All from wikileaks cables, excerpts from larger pieces but other parts were mainly about Gaza, Iran, etc which are also very interesting but figured it would be too much and distract from domestic issues - reading through those though, his stances on foreign policy issues are worth reading (e.g. Feb, 2008: You must try to convince Israel to stop cutting off humanitarian supplies to the Palestinians, Tantawi said. "Not all Gazans are Hamas." The trouble is that when Israel tightens the siege around Gaza, "thousands of innocent men, women, and children suffer." AND Sept, 2006:Tantawi then asked for U.S. help in getting Israel to"calm down" and stop hindering the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian people.) - can provide links if desired.
Written by US diplomats so take it for what its worth - while not the most telling of information, unfortunately, the lack of transparency makes it hard to find more "legitimate" information from other places...
While this is about Tantawi, will try to create a similar one about other SCAF members who are cited/discussed..
Back to Al Mosheer:
Decision-making within MOD rests almost solely with Defense Minister Tantawi. In office since 1991, he consistently resists change to the level and direction of FMF funding and is therefore one of our chief impediments to transforming our security relationship. Nevertheless, he retains President Mubarak's support. You should encourage Tantawi to place greater emphasis on countering asymmetric threats rather than focusing almost exclusively on conventional force.
Tantawi added that any country where the military became engaged in "internal affairs" was "doomed to have lots of problems." He stressed that countries must clearly stipulate the military's duties in their constitution and militaries should not deviate from those defined responsibilities.
While the Pakistanis were "difficult," Tantawi said that Egypt was still trying to "work with them." (Note: Tantawi previously served as the Egyptian Defense Attach to Pakistan and was also responsible for Afghanistan. End Note)
Tantawi began by providing a brief overview of regional security concerns. Tantawi said that Egypt was "keeping an eye" on the situation in Sudan because of the Nile's crucial role in Egyptian security and stability. He also expressed concerns over Iran. He noted Egypt maintained a good relationship with Israel and was cooperating on a number of different issues, including border security.
DNI Blair expressed U.S. concern over cyber security threats from hackers and other countries. Tantawi shared these concerns and hoped the U.S. and Egypt could cooperate to combat this threat.
Tantawi said that Egypt had good relations with China, which mostly focused on economic issues. Although Egypt had "some" military relations with China, they did not discuss terrorism or security issues within the Gulf.
Defense Minister Tantawi keeps the Armed Forces appearing reasonably sharp and the officers satisfied with their perks and privileges, and Mubarak does not appear concerned that these forces are not well prepared to face 21st century external threats. EGIS Chief Omar Soliman and Interior Minister al-Adly keep the domestic beasts at bay, and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics. Gamal Mubarak and a handful of economic ministers have input on economic and trade matters, but Mubarak will likely resist further economic reform if he views it as potentially harmful to public order and stability. Dr. Zakaria Azmi and a few other senior NDP leaders manage the parliament and public politics.
(Little take on Mubarak: Mubarak is a classic Egyptian secularist who hates religious extremism and interference in politics. The Muslim Brothers represent the worst, as they challenge not only Mubarak's power, but his view of Egyptian interests. As with regional issues, Mubarak, seeks to avoid conflict and spare his people from the violence he predicts would emerge from unleashed personal and civil liberties. In Mubarak's mind, it is far better to let a few individuals suffer than risk chaos for society as a whole.)
Comment: Tantawi's physical and mental health has long been rumored to be deteriorating. During the meeting, however, Tantawi appeared in good health and was engaged and quick-witted throughout the conversation.
September 2008: (this entry mainly comes from one source, blacked out "XXXXX", so again, take it for what its worth given the single source and his closeness to the US)
Since Abu Ghazalah (defense minister pre-1989 who allegedly was fired because he was charismatic and getting popular support), XXXXXXXXXXXX noted, the regime has not allowed any charismatic figures to reach the senior ranks. “(Defense Minister) Tantawi looks like a bureaucrat,” he joked. XXXXXXXXXXXX described the mid-level officer corps as generally disgruntled, and said that one can hear mid-level officers at MOD clubs around Cairo openly expressing disdain for Tantawi. These officers refer to Tantawi as “Mubarak’s poodle,” he said, and complain that “this incompetent Defense Minister” who reached his position only because of unwavering loyalty to Mubarak is “running the military into the ground.” He opined that a culture of blind obedience pervades the MOD where the sole criteria for promotion is loyalty, and that the MOD leadership does not hesitate to fire officers it perceives as being “too competent” and who therefore potentially pose a threat to the regime.
Reform: In the cabinet, where he still wields significant influence, Tantawi has opposed both economic and political reforms that he perceives as eroding central government power. He is supremely concerned with national unity, and has opposed policy initiatives he views as encouraging political or religious cleavages within Egyptian society. In a speech on March 9, Tantawi said one of the military’s roles is to protect constitutional legitimacy and internal stability, signaling his willingness to use the military to control the Muslim Brotherhood in the run-up to the April 9 municipal council elections. On economic reform, Tantawi believes that Egypt’s economic reform plan fosters social instability by lessening GOE controls over prices and production. Tantawi rejects any conditioning on Egyptian FMF on human rights or any other grounds. Before this year he thought that FMF was inviolable and regarded ESF as a layer of protection against possible cuts to FMF. He will argue that any conditions on military assistance are counter-productive. He will also state that the military is not behind human rights problems in Egypt and that U.S. Congressional human rights conditionally is mis-targeted.
Washington interlocutors should be prepared to meet an aged and change-resistant Tantawi. Charming and courtly, he is, nonetheless mired in a post-Camp David military paradigm that has served his cohort’s narrow interests for the last three decades. He and Mubarak are focused on regime stability and maintaining the status quo through the end of their time. They simply do not have the energy, inclination or world view to do anything differently. Nonetheless, for the benefit of Tantawi’s omnipresent aides, we should focus discussions on the future and how to operate as strategic partners as we face the challenges of that future together.
Civil Defense: The Red Sea ferry accident in February 2006 embarrassed the Mubarak government and cost more than 1000 lives. Tantawi will bring to Washington his mandate from President Mubarak to integrate the military into crisis response management. On this he needs and will be grateful for our help -- a small but important advance against the MOD’s staunch resistance to engagement with us in shifting their priorities and transforming their forces. ASD for Homeland Defense McHale has suggested including Egyptian representatives in U.S.-based civil emergency exercises
During their hour-long meeting on December 31, DefMin Tantawi told the Ambassador and visiting CODEL Voinovich (Senator Voinovich, R-OH; Rep. Turner, R-OH; Rep. Pearce, R-NM; Rep. Bishop, R-UT; Rep. Gingrey, R-GA) that conditioning Egypt's FMF assistance will harm bilateral relations and would be rejected not only by Egypt's military members, but by all Egyptians. "This (conditioning) is bad for U.S.-Egyptian relations." The average Egyptian sees such conditioning of military aid as U.S. interference in Egypt's internal affairs, Tantawi said. (C) Senator Voinovich said that he understood Tantawi's concern, and stressed that the conditioning can be waived by the Secretary of State; "I hope this can be worked out." Unfortunately, Voinovich said, there are certain members of Congress who do not consider all the ramifications of the U.S.-Egypt relationship. "They don't see the big picture." Turning to the issue of tunneling and smuggling under Egypt's border with Gaza, Voinovich opined that "the sooner we solve that problem, the better for our relationship." Senator Voinovich asked if the Saudis saw Iran in the same way, and if they communicated their concerns directly to the Iranians. Tantawi said that the Saudis try to be helpful. "We and the Saudis are close," he said. "We share views and have the same attitudes."
On September 16, Minister of Defense Field Marshal Tantawi and the Ambassador discussed the impact of the FMF debates on the overall relationship, the state of mil-to-mil relations, border security, the under-disbursement of FMF in FY07, and the peace process. Tantawi said that the U.S. and Egypt must work to strengthen the mil-to-mil relationship despite occasional differences on individual issues. He also warned that Egypt's history with colonialism, occupation and war still impacts Egypt's foreign relations.Tantawi said that the assistance debates impact not only the military and other government officials, but also the Egyptian people, who are "intelligent and sensitive." Referring to the 2007 amendment by Representative Obey, Tantawi said that "those in Congress who would try to pressure Egypt through the military on issues regarding the judiciary, police or borders should know this will not work." President Mubarak was very angry about this development, Tantawi explained -- it was carried out as though Egypt is weak and can be ordered to do things. "It could have been handled another way," he said, again highlighting the sensitivity of the Egyptian people to what they perceive as foreign interference. Tantawi then recounted that when he was a boy, a British officer ordered him to leave the public sidewalk in central Cairo and to cross the street so as to be out of the way. "This was in my own country," Tantwai said; "I was not doing anything wrong." "Colonialism, the wars and Israeli occupation of Sinai are historic issues that we can't leave behind." Border security, the Ambassador said, remains a high priority for the USG, and asked the Minister to increase to 750 the number of Border Guard Forces (BGF) on the border with Gaza and to do everything else possible to stem smuggling. Tantawi repeated his long-standing request that Israel agree to allow Egypt to deploy another border guard unit (with equipment), noting that the current number of troops is insufficient to patrol the 14 kilometer border with Gaza, and even less the 28 kilometer Mediterranean Sea coast of Zone C.
Currently, there is no obvious contender from among the officer corps, Egypt's traditional presidential recruitment grounds. Minister of Defense Tantawi, a contemporary of Mubarak's, appears to harbor no political ambitions. Like Soliman, he could play a role in clearing the way for Gamal, if he calculates that is in the best interests of the country; conversely, he could also be a key player in preventing Gamals ascendance. We have heard some limited reports of Tantawi’s increasing frustration and disenchantment with Gamal (ref b). In the event of a national leadership crisis, it is near inconceivable that given Mubarak's personal manipulation of the office corps, that another military officer could emerge from obscurity to assert himself as a candidate. But Tantawi and his senior coterie are not necessarily popular at mid and lower ranks, so the possibility of a mid-20th century style coup of colonels cannot be entirely discounted.
CENTCOM Commanding General John Abizaid, accompanied by the Ambassador, met on August 30 with Egyptian Minister of Defense Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi to review U.S.-Egyptian mil-mil relations and discuss the regional situation. Abizaid and Tantawi agreed that the U.S.-Egyptian relationship is very strong; but, added Tantawi, "we want even more." General Abizaid thanked Tantawi for Egypt's cooperation in areas as diverse as granting overflight clearances to facilitating usage of the Suez Canal. Tantawi said it was important for the U.S. to remember that, while Egyptian political and military leaders understood the value of the U.S.-Egyptian relationship, "the simple people do not see it." We need to work together to convince them, too. The key, according to Tantawi, is the reinvigoration of the peace process. "It is not a peace process just for the Palestinians and Israelis, but for the region as a whole."
A key stumbling block for any effort to bring Gamal Mubarak to the presidency could be the military. Each of Egypt's three presidents since the republic was established in 1952 were drawn from the military's officer corps, and the military has historically been the ultimate guarantor of the president's rule. Gamal Mubarak did not serve as a military officer (and it is not clear whether he ever completed, even "on paper," his national military service) and unlike his father, can not take the military's support for granted. This factor is often cited by our contacts, who believe that Soliman, the intelligence chief with a military background, would have to figure in any succession scenario for Gamal, if only as a transitional figure. Another theory is that some other military officer could emerge from obscurity as a presidential contender. (Defense Minister Tantawi is acknowledged to be frail and without any political ambition.)
Joseph told Tantawi that the U.S. would like to expand the areas of U.S.-Egyptian cooperation and said the Administration will work proactively to educate Members of Congress on Egypt's valuable contributions to regional stability in order to ensure the continuation of military assistance. Joseph cautioned that Congress will look closely at a range of issues including, for example, Egypt's support on Iran, its efforts to help counter weapons of mass destruction, its role in Darfur, and the pace of democratic reform. In this context, there are certain things that Egypt must do to build support in Congress. (C) Tantawi responded that while bilateral relations with the U.S. have always been good, Egypt and the Egyptian people resent the perception in Congress that Egypt must earn its assistance. "Our respect is being violated and our dignity is threatened," Tantawi said. In Tantawi's view, the impact on the relationship, and especially on the armed forces, is very bad. "If we agree that, as equals, we both gain from the relationship, we can better cooperate to achieve our interests," Tantawi said. "Don't spoil the relationship by threatening our military assistance" because this form of pressure "will not work." After complaining about the U.S. decision not to release new defense systems, Tantawi asked Joseph (again) to tell Congress of Egypt's value and argued that Egypt's cooperation with the U.S. has been steadfast. Egypt even disposed of the former USSR-donated chemical weapons it received decades ago just because the U.S. requested it, Tantawi argued.
March 1st 2006:
Summary: During his March 5-10 visit to Washington, Defense Minister Tantawi will seek Administration support for the current level of FMF funding. Tantawi feels that any USG concerns about the pace of democratic reform should be kept distinct from the mil-mil relationship, which he considers the cornerstone of the bilateral relationship.MoD management: On the internal front, Tantawi and his advisors have been unreceptive to suggestions that the Defense Ministry consider a transformation plan, as is done in the U.S. military. Tantawi and his advisors have declined numerous offers of briefings on transformation as it impacts staffing, doctrine, training, and equipment. Decision-making at the Ministry is hierarchical, with Tantawi's personal approval required for nearly all decisions, including, for example, who will attend low-level training. Although we can continue to encourage the Ministry to reevaluate its procedures in light of changing national and regional dynamics and modern practices, absent a change in leadership, it is unlikely that MoD will act. (C) International Medical Center: One sensitive issue on the slate is whether the treatment of third country patients at the FMF-funded International Medical Center (IMC) violates Section Three of the Arms Export Control Act of 1976. Because the USG funded the IMC for the treatment of members of the Egyptian military and their families, State is exploring whether the IMC's treatment of third country patients is illegal. One of Tantawi's advisors is working with post to collect the information needed to make this determination. Tantawi will not raise this issue himself in any meetings.
March 19th 2006:
Summary: On March 19, the Ambassador and Defense Minister Tantawi discussed Iraq, Sudan, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and Tantawi's impressions of his recent visit to Washington. Tantawi reaffirmed the GOE view that for now, U.S. troops must remain in Iraq. On his meetings in Washington, Tantawi said he was concerned by the discussion about potentially drawing down the U.S. presence in the MFO (Multinational Force in Sinai) and reassured by the Administration's support for maintaining the current level of FMF. Tantawi also said Egypt is committed to maintaining strong but "quiet" counter-proliferation cooperation with the U.S. Tantawi said formally joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) would be counter productive as it would certainly arouse domestic political opposition, particularly from the new parliament. End summary.On FMF, Tantawi said he was pleased with the assurances he received from the Administration on the need to maintain the same level of funding for the coming year. Although Tantawi said his meetings with members of Congress were positive, he expressed concern over Representative Obey's apparent change of heart. Tantawi explained that because Obey had always been a "friend" of Egypt, he was surprised and disappointed to hear the Congressman raise questions about Egypt's FMF.
Democratic Reform: Tantawi told the Ambassador that the GOE is working to strike a balance between openness and stability. Noting the MB-Hamas link, Tantawi said the GOE is watching this closely to control, but not crack down on, the MB. He complained that the MB gets away with criticizing the GOE extensively and said there is no way to respond. He invited the Ambassador's "advice." The Ambassador urged the GOE to use increased openness to advantage -- not necessarily for "dialogue" with the Islamists but rather for debate: voices of secular opposition to the MB needed to be heard, whether from within the ruling party, or from a strengthened democratic opposition, or both. Tantawi said that this will all come with time and at a pace appropriate for Egypt. The Ambassador countered that the MB seems to be advancing its agenda at a faster pace to meet what appears to be popular demand for change.