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Cablegate: Arab League Cos Upbeat On Iraq

VZCZCXRO5458
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHEG #2188 2881602
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141602Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0640
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002188

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV IZ SY EG
SUBJECT: ARAB LEAGUE COS UPBEAT ON IRAQ

REF: CAIRO 1664 Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Matthew Tueller Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C) Arab League Chief of Staff Hisham Yousef told the DCM October 13 that he believes the situation in Iraq is improving. "We all can say that Iraq is on the right track now. The question is how to accelerate the pace of developments to get better results," Yousef said during the DCM,s introductory call. He assessed that there has been an anti-Iranian backlash in Iraq. "Tehran has been given a wake-up call that the Iraqis will not tolerate such Iranian intervention," Yousef said. Iran is likely re-assessing how to proceed in Iraq, as Iranian influence is no longer expanding in Iraq, but rather appears to be "at least frozen," he said. Yousef noted that Arab League envoy Hani Khallaf is now permanently stationed in Baghdad, and reiterated the Arab League view that Iraq needs to be reintegrated into the Arab fold. The DCM responded that this is critical, especially as Iranian influence continues to pressure PM Maliki.

2.(C) Regarding the Iraq-Syria border, Yousef said that SARG cooperation on the Syria-Iraq border issue is improving, and claimed that the Arab League has quietly sent information to both Damascus and Baghdad on "infiltrators" headed for Iraq. Initially, the Syrians "had a lot of complaints" when the League raised the border issue with them, Yousef said. The SARG maintained that the problem was at least fifty percent Iraq,s fault. "They would say they had asked for night vision goggles, but didn,t get them. They would say they had draft agreements with the Iraqis that remained unsigned." Yousef said that the League quietly eliminated each of these excuses, and that eventually things improved, notwithstanding traditional Syrian "stubbornness."

3.(C) Yousef asked about USG-Syrian relations. He said that during a September discussion in New York, FM Moallam had related to him that he had received a meeting request from Assistant Secretary Welch, and that Moallam had been set to refuse it. However, Yousef claimed that he had convinced Moallam of the importance of taking the meeting, which Moallam ultimately agreed to. Yousef asked if there was a chance for US-Syrian rapprochement before the end of the Administration. The DCM responded that while the Syrians have taken some positive steps, more needs to be done. SCOBEY

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