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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI699, FRENZIED PREPARATIONS FOR SEPTEMBER 1 ANNIVERSARY REVEAL FEW HINTS OF MEGRAHI'S POSSIBLE PARTICIPATION REF: A) Tripoli 692; B) Tripoli 689 TRIPOLI 00000699 001.2 OF 002

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI699 2009-08-27 16:04 2011-01-31 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
TelegramC O N F I D E N T I A L   TRIPOLI   00000699 
VZCZCXRO2664
PP RUEHBC RUEHBZ RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDU RUEHFL RUEHKUK RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHMR RUEHNP RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHTRO #0699/01 2391658
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 271658Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5205
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1147
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0819
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0588
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5749
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000699

DEPT FOR NEA/MAG E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/27/2019

TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAO KSUM AU LY

SUBJECT: FRENZIED PREPARATIONS FOR SEPTEMBER 1 ANNIVERSARY REVEAL FEW HINTS OF MEGRAHI'S POSSIBLE PARTICIPATION REF: A) Tripoli 692; B) Tripoli 689 TRIPOLI 00000699 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(U) This is an action request. See paragraph 7.

2.(C) Summary. Tripoli is awash in frenzied preparations for the 40th anniversary of Muammar al-Qadhafi's "Al Fateh Revolution," a four-day extravaganza that will include the new "Libya-Italian Friendship Day" (to be attended by Italian PM Berlusconi), an extraordinary African Union Summit, and two days of military parades, speeches and concerts celebrating Qadhafi's coup. We expect high-level diplomatic representation for the events, including: Jordan's King Abdullah, Hugo Chavez, Hosni Mubarak, and Pakistan's PM Yousuf Gilani. Banners in Green Square extolling Pan Am 103 bomber Megrahi as a hero (leftover from the August 20 youth rally) are the only hint of Megrahi's possible participation in the festivities. We are hopeful that Libyan officials are taking efforts to ensure Megrahi is not featured in the events. However, given the importance that Megrahi has played in Libya's domestic politics, there is a possibility that Megrahi could be a physical or rhetorical presence in the celebration. End Summary.

PRE-EVENT ATMOSPHERICS

3.(C) Two miles of Tripoli's waterfront are being repurposed for what promises to be a grand celebration. A 150-foot-wide stage towers at least 50 feet above former park land in front of the state-owned Hotel Kabeer, with a half-dozen Jumbotron screens stretching back to the historic red fort of Tripoli. Tents and dozens of trailers stretch 100 yards backstage as greenrooms for the yet-undisclosed program. A large, covered reviewing stand for the planned military tattoo has been erected in front of that fort between the infamous "Mussolini balcony" and the mast of the USS Philadelphia. Green Square itself, normally a 400-car parking lot, sits empty. A stage and thousands of plastic chairs set up for an August 20 youth rally have been taken down, but banners with the Libyan Youth Foundation's logo hailing Lockerbie bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi's release and which refer to him as a "political hostage" and victim of "contradictory international standards" (in Arabic) feature prominently on walls separating pedestrians from the last-minute work.

4.(C) In typical Jamahiriya fashion, organizers seem to have waited for the last possible moment to implement their grand plans. As young Libyan men fasting for the holy month of Ramadan lounge in parks near the event sites, hundreds of migrant workers hastily construct roads, tents, and stages in the 105-degree sun. The Corinthia, Tripoli's main hotel, has had all bookings taken over by Libyan Protocol. A second international-class hotel operated by Radisson will be opened two months ahead of schedule to house AU Summit delegates. Dozens of workers are frantically putting finishing touches as an army of movers places furniture in the guest rooms. The site for the AU Summit, to be held August 30 and 31, lies on what was three weeks ago a harbor-side amusement park. Two tents, each approximately 5,000 square feet, and a few side halls indicate that Libya will likely keep delegate counts much lower than July's summit in Sirte. The Summit tents are situated on a jetty separating Tripoli's commercial harbor from a naval/coast guard station. During a site visit on the morning of August 27, Poloff observed two military helicopters circling the site, along with several small patrol boats in formation.

GUESSING GAME - WILL MEGRAHI ATTEND?

5.(C) In spite of the left over banners from the August 20 Qadhafi Development Foundation youth rally, the stage setting for September 1 does not indicate that Megrahi will be a theme, nor does the official program provided by MFA Protocol (ref A) feature activities focused on Megrahi. GOL interlocutors have also provided assurances that Megrahi will not be present on September 1 (ref B). Those contacts have hinted that Megrahi's return was important to Qadhafi's domestic audiences - particularly key tribal and Revolutionary Committee (RevComm) figures who keep Qadhafi in power. As stated in previous reporting, GOL interlocutors are attempting to pressure Megrahi not to attend the September 1 events if invited, as they realize that they cannot control Qadhafi's actions (ref B). Even if Megrahi does not attend, however, the question remains whether Qadhafi will hail him as a hero during his remarks.

LIKELY PARTICIPATION TRIPOLI 00000699 002.2 OF 002

6.(C) Press reports and diplomatic contacts indicate strong head of state/government attendance: Jordan's King Abdullah, Hugo Chavez, Hosni Mubarak, Pakistan PM Yousuf Gilani, and President of The Philippines Gloria Arroyo are among the probable attendees. Many Western nations will also send high-level delegates, including the Spanish Foreign Minister, the French Minister of Cooperation, the Italian Minister of Defense, and the Head of the Russian Duma. The September 1 events will be the pinnacle of a week-long gala that begins on August 30 with Libyan-Italian Friendship Day, PM Berlusconi's state visit, and the preparatory meetings for the extraordinary Summit of the AU Summit. Several nations are sending military demonstration units to perform during the week and participate in a large tattoo on September 2, including aerial demonstrations units from Italy and Jordan and cultural performers to include Ukrainian, Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, and Egyptian dancers. Despite persistent rumors, there is no indication that international pop acts, such as Beyonce, Celine Dion, or Shakira will perform.

U.S. PARTICIPATION

7.(C) As the Department considers possible U.S. attendance at the September 1 event, we note that we are hopeful that GOL officials are in fact taking measures to ensure Megrahi will not feature prominently in the program. But even if Megrahi himself is not physically present, it is possible that some of the speeches or other events could make reference to him. Should the Department instruct us to attend the September 1 event, we request guidance on how to handle Megrahi's presence -- physical or rhetorical -- in the program. UK Ambassador informed us that, if he is authorized to attend, he will be under instruction to walk out if Megrahi attends. POLASCHIK