Egyptian President In WikiLeaks Docs: Iran Terror Sponsorship Is 'Well-Known But I Cannot Say It Publicly'
The consequence of invading Iraq was to strengthen the hand of Iran, concluded a key U.S. ally in a 2008 meeting with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), according to a State Department cable obtained and released by WikiLeaks.
Defenders of the war in Iraq have argued that for all the mistakes that were made and for all the lives that were lost, by removing Saddam Hussein from power, the Middle East was at least made a safer place. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, however, warned Kerry and the U.S. ambassador to Egypt that "as a result of the invasion of Iraq, Iran is spreading everywhere." Iran, a majority Shia nation, funds prominent political parties in Iraq's Shia south and shelters Iraqi politicians sympathetic to Iran, including, reportedly, Muqtada al-Sadr. Egypt is mostly Sunni, the other major denomination of Islam.
That Iran would be strengthened was predicted by war opponents; Iran's sponsorship of terrorist networks makes its rise that much more detrimental to U.S. interests. Mubarak openly spoke of such ties in the meeting with Kerry. Mubarak said that he could not publicly oppose Iran for fear of "sabotage and Iranian terrorism." He said Iran's sponsorship of terrorism is "well-known but I cannot say it publicly. It would create a dangerous situation."
Mubarak couldn't have known that in less than three years, his statement would be made public. Mubarak offered a less than generous assessment of his Iranian rivals. "They are big, fat liars and justify their lies because they believe it is for a higher purpose." He told the group, according to the cable, that "this opinion is shared by other leaders in the region."
Mubarak also reiterated to Kerry and the ambassador that Egypt was ready and willing to train Iraqi troops, high-level confirmation of an offer that had been made publicly by the Egyptian ambassador at the same time that the Bush administration was critical of its Middle Eastern allies for not doing enough to aid Iraq. Egypt has not been taken up on its offer. He urged the U.S. to stay until the troops and police were trained. He told Kerry and the ambassador that the United States "cannot withdraw until you strengthen the armed forces and police. Until then you have to stay."