Cablegate: Dni Meets with Defense Minister Tantawi
DE RUEHEG #2331/01 3551154
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 211154Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4501
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T CAIRO 002331
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/15/2019
TAGS: PREL MASS PTER IR PK AF EG
SUBJECT: DNI MEETS WITH DEFENSE MINISTER TANTAWI
Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey per 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. Key Points: -- (S/NF) During a December 10 meeting, Defense Minister Tantawi provided Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Blair with an overview of Egyptian security concerns, including potential instability in Sudan and Iranian interference in the region. -- (S/NF) DNI Blair stressed the importance of international intelligence cooperation in combating terrorism and looked forward to expanding the U.S.- Egyptian military intelligence relationship. -- (S/NF) Tantawi shared concerns over cyber security threats and agreed to cooperation between the Egyptian military and the U.S. to combat the threat. -- (S/NF) DNI Blair briefed Tantawi on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Tantawi stressed the importance of convincing the Afghani people that the U.S. would not remain in Afghanistan indefinitely. He noted that Pakistan was a difficult and suspicious partner who "does not trust the Egyptians either." -------------------------- Regional Security Concerns --------------------------
2. (S/NF) Tantawi began by providing a brief overview of regional security concerns. Tantawi said that Egypt was "keeping an eye" on the situation in Sudan because of the Nile's crucial role in Egyptian security and stability. He also expressed concerns over Iran. He noted Egypt maintained a good relationship with Israel and was cooperating on a number of different issues, including border security.
3. (S/NF) Tantawi said the Egyptian military relied on a wide variety of intelligence methods to combat threats. DNI Blair noted that the U.S. had significantly improved interagency intelligence coordination following the 9/11 attacks. He added that cooperation with other countries was crucial to increasing our understanding of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. DNI Blair looked forward to enhanced cooperation with the Egyptian military beyond merely passing intelligence.
4. (S/NF) DNI Blair expressed U.S. concern over cyber security threats from hackers and other countries. Tantawi shared these concerns and hoped the U.S. and Egypt could cooperate to combat this threat. ----------- Iran, AfPak -----------
5. (S/NF) Tantawi solicited DNI Blair's views on the status of Russian-Iranian cooperation. DNI Blair noted that the Russians had sold a S300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran, but anticipated that Russia would not send the entire system at once, but would instead withhold pieces. Their overall relationship, he continued, was influenced by the fact that Iran was a major competitor for Russia's oil and gas industry.
6. (S/NF) Tantawi agreed with his assessment, noting that the "real problem" was China and its good relationship with Iran. DNI Blair emphasized the importance of convincing the Chinese to support sanctions against Iran, noting that an Iranian nuclear weapons program could potentially set off a nuclear arms race that would destabilize the entire Middle East and jeopardize Chinese supplies of oil and gas. Tantawi said that Egypt had good relations with China, which mostly focused on economic issues. Although Egypt had "some" military relations with China, they did not discuss terrorism or security issues within the Gulf.
7. (S/NF) DNI Blair briefed Tantawi on U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, noting that the biggest challenge was to develop the Afghan military and police. He asked for Egyptian support in convincing the Pakistanis of the benefits of a long-term relationship with the U.S. Tantawi noted that Egypt encountered the same suspicions and said that the Pakistanis "don't trust Egyptians either." While the Pakistanis were "difficult," Tantawi said that Egypt was still trying to "work with them." (Note: Tantawi previously served as the Egyptian Defense Attach to Pakistan and was also responsible for Afghanistan. End Note). Tantawi added that any country where the military became engaged in "internal affairs" was "doomed to have lots of problems." He stressed that countries must clearly stipulate the military's duties in their constitution and militaries should not deviate from those defined responsibilities. -------------------------------------------- Peace Keeping, Africa, and Counter Smuggling --------------------------------------------
8. (S/NF) Tantawi encouraged more international support for Somalia, including more assistance for the TFG. He noted that Egypt participated alongside the U.S. during the 1992 UN mission in Somalia, but no longer had any troops there. Tantawi said that by the end of 2009, Egypt would have 5100 peace keepers deployed abroad, which would make Egypt the fifth largest contributing country in the world. The majority of Egypt's peace keepers were in Sudan, but Tantawi said that Egypt was preparing to send a large contingent to the Democratic Republic of the Congo next year.
9. (S/NF) Tantawi said that Egypt continued to cooperate with the U.S. on combating arms smuggling to Gaza, including on a tunnel activity detection system along the Egypt-Gaza border. He expressed concern of a repeat of the 2008 Gaza border breach, which sent hundreds of thousands of Gazans streaming into the northern Sinai city of el-Arish. Tantawi called on the U.S. to convince Israel to "not let the situation get to this point again." He added that most smuggling activity was controlled by criminal networks. Scobey