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Cablegate: Nea a/S Welch and Director General Mansouri Review

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DE RUEHRB #0194/01 0631132
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P 031132Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY RABAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8210
INFO RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS 4703
RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO 0099
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0542
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 0672
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2300
RUEHDK/AMEMBASSY DAKAR 0447
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0708
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RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID 5927
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT 3672
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4950
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 0685
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 3521
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0277
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 9538
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 3923
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH 2229
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1936

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 RABAT 000194

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2018
TAGS: PREL PINS OVIP MO
SUBJECT: NEA A/S WELCH AND DIRECTOR GENERAL MANSOURI REVIEW
REGIONAL ISSUES

REF: A. RABAT 185 (NOTAL)
B. RABAT 0178 (NOTAL)
C. RABAT 0171 (NOTAL)

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas T. Riley for reason 1.4 (b, c, and d).

1. (S) SUMMARY: On February 25, Director General for
Studies and Documentation (DGED) Mohamed Yassine Mansouri
(the Moroccan equivalent of the Director of the Central
Intelligence Agency) and NEA Assistant Secretary David Welch
and his party had a cordial and frank two-hour exchange on
regional issues, working their way from east to west. Welch
explained U.S. plans to maintain and strengthen Lebanese
institutions. He described Syria's unhelpful role in both
Lebanon and in the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), with
Mansouri noting that Syria has begun to realize that the
foreign fighters might threaten its own internal security.
Welch updated Mansouri on the MEPP, and Mansouri replied that
he and Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri had met Israeli Foreign
Minister Livni. Mansouri predicted a "monarchical
succession" in Egypt. He said Libya continued to blame Saudi
Wahabism for the region's terrorism problem. He expressed
concern about rapacity and brittleness in Tunisia. Mansouri
said that Algeria's terrorism problem was returning as
Al-Qaeda focused more on North Africa; yet Bouteflika flatly
refused to participate in an AMU security summit.
Ambassadors Welch and Riley urged Morocco to stick with the
diplomatic track to resolve the Western Sahara dispute and
said diplomatic support for Morocco's autonomy proposal was
growing. Mansouri ended the tour with a plea for greater
U.S. assistance to Mauritania. END SUMMARY.

SYRIA AND LEBANON
-----------------

2. (C) With the Syrian Foreign Minister coming to Morocco on
February 26, Ambassador Welch inquired about Syria's
cooperation with Morocco. Mansouri said that while it was
not all that Morocco desired, it has improved in the last few
months. Welch said the Syrians have recognized that the
foreign fighter pipeline may pose a risk to their own
country. However, Syria continued to exert a great deal of
pressure on Lebanon and appeared determined to maintain its
interests in Lebanon at any cost. Prior to the Annapolis
conference, Syria had been relatively quiet vis-a-vis the
Palestinians. However, three or four weeks ago, it hosted
the conference of rejectionists. Damascus has lost the
support of many Arab friends, and the Arab League Summit is
insufficient incentive to achieve better behavior.

3. (C) A/S Welch asked how Lebanon could be a threat to
Syria; yet Syria is bent on destroying Lebanese institutions,
i.e., the government, the army, and the central bank. As a
result, the United States was increasing its assistance to
Lebanon, working in tandem with Germany, France, the United
Kingdom, and other friends. Mansouri interjected that Saudi
Arabia, Jordan and Egypt's positions had evolved. Welch
noted that family, intelligence, and business are all one in
Syria. He ended that portion of the discussion by stressing
U.S. support for a political solution and a short-term focus
on maintaining and strengthening Lebanese institutions.

ISRAEL AND THE MEPP
-------------------

4. (S) Turning to Israel, Welch said that the good news was
real albeit unseen. He assured Mansouri that the
Israeli-Palestinian talks were addressing all issues and were
making progress. He told Mansouri that the Secretary and
then the President intend to return to the region. More Arab
financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority would be
helpful. Mansouri said that he and Foreign Minister Taieb
Fassi Fihri had met Israeli Foreign Minister Livni and found

RABAT 00000194 002 OF 003


her serious.

GAZA AND EGYPT
--------------

5. (C) The conversation then turned to Gaza and Egypt.
Ambassador Welch noted that the GOE had contained 300,000
Palestinians within the Sinai after they spilled across the
frontier. Meanwhile, Hamas was not using funds it received
from Iran to improve the humanitarian situation. Asked about
the expected transition in Egypt, Mansouri agreed that the
army would not control the next transition. He nonetheless
expected a "monarchical succession."

THE MAGHREB
-----------

6. (C) Moving west, Mansouri said Morocco and Libya enjoyed
very good relations and agreed on many regional issues.
Mansouri noted that Libya continues to believe that Saudi
Wahabism is the source of terrorism in the region. Welch
acknowledged that Libyan-U.S. relations are currently
strained due to historical disputes. Mansouri was surprised
when Welch expressed concern about Tunisia. Mansouri said
Morocco is quite concerned about the greed and brittleness of
the Ben Ali regime. Mansouri added that the December
2006/January 2007 events had scared the GOT.

7. (C) Continuing the westward progression, Mansouri
declared that Algeria's terror problem was returning, as
Al-Qaeda focused on North Africa to offset reverses in Iraq
and Afghanistan. He said that even though senior Algerians
refuse to come to Rabat, Moroccans go there. Mansouri said
that Morocco has tried everything to improve bilateral
relations. He noted that while counterterrorism cooperation
must work, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had recently
completely rejected a Tunisian initiative to organize a
security summit of Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) members.

WESTERN SAHARA
--------------

8. (C) Mansouri told Welch and party that Algeria's internal
problems did not prevent a solution to the Western Sahara
dispute. He expressed some concern that generational change
in Algiers might complicate a solution, declaring that the
older generation had created the problem and was best placed
to solve it. Mansouri said the GOM is "very worried about
the POLISARIO moving into the area east of the berm."
Ambassador Welch then launched into a long discussion of U.S.
support for Morocco,s autonomy proposal and for a diplomatic
solution. Both he and Ambassador Riley cautioned against
military action. Welch said that while nine UNSC members
still do not back Morocco's position, international support
was growing. Mansouri then explained that UN Special Envoy
Peter Van Walsum had expressed some disappointment with U.S.
and international support. Welch said we would look at ways
to publicly support Van Walsum's efforts to achieve a
solution. He added that the POLISARIO would never have an
independent state.

MAURITANIA
----------

9. (C) Last but not least, Mansouri expressed deep concern
about the deteriorating security situation in Mauritania and
requested that the USG consider enhanced assistance to
support the new democratic government. Welch said that the
U.S. is providing more assistance both through the Middle
East Partnership Initiative and the Trans-Saharan
Counterterrorism Partnership.

COMMENT

RABAT 00000194 003 OF 003


-------

10. (C) Director General Mansouri, who is very close to King
Mohammed VI, clearly enjoyed his three hours with Ambassador
Welch and party. The exchange was frank and collegial as one
might expect with an ally who shares similar interests and
perspectives on many regional and international issues. END
COMMENT.

PARTICIPANTS
------------

11. (U) U.S. Moroccan
---- --------

NEA A/S C. David Welch DGED Director General
Amb. Thomas T. Riley Mohamed Yassine
DCM Robert P. Jackson Mansouri
RAO Counselor George Gaydos Gen. Abdeljabbar Azaoui
Executive Assistant to
DAPNSA Elliot Abrams
Erin Yerger
NEA Staff Assistant
Kimberly Harrington

12. (U) NEA A/S Welch did not have an opportunity to clear
this message.


*****************************************
Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat
*****************************************

Riley

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