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If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #10CAIRO119.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10CAIRO119 2010-01-21 15:03 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
DE RUEHEG #0119/01 0211552
R 211551Z JAN 10
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 CAIRO 000119 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/21 
REF: 09 CAIRO 2298; 09 CAIRO 2011; 09 CAIRO 1893 CLASSIFIED BY: Donald A. Blome, Minister Counselor, Department of State, Economic and Political Affairs; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. Key Points: -- (C) Administrative insider and relative unknown Mohammed Badie, 66, was named the Muslim Brotherhood's eighth Supreme Guide on January 16. Badie's selection represents a generational shift within the group. He is the first Guide not to have known MB-founder Hassan Al-Banna. -- (C) In his first public statement, Badie attempted to minimize the significance of disagreements among MB leaders that had spilled into public view. Some analysts question his ability to heal the internal rifts that remain after bitter infighting surrounding the election process. -- (C) Guidance Bureau elections preceding the selection of Badie signaled a shift toward "conservatism" in the group. That shift has largely been viewed as evidence the group will become less politically active. -- (C) Badie's initial statement signaled continued political engagement (although perhaps more modest than 2005) and sent a message to the regime that the MB is not its enemy.

2. (C) Comment: The recent public airing of internal conflicts within the MB, something new and unwelcome to parts of the MB leadership especially the "traditionalists" that now dominate the Guidance Bureau, is likely to result in a long-term internal review process. Under Badie we may see a preference for increased secrecy and internal control. At stake is the restoration of the MB's public image -- the MB had often been seen as the opposition movement able to rise above internal power plays. In addition, the new leadership may reposition the MB's role in the Egyptian political scene, shifting it out of the public spotlight as a potential competitor to the ruling National Democratic Party in national elections. Badie's own statement affirms that the MB will continue to pursue a parallel strategy that includes political participation and its well-established social and religious work. However, a more "conservative" or "traditionalist" leadership is likely to be more cautious in its approach to upcoming 2010 parliamentary elections. A complete withdrawal from electoral participation is doubtful. Continued pressure from security services and its own internal processes will mean the MB is likely to field fewer candidates than it did in 2005. End Comment. -------------------------- New MB Supreme Guide Named --------------------------

3. (C) On Saturday January 16, the Muslim Brotherhood named Mohammed Badie (Badee) as its eighth Supreme Guide. A relative unknown, Badie's name had been circulating in the media for several days after reports were leaked that he had received the highest number of votes from the approximately 100-member MB Shura Council. Badie has been a member of the Guidance Bureau since 1996 and has held several administrative positions in the group (see Bio Note in Para 11). Most commentators see his selection as a sign the MB will now turn its attention inward, focusing on getting its own house in order following a series of publically aired internal disputes over internal election procedures (Ref A). In comments to independent daily Al Masry Al Youm, new member of the Guidance Bureau (and the only known "reformer" among its ranks) Essam El Eryan said the new Guide's primary task will be "internal reform". CAIRO 00000119 002 OF 005 ------------------ A Unifying Choice? ------------------

4. (C) Embassy contact XXXXXXXXXXXX described Badie as an MB "moderate" known for his affable personality and ability to "communicate well," making him well-suited to help heal the apparent rift between MB "reformers" and "conservatives." XXXXXXXXXXXX suggests that as the first Guide not to have derived his legitimacy from a personal relationship with MB founder Hassan Al Banna, Badie is not only potentially less legitimate but also lacks the "gravitas" needed to handle internal disputes. Badie's leadership may benefit from internal MB fatigue -- a result of GOE pressure on the group and the public airing of its internal dirty laundry. In his first speech as Supreme Guide, Badie rejected any rift or "disunity" in the group and underscored that the MB is a dynamic institution that "operates according to rules" which remain under "constant review." Until naming a new Secretary General (Dr. Mahmoud Hussein), Badie had been described by some Embassy contacts as a proxy for the more influential "conservative" leader former Secretary General Mahmoud Ezzat (Note: Badie and Ezzat share a common experience as part of the group detained with Sayed El Qutb in 1965. End Note.). While Ezzat appears to have had a strong behind the scenes role as the power behind the "conservative" shift, the impact of his removal from the administrative post of Secretary General is unclear. -------------------------------------- MB Participation in Upcoming Elections ---------------------------------------

5. (C) The verdict is still out on what recent internal elections mean for continued political participation by the MB. According to both XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX the result will likely be an MB more focused on religious activity (or "dawa") and social services and a decrease in the level of MB participation in the upcoming elections. XXXXXXXXXXXX suggests that while Badie and other members of the Guidance Bureau have long-term experience with managing the administration of the group, none are known for their efforts at organizing political participation. XXXXXXXXXXXX cautioned PolOff against assuming a complete "retreat" by the group from political life. He told PolOff that "conservative" leaders, particularly Ezzat, may reject the need for an MB-affiliated political party advocated by reformers like Abdel Moneim Fotouh, but remain firmly committed to MB participation in the elections. According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, what may change is the number of candidates the group will run in the 2010 parliamentary elections. In his view, the final number will depend primarily on signals from the GOE. ----------------- Politics as Usual -----------------

