Wikileaks: Messages from 2012 presidential candidates to Saudi Arabia

A document from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry reveals details of meetings held between the Saudi ambassador in Cairo and a number of 2012 presidential candidates “to inform them of the kingdom’s position toward them,” according to a cable received by Mada Masr and published in accordance with an agreement with Wikileaks.

The cable, addressed to the Saudi king by his foreign minister at the time — the recently deceased Saud al-Faisal — is dated May 30, 2012, two days after the announcement of the results of the first round of voting in the presidential elections.

The meetings with the ambassador, however, were conducted before the announcement of the results of the first round, which brought Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq to the run-offs.

In his report on the meeting with Shafiq — former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister — Faisal claimed that Shawfiq told the ambassador he had “confirmation that Qatar was financially supporting” candidates Amr Moussa — another Mubarak-era official — former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, and Morsi, “to ensure its relationship with any one of them should they succeed.”

At the time, most opinion polls suggested Moussa would top the votes alongside Abouel Fotouh. However, in his meeting with the Saudi ambassador, Moussa revealed he was concerned about Shafiq, though most polls predicted he wouldn’t make it to the second round.

According to Faisal’s report, Moussa said, “If Shafiq wins the presidency, it will lead to a major disaster, as he is considered part of the old regime and has recently declared Mubarak to be his role model.”

Moussa seemed optimistic, telling the ambassador that he believed he had “a good chance of winning the first round of elections,” although, he confessed, “Shafiq’s determination has upped the stakes.”

Regarding Morsi, Moussa said he was “aware of the great support for the Muslim Brotherhood candidate … that his chances of winning are high and the support he receives comes from the deputy to the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat al-Shater, and from several countries.” He had scared Egyptians with his chances of winning the elections, Moussa added.

Moussa ultimately came fifth in the first round of elections, with about 11 percent of the vote.

Lawyer Mohamed Selim al-Awwa focused his meeting with the ambassador on alleviating the kingdom’s concerns regarding his position on Egyptian-Iranian relations, and his proximity to the Shia community in his capacity as secretary general of the International Union of Islamic Scholars, according to the cable.

Awwa “denied what is being said concerning his support or lenience toward Iran,” Faisal claimed in the cable, and reiterated that “he would work toward strengthening ties between Iran and the Gulf, given his strong relationship with Iran.” Awwa said he didn’t approve of the expansion of the Shia community in Egypt and that “intervention in Iran in terms of culture, trade and media is necessary and desired by the Iranian people.”

Concerning Awwa’s Islamic inclinations, the cable notes that he told the ambassador that he was the first to warn Mubarak against extremists ruling the country. He added that he feels “love and appreciation for the kingdom, will not forget the long period of time he spent there, and has close relationships with senior officials in the kingdom.” Awwa specifically referred to his close relationship to the late Saudi politician and leader of the National Guard, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Tweigry, and his sons during his stay in Saudi Arabia.

Awwa then promised that, should he win the elections, his second visit abroad after Sudan would be to Saudi Arabia “in view of its status, his appreciation of the kingdom and its positive role in Egypt.”

Awwa ended up garnering 1 percent of the vote.

In the case of Judge Hesham al-Bastawisi, who won 0.13 percent of the vote, the foreign minister only mentioned that he had informed the ambassador of his appreciation for the kingdom.

Field Marshall Hossam Khairallah, the former deputy of General Intelligence who drew in a scant 0.09 percent of votes in the first round, tried to promote his relationship with Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s strong man and spy chief from the early 1990s until the January 2011 revolution. According to the cable, Khairallah asserted that he was “close to General Omar Soliman and had worked with him for a long time, during which he visited the kingdom several times and went on pilgrimage as a guest of the royals.”

The cable does not include any mention of meetings with Morsi, Abouel Fotouh or Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Nasserite candidate who came third in the first round of elections. It is not known if there are other cables reporting on such meetings, or if they took place. 

Hossam Bahgat 

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