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Cablegate: Demarche: Approaching the Uae On Civil Society

VZCZCXYZ0032
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #0163 1072145
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 162139Z APR 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 0000
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA PRIORITY 0000
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 0000
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0000
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0000

UNCLAS STATE 040163

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KDEM KMPI JO MO BA AE JA
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE: APPROACHING THE UAE ON CIVIL SOCIETY
PARTICIPATION IN 2008 BMENA EVENTS

REF: STATE 035438

Sensitive but unclassified. Please handle accordingly.

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Embassy is requested to meet with an appropriate MFA
official to request that host government engage the UAE
government to (1) stress the importance of civil society
participation in G8-Broader Middle East and North Africa
(BMENA) events in 2008, (2) note the past practice of peer
selection of civil society participants, and (3) press the
UAEG to focus on reform-related BMENA themes this year.

----------
Objectives
----------

2. (SBU) Department requests that the Embassy pursue the
following objectives:

--Request host government to inform the UAEG of the strong,
positive tradition of civil society participation in BMENA
events, including the Forum for the Future. NGOs that
participate want to forge constructive relationships with
governments to promote reform, not to embarrass governments.

--Request that host government stress to the UAE that civil
society representatives to BMENA events should be
peer-selected, not chosen by governments.

--Request host government to encourage the UAEG to adopt
reform-related themes for BMENA events this year.

------------------
Reporting Deadline
------------------

3. (U) Embassies should report results of efforts by cable to
NEA/PI Blake Thorkelson by April 23.

----------
Background
----------

4. (SBU) Since the inception of BMENA in 2004, civil society
has been an important and growing element of the initiative.
Among its objectives, BMENA seeks to support civil society
activists in their efforts to promote democracy and reform,
and to foster cooperative relationships with governments in
achieving reform goals. Civil society representatives
participate in the annual Forum for the Future and the Forum
Subministerial, making recommendations for action by civil
society groups and governments. While NGO participation can
cause nervousness with some governments, BMENA events have
not been used in the past as platforms to attack governments.
The NGOs that participate have consistently demonstrated
their interest in working constructively with governments.

5. (SBU) The UAEG has agreed to include 25 civil society
participants in the Forum Subministerial (scheduled for June
9-10 in Dubai) and 56-60 in the Forum Ministerial (scheduled
for October 18-19 in Abu Dhabi). However, the UAEG wishes to
select these representatives, contrary to the practice of the
last four years. Since the beginning of the initiative, the
participation of civil society has premised on the notion
that civil society leaders themselves develop the criteria
and select their representatives. These groups have valued
their participation and select peers who reflect the
diversity of civil society and can best take advantage of the
meetings. If this practice were to change and BMENA
government hosts were to select civil society
representatives, we expect a negative reaction from civil
society that will negatively affect cooperation in this
year's meetings.

6. (SBU) The UAE is considering several unsuitable themes for
the Forum for the Future, including environment and
alternative energy, cultural globalization and national
identity, international development assistance, and
unemployment. These topics are addressed in other fora and
are not in keeping with the Forum's traditional focus on
political, economic, and social reform. Embassy Abu Dhabi
reports that the UAEG may propose some refinements to these
topics, including focusing on education for employment,
female political participation, and press freedom, which are
reform-related themes we could support.

7. (U) MFA senior officials who have been closely involved
with the BMENA initiative include the following:

--Morocco: MFA Director-General of Bilateral Relations
Youssef Amrani
--Bahrain: MFA Director of Bilateral Relations Dr. Dhafer
Alumran
--Jordan: MFA Director of Negotiations Nawaf Tell

Amrani and Alumran will attend the Forum for the Future
planning meeting in Tokyo on April 24-25.
RICE

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