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Viewing cable 09CAIRO1349, GENERAL PETRAEUS' MEETING WITH EGIS CHIEF SOLIMAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO1349 2009-07-14 11:11 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO6737
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #1349/01 1951144
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 141144Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3182
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 001349 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/30/2019 
TAGS: PREL PARM MASS IR IZ KPAL IS EG
SUBJECT: GENERAL PETRAEUS' MEETING WITH EGIS CHIEF SOLIMAN 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 1227 
     B. CAIRO 746 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey per 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  Key Points: 
 
-- (S/NF) During a June 29 meeting with CENTCOM Commander 
General Petraeus, Egyptian General Intelligence Service 
(EGIS) Chief Omar Soliman shared his views on Iraq, Iran, and 
ongoing efforts on Palestinian reconciliation. 
 
-- (S/NF) On Iraq, Soliman assessed that Arab leaders were 
taking a "new position" on supporting Iraqi Prime Minister 
Maliki following the Iranian elections and described Egypt's 
plans to increase cooperation with the Iraqi government. 
 
-- (S/NF)  Soliman believed that the Iranian elections and 
Hezbollah's electoral defeat in Lebanon presented a "good 
opportunity" to reduce Iranian regional interference, 
including by improving Syria's relations with the Arab world. 
 
-- (S/NF)  On Palestinian reconciliation, Soliman was 
pessimistic that an agreement would be reached, but promised 
that Egypt would "not give up" and would continue efforts to 
undermine Hamas, including by preventing money and guns from 
entering Gaza. 
 
---------------------------- 
Iraq: Extending an Arab Hand 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (S/NF) Soliman said Arab countries were looking for ways 
to support Prime Minister Maliki during this "crucial time" 
for Iraq.  General Petraeus thanked Egypt for supporting the 
Iraqi government, including by nominating a new Ambassador to 
Iraq (ref A) and encouraging other Arab countries to "hold 
out a hand in friendship."  On President Mubarak's 
instructions, Soliman explained, Egypt plans to increase 
cooperation with Iraq on a wide variety of political, 
security, and economic issues. 
 
3. (S/NF) Soliman assessed that Arab leaders were taking a 
"new position" on Iraq following the Iranian presidential 
elections.  He believed that Iranian leaders would "change 
their attitude" towards neighboring countries and "supporting 
terrorism" abroad, and would focus instead on domestic 
issues.  Iran cannot afford to "challenge the international 
community now," Soliman opined.  The challenge, Soliman 
explained, was to "bring Iraq back to the Arab world" and 
foster support for Maliki.  According to Soliman, President 
Mubarak told King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia "not to search for 
another man," but should instead accept Maliki as Iraq's 
leader and support him. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Iran: Elections Present Opportunity for Arabs 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
4. (S/NF) Soliman stressed that Egypt suffers from Iranian 
interference, through its Hezbollah and Hamas proxies, and 
its support for Egyptian groups like Jamaatt al-Islamiyya and 
the Muslim Brotherhood.  Egypt will confront the Iranian 
threat, he continued, by closely monitoring Iranian agents in 
Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and any Egyptian cells. 
Improving relations between Syria and the Arab world would 
also undermine Iran's regional influence.  Soliman noted "a 
little change" in Syria's attitude on engaging with the Arab 
world, adding that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia shared this 
view and planned to visit Damascus soon "to help change 
Syria's attitude." 
 
5. (S/NF) Soliman anticipated that Hezbollah's recent defeat 
in the Lebanese parliamentary elections would force the group 
to "remain quiet for sometime" as they rebuild domestic 
support and counter the perception that Hezbollah is a "tool 
of outsiders." With Iran itself focusing on domestic issues, 
he continued, it was a "good time to make changes" in Lebanon 
and reduce Iran's influence.  Egypt will support a Saad 
Hariri government and the Lebanese army, Soliman emphasized. 
 
6. (S/NF) Soliman said that Iran heeded Egypt's warning 
against meddling in domestic affairs (ref B) and supporting 
groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. He received a "very 
positive message" from Iran's intelligence chief indicating 
that Iran would not interfere in Egypt.  Egypt planned to 
"remain quiet inside Iran" for the time being, but would 
continue to recruit agents who "will do what we ask," if Iran 
insists on interfering in Egypt.  "We hope Iran will stop 
 
CAIRO 00001349  002 OF 003 
 
 
supporting Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and other cells" 
within Egypt Soliman said, "but if not - we are ready." 
Soliman said Iranian President Ahmadinejad wanted to attend 
the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Egypt July 
11-16.  If he did attend, President Mubarak would meet with 
him and clearly explain that Iranian interference in "Arab 
issues" was unacceptable.  "We are ready for good relations 
with Iran," Soliman noted, but only if Iran ceased 
interfering and supporting terrorists in the region. 
 
