lunedì 31 gennaio 2011
Wikileaks : Viewing cable 05CAIRO4534, REPORT: MUBARAK TO NAME VICE PRESIDENT
31 Gennaio 2011
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 004534
NSC STAFF FOR POUNDS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2015
TAGS: PGOV KDEM EG
SUBJECT: REPORT: MUBARAK TO NAME VICE PRESIDENT
REF: CAIRO 4519
Classified by A/DCM Michael Corbin for reasons 1.4 (b) and
¶1. (C) The London-based Financial Times reported on June 15 that President Mubarak intends to name a Vice President - a step he has refused to take throughout his 24 year tenure as President - after the September Presidential elections. We reached out to the reporter who filed the story, who confirmed to us that Soliman Awad, a key aide to Mubarak and his official spokesman, had made the remark, on-the-record, over dinner with her and several British colleagues. Most
contacts we have spoken with were unaware of and surprised by the news, with a number expressing skepticism, noting that the timing of such a revelation and the means of conveying it, were unorthodox, at the least. Of those who gave the story credence, all agreed that Intelligence Chief General Omar Soliman was the most likely to be named to the post. We do not doubt that Mubarak's aide made this statement to the British journalists. However, given the sensitive and even historic nature of such news, we doubt it was intended as an official and on-the-record statement, and though revelatory, it could still be subject to change. End summary.
A British Scoop
¶2. (U) The Financial Times reported on June 15 that President Mubarak intends to name a Vice President - a step he has refused to take throughout his 24 year tenure as President - after the September Presidential elections. The story, filed from Cairo by London-based correspondent XXXXXXXXXXXXX, cited as her source Presidential Spokesman Soliman Awad. By mid-afternoon on June 15, no other media comment on the story, and no mention whatsoever in the Egyptian media had appeared.
¶3. (C) PA officer contacted XXXXXXXXXXXX, who was by then back in London, for an informal clarification. In response, XXXXXXXXXXXX advised that Awad had made the assertion over dinner with her and several British colleagues, and had made clear that his statement was for the record. Awad also told the group, she added, that Mubarak will announce his intention to seek reelection soon after the electoral regulations being debated by parliament (reftel) are passed, though it was not clear if this second statement was for the record.
Egyptians Surprised, Bemused, Skeptical
¶4. (SBU) Embassy contacts we approached for reaction were, in turns, surprised, bemused, and skeptical of the report. Of eight contacts we spoke with, only one, a prominent newspaper publisher and activist, had heard of the story. Most agreed that the timing of such an announcement, and the means selected to convey it, were strange. Usually, announcements of this magnitude would be made by the President himself, in a carefully chosen venue, several noted. The fact that the story had not appeared in any other media led many to doubt its credibility. Of those inclined to give the story credence, all agreed that the most likely candidate to be appointed to the post was General Omar Soliman, Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS).
¶5. (C) Contacts we spoke with, most of whom would fall into the "reformist/opposition" category, disagreed on whether such an announcement if true, constituted good news, bad news, or neither. XXXXXXXXXXX, Director of XXXXXXXXXXXXX and a member of the XXXXXXXXXXXX, told us "it makes no difference one way or another. There are no signs the regime is changing."
¶6. (C) Hafez Abou Seada, Secretary-General of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, expressed an opposite view: "At least the country would not be left in the dark like this, not knowing where we are going. It would mean at least a transitional period with someone like (Intelligence Chief) Omar Soliman until the issue of presidential elections and free parliamentary elections are established. As it is now,
we lack a sense of direction."
¶7. (C) Rifa'at Said, President of the leftist Tagammu' Party, told us the fact that such information would be conveyed by the Financial Times, through the President's spokesman, struck him as very odd, noting that he has not heard any of his senior contacts in the ruling National Democratic Party breathe a word of such a plan. He speculated that the paper might be misinterpreting or distorting the spokesman's words.
¶8. (C) In the past two years, a variety of internal and external factors, as well as Mubarak's advancing age and questions about his health, have made presidential succession a core national issue. The office of the Vice President, vacant since 1981, has been central to the discussion, as it was the springboard by which two of Egypt's three Presidents since 1952 came to office. In this context, news that Mubarak will soon break with his long-standing refusal to name a deputy would be historic.
¶9. (C) We judge XXXXXXXXXXXXX a serious and seasoned journalist, very unlikely to fabricate such a story or "misunderstand" an important point made by the president's spokesman. That said, we agree with contacts who found the means of conveying such important news - from a presidential aide in an exclusive to a foreign newspaper - very strange, and we do not consider this a definitive or official announcement. We believe there may have been some misunderstanding about the ground rules for the conversation and that Awad may have thought this remark off the record. If Awad made such remarks without the advice and consent of the President, he could find himself in deep trouble.
¶10. (C) Speculation that EGIS Chief Omar Soliman would be the
most likely candidate for the VP job comes as no surprise. Soliman, one of Mubarak's closest advisors, has had an increased public profile in recent years with his role as Egypt's point man on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Though he does not have a domestic constituency per se, he enjoys a reputation for being uncorrupt, in stark contrast to
many, if not most, ministers and ruling party figures. Though many remain convinced of the existence of a master plan to install Gamal Mubarak as his father's successor, his appointment as Vice President in September would be almost impossible in the current context, given very palpable public animosity to the concept, and given that Gamal and his father continue to deny that any "bequeathment of office" will take place. End comment.
Visit Embassy Cairo's Classified Website:
You can also access this site through the
State Department's Classified SIPRNET website.