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Cablegate: Egyptian Media Coverage of Deputy Secretary

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Deputy Secretary Zoellick's visit to Egypt (July 13-14)
was the occasion for extensive, and mostly positive,
coverage in pro-government, opposition, and independent
papers, July 13-16. His meeting with President Mubarak and
an Embassy-arranged press round table prompted many
positive articles noting the Deputy Secretary's support for
political and economic reforms in Egypt, and
acknowledgement of Egypt's important role in the region.
The only negative article appeared in a sensationalist
magazine, known for its anti-American views, which attacked
the Deputy Secretary's meeting with civil society leaders
with the often-heard charge that such meetings constitute
U.S. interference in Egypt's internal affairs. End

2. Coverage of Deputy Secretary Zoellick's visit to Egypt
was largely positive and very extensive. The pro-
government media said on July 13, in advance of his
meetings, that he would discuss increasing American
investments in Egypt and work on concluding a free trade
agreement. On July 15, leading pro-government paper Al
Ahram (circulation: 750,000) bannered "American
appreciation for political and economic reform in Egypt,"
and "Zoellick says that democratic openness is important
for the continuation of the political process; priority to
be given to Egypt in FTA talks with the U.S.; the next
Iraqi elections will allow its people to ratify a
constitution." Similar headlines appeared as a second lead
in pro-government Al Akhbar (circulation 750,000), on July
15, and on the front page of independent daily Al Masry Al
Yom (circulation: 50,000), on the same day. Pro-government
Al Gumhouriya's (circulation: 200,000) lead story, on July
15, was published with red ink headlines reading,
"Washington supports political reform in Egypt." The
leading opposition paper, Al Wafd (circulation: 180,000),
on July 15, reported that Mr. Zoellick had called for "free
elections and that all (Egyptian presidential) candidates
should receive equal coverage in the mass media as a
condition for the continuation of the political process in

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3. There was excellent coverage of the press roundtable
that the Embassy organized for local and international
print media with the Deputy Secretary on July 14. The
leading pro-government paper, Al Ahram (circulation:
750,000), carried in its second lead article, on July 16,
the Deputy Secretary's comment that political life in Egypt
has witnessed important reforms and that this ought to be
recognized. The front page of pro-government Akhbar Al-
Youm (circulation: 1,000,000), on July 16, highlighted the
Deputy Secretary's comment that Egypt has a key role to
play in the Middle East peace process. Pro-government
weekly Akhbar al Youm (circulation: 800,000) headlined the
Deputy Secretary's emphasis "on Egypt's role in the Mideast
peace process, and (that) the implementation of the Roadmap
is one of President Bush's priorities." Independent paper
Nahdet Masr (circulation: 20,000), on July 16, carried the
headline, "Zoellick: The new reforms in the NDP are
serious; there is no substitute for international
monitoring to ensure honest elections." The article also
reported the Deputy Secretary's remarks denying that there
was any American dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood. The
financial daily Al Alam Al Youm (circulation 35,000), on
July 16, carried the Deputy Secretary's remarks about the
additional benefits that will accrue to Egypt from its
participation in the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ)

4. Pro-government Al-Gumhouriya's new Editor-in-chief,
Mohamed Ali Ibrahim, criticized, on July 15, the opposition
parties for their assumption that the U.S. was seeking to
empower them at the expense of the ruling NDP party saying,
"Some (opposition) newspapers are trying to imply that
Washington is sending envoys to Egypt to extend bridges to
the opposition, in preparation for selecting one of its
candidates to rule Egypt. This is an odd exaggeration, a
falsification of truth, and political propaganda that no
nationalist accepts. The opposition is mistaken if it
thinks that American envoys come to Egypt especially to
support them in the elections."

5. The only harsh criticism came from the sensationalist
weekly magazine Al Osboa (circulation: 50,000), which is
well known for its consistently anti-American stance on
most issues. On July 17, it facetiously labeled the Deputy
Secretary as one of the America's "high commissioners," and

a "divine messenger." The article also criticized Mr.
Zoellick's meeting with representatives of Egyptian civil
society organizations, calling it an example of "America's
continued interference in Egypt's internal political
affairs." The article claimed the Deputy Secretary had
"dropped a bomb when he referred to American support for
Egyptian opposition parties to receive training under a
State Department program, inasmuch as opposition leaders
already consider this to be a violation of their sense of
patriotism." The report suggested that all of the Deputy
Secretary's remarks were an indication of "Washington's

(bottom-line) message that change in Egypt should be
implemented only by the current regime."


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