Friday, 1 April 2011

" What was Murad Muwafi doing in Damascus?"


" When Egypt's new intelligence chief quietly flew to Syria's capital for a day of meetings last month, his American counterparts took note.
What was Murad Muwafi, the new Egyptian spymaster, doing in Damascus? With whom was he meeting? "Honestly, we have our ideas, but we don't know anything for certain," said a senior U.S. defense official, who didn't elaborate on what those ideas might be. "I wouldn't say we're worried—not yet. Concerned is probably a better word."
... Ties between U.S. and Egyptian intelligence have been the cornerstone of America's clandestine operations in the region, and they were largely based around a single man, Omar Suleiman... Before his departure, Mr. Suleiman kept a lid on the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement and regularly dined with top U.S. officials, advising them on some of their thorniest foreign-policy dilemmas: how to check Iran's influence or curb the power of Hamas, for example. Through Mr. Suleiman, Egypt became in 1995 the first country to cooperate with the U.S. program of rendition—sending terrorism suspects to third countries where they faced questioning and, in many cases, torture...
The few details of Mr. Muwafi's resumé that are publicly available suggest a man willing to work with the U.S... "So far the signals are where we had a long-standing joint interest before, which is to find violent extremists and prevent them from wreaking havoc on either Egypt or the United States or our friends, I think that is still a driving force of our cooperation."...
U.S., European and Israeli officials are worried that Mr. Muwafi, like the rest of the Egyptian national security establishment, will soon find himself working with a new government that is likely to be more responsive to public opinion, which is overwhelmingly negative on the U.S. and Israel...
Mr. Muwafi and others "have a vision for what the relationship [with the U.S.] should look like after the revolution," said Mohammed Ali Bilal, a retired army general who worked closely with Mr. Muwafi. "This is a new era and they should consider the interests of Egypt."
Mr. Muwafi's March 18 trip to Syria appears to be an indication of Egypt's changing priorities. Senior Egyptian officials, including Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby, have said in recent weeks they want to repair their country's relationship with Syria, and the timing of Mr. Muwafi's visit coincided with an Egyptian push to restart the Palestinian reconciliation process. Much of Hamas' senior leadership lives in Damascus. Meeting with them could have been the main goal of the visit, U.S. officials said. "I think if we knew more, we'd feel better about it," said the senior U.S. defense official...
"We are not sure what was the exact purpose" of the trip to Syria, said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He called the trip "very unusual."
Posted by G, M, Z, or B at 4:26 AM
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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