Cablegate: Qatar Briefs P5 Ambassadors On Its Arab-African
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O 261119Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8350
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 000756
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PREF QA SU
SUBJECT: QATAR BRIEFS P5 AMBASSADORS ON ITS ARAB-AFRICAN
INITIATIVE ON DARFUR
(SBU) Key Points
-- Ahmad al-Mahmood, Qatar's de facto Foreign Minister, told
P5Ambassadors in Doha October 22 that Qatar, at the request
of Arab League member states and (unspecified) others, has
agreed to lead what he described as an Arab-African
initiative to mediate a Darfur peace agreement.
Qatar's next steps:
-- Expand the seven-member ministerial committee formed for
the initiative beyond the seven Arab states to include five
Sahelian and sub-Saharan African states: South Africa,
Burkina Faso, Senegal, Nigeria, and Tanzania.
-- Gather the ministerial committee for a consultative
meeting in Doha to discuss an approach for dealing with the
crisis in Sudan; al-Mahmoud gave no date.
-- Continue discussions and consultations on Sudan and Darfur
with all concerned parties at the internal, regional, and
-- Hold a Darfur "reconciliation conference" in Doha, but
"only if there is a good chance for a successful outcome."
Al-Mahmood said he was closely coordinating with AU-UN joint
mediator for Darfur Bassoli, and with AU Commission Chair
Jean Ping, both of whom had expressed support for the
Qatar-led initiative. Al-Mahmood will see Bassoli next
Al-Mahmood said he told Sudanese President Omar Hassan
al-Bashir that Qatar would not ask the Security Council for
an Article 16 deferral until Qatar had "something positive"
to present the Security Council.
Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa, in a recent interview
with al-Sharq al-Awsat, spoke of the expansion of "the Arab
Committee" as a fait accompli. He added that the committee
includes a three-member chair, comprising the Qatari prime
minister, the president of the African Commission, and the
secretary general of the Arab League.
He also said the Committee's initiative has a time limit, and
spoke of the Committee reporting