6. (C) In a speech delivered following his "swearing in" ceremony on Saturday January 16, Badie did not signal a change in strategy and said political participation would continue go hand in hand with the MB's "community work." Badie called "democracy" (also referred to in the speech as the process of "consultation") fundamental to the MB's own practices. He emphasized the MB's commitment to majority rule and its acceptance of "the plurality of parties and the freedom for the parties to be established without restrictions" as defined in the constitution and the transfer of power among these parties through "free and fair elections." In an effort perhaps to reach out to the regime, Badie said in his speech that the MB is not an "opponent" of the current regime. CAIRO 00000119 003 OF 005 However, he vowed to remain critical of "corrupted policies." Badie affirmed the MB's rejection of violence and stated the MB seeks "gradual reform through a peaceful and constitutional struggle." --------------------------------------------- --------- Conservatives Consolidate Influence in Guidance Bureau --------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (C) The naming of the new Guide followed the December 2009 election of the MB's primary administrative body, the Guidance Bureau. These were the first Guidance Bureau elections since 1995. The term for each member is six years. The term is extended if elections are delayed. Once voted onto the Bureau, members receive lifetime membership in the MB's legislative body, the Shura Council. In the recent elections, leaders of the movement's "conservative" wing appear to have cemented their leadership (see the complete list of new members in Para 10). Deputy Supreme Guide Mohammed Habib, thought by many to be the next MB Supreme Guide, was removed from the Bureau, as was recently released reformer Abdel Moneim Al Fotouh. In the most public airing of internal MB disputes in recent memory, Habib had publically insisted the election process was not legitimate, despite then-Guide Akef's public certification of the results. Following the elections, Habib resigned from his role as Deputy Guide, the Guidance Bureau and his seat on the International Shura Council (giving up therefore any influence over the naming of the next Guide). Habib was absent from the press conference announcing Badie as was Fotouh. ---------------------------- Not Ideology but Perspective ----------------------------

8. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOff the exclusion of Mohammed Habib and Fotouh from the Bureau was a sanction for their public criticism of the group and not a rejection of their views. In his view the difference between "conservatives" and "reformers" in the group is not ideological. Instead it is their perspective, short-term vs. long-term, that determines how they set priorities and implement programs to achieve the group's goal of social, economic and political reform based on the principles of Islam. "Conservatives" like Ezzat are interested in the group's interests over the next twenty years. This results in a tendency to focus first on organizational unity. On the other hand, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, "reformers" like Fotouh are focused on what is happening in the next few years. They are more likely to press the group to take advantage of the current political and social environment, including forming alliances with other groups, to promote the group's interests. XXXXXXXXXXXXalso pointed out that while the previous Guidance Bureau had a wide generational distribution, the current group is mostly homogeneous, with only a few members over the age of 60. In his view, the prevalence of a "common experience" was thus likely to make this a less contentious group. ------------------------------------------ GOE Pressure Behind the Conservative Shift ------------------------------------------

9. (C) Others see the shift to the "right" as a direct result of GoE pressure on the group over the last year. XXXXXXXXXXXX suggested high-profile arrests targeting known MB "reformers" (Ref B) were part of an effort to sideline those who would push for participation in the elections on the scale seen in 2005. He called this a "short-term" strategy he expected to backfire. While the security services see the "conservative wing," CAIRO 00000119 004 OF 005 which is focused on the group's long term survival, as easier to control than the reform wing, XXXXXXXXXXXX warned PolOff that the group, without a strong reform trend, will become both more isolated and more likely "act outside the law." (Note: Mady has also publically suggested the possibility of increased militancy, but we've not heard this elsewhere and this may feed into his own agenda as a representative of "moderate" political Islam. End Note.) ----------------------------- December 2009 Guidance Bureau -----------------------------

10. (C) Current Guidance Bureau Members: XXXXXXXXXXXX -------- Bio Note -------- CAIRO 00000119 005 OF 005

11. (C) Mohammed Badie Abdel Maguid Samy born August 7, 1943 in the Delta city Mahala Al-Kobra, is an associate professor of pathology at the Beni Sweif University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. Badie has been a member of the MB Guidance Bureau since 1996 and it's International Shura Council since 2007. After graduating from Cairo University's Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, he was appointed lecture at the University of Asyut. In 1965 he was arrested along with Sayed Qutb and jailed for nine years for being part of the MB paramilitary unit accused of attempting to assassinate Nasser and overthrow the regime. Badie was released in 1974 by President Anwar Sadat following the MB's decision to renounce violence. After his release, Badie received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Zagazig University (1979) and joined the faculty in 1983. In 1977 Badie was named the head of the MB's administrative office in Mahalla. Badie taught in Yemen from 1982 to 1986 (and served on the MB's education committee while in Sana'a). Since his return to Egypt in 1987 Badie has continued to teach veterinary medicine in Beni Suef. In 1994 Badie joined the MB's "administrative office" in Beni Suef and the local education committee. Badie was arrested in 1999 and sentenced by a Military Court to a five-year term for syndicate activity. He was released early in 2003 after serving part of his term. According to Embassy contact Rafik Habib, Badie has been acting over the last several years as the head of MB's national education committee. Responsible for the "formation" of new members, including ideological preparation, Badie is well versed in the group's internal procedures and details of its membership. (Note: Given the group's continued secretive nature, information on membership is not widely shared, even among members of the Guidance Bureau. End Note.) (Sources: Embassy contacts and various media sources, including the MB's English-language website SCOBEY