7. (S/NF) Because of domestic problems, Soliman believed that 
Iran would seek better relations with the Arab world and 
suspend its nuclear program for a period of time to avoid a 
"war."  He also anticipated Iran would try to strike more of 
a "balance" between supporting its Hezbollah and Hamas 
"tools" and trying to build better relations with the Arabs. 
Soliman expressed concern that Iranian influence in Iraq 
would spread after the re-deployment of U.S. troops out of 
Iraqi cities and the eventual drawdown.  General Petraeus 
noted that 130,000 U.S. troops remain and that the drawdown 
would be gradual.  He expressed confidence that Iranian 
influence could be contained if Arab countries moved 
aggressively to support Iraq. 
 
---------------------------------- 
Palestinian Reconciliation, Israel 
---------------------------------- 
 
8. (S/NF) Soliman explained that Egypt's three primary 
objectives with the Palestinians were to maintain calm in 
Gaza, undermine Hamas, and build popular support for 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  On Gaza, Soliman said 
Egypt worked closely with Israel to coordinate humanitarian 
assistance shipments and was encouraging the Israelis to 
allow more assistance into Gaza. Soliman said he was still 
seeking a "tahdiya" (calm) agreement between Hamas and 
Israel, but noted that Israel's lack of a Gaza strategy and 
desire to keep Hamas under pressure made any agreement 
difficult.  On undermining Hamas, Soliman said Egypt has 
"stopped" money and arms from entering Gaza.  "Hamas feels 
they are losing their capabilities," Soliman said, as they 
are unable to re-arm using the tunneling network under the 
Egypt-Gaza border.  The pressure, especially from Egypt's 
success at dismantling Hamas' funding mechanism, may render 
Hamas "more flexible" than before. 
 
9. (S/NF) Palestinians must believe that Abbas is capable of 
securing a Palestinian state, Soliman stressed.  He noted 
recent positive developments in the West Bank, including 
improvements in the Palestinian security forces and the 
lifting of some Israeli roadblocks to facilitate commerce and 
movement.  He expressed concern, however, that continued 
settlement activity, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's 
recent "radical" speech, and insufficient economic 
development in Palestinian areas were undermining the chances 
for resuming peace negotiations.  Soliman added that 
President Mubarak may invite Nentanyahu and Abbas to Cairo if 
efforts to re-start negotiations became "blocked." 
 
10. (S/NF) Soliman briefed General Petraeus on his efforts to 
facilitate Palestinian reconciliation.  Reconciliation 
remains elusive, he noted, as neither Hamas nor Fatah really 
want an agreement.  The Palestinian factions were currently 
in Cairo, he said, for discussions on releasing detainees. 
Talks were at an impasse, however, as Hamas had suspended 
reconciliation talks until Abbas released all Hamas detainees 
in the West Bank, which Soliman said Abbas would never 
accept.  Soliman also doubted that a reconciliation agreement 
would be reached by July 7 as Egypt previously announced, and 
anticipated that talks would be suspended for one-two months. 
 Despite the challenge and frustrations, Soliman promised 
that Egypt would "not give up" on Palestinian reconciliation. 
 "It is hard," he continued, "but I am always optimistic.  I 
consider myself a patient man, but I am loosing patience." 
 
------------------- 
Syria, Yemen, Afpak 
------------------- 
 
11. (S/NF)  Soliman hoped Syria would improve its 
relationship with the Arab world and the U.S. and stop 
serving as "Iran's lifeline" in the region.  He also stressed 
that Syria must cooperate with Iraq to improve border 
security and stem the flow of foreign fighters.  Soliman also 
called on Syria to drop its insistence that the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be solved before Syria will 
reach an agreement with Israel on the Golan Heights. 
 
12. (S/NF) Soliman expressed concern over instability in 
 
CAIRO 00001349  003 OF 003 
 
 
Yemen and said Egypt was trying to help President Saleh, 
including by providing information on Iranian and Qatari 
support to the al-Houthi insurgents.  General Petraeus noted 
U.S. efforts to improve Yemen's capacity to combat 
extremists.  On Pakistan, General Petraeus said he was 
encouraged by the Pakistani military's operations in the Swat 
Valley and Northwest Frontier Province, including their focus 
on holding and rebuilding effected areas.  Soliman credited 
the Pakistani government for doing a better job of convincing 
people that extremists pose a real threat to Pakistani 
national security.  On Afghanistan, General Petraeus stressed 
the importance of arresting the downward spiral of violence 
and improving governance after the September 20 national 
elections. 
 
13.  (U) General Petraeus cleared this cable. 
SCOBEY