US embassy cables: Tantawi resistant to change in Egypt

Cable dated:2008-03-16T16:43:00
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000524
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
STATE FOR S AND NEA/FO WHITE HOUSE FOR OVP DOD FOR OSD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/16/28
TAGS: PARM, PREL, PGOV, MASS, MARR, PTER, IS, EG, XF
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR MINDEF TANTAWI’S VISIT TO THE U.S. MARCH 24-28
REF: A. CAIRO 452 B. CAIRO 488 C. CAIRO 507
CAIRO 00000524 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Ambassador Francis Ricciardone for reasons 1.4 (a)(b)&(d).

Summary: Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi will travel to Washington, Tampa, and Chicago March 24-28. He will meet senior officials in Washington and at USCENTCOM HQ in Tampa, and view U.S. civil defense arrangements in Chicago. Mrs. Tantawi and as many as five senior generals will accompany him. Tantawi will seek assurances that the USG will not condition or reduce military assistance to Egypt in the future. He will emphasize Egypt’s continuing value to the United States as an indispensable ally in the region, and he will press to return BRIGHT STAR to a full field training exercise. The eighty-year-old veteran of five wars with Israel is committed to preventing another one ever. But he is also frozen in the Camp David paradigm and uncomfortable with our shift to the post-9/11 GWOT. Recognizing that he is reluctant to change, we nonetheless should urge Minister Tantawi towards a broader and more flexible partnership based on shared strategic objectives, including border security, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping and civil defense. End Summary.

2. (S) Border Control: Egyptian effectiveness in preventing arms smuggling into Gaza is essential to stopping Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. When the Secretary pushed hard on smuggling in October 2007, the Egyptians finally got serious and agreed to open an FMF case that will deploy counter-tunnel technology to the Rafah border. The case also includes extensive training. The initial shipment of equipment is expected in June. Training will begin this spring in the US, due to Egyptian sensitivity towards having foreigners stationed at their borders. The Egyptians are also building a concrete barrier wall on the Egyptian side to avoid a repeat of the January incursion, in which thousands of Gazans poured into Rafah.

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