering Gaza through Egypt. Iran has tried several times to pay the salaries for the al-Qassam Battalions, but Egypt had succeeded in preventing the money from reaching Gaza. Soliman said the Egyptian government had arrested a "big Hezbollah cell," which was Hezbollah's first attempt to stand up a cell within Egypt. Iran was also trying to recruit support from the Sinai Bedouins, he claimed, in order to facilitate arms smuggling to Gaza.

Egypt has "started a confrontation with Hezbollah and Iran," Soliman stressed, and "we will not allow Iran to operate in Egypt." Soliman said Egypt had sent a clear message to Iran that if they interfere in Egypt, Egypt will interfere in Iran, adding that EGIS had already begun recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria. Soliman hoped the U.S. would "not walk the same track as the Europeans" in regards to negotiating with Iran and warned against only focusing on one issue at time, like Iran's nuclear weapons program. Iran must "pay the price" for its actions and not be allowed to interfere in regional affairs. "If you want Egypt to cooperate with you on Iran, we will," Soliman added, "it would take a big burden off our shoulders."