US embassy cable - 86ALEXANDRIA806

MEETING WITH ALEXANDRIA'S NEW GOVERNOR: FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Identifier: 86ALEXANDRIA806
Wikileaks: View 86ALEXANDRIA806 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Alexandria
Created: 1986-07-25 05:26:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PINR EG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 250526Z JUL 86
FM AMCONSUL ALEXANDRIA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6000
INFO AMEMBASSY CAIRO
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ALEXANDRIA 00806 
 
FOR DEPT PASS INR/OIL/B; CAIRO PLS PASS AID 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PINR, EG 
SUBJECT:  MEETING WITH ALEXANDRIA'S NEW GOVERNOR: FIRST 
IMPRESSIONS 
 
REF:  CAIRO 15935 
 
1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  IT IS TOO EARLY TO ASSESS THE 
CHARACTER OF THE NEW MAN ON THE ALEXANDRIA HOT SEAT. 
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS OF GOVERNOR GAWSAQI ARE FAVORABLE, 
ALTHOUGH KEY CONTACTS FEEL HE HAS INSUFFICIENT GRIT 
AND EXPERIENCE FOR THIS VERY TOUGH JOB.  OTHERS CLAIM 
THAT AL GAWSAQI'S ALLEGED "SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP" WITH 
MUBARAK WILL PAY THE GOVERNORATE MANY DIVIDENDS.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (U)  TWO WEEKS AGO, SAYYID ISMAIL AL-GAWSAQI WAS 
APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF ALEXANDRIA (REFTEL).  THE MOVE 
CAME AS A COMPLETE SURPRISE (HE IS RELATIVELY UNKNOWN), 
AND HE WAS NEVER EVEN MENTIONED AS BEING IN CONTENTION. 
SINCE HIS ARRIVAL IN ALEXANDRIA, AL-GAWSAQI HAS STAYED 
BUSY MEETING WITH GOVERNORATE OFFICIALS AND LEADING 
BUSINESSMEN.  REQUESTS BY FOREIGNERS FOR MEETINGS WITH 
HIM WERE POLITELY, BUT FIRMLY, TURNED ASIDE, UNTIL 
JULY 24 WHEN THE LOCAL CONSULAR CORPS WAS FORMALLY 
INTRODUCED TO HIM. 
 
3.  (LOU)  THE AFFAIR, CEREMONIAL IN NATURE, HELD NO 
SUBSTANCE ALTHOUGH IT GAVE THE CONSULS AN OPPORTUNITY 
TO ASSESS THE GOVERNOR'S FLUENCY IN ARABIC, FRENCH, 
AND ENGLISH (HE WAS APOLOGETIC ABOUT HIS ABILITY IN 
THE LATTER TWO BUT GETS ALONG VERY WELL IN BOTH).  HE 
SAID ALL THE RIGHT THINGS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AND HIS 
DESIRE TO SOLVE MANY OF THE PROBLEMS AFFLICTING 
ALEXANDRIA. AT THE END OF THE MEETING, THOSE PRESENT 
SHOOK HANDS WITH THE GOVERNOR AS THEY FILED OUT OF HIS 
OFFICE.  I MANAGED TO PLACE MYSELF AT THE END OF THE 
LINE (HARDER THAN IT SOUNDS AMONG MY PROTOCOL CONSCIOUS 
COLLEAGUES) AND, AS A RESULT, WAS ABLE TO HAVE A FEW 
WORDS WITH HIM.  GAWSAQI SAID HE VERY MUCH WANTED TO 
HAVE GOOD COOPERATION WITH THE U.S.  HE SAID HE HAD 
NOT HAD TIME TO STUDY THE DETIALS OF OUR VARIOUS AID 
PROJECTS, BUT HE IS AWARE THAT OUR CONTRIBUTION TO 
ALEXANDRIA IS CONSIDERABLE.  HE WENT OUT OF HIS WAY 
TO EMPHASIZE THAT HIS DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN TO US, AND 
I GOT THE IMPRESSION THAT HE WAS SINCERE. 
 
