Odd Timing: Senior Egyptian Military Leaders at the Pentagon – Egypt Protests: America Planned ‘Regime Change’ For The Past 3 Years – Secret US Document Discloses Support For Protesters

Egyptian military delegation at Pentagon for annual meeting (Politico):

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.

Egypt protests: America’s secret backing for rebel leaders behind uprising (Telegraph):

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.

The secret document in full

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.

Egypt protests: secret US document discloses support for protesters (Telegraph):

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

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