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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wikileaks: Egypt reiterates that Iran is region's greatest threat

A recent Wikileaks cable, from February 2010, shows that Egypt continues to view Iran and its proxies as the major threat to the entire region, and it even looks at the Palestinian Arab issue through the lens of Iran.

This memo is a scene-setter for Admiral Mullen:

President Mubarak sees Iran as Egypt's -- and the region's -- primary strategic threat. Egypt's already dangerous neighborhood, he believes, has only become more so since the fall of Saddam, who, as nasty as he was, nevertheless stood as a wall against Iran. He now sees Tehran's hand moving with ease throughout the region, "from the Gulf to Morocco." The immediate threat to Egypt comes from Iranian conspiracies with Hamas (which he sees as the "brother" of his own most dangerous internal political threat, the Muslim Brotherhood) to stir up unrest in Gaza, but he is also concerned about Iranian machinations in Sudan and their efforts to create havoc elsewhere in the region, including in Yemen, Lebanon, and even the Sinai, via Hezbollah. While Tehran's nuclear threat is also a cause for concern, Mubarak is more urgently seized with what he sees as the rise of Iranian surrogates (Hamas and Hezbollah) and Iranian attempts to dominate the Middle East.

...Egypt continues to support our efforts to resume negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians and maintains a regular dialogue with all sides. Egyptian sponsored negotiations on Palestinian reconciliation are ongoing. Egypt's objectives are to avoid another Gaza crisis while eroding Hamas' power and ultimately returning the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.
This part is interesting as well:
President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as a cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as untouchable compensation for making peace with Israel. Decision-making within MOD rests almost solely with Defense Minister Tantawi. In office since 1991, he consistently resists change to the level and direction of FMF funding and is therefore one of our chief impediments to transforming our security relationship. Nevertheless, he retains President Mubarak's support. You should encourage Tantawi to place greater emphasis on countering asymmetric threats rather than focusing almost exclusively on conventional force.
Which sounds like Egypt, despite over thirty years of peace with Israel, still thinks of its army as primarily concerned with a future war with Israel.