4.  (C)  FIRST IMPRESSION:  GAWSAQI COMES ACROSS AS A 
SINCERELY EARNEST, HONEST, AND WELL MEANING OFFICIAL. 
SEVERAL OF OUR CONTACTS, HOWEVER, HAVE EXPRESSED 
CONCERN THAT HE MAY NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT EXPERIENCE, GRIT, 
AND "STREET SMARTS" TO TACKLE ALEXANDRIA'S VARIATED 
SECURITY, ECONOMIC, AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS.  "GOOD INTEN- 
TIONS DON'T NECESSARILY MAKE A GOOD GOVERNOR," ONE 
KEY BUSINESSMAN REMINDED US. 
 
5.  (C)  OTHERS POINT OUT THAT GAWSAQI MAY PROVE TO BE 
A MORE EFFECTIVE GOVERNOR THAN MANY EXPECT.  THE REASON: 
HIS ALLEGED CLOSE RELATIONS WITH PRESIDENT MUBARAK. 
AS REPORTED REFTEL, GAWSAQI SERVED FOR A TIME IN THE 
EGYPTIAN AIR FORCE.  SEVERAL SOURCES TELL US THAT 
MUBARAK AND GAWSAQI WORKED TOGETHER IN THE EAF ON TWO 
OCCASIONS.  IN THE 1960'S, DURING THE TENURE OF SIDQI 
MAHMUD AS AIR FORCE COMMANDER, HE   WAS ALLEGEDLY 
EAF LEGAL ADVISOR AND SHARED AN OFFICE WITH MUBARAK 
WHO WAS WORKING AS AN AIDE TO THE COMMANDER (COMMENT: 
THIS IS THE FIRST I HAVE HEARD THAT MUBARAK EVER HAD 
SUCH A JOB, AND OUR MEAGER BIO FILES FAIL TO SHED ANY 
FURTHER LIGHT.  PERHAPS INR/B CAN.  END COMMENT.) 
WHETHER OR NOT THIS STORY IS APOCRYPHAL, MUBARAK KNEW 
GAWSAQI AGAIN AFTER HE BECAME EAF COMMANDER IN THE 
MID-1970'S AND WAS APPARENTLY VERY IMPRESSED WITH HIS 
ABILITY. 
 
6.  (C)  ANOTHER STORY WHICH IS CIRCULATING ALSO 
UNDERSCORES  CLOSE LINKAGES BETWEEN THE TWO 
MEN:  A FEW YEARS AGO, THE PRESIDENT APPARENTLY WANTED 
TO APPOINT GAWSAQI ATTORNEY GENERAL, A KEY POST IN THE 
LEGAL SYSTEM HERE.  THE NOMINATION WAS THWARTED BY THE 
JUDGES REVIEWING THE NOMINATION BECAUSE THE ATTORNEY 
ENERAL MUST, ACCORDING TO EGYPTIAN LAW, BE DRAWN FROM 
HE COURT OF CASSATION (ONE OF THE TWO HIGHEST COURTS). 
AWSAQI WAS SUBSEQUENTLY APPOINTED GOVERNOR OF BENI 
UQAYF.  DURING A VISIT TO THIS GOVERNORATE, MUBARAK 
AS SUPPOSEDLY VERY IMPRESSED WITH HIS FRIEND'S 
DMINISTRATION, AND ON JULY 10 HE REWARDED HIM WITH 
LEXANDRIA. 
HAMBLEY 
 
7. (C)  ANY ADDITIONAL INFORMATION INR CAN SHED ON 
GAWSAQI WOULD BE APPRECIATED.  NUMEROUS PHOTOS WERE 
TAKEN DURING THE JULY 24 CONSULAR CORPS PRESENTATION, 
AND WE WILL FORWARD ONE OF THE GOVERNOR AS SOON AS WE 
RECEIVE A COPY.  INR MAY ALSO WISH TO NOTE THAT GAWSAQI 
SERVED A SHORT TIME IN THE FOREIGN MINISTRY AND MAY 
HAVE HAD A BRIEF POSTING IN THE U.S. 
 
 
HAMBLEY 

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