New Sisi leaks shed light on Libya intrigue

New Sisi leaks shed light on Libya intrigue
Leaked recordings from 2013 appear to show Sisi discussing Libya and Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, Colonel Gaddafi's cousin.
3 min read
21 February, 2015
The recording is the latest in a series of leaks (Getty)
The Libyan channel Panorama released Thursday a leaked recording purporting to reveal Egyptian President Sisi and his chief-of-staff, Major General Abbas Kamel, discussing Libya.

The conversation took place when Sisi was defence minister in the government of Hazem al-Biblawi, and Adly Mansour was interim Egyptian president. The most significant and dangerous aspect of the leaked conversation was the fact that the Libyan issue was being discussed behind closed doors in Egypt immediately after the removal of elected president Muhammed Morsi, long before the kidnapping of the 21 Egyptians or even the emergence of the Islamic State group (IS) in Libya.

The first few minutes of the leaked conversation focused on Ahmad Gaddaf al-Dam, the cousin of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and on the Libyan Prime Minister at the time, Ali Zeidan. The conversation then turned to the controversial Palestinian figure and former Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan. Abbas Kamel alluded to the importance of Dahlan’s position as adviser to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Muhammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, highlighting Dahlan’s secret role in Libya.

The leaked conversation revealed that there was contact between Sisi when he was still defence minister, and Ali Zeidan and Ahmad Gaddaf al-Dam before February 2014, as he was waiting for protests led by opponents of the 'elected' General National Congress to take place, protests similar to those of 30 June in Egypt.The General National Congress was the first government in Libya to be created after elections following the revolution of 17 February 2011.

According to the leaked TV recording, Abbas Kamel told Sisi that the Libyan Prime Minister had requested an urgent meeting with him during a planned visit that might take place “within two or three days”. The recording clarified that Egypt had set some preconditions before the meeting calling for Zeidan to carry out certain agreed actions.

According to the recording, General Kamel described Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam as a man who “understands the situation on the ground” in Libya. But he felt that the man's relationship with Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate was “unreliable” and therefore Egypt might miss out on the opportunity that working with him could offer.

General Kamel noted Gaddaf al-Dam’s emphasis on the importance of having direct contact with Egypt’s new regime before the protests that were supposed to take place in Libya on 7 February 2014. The general also appeared to understand what seemed to be a request from Sisi that contacts with Gaddaf al-Dam should take place “outside the administration”.

He failed to define this, but he did name Abd al-Latif al-Menawi, who used to head the news sector of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union during the Mubarak era, as a mediator between Sisi and Gaddaf al-Dam. Menawi is known for his close ties with Safwat al-Sharif, Gamal Mubarak and elements of the security services.

According to the leaked recording, Sisi had reservations regarding Dahlan’s arrival in Egypt at the time. General Kamel responded to this by saying that Dahlan served as an adviser in the UAE, and that Mahmud Abbas was angry that the Commander-in-Chief had called on Fatah to be united – a reference to the need for Abbas to improve his relationship with Dahlan at the expense of Hamas. 

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.