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Inside the Ring
Question of the Day
China’s support for North Korea’s belligerent activities has had the effect of bringing the United States, South Korea and Japan closer together, undermining Chinese efforts to gain greater regional influence.
A classified State Department cable made public on Wednesday revealed that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s main worry is Iran and increasing Iranian-backed subversion in the region since the ouster of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.
The Feb. 9 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo is slugged “scene-setter” for the planned visit there by Navy Adm.Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and it was aired by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
“President Mubarak sees Iran as Egypt’s - and the region’s - primary strategic threat,” states the cable, labeled “secret.” “Egypt’s already dangerous neighborhood, he believes, has only become more so since the fall of Saddam, who, as nasty as he was, nevertheless stood as a wall against Iran. He now sees Tehran’s hand moving with ease throughout the region, ‘from the Gulf to Morocco.’ “
The report goes on to describe Egypt’s “immediate threat” as “Iranian conspiracies with Hamas,” which Mr. Mubarak regards as the “brother” of Egypt’s “most dangerous internal political threat, the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Hamas is stirring up unrest in Gaza, and Mr. Mubarak also is worried about Iranian subversion in Sudan and efforts to “create havoc elsewhere in the region, including in Yemen, Lebanon, and even the Sinai, via Hezbollah,” the cable says.
“While Tehran’s nuclear threat is also a cause for concern, Mubarak is more urgently seized with what he sees as the rise of Iranian surrogates (Hamas and Hezbollah) and Iranian attempts to dominate the Middle East.”
Amos on gay ban
Marine Corps Commandant Gen.James F. Amos, who last month said now, amid two wars, is not the time to repeal the gay ban, has upped the ante.
Gen. Amos, President Obama’s first appointment to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a small group of reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday that lifting what is called “don’t ask, don’t tell” will cost lives.
“Mistakes and inattention or distractions cost Marines lives,” he said, according to the newspaper Stars and Stripes, in explaining his opposition. “That’s the currency of this fight.
“I don’t want to lose any Marines to the distraction. I don’t want to have any Marines that I’m visiting at Bethesda [National Naval Medical Center] with no legs be the result of any type of distraction.”
The White House shrugged off his remarks even though Mr. Obama has made repeal one of his top priorities.
Gay rights groups took offense at the remarks, coming as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, tries to bring a repeal bill to the floor. Republicans twice have blocked the move.
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About the Author
Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon (www.freebeacon.com). He has been with The Times since 1985.
He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.
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