Cablegate: Egyptian Mfa and Africom Delegation Discuss

Published: Tue 15 Sep 2009 10:10 AM
DE RUEHEG #1790/01 2581055
P 151055Z SEP 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 001790
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2019
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew H. Tueller for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Key Points: -- Egyptian MFA officials in meeting with a senior Africom delegation said they are concerned with deteriorating situation in southern Sudan and Somalia, but are buoyed by the progress seen in Darfur. The Government of Egypt (GoE) is focused generally on promoting peace, stability, and conflict resolution in Africa. -- The Government of Egypt's (GoE) top priority is Sudan and MFA officials warned of the "fatal implications" if South Sudan separates. According to MFA officials, separation will create a non-viable state and trigger problems that will not only threaten Egypt's access to the Nile waters, but also create a flood of refugees. -- The situation in Darfur has improved, but the ICC indictment, Sudan-Chad conflict, and bringing important rebel leaders into the peace process remain obstacles to peace. -- Egypt supports an initiative by the AU Commission on Stability and Conflict Resolution to address the crisis in Somalia by engaging with Eritrea. However, Kenya and Ethiopia object to this initiative. -- Egypt is investigating the accused pirates from the attack on the Samarah Ahmed and Momtaz
1. MFA officials said there is a lack of evidence against the suspected pirates, and it is unclear whether the events occurred in Somali waters or on the high seas bringing into question the issue of Egyptian jurisdiction. End Key Points.
2.(C) A U.S. Africa Command (Africom) delegation including Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) Vicki Huddleston and Vice Admiral (VADM) Robert Moeller, Deputy Commander of U.S. African Command in three separate meetings with senior Egyptian MFA officials discussed Sudan, Somalia, piracy and peacekeeping on September 7-8. The MFA officials expressed concern with the deteriorating situations in southern Sudan and Somalia, but were buoyed by the progress that has been seen in Darfur. Assistant Minister Wafaa Bassim stated that Africa is beset by problems of development, internal instability, conflicts between neighbors, and untapped potential, especially in terms of natural resources. She said the GoE is focused on promoting peace, stability, and conflict resolution on the continent. VADM Moeller told the MFA officials that Africom allows the USG to focus its efforts on African issues and have sustained security engagement with its African partners. He hoped that this would be the first meeting in a long-term, sustained dialogue on Africa with Egyptian officials because Egypt plays an important leadership role on the continent. DASD Huddleston stated that the U.S. was keen to listen to the perspectives of its allies and partners in Africa. ------------------------- Sudan is the Top Priority -------------------------
3.(C) Bassim said Egypt's top priority is the unity of Sudan. She warned of "fatal implications" if South Sudan separates. Bassim said that millions of refugees would come to Egypt, there would be further fragmentation in Sudan, and other countries in the region would disintegrate. According to Mohamed Kassem, Director of the MFA's Sudan Department, the GoE supports the South's right to self-determination, but it is concerned that separation will lead to the creation of a "non-viable" state and trigger problems that could threaten Egypt's access to the Nile waters. Kassem pointed to the lack of development and security in southern Sudan as significant problems. He said South Sudanese leaders like Riek Machar and Pagan Amum are only focused on the "dream of January 2011" and not whether South Sudan would be viable. Kassem encouraged the USG to be "frank" with Southern leaders about the chances for South Sudan and encourage the leaders to convey the same message to their people. DASD Huddleston explained that the USG will be announcing its policy for Sudan in the coming weeks. She said that the policy will address the USG's strategy for Darfur and North and South Sudan. Huddleston anticipated that the framework for U.S. policy will reflect a commitment to carrying out the CAIRO 00001790 002 OF 003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including a resolution of outstanding issues such as border demarcation, wealth sharing, the census, and national elections in order that the referendum might take place as planned. She stated that the USG understands Egypt's concerns about independence but is committed to the CPA and referendum process.
