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Viewing cable 09CAIRO208, THE ARAB LEAGUE ON AFRICAN AFFAIRS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO208 2009-02-04 15:03 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXRO2920
PP RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHEG #0208/01 0351541
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041541Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1552
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 1243
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0409
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 0042
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0257
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000208 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, AF/SPG, AF/E, NAIROBI FOR TRIMBLE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2019 
TAGS: PREL PTER UN MR SO SU EG
SUBJECT: THE ARAB LEAGUE ON AFRICAN AFFAIRS 
 
REF: A. CAIRO 129 B. STATE 7606 Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs William R. Stewart for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Summary: The Arab League (AL) advisor on to SYG Moussa on African Affairs told us on January 29 that the January 14 Arab-African Coordination meetings in Doha benefited the Arab League and African Union (AU), but did not produce any tangible results. He said this is because everyone in Sudan is waiting for the ICC indictment decision on Sudanese President Bashir. The AL and AU are still pushing for an Article 16 postponement of the ICC indictment to avoid instability in Sudan. On a separate front, UN/AU Mediator for Darfur Bassole and the Qatari Government have obtained commitments from two rebel groups to attend peace talks in Doha, but still lack a Fur representative.

2.(C) Summary Continued: The AL is somewhat optimistic on Somalia due to the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces and the meeting of Somali leaders in Djibouti. However, the AL told Shaykh Sharif during a recent visit to Cairo that he must act like a Somali national leader and not a factional one to gain the League's support. The League is also excited to be part of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and plans to be most heavily involved in the judicial aspects group headed by Denmark. End Summary. -------------------------------- Waiting for the ICC Shoe to Drop --------------------------------

3.(C) Zeid al-Sabban, Advisor to the Arab League (AL) Secretary General on African Affairs, told us on January 29 that the Arab-African Coordination meetings in Doha on January 14 benefited the AL and African Union (AU). However, there were no concrete results because everyone is waiting for the ICC's decision on the arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir. Sabban stated that the AL and AU agreed that there was a need to invoke Article 16 of the Rome Statue, delaying the ICC indictment against Bashir. He told us that the AU and AL were concerned that ICC actions against Bashir were "recreating the Kony case" and could lead to further violence and instability. (Note: Sabban stated that an AU representative, in Doha, opined that the ICC's issuance of an arrest warrant against Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony made a peace agreement in Uganda impossible. End note.) Sabban told us that the AL and AU want to see an enactment of Article 16 followed by parallel peace talks and legal discussions to arrive at a complete solution to the problems in Sudan. He said both the AL and AU are aware that only five UNSC members support an Article 16 and emphasized that "abstentions could be critical to enacting the measure." --------------------------------------------- ------ Qatar and Bassole Searching for Rebel Participation --------------------------------------------- ------

4.(C) Sabban told us that Bassole and the Qatari Government were working closely together in their respective roles as chief mediator and host for possible talks on Darfur. Both have made trips to Paris and London to try to enlist Sudanese rebel groups to participate in peace talks with the Government of Sudan (GOS). Sabban told us that the AL, AU and Qataris wanted to avoid "another Abuja Agreement," where only one party signed the peace accord. Additionally, he said that the GOS told the AL that bilateral talks with rebel groups will "lead to nowhere" and it only wants "comprehensive talks." Sabban stated that Bassole and Qatar obtained a commitment from the JEM and SLM/A-Unity leader Abdallah Yahya to attend the future Doha talks. However, he told us that there is "no breakthrough" on convincing rebel leader Abdel Wahid al-Nur to participate. Sabban stated that Nur's participation was not essential, but there is a need for strong Fur representation in the talks because "it is impossible to have a peace agreement on Darfur without the participation of the Fur." The AL also wanted to make sure that "civil society groups" (i.e. Arab tribes and internally displaced groups) participate in the talks as well. Sabban stated that Darfur leader Minni Minnawi is upset that the AL and AU are courting the JEM to get the group to participate in the Doha talks. He told us that SYG Moussa invited CAIRO 00000208 002 OF 002 Minnawi to Cairo to discuss the issue, but that the date had been postponed due to the situation in Gaza. -------------------------- Questions on U.S. Position --------------------------

5.(SBU) Sabban asked if the USG had a position on Article 16 or would the U.S. abstain during a UNSC vote. He also queried us on who would be the new US Special Envoy for Sudan. He stated that the AL was hoping for someone like John Danforth because he was "focused" on the issues and not distracted by other duties. ----------------------------------- Some Optimism on Somalia and Piracy -----------------------------------

6.(C) Sabban said that the recent withdraw of Ethiopian troops from Somalia represented a "great opportunity" to establish "peace and stability" there. He said the Arab League supports the Djibouti process and hopes for a Somali president that can unite the people. Sabban told us that the AL told Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed during his recent visit to Cairo that he must "act like a Somali national leader and not a factional leader to get the League's support" (reftel A). The AL will not give money to the new Somali leader in advance of "results" as it had done with former Somali President Abdallahi Yusuf.

7.(SBU) Sabban told us AL SYG Moussa was pleased that the AL was included in the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) (reftel B). He said that the League feels that the division into four working groups is a good idea and it will be involved in all four groups. However, the AL is most anxious to be involved in the judicial aspects group, hosted by Denmark, because "there is a need to update the legal codes relating to the piracy issue" (NFI). The Office of the Secretary General will oversee all interaction with the CGPCS, and the point of contact will be Zeid al-Sabban. ----------------------------- No Interference in Mauritania -----------------------------

8.(C) Sabban told us that the AL and AU had "frank" discussions on Mauritania. The AL is not supporting or condemning the current regime in Mauritania because, unlike the AU, it has no mechanism for condemnation. However, Sabban stated that the AL realizes the time, money, and energy that went into bringing democracy to Mauritania, and it wants to see democracy return to the country. He said that AL Assistant SYG for Political Affairs Ahmed Bin Hili helped to lay the groundwork for internal reconciliation in the country, but the AL refused a request to mediate between the coup leaders and the former government because it did not want to interfere in "internal politics."

9.(C) Comment: The AL and AU are trying to get a sense of how UNSC countries feel about Article 16 before pushing the idea in New York. While Sabban highlighted the benefits of an Article 16 resolution on the stability of Sudan, he stopped short of asking for a U.S. abstention. The AL may not push an Article 16 resolution if it feels that it will lose. The recent Gaza crisis forced African affairs to take a back seat at the Arab League. The Arab-African Coordination meeting was postponed for 11 days, and SYG Moussa's meeting with Darfuri leader Minni Minnawi still needs to be rescheduled. These actions will likely further entrench in the minds of many Sudanese that the AL and Government of Qatar are not concerned with Africans and are biased toward Arabs, as represented by the current regime in Khartoum. SCOBEY