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Viewing cable 09CAIRO327, LT GENERAL NORTH DISCUSSES GAZA, PIRACY, AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO327 2009-02-23 13:01 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
O 231355Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1707
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000327 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2019 
TAGS: PREL MASS MOPS PARM KPAL IS IR EG XF
SUBJECT: LT GENERAL NORTH DISCUSSES GAZA, PIRACY, AND 
MILITARY COOPERATION WITH MOD OFFICIALS 
 
REF: CAIRO 161 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Tueller per 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) On January 26, AFCENT Commander Lieutenant General North met with MOD Chief of Staff General Sami Enan to discuss Gaza, piracy, and increased bilateral military cooperation. Enan looked forward to an increased U.S. focus on the Middle East under the Obama administration and enhanced bilateral military relations. Lt Gen North expressed U.S. support for the Egyptian Air Force's (EAF) efforts to modernize its fleet, improve training, and increase opportunities for joint exercises.

2. (C) On Gaza and counter smuggling efforts, Lt Gen North expressed appreciation for Egypt's efforts to secure a durable cease fire in Gaza. Enan stressed the importance of opening Gaza's borders for regular commercial traffic, referring to the crossing points as "lungs" that must be allowed to breathe. Enan expressed doubt that Israeli air strikes could destroy the tunnels "100 percent" given the enormous financial incentive for individuals on all sides - Gaza, Egypt and Israel - to smuggle.

3. (C) Enan expressed MOD's willingness to cooperate with the U.S. on countering arms smuggling, such as by accelerating the installation of the FMF-sponsored tunnel detection equipment (reftel). He stressed, however, that the only long-term option for stopping arms smuggling was to reopen Gaza's borders under the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM). Enan hoped an agreement could soon be reached to prevent "outside elements" like Syria, Iran, Qatar and Hezbollah from exploiting the Gaza conflict to interfere in regional security. Dismissing Qatar's unhelpful role, Enan averred, "any Islamic or Arab issue should pass through the Egyptian gate. If not, it will not achieve success."

4. (C) On piracy, Lt Gen North informed Enan that CENTCOM assets continued to track incidents of piracy and illegal shipments throughout the region, and would appreciate increased cooperation and intelligence sharing with Egypt. Enan encouraged the international community to address political instability in Somalia, which he viewed as the root cause of piracy. He also voiced Egyptian support for a maritime counter piracy force under the auspices of the United Nations.

5. (C) On Foreign Military Financing (FMF), Lt Gen North encouraged MOD to quickly approve a pending Letter of Request (LOR) for 24 F-16 aircraft. Enan requested support for the political release of advanced weapons systems (Note: Some systems are not releasable because of Egyptian refusal to sign the necessary agreement (CISMOA) ensuring proper protection of certain U.S. origin technology. Other systems are either not releasable to any country or denied for political reasons, mainly due to concerns regarding Israel's Qualitative Military Edge. End Note). Enan suggested that Egypt's strategic role in maintaining security in the region should override the need for a CISMOA. Lt Gen North urged the GOE to reevaluate releasability issues "througha new light" so that the US could help Egypt modrnize its armed forces and increase interoperabilty.

6. (C) Lt Gen North informed Enan that AFCNT was exploring ways to increase participation n the 2009 Bright Star exercise. Enan welcomed U.S. Air Force participation, adding that the joint exercise sent an "important message to the whole world that Egypt is cooperating with the United States." Lt Gen North also encouraged Egyptian Air Force participation in Jordan's Falcon Air Meet exercise. When North described progress being made in Iraq, Enan noted that in January 2008, he offered to provide training for Iraqi troops in Egypt because Egypt supported a strong Iraq as a buffer against Iran, but the Iraqis have yet to accept the offer.

7.(U) Lt Gen North cleared this cable. SCOBEY