Sisi mole leaks president's demands for Gulf cash

Sisi mole leaks president's demands for Gulf cash
2 min read
09 February, 2015
Egyptian president tells advisers to seek $30bn from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait and claims the GCC countries pay the US similar amounts, in audio leaked to media.
Sisi wanted the money paid directly to the Egyptian army [AFP]
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told his advisers to demand three Gulf states pay $30bn direct to the Egyptian army, saying "money for them is like rice... are similar amounts not placed with the Americans?", according to a conversation leaked to the media.

The audio, broadcast by the Turkey-based satellite channel Mekameleen, was of a conversation believed to have been held while Sisi was still defence minister and preparing to announce his bid for the Egyptian presidency.

He tells his office director, Abbas Kamel and military council member Mahmoud Hijazi to seek funds from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait.

"Look, tell him we need 10 [billion dollars] in the army's account, and that those 10, as soon as he wins, will be put to use for the state," the voice says. "We want 10 from the UAE and 10 from Kuwait as well, in addition to some money to be deposited in the central bank." 

Abbas responds: "He will faint, he will faint."

Sisi answers: "Why are you laughing? Money for them is like rice. Are similar amounts not placed with the Americans?"

Egypt's prime minister, Ibrahim Mahlab, said the leaks would "not hurt the home front and the morale of the Egyptians".

However, the comments made by Sisi threaten to damage relationships with the Gulf states mentioned, which could affect further donations, on which Egypt has relied for years.

Commentators in Egypt said the leak insulted three of Egypt's traditional allies, sniping at their assumed wealth and their relationship with the US.

It also showed that there was a group or individual inside Sisi's inner circle who was seeking to compromise him.

The three Gulf states mentioned in the conversation have not declared the size of its donations to Egypt, and it is not known where or how any transferred money has been spent.

Commentators questioned the purpose of the demands and why the money was marked for the Egyptian army, rather than the civilian ecnomy and central bank.

Despite a 42 percent rate of poverty in Egypt, Sisi began his presidency with strict austerity measures, leading to sharp rises in the cost of basic products and utilities.

Sisi's budget reduced subsidies on petrol, and raised gas and electricity prices with a view to abolishing electricity subsidies within five years.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.