Mubarak for life is Washington’s dream

This is the reality of US foreign policy in the Middle East. Dictatorships for life:

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt‘s long-serving president, is likely to seek re-election next year and will “inevitably” win a poll that will not be free and fair, the US ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, predicted in a secret cable to Hillary Clinton last year.

Scobey discussed Mubarak’s quasi-dictatorial leadership style since he took power in 1981; his critical views of George Bush and American policy in the Middle East; and the highly uncertain prospects for a succession.

The disclosures come one day after Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear agency chief, announced he would not run for the presidency and urged all Egyptians to boycott the vote. ElBaradei dismissed last month’s parliamentary elections as fraud and vowed not to associated with a repeat performance. “We will not participate in this farce next year in the presidential election if changes to the constitution are not completed,” he said. Mubarak has not yet formally declared whether he will seek a sixth consecutive term.

Scobey’s candid view, in a cable dated May 2009, is that Mubarak, 82, who heads the Arab world’s most populous and influential nation, is most likely to die in office rather than step down voluntarily or be replaced in a plausible democratic vote. “The next presidential elections are scheduled for 2011 and if Mubarak is still alive it is likely he will run again and, inevitably, win,” Scobey writes.

“When asked about succession he states that the process will follow the Egyptian constitution. Despite incessant whispered discussions no one in Egypt has any certainty about who will eventually succeed Mubarak nor under what circumstances.

“The most likely contender is presidential son Gamal Mubarak (whose profile is ever-increasing at the ruling party); some suggest that intelligence chief Omar Soliman might seek the office; or dark horse Arab League secretary general Amre Moussa might run.

“Mubarak’s ideal of a strong but fair leader would seem to discount Gamal Mubarak to some degree, given Gamal’s lack of military experience, and may explain Mubarak’s hands-off approach to the succession question. Indeed he seems to be trusting to God and the ubiquitous military and civilian security services to ensure an orderly transition.”