Diplomatic relations between the United States and Egypt have been strained and “delicate” for years, according to new cables released by the government-bearing organization WikiLeaks on Friday morning, as protests in Cairo turned violent. Thousands are braving police violence, including the use of tear gas, to demand President Hosni Mubarak, in power for three decades, end his oppressive rule, while reports are claiming that the government has shut off access to the internet. Secret communications between U.S. ambassadors and their Egyptian counterparts, meanwhile, show “in detail how diplomats repeatedly raised concerns with Egyptian officials about jailed dissidents and bloggers, and kept tabs on reports of torture by the police.”
Though Egypt is counted among the United States’ most important and consistent Middle Eastern allies, and President Obama has been sure to praise President Mubarak in public, the cables show more discord, including an instance of Egypt’s first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, taking for herself “a bus that had been bought with money from the United States Agency for International Development and that had been meant to carry children to school.”
More via the New York Times:
Privately, Ambassador Scobey pressed Egypt’s interior minister to free three bloggers, as well as a Coptic priest who performed a wedding for a Christian convert, according to one of her cables to Washington. She also asked that three American pro-democracy groups be granted formal permission to operate in the country, a request the Egyptians rejected.
For more on the ongoing protests, Al Jazeera English is streaming live online, while the Guardian and New York Times are liveblogging updates.