26 December 2010
Amidst the furore created by the Wikileaks revelations, it has not been widely reported that among the documents published on the site were some originating from the United Sates Embassy in Cairo.
The Wikileaks report mentioned that President Mubarak warned George W. Bush against invading Iraq, but that after the invasion he advised him not to withdraw directly but to wait out the establishment of stable security.
Concern about Sudan
In a wire sent from the US Embassy in Cairo to the American Secretary of State in Washington and leaked to Wikileaks, US Ambassador to Cairo Margaret Scobey wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Egypt was greatly concerned about the probable imminent separation of South Sudan. An official from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the US in the leaked wire to put off the Sudanese referendum on the issue, scheduled to take place next January, for from four to six years.
The official mentioned that the emergence of what he described as “a non-sustainable state” in Sudan could threaten Egypt’s quota of Nile water.
Regarding the Israeli-Syrian peace talks, according to Wikileaks President Mubarak said in a meeting with the former presidential nominee Senator John Kerry that he was not optimistic about the talks and did not expect any progress on the issue.
Losing UNESCO top post
It appears that in February 2009 Scobey wrote to Clinton regarding a planned meeting between Scobey and the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Abul Gheit, in which they were to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian struggle, the Gaza tunnels, the Iranian role in Iraq and US aid to Egypt.
According to WikiLeaks, the document also referred to the case of Egyptian dissident Ayman Nour who was then serving term in prison on a case of forgery. Margaret Scobey mentioned that President Mubarak considered the Nour case to be an internal issue, and that he took it personally when anyone spoke of it—especially when the subject came up publicly. The same, it said, applied to Saad Eddin Ibrahim, another political dissident who was at the time residing in the US. Scobey warned Clinton that Egypt might request that these cases be omitted from the agenda of the forthcoming meeting, but urged her not to bow to Egyptian pressure but to ask the Egyptian government to stop tracking political activists.
Through Abul Gheit, Egypt asked the US to support—or at least not to oppose—the nomination of Culture Minister Farouq Hosni as chief of UNESCO, citing in Hosni’s favour the important task of limiting Islamist culture in Egypt. However Scobey said that she told Clinton not to support Hosni, and asked Abul Gheit to nominate another person. Scobey justified the US rejection of Hosni’s nomination on the head of Hosni’s public disclosure that ‘Israelis have no culture’. Hosni lost.