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Cablegate: Egypt: New Education and Transport Ministers, Five


DE RUEHEG #0033/01 0041551
P 041551Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000033



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2020

Classified By: ECPO Minister-Counselor Donald A. Blome for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) KEY POINTS -- On January 3, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced two ministerial appointments--Alaa El Din Fahmy as Minister of Transport and Ahmed Zaki Badr as Minister of Education as well as the appointment of five new governors in the governorates of North Sinai, South Sinai, Helwan, Beni Suef, and Marsa Matrouh. -- Rumors of a broader cabinet reshuffle had been swirling since before the National Democratic Party (NDP) conference in November 2009. -- The ministerial appointments are unlikely to significantly alter the focus or direction of either ministry, and the selection of ministers close to Prime Minister Nazif suggests continued support by President Mubarak for the Nazif government. -- The changes in Sinai governors reflects GOE concern regarding ongoing security challenges in the troubled region. . --------------------- Ministry of Transport ---------------------

2.(SBU) Prior to his appointment as Minister of Transport, Alaa El Din Fahmy was the head of the Egyptian National Postal Authority (ENPA). Mohamed Mansour, the former Minister of Transport, resigned in October 2009 following a fatal train accident which killed 18 and injured 36. Mansour, who was widely viewed as a competent minister, is seen by many as the "fall guy" for a number of GOE failures in the sector. The announcement of Fahmy as Transport Minister is unsurprising since as he is widely respected for his work in the IT sector, particularly his work in developing both the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) and the ENPA. Modernizing the transportation sector is a key goal of the GOE, both in terms of reversing years of neglect and in upgrading transportation infrastructure in support of plans to increase commerce and industry in Upper Egypt.

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3.(C) Fahmy is perceived as a member of Prime Minister Nazif's trusted circle. In the view of most observers here, his appointment signals continued support by the President for the Nazif government. The opposition press has noted that Fahmy's appointment is unlikely to result in a new leadership direction for the ministry. Some Post contacts have suggested that Fahmy lacks vision and decisiveness. --------------------- Ministry of Education ---------------------

4.(SBU) Ahmed Zaki Badr, the new Minister of Education, is currently President of Ain Shams University. He has served in this position since mid-2007 after a six-month stint as vice-president of the university. Badr has been criticized in the opposition press for limiting freedom of speech on campus and creating tension with students who support either the Muslim Brotherhood or other opposition political movements. Badr's background is similar to that of his predecessor; he has an Engineering degree and a focus on the IT sector. His experience in education, however, would appear to be more suited for the Ministry of Higher Education, which runs Egypt's public universities, than for the Ministry of Education, which governs all primary and secondary education in the country.

5.(SBU) The timing of the replacement of Yousri el-Gamal as Minister of Education appeared somewhat sudden. He was at a public event kicking off a new anti-swine flu campaign when word of his replacement was announced. The official GOE statement gave no reason for el-Gamal's dismissal, but he had been the subject of public criticism for his handling of H1N1 issues in the schools as well as a well publicized case of abuse and death of a student at the hands of a teacher in 2008.

6.(C) Comment: El-Gamal worked closely with Embassy Cairo on critical education reform initiatives, and news of his replacement raises some concerns on that front. Badr has vowed that he will continue to pursue a reform agenda. Badr's reputation as a micromanager could alienate the cadre of vice-ministers who are the real driving force behind change in the Ministry. End Comment. ------------ Governorates ------------

7.(U) President Mubarak's decree changes the governors of five of Egypt's twenty-nine governorates. As is often the case in Egypt, three of the five governors come from military backgrounds. In addition to moving Mohamed Abdel Fadeel Shousha from his position as Governor of North Sinai to South Sinai, Mubarak appointed Mourad Mohamed Ahmed Mowafi as Governor of North Sinai, Ahmed Hussein Mostafa Ibrahim as Governor of Matrouh (located in western Egypt, stretching to the Libyan border), Samir El Azl as Governor of Beni Suef, and Qadri Abu Hussein as Governor of Helwan (encompassing the southern portion of the city of Cairo).

8.(C) Opinions differ as to whether Shousha's move from north to south Sinai is a promotion or a demotion. On one hand, his failure to contain the escalating violence in northern Sinai probably prompted the move, but alternatively his move to south Sinai which contains many of Egypt's beach resorts including Sharm el Sheikh and where President Mubarak spends a considerable amount of time, is seen as putting him "closer" to the President. Mowafi's appointment was almost certainly triggered by the violence and continued smuggling problems in north Sinai. Shousha was seen as difficult to work with and alienated much of the Bedouin leadership in Sinai. There is some hope that Mowafi's more "diplomatic" style will make him more effective at dealing with tribal politics and improving the security situation. The Matrouh and Beni Suef governments have also seen recent security issues that have raised questions about GOE effectiveness, and that may account for the changes in those positions as well.

9.(U) BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION (Derived from press sources): Ahmed Zaki BADR Current Position: Minister of Education Former Positions: President of Ain Shams University, Dean of Akhbar Al Youm Academy. Son of former Interior Minister Zaki Badr Alaa El Din FAHMY Current Position: Minister of Transport Former Positions: Head of Egyptian National Postal Authority (ENPA), Head of National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA), Regional Center for Information Technology, Egyptian Armed Forces Information Technology and Research and Development Education: Graduated from the Military Technical College Qadri ABU HUSSEIN D.O.B. 1940 Current Position: Governor of Helwan Former Positions: President of the Suhaj Development Company, President of the Suhaj Sons Alliance in Cairo, Secretary of the NDP in Suhaj, Member of the NDP General Secretariat, Vice President of Cairo Governorate for Southern Cairo, Secretary General of Asyut Governorate, Assistant Secretary to Sohag Governor, El Maragha Merkez Chief, Director of Public Relations in Sohag Governorate Education: Bachelor of Commerce (1962) Ahmed Hussein Mustafa IBRAHIM D.O.B. 1/9/1951 Married with three children Current Position: Governor of Matrouh Former Positions: Chief of Armed Forces Operations Agency and Assistant Minister of Defense, Chief of Command of the Second Field Army Education: Egyptian War College 1972 Mourad Mohamed Ahmed MOWAFI D.O.B. 2/23/190 Married with three children Current Position: Governor of North Sinai Former Positions: Director of Military Intelligence, Vice President of Military Intelligence, Chief of the Western Zone, Chief of the Second Army, Career Military since 1970 Samir SEIF EL-YAZAL D.O.B. 5/7/1952 Current Position: Governor of Beni Suef Former Positions: Fayoum Governorate General Secretary (5/2009-1/3/2010), Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Fayoum University since 2006 Education: Bachelors Degree in Agricultural Sciences from Cairo University (1973), Masters Degree from Cairo University (1978) Ph.D. from Germany in 1985 Mohamed SHOUSHA D.O.B. 4/5/1952 Married with three children Current Position: Governor of South Sinai Former Positions: Governor of North Sinai (4/18/2008-1/3/2010), former Chief of the Egyptian Border Guard Education: Egyptian War College Tueller

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