Friday, February 4, 2011

U.S. Outreach Extends to Egypt's Elite Forces

The U.S. is going through Egypt's highly respected elite military forces to try assure the secular Egyptian army that they will not be abandoned in a transition of power, according to knowledgeable sources.

It is part of a larger U.S. effort to use back-channels to reinforce the need for the Egyptian military to protect the pro-democracy protesters from violent thugs and Hosni Mubarak's loyal police forces.

The U.S. military personnel below the level of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chief Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have engaged in one-on-one conversations with their Egyptian special forces counterparts, a source detailed.

"There is a trust... They trained together," said a source with deep military ties familiar with the outreach. "When the special forces speak, everyone (in the Egyptian army) listens."

These elite forces are not Hosni Mubarak's palace guard, but rather Egypt's best trained and equipped fighting forces. The source compared them to "our Marines."

A diplomatic official confirmed talks are underway "on many levels," and did not dispute the report. Earlier this week White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also acknowledged there were contacts below Gates and Mullen, but provided no further details.

So far the push may have shown some results, as the Egyptian military kept violent pro-Mubarak mobs away from the huge gathering after Friday prayers today at Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo.

No comments:

Post a Comment