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Cablegate: Egypt: Expansion of Al-Manar to New Markets

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

201452Z Dec 05

S E C R E T CAIRO 009384



E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/14/2015



REF: A. STATE 216191

B. CAIRO 8321

Classified by Charge d´Affaires Stuart Jones for reasons

1.4(b) and (d).

1. (S/NF) Summary: Although its audience in Egypt appears to be modest, Al-Manar TV recently gained notoriety in Cairo for broadcasting a program deemed to be insulting to President Mubarak. Al Manar´s hostility to the United States and endorsement of conspiracy theories make the station a perfect fit for Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Bakry, Al-Manar´s Cairo Bureau Chief. Al-Manar TV is currently broadcasting through the Egypt-owned satellite service, Nilesat. The future fate of Al-Manar´s broadcasts in Egypt is uncertain - rumors are circulating that the GOE will terminate its contract. Senior GOE officials tell us they abhor Al-Manar´s programming and the Minister of Information has told us he supports in principle removing the station from Nilesat. That said, Egypt will look for Arab cover, especially removal from Saudi Arabia´s Arab Sat. End summary.


Al-Manar TV´s Cairo Bureau


2. (S/NF) Al-Manar TV´s Cairo Bureau is led by Mahmoud Bakry from the offices of Al-Osbou, an inflammatory weekly tabloid. Mahmoud Bakry,s brother, Mustafa Bakry, Al-Osboa´s editor in chief, is distinguished for purveying elaborate conspiracy theories of which the U.S. and Israel are frequently at the root. Bakry, widely believed to have been on Saddam Hussein,s payroll, was recently elected to parliament. Both Al-Manar´s Cairo Bureau and Al-Osbou receive funding directly from the head of Al-Manar news in Lebanon, Hussein El Hagg. Reporting from Cairo, Mahmoud Bakry regularly programs guests known for the anti-American positions, often drawing from Al-Osbou´s journalist pool.

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The Operations


3. (S/NF) Al-Manar in Egypt receives satellite feeds from a state-of-the-art studio in El-Baloot, south Lebanon, to Media City in Cairo, Egypt,s ultra modern broadcasting location on the outskirts of the city. At Media City, it is picked up through satellites and retransmitted on Nilesat, a satellite service owned by the government of Egypt. Nilesat leases airtime to a large variety of broadcasters, of which Al-Manar is just one.


In Trouble with the GOE


4. (S/NF) During Egypt´s recent presidential elections, Mahmoud Bakry hosted a program on Al-Manar that the Mubarak regime found so offensive that it cut transmission of the program in progress. To solve the immediate problem, Bakry fed reports via telephone to Lebanon, where Al-Manar headquarters laid video on top of video produced by other stations. Subsequently, the GOE´s Ministry of Information permanently banned any further transmission of the program, and warned Bakry against broadcasting further anti-GOE programs.


Al-Manar´s Future on Nilesat


5. (S/NF) Al-Manar,s contract with Nilesat will expire in four months and rumours circulating in media circles suggest it will not be renewed. As reported ref B, we have raised our strong concerns about Al-Manar´s reckless incitement of terrorism to senior GOE officials, in several cases screening for our high level contacts excerpts of their inflammatory programming to underline our point. All GOE officials with whom we have raised the issue affirm that they find Al-Manar abhorrent. Minister of Information Annas Fiqqi has confirmed to us he would like to pull the plug on Al-Manar in Nilesat but cited potential legal and political obstacles. The GOE´s strong preference is that action coincide with action to remove Al-Manar from Riyadh-based Arabsat. We continue to follow closely Al-Manar´s Egypt activities and will continue to press the case for removal with the GOE.


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