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Viewing cable 09CAIRO196, ARAB LEAGUE COS ON "BLEAK" REGIONAL DYNAMICS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO196 2009-02-04 10:10 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO2527
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0196 0351014
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041014Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1535
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000196 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NEA FOR ADLER AND SCOVITCH 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/03/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAL IS EG
SUBJECT: ARAB LEAGUE COS ON "BLEAK" REGIONAL DYNAMICS 
 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Tueller Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)
1.(C) Summary. Arab League (AL) Secretariat Chief of Staff Hisham Yousef discussed what he considered to be a "bleak" picture of regional political dynamics with us on February 2, citing intra-Arab strife as a primary issue. Some Arab states are increasingly convinced that resistance leads to Israeli concessions, as evidenced by Hamas and Hizballah examples. He said that the Administration's early engagement with the Middle East was the lone bright spot. Yousef was optimistic that the planned March 2 donor conference in Egypt would be a success, and thought Arab League states would attend if invited, including Qatar, although likely at a sub-ministerial level. End summary. A BLEAK OUTLOOK ---------------

2.(C) Yousef painted a bleak outlook. He assessed that the Palestinians, Arabs, and Europeans are all internally divided, and he worried that upcoming Israeli elections could produce a less than favorable result for supporters of the peace process. He said that the AL is facing a "very serious problem" with continuing Arab infighting on how to address the Israeli-Arab conflict. Some Arab states (e.g. Qatar and Syria) are arguing for a suspension of the Arab Peace Initiative (API); Yousef commented that at the January 16 Doha "summit," 11 of 12 participants voted in favor of such a suspension. Only Lebanon abstained.

3.(C) The moderate Arab states' counter-argument for maintenance of the API is that the new Administration,s early engagement has been very positive and should be reciprocated, a position that Yousef said is contingent on continuing the Administration's early momentum from the recent regional visit of Special Envoy Mitchell. Yousef said that SYG Moussa was confident that the Administration was serious about what he called a "renewed focus" on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

4.(C) Nevertheless, Yousef said that for the moment Abbas' increasing weakness, especially relative to Hamas, is strengthening the anti-API camp -- not only because of a perception held by some Arabs that Hamas successfully withstood the IDF in Gaza, but also because they believe that Hamas' resistance forced Israel to negotiate (albeit indirectly) for a ceasefire. Yosuef said that Hizballah's successful negotiation in 2008 of a prisoner release with Israel in return for the remains of IDF soldiers is an additional premise in the "resistance-leads-to-negotiations" line of reasoning.

5.(C) According to Yousef, Arab League supporters of this view also argue that Abbas has failed to secure concessions from Israel through the Annapolis Process, despite over a year of effort. We asked what realistic alternative there might be for negotiations. Yousef agreed that there was no real alternative plan for advancing Israeli-Arab peace, and that as an institution the Arab League fully backs the API. UPCOMING MEETINGS -----------------

6.(C) Yousef assessed that the planned March 2 Gaza donors conference in Egypt would be a success, and that Arab League states would attend if invited, including Qatar, although perhaps not at a ministerial level. He said that outside players, including Iran, would attempt to influence the March 28-29 Arab League summit in Doha, but he was not overly concerned. He recalled similar concerns from the 2008 summit in Damascus (during which the major issue was the Lebanon political impasse), and contended that neither Iran nor anyone else prevented the AL and the Arabs from ultimately facilitating a good Lebanese political agreement in Doha. SCOBEY