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Cablegate: Egypt Media Trends: July 30, 2006-07-30

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #4646 2111459
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301459Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0207
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 004646

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NEA/PPD FOR ROBIN SMITH AND DAVID BENZE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL IS LE EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT MEDIA TRENDS: JULY 30, 2006-07-30


1. Summary. Egyptian media continue to focus almost exclusively on
the Israel-Lebanon crisis, with an occasional turn to domestic
issues, namely, the hike in gas prices. Columnists expressed what
we believe to be widespread frustration with the government due to
these two issues, and a resultant admiration of Hezbollah. While we
believe public opinion supports Hezbollah, at least insofar as it
has taken action against "the Zionist enemy," we learned that at
least one Friday prayer did not exult in Hezbollah activities. On
the Israel-Lebanon situation, we've seen news coverage turn toward a
concentration on Israel's "inability to shut down Hezbollah." The
US is characterized as "in a tough situation" for giving Israel more
time to succeed in its "project,", yet it is "failing," forcing
Secretary Rice back to the region. President Mubarak's weekend

SIPDIS
statements showed a more critical tone toward the US, and a
definitive posture against Egypt becoming involved "in an illogical
dispute." Breaking news today of the bombing of a building in Qana,
reportedly inhabited by women and children, was aired continuously
on Egyptian and regional networks. President Mubarak issued a
statement condemning the shelling in Qana and criticized the slow
response of the international community. End Summary.

2. Breaking news. Both today and over the weekend, news outlets
carried new statements by President Mubarak. Today's statement was
made in response to the Israeli shelling of Qana, which was aired
continuously on all stations. President Mubarak condemned "the
irresponsible Israeli shelling of Qana village...which resulted in
the (fall of) innocent victims, mostly women and children. ... The
Arab Republic of Egypt, which has called, since day one of the
Israeli aggression on Lebanon, for an immediate, unconditional
ceasefire, confirms the urgent need for international intervention
to issue a Security Council resolution to halt the military
operations immediately." President Mubarak pledged support to
"Prime Minister Siniora's position during the Rome crisis." Over
the weekend, pro-government daily, Al-Ahram, published President
Mubarak's notable statement to Time Magazine that, "The American
handling of the escalation is too late and very limited." He also
said, as reported in pro-government weekly, Al-Akhbar Al-Yom,
"Egypt's and Arab roles must never be belittled. We do not accept
any efforts to drag Egypt into an unreasonable and illogical
dispute." While his weekend statement showed the heaviest criticism
thus far toward the US, this portion of the statement was not played
widely, and was not repeated as of Sunday.

3. In the headlines. Today's headlines focused mostly on Israel's
retreat from the border. Most papers played the events as "Israel's
humiliating defeat" (Al-Ahram) or "the enemy's retreat" (Al-Masry
Al-Yom). Opposition daily, Al-Wafd's headlines were similar, but
included also a large photo of Secretary Rice at the ASEAN
conference playing the piano, with the headline, "The Miss Plays the
Tune of Defeat."

4. In the commentaries. The commentators wrote largely about the
ongoing conflict, and the Government of Egypt's decision to raise
gasoline prices while "the parliament is out of session" and over a
long weekend. Both these situations have prompted criticism toward
the current government, and created palpable frustration. A column
in opposition daily, Al-Wafd, remarked that "Egyptian people are
excluded from political activities and decision-making ...while the
regime has succumbed to foreign decision-making." An article by a
contributor to independent daily, Al-Masry Al-Yom, praised
"Hezbollah's steadfastness" which is "the only strategy capable of
defeating the Zionist ambitions." He concluded that "Egyptian
people should apologize for Mubarak's criticism of Hezbollah as he
did not represent the Egyptian public opinion." A columnist in
Nahdet Misr accused the Arab regimes of "silence and inaction toward
the blood of children." The editor-in-chief of pro-government
daily, Rose Al-Youssef, demanded that leaders "make decisions on
behalf of their countries" and dare "to defy the international
community."

5. In the streets. According to a close embassy source, the Friday
sermon at a popular mosque in Cairo, ventured into unexpected
territory when the imam told the congregation, "to beware of being
led astray by false heroes. Never forget that Hizbullah are Shia'
degenerates intent on spreading Persian rule."

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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