4.(C) Kassem said there is a roadmap on Darfur and it is the international community's responsibility to "pave the way." He told us that UN/AU Mediator Djibril Bassole will meet with the Darfur militia groups and civil society representatives in Doha in October to prepare them for negotiations with the Government of Sudan (GoS). However, Kassem warned that there were still three issues that need to be resolved to ensure a resolution to the Darfur crisis. First, he said the continuation of the ICC indictment could cause an "explosion." Kassem suggested that the Mbeki report could be an alternative to the ICC. Second, Kassem said the Sudan-Chad conflict needs to be resolved because there is no fundamental dispute over borders or natural resources. He said Egypt hosted a Chadian presidential envoy on September 2-4 and the envoy agreed to respect all previous agreements including Riyadh, Tripoli, Dakar and Doha, but was "not convincing" in his representations that Chad would abandon its relationship with JEM and Khalil Ibrahim. Third, Kassem stated that there was a need to address the roles of Abdel Wahid Al Nur and Minni Minawi in future negotiations. He said without Al Nur's participation there was no one to represent the Fur. Kassem said a "frustrated" Minawi had been excluded from Doha because he signed the DPA, which unlike the CPA was never adopted into the Sudanese Constitution. Kassem maintained that Minawi is still the leader of an important rebel movement with assets on the ground, and the GoE is trying to help him because he could undermine a resolution in Darfur.
5.(C) Kassem praised S/E Gration's "sincere attempts" to resolve the crises in Sudan, which convinced the GoS that the USG was not solely focused on pressuring Khartoum. He stated that the NCP is serious about resolving the crisis in Sudan and can deliver if motivated with "carrots." He hoped the new U.S. policy would allow some flexibility on the terrorism list and sanctions. DASD Huddleston told the MFA officials that the U.S. was committed to the CPA process and was working with the NCP and SPLM to resolve the issue of the census and the referendum.
6.(C) Kassem said the GoE is exploring the idea of inviting all major Sudanese political leaders from the North, South, and Darfur to Egypt for discussions on unity. He stated that Sudan is suffering from the repercussions of a policy of "political exclusion" because only the SPLM and NCP have an internationally recognized role. Kassem said that the people of Sudan are frustrated with the NCP and SPLM and the lack of political space in the country. ------------------ Somalia and Piracy ------------------
7.(C) Ambassador Osama Abdel Khalq, MFA Cabinet Advisor for African Affairs said the TFG is not capable of defeating Al Shibaab and Hizb Al Islam. He told us that in early September the AU Commission on Stability and Conflict Resolution met in Libya and advocated a "holistic approach" to resolving conflict in Somalia, which he referred to as a proxy war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. According to Abdel Khalq, the commission members urged an increase in AMISOM's mandate to include peace enforcement and outreach to Eritrea to facilitate Somali reconciliation. However, he said Kenya and Ethiopia objected to the idea of engaging Eritrea. Assistant FM Bassim said Egypt was willing to play an intermediary role between Eritrea and the USG. She asserted that Eritrea could be persuaded to stop playing a negative role in Somalia if there was an easing in the U.S. position on economic sanctions.
8.(C) Bassim said piracy is a byproduct of the failure of the Somali state in the absence of development and political and economic institutions. VADM Moeller stated that the USG supports TFG efforts to provide security, development, and good governance. DASD Huddleston encouraged Egypt to take a more active military role in tackling piracy and encouraged the GoE to prosecute suspected pirates. Bassim said that the Egyptian Ministry of Defense (MOD) had decided not to send CAIRO 00001790 003 OF 003 forces to participate with the international naval forces off the coast of Somalia, but Egypt was active in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS). Yasmin Moussa, Cabinet Advisor on Piracy, said Egypt is investigating the accused pirates from the attack on the Samarah Ahmed and Momtaz 1, two Egyptian fishing vessels. She said it is unclear whether the events had occurred in Somali waters or on the high seas. Moussa said there appeared to be a lack of evidence and she questioned whether Egypt would have the jurisdiction to prosecute the suspects. Bassim acknowledged that Egypt prefers to prosecute pirates in a regional or international court instead of its national courts. ------------ Peacekeeping ------------
9.(C) Cabinet Advisor Abdel Khalq said Egypt was committed to provide peacekeeping forces in Darfur, Sudan and Eastern Congo. He stated that UNAMID forces were 60 percent deployed, and would be 90 percent deployed by the end of the year. Abdel Khalq said the AU suffered from training and equipment challenges and the AU stand-up force would not be ready for deployment in 2010 as there were also problems between the Anglophone and Francophone states. He stated that the AU was working on devising an "early warning" system to address potential conflicts in the region, but progress was "very slow." VADM Moeller told MFA officials that Africom was working with the AU to better understand their peacekeeping needs and what was required to "sustain" its peacekeeping forces.
10.(U) DASD Huddleston and VADM Moeller cleared this cable. Scobey
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