US special envoy to Egypt recalled due to ties with Mubarak regime

Frank Wisner, Obama special envoy to Egypt, declared Saturday during a security conference in Munich that “Mubarak must stay in office in order to steer those changes through. This is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward."

This declaration was received with surprise by pro-democracy demonstrators as it was understood as a reversal of the US diplomatic strategy. The statement was rapidly clarified by US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who said that Wisner was speaking for himself and the White House did not endorse his remarks.

"The views [Frank Wisner] expressed today are his own. He did not coordinate his comments with the US government," Crowley said.

Robert Fisk, British Independent newspaper correspondent in Egypt, revealed in an article published Tuesday the business ties that link Wisner and Mubarak’s government.

Wisner, a 36-year career diplomat who served as a US ambassador to Egypt, Zambia, the Philippines and India under eight American presidents, now works for a New York and Washington law firm which acts for the Mubarak government.

The litigation firm Patton Boggs, a law firm concentrating in global business and trade, openly declares that it advises "the Egyptian military, the Egyptian Economic Development Agency, and has handled arbitrations and litigation on the [Mubarak] government's behalf in Europe and the US." 

How could Wisner, who joined Patton Boggs two years ago, be appointed as special envoy to Egypt with the blatant conflict of interest his appointment raises? Nicholas Noe, a Beirut-based American political researcher who has been investigating the links between Patton Boggs and Wisner, made the following comment: "Even in past examples where presidents have sent someone 'respected' or 'close' to a foreign leader in order to lubricate an exit, the envoys in question were not actually paid by the leader they were supposed to squeeze out!"

On Sunday, the day following Wisner’s Munich statement, Wisner was asked to fly to Cairo by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to deliver the message to President Hosni Mubarak that neither Mubarak nor his son Gamal should run for the next presidential elections slated for September.

Wisner has since been recalled because his usefulness as a conduit has been undermined.

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