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Viewing cable 08CAIRO9, CODEL VOINOVICH MEETING WITH EGIS CHIEF SOLIMAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08CAIRO9 2008-01-02 18:06 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0009/01 0021807
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 021807Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7833
INFO RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE 1637
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD IMMEDIATE 0246
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS IMMEDIATE 0972
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT IMMEDIATE 1126
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN IMMEDIATE 1849
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM IMMEDIATE 0945
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T CAIRO 000009 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2018 
TAGS: PREL PGOV IS IZ SY EG
SUBJECT: CODEL VOINOVICH MEETING WITH EGIS CHIEF SOLIMAN 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Stuart Jones 
Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
1. (S) Summary.  EGIS Chief Omar Soliman told Ambassador and 
a visiting Codel led by Senator George Voinovich December 31 
that he is optimistic progress will be made on 
Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.  However, Soliman was 
concerned with continuing Israeli criticism of Egyptian 
anti-smuggling efforts.  He was worried that the Egyptians 
would not be able to work out an arrangement with the 
Israelis for Hajj pilgrims to return to Gaza.  On Iran, 
Soliman said that the USG's release of the National 
Intelligence Estimate had altered the calculus through which 
Arab states are interacting with Iran.  On Iraq argued that 
the Iraqi government needed to amend its constitution and 
that Prime Minister Malaki should not deal with the Iraqi 
people in a "sectarian way."  End summary. 
 
2. (S) Soliman led off the New Year's Eve meeting by telling 
the Codel that the region is at a special, critical juncture. 
 Egypt is America's partner.  Sometimes we have our 
differences.  But Egypt will continue to provide the USG with 
its knowledge and expertise on the critical regional issues, 
such as Lebanon and Iraq.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict 
remains the core issue; Soliman contended a peaceful 
resolution would be a "big blow" to terrorist organizations 
that use the conflict as a pretext.  For this reason, 
President Mubarak is committed to ending the Israeli-Arab 
"stalemate." 
 
3. (S) Soliman applauded the Administration's efforts, 
commenting that Annapolis had given hope and begun a process. 
 The timing is right for progress based on four factors. 
First, the PA leadership is moderate and willing to 
negotiate.  Second, Hamas is isolated and politically cut off 
in Gaza.  Third, the Israelis are ready for peace; Soliman 
assessed that the GOI coalition is broad and strong, and 
larger than Rabin's coalition of the mid-nineties.  Fourth, 
Arab states are ready to see an end to "the struggle." 
 
4. (S) Soliman stressed that Egypt stands ready to help the 
U.S. effort.  The GOE knows both the Palestinians and the 
Israelis, and knows the obstacles to peace.  Soliman 
recommended two steps be taken. First, both the Israelis and 
Palestinians must be pressed hard to sign an agreement, which 
the U.S. and international community could endorse, to be 
implemented at the proper time.  Second, the U.S. should 
insist that "phase one" of the Roadmap should be completed 
before the end of 2008. 
 
5. (S) Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:  Soliman opined that the 
Palestinian Authority was ready to sign an agreement, but 
that establishment of a state may take between 1-3 years. 
While Hamas is isolated politically and unable to stop an 
Israeli-PA agreement, it remains entrenched in Gaza, and it 
was unclear to Soliman how long that would last.  At one 
point in the discussion, Soliman seemed to imply Hamas may 
remain in control of Gaza for more than a year; at another 
juncture, he told Senator Voinovich that if negotiations 
proceeded briskly, Hamas may be forced to cede power in Gaza 
in 3-4 months.  The bottom line for Hamas, according to 
Soliman, is that they must be forced to choose between 
remaining a resistance movement or joining the political 
process.  They cannot have it both ways, he said. 
 
6. (S) Palestinian training: Soliman reiterated GOE 
willingness to train and support Palestinian security forces. 
 He claimed that the GOE had training facilities ready, but 
that he was waiting for an answer from U.S. Security 
Coordinator General Keith Dayton.  (Note: We have advised 
Soliman that initial training of Palestinian security forces 
will take place in Jordan, and that we will revisit the 
option of training in Egypt this spring.  End note).  He 
continued that the GOE would keep pressure on Hamas but will 
maintain "low-level" contacts with Hamas.  Egypt, he said, 
wants Hamas isolated.  The Qassam rocket attacks must stop. 
When they do stop, the GOE will ask Israel to "meet quiet 
with quiet." 
 
7. (S)  Border issues:  Senator Voinovich asked Soliman why 
the Israelis continue to report problems with Egypt's 
anti-smuggling efforts.  Soliman said that the Israelis do 
not complain to him directly, and that GOI-GOE cooperation 
and exchange of information continues.  He was at a loss as 
to why Israeli politicians continue to criticize Egypt 
publicly.  The GOE would like the USG to be included in the 
GOI-GOE LAWIO discussions, but the Israelis continue to 
object.  "They don't want a witness in the room," Soliman 
said.  Nevertheless, Soliman was willing to turn the page. 
"We have a short time to reach peace.  We need it.  We need 
to wake up in the morning with no news of terrorism, no 
explosions, and no news of more deaths.  We want everyone 
happy.  That is the Egyptian dream." 
 
8. (S) Syria:  Congressman Turner asked if Iran and/or Syria 
might be play a spoiler role.  Soliman answered that Syria 
wants desperately to halt the United Nations special tribunal 
on the Hariri assassination.  At the same time, the SARG is 
ready to negotiate with the Israelis, and Soliman believed 
that the GOI also is ready.  Syria, Soliman said, can be 
induced to play a constructive role but added that there are 
no guarantees, however, on Syrian performance. 
 
9. (S) NIE:  Regarding the USG's National Intelligence 
Estimate of Iran's nuclear program, Soliman was concerned 
that many in the Arab world were recalculating their position 
vis a vis Iran based on an assumption that the NIE 
represented a USG policy shift.  Soliman said the Egyptians 
are working to correct this misimpression among Arab states. 
"We tell the Arab world:  Don't be happy with the NIE and 
don't warm up to Iran. We know that the United States will 
never allow Iran to have a nuclear bomb." 
 
10. (S) Iran:  Soliman said that Iran remains a significant 
threat to Egypt.  It continues to influence Shiaa in Iraq and 
the Gulf.  Iran is supporting Jihad and spoiling peace, and 
has supported extremists in Egypt previously.  If they were 
to support the Muslim Brotherhood this would make them "our 
enemy," he said.  The GOE continues to press the Iranian 
regime to turn over extremists given "safe harbor" in Iran. 
This issue, he said, will remain an obstacle to improving 
Egyptian-Iranian relations.  (Soliman met with Iranian former 
nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani earlier in the week. 
Larijani was in Egypt on a week-long "private visit." 
 
11. (S) Iraq: Soliman said he remains concerned that the 
Maliki government in Iraq is not representing all Iraqis 
(i.e. the Sunni population).  The GOE has urged Maliki not to 
deal with the Iraqi people in a sectarian way, and to amend 
to constitution to allow greater Sunni representation.  In 
addition, the Iraqi government must remove militias from the 
ranks of the army and police.  In the long run, Soliman did 
not think that the decrease in violence would be sustainable 
absent these two steps.  In addition, Iranian influence is 
problematic.  Soliman said that the GOE had worked to 
reconcile 21 clans and tribes in Iraq, with good results, and 
that this kind of efforts had to continue.  He assessed that 
both Sistani and Sadr were practical men, and able to be 
dealt with. 
 
12. (U) Delegation composition: 
 
Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) 
Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) 
Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM) 
Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) 
Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-GA) 
 
13. (U) The delegation did not clear this message. 
Ricciardone