Egypt viewed US military aid as `untouchable`: WikiLeaks

Egypt`s President Hosni Mubarak and his generals have viewed generous US military aid as an "untouchable" reward for keeping peace with Israel, according to leaked US documents posted by WikiLeaks.

Last Updated: Feb 01, 2011, 13:34 PM IST

Washington: Egypt`s President Hosni Mubarak
and his generals have viewed generous US military aid as an
"untouchable" reward for keeping peace with Israel, according
to leaked US documents posted by WikiLeaks.

The secret diplomatic cable from 2009 underscored the
deep ties between the two countries and Washington`s difficult
position as a week of massive street protests threatened to
bring down Mubarak`s regime.

In a cable dated March 31, 2009, the US ambassador in
Cairo writes that the annual USD 1.3 billion in arms provided
to Mubarak`s government has proved a success over the years,
preserving peace between Egypt and Israel while ensuring
access for US forces.

"President Mubarak and military leaders view our military
assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil
relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF
(foreign military finance) as `untouchable compensation` for
making and maintaining peace with Israel," said the cable
disclosed by the WikiLeaks website and first reported by the
British daily The Guardian.

"The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are
clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the US military
enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian
airspace," it said.

But the cable added that the military relationship could
be more productive if Egyptian military leaders heed US advice
and took more steps to address "emerging threats," including
border security, counter terrorism and peacekeeping.

American efforts to persuade a fresh approach by the
Egyptian Defence Ministry, including helping to train Iraqi
security forces, had only "met with limited success," it said.

The cable added that during the long tenure of the
Defence Minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, "the tactical
and operational readiness of the Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF)
has degraded".

The memo offered a pessimistic view of Cairo`s attitude
towards political reform, saying "Egyptian democracy and human
rights efforts, however, are being stymied." It added that
that Egypt was "skeptical" of US support for pro-democracy
groups.

Described as a "scene setter" for a 2009 visit by the
chief of the US Air Force, four-star General Norton Schwartz,
the memo praised Egyptian security forces for improving
counter-smuggling efforts along the Gaza border.

Bureau Report