Rest assured, Mubarak regime saw Obama as a friend

One of the latest Wikileaks cables just released, from January 2009, makes that clear:

The Egyptian leadership is taking notice of, and welcoming, President Obama’s recent outreach to Egypt, and focus on the Middle East peace process. Safwat El Sherif, the powerful secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party and speaker of the Shura Council (Egypt’s upper house of parliament), has long been chilly to the U.S., disdaining contact with USG officials and often making negative public remarks about the USG. In an uncharacteristic move, Sherif, arguably the most influential politician in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak, made comments to journalists on January 24 that were relatively warm towards President Obama. In a statement that was highlighted in the premier government newspaper “Al Ahram” and subsequently on the ruling party’s website, Sherif said that the President’s January 21 call to Hosni Mubarak “is an initiative that reflects a change (in U.S. policy). demonstrating that the new U.S. administration is keen to listen to the views of the most important country in the Middle East (Egypt).” Sherif also flagged President Obama’s January 22 comments at the State Department on U.S. policy in the Middle East, noting that they were “positive.”

2.(SBU) Sherif underscored “the importance of the U.S. approach in the coming phase, as it works to regain its credibility as a neutral partner in the peace process,” and stressed his hope that the USG would stop using “double standards” when dealing with Israel and Arab countries. While Sherif’s comments may seem unremarkable, the relatively positive tone towards the U.S. is quite unusual in the current Egyptian context, and significant coming from someone normally so critical of the USG. Sherif’s commentary, and the subsequent orchestrated highlighting of his remarks in GOE mouthpieces, is a clear signal of the Egyptian leadership’s appreciation of administration moves to date.

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