Wikileaks Cables Confirm MB Was Right all Along
The flood of classified U.S. diplomatic cables released on Sunday by WikiLeaks threatens to further undermine Egypt’s already questionable role as a neutral mediator between Palestinian factions, embarrass the U.S. in one of its most important Middle Eastern allies and expose the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
Following the aftermath of Egypt’s dramatic parliamentary election that was marred by widespread accounts of fraud and abuse, the flood of U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks exposing the regime is all that Egypt needed.
The disclosed flood of documents threatens to further undermine Egypt’s already uncertain role as a neutral mediator between factions in Palestine, exposing President Mubarak’s dictatorial regime and humiliating the U.S. in one of its most important Middle Eastern allies.
Egyptian newspapers have not focused much on the leaks, choosing instead to concentrate on revelations regarding their neighbours and other countries rather than itself. Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry notable declined to comment on the documents’ impact alleging that he was not fully informed on the details and was currently in Libya.
According to analysts, details of Egypt’s hard-line position on Hamas and its close collaboration with Israel, indicate what the country’s strongest opposition – the Muslim Brotherhood – was claiming all along, is in fact true
The MB has repeatedly argued that Mubarak’s extremely unpopular regime has been building a close relationship with Israel which lacks the support of the Egyptian public. Now with the release of the diplomatic cables, Egypt is accountable for fresh information regarding its cooperation with its Jewish neighbours, as well as its role as a regional peace broker.
MB executive bureau member, Dr. Essam el-Erian, noted that with the leaked documents it was now possible to do the math and understand more clearly the vicious crackdown on democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood, adding that in all reality if Egypt enjoyed its alleged democracy and the Muslim Brotherhood became more powerful, this would threaten the good relationship between Egypt and the Israelis.
A cable from Margaret Scobey, the U.S. ambassador in Cairo, in February 2009 to Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, described intelligence sharing between Egypt and its Jewish neighbours that was denied by Egypt but may add further credibility to assertions that their collaboration may have in fact led to an Israeli hit on a Palestinian target in Gaza earlier this month . A cable in June 2009 from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, reveals that Egypt had in fact been consulted about Israel’s air and land assaults on Gaza prior to the attack the previous winter which is even more damaging.
Without doubt, with these leaked documents Egypt will surely lose credibility as a regional peace broker, putting its already tarnished reputation on the line. Mubarak’s regime for years has prided itself for being the only diplomatic actor capable of resolving the 2007 split between Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, that left Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank.
The currently disclosed documents appear to leave little doubt as to where Egypt stands where the document sites “Mubarak hates Hamas and considers them the same as Egypt’s own Muslim Brotherhood, which he sees as his own most dangerous political threat,” Scobey said in the February 2009 cable. Another cable detailing a meeting between Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, and General David Petraeus, of the U.S. Central Command, in the same year revealed that Suleiman was pessimistic about prospects of reaching a deal. “I consider myself a patient man, but I am losing patience,” Suleiman told Petraeus. He said Egypt was committed to undermining Hamas and building popular support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West.
According to Emad Gad, an international-relations analyst at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Hamas will use the leaked cable to accuse Egypt of playing a disruptive role in the continued reconciliation and launch a campaign against Egyptian diplomacy. He believed that it could harm the Egyptian mediation role.
The leaks also exposed a sometimes tense relationship between the U.S. and Egypt where Scobey relayed to Clinton in a 2009 cable that “The Egyptians have always believed that the US takes them for granted, deliberately ignoring their advice while trying to force our point of view on them”.
Scobey described Egypt to Clinton as a very often stubborn and recalcitrant ally. She explained to Clinton that Egypt’s self-perception as the ‘indispensable Arab state’ is contingent on Egyptian effectiveness on regional issues, including Sudan, Lebanon and Iraq. In the cables Scobey also suggested that Clinton praise Egypt’s importance in regional affairs. Other details, including a critical description of Egypt’s Foreign Minister, may again simply prove embarrassing.
Clinton responded to the leaks saying, although the cables were damaging and potentially life-threatening in some cases, U.S. foreign policy was not dictated by the documents and would not be seriously impacted by the mega leak, stressing she was confident that the partnerships and relationships built in this administration will withstand this challenge.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, however, commented that it was still weighing the documents and was not yet prepared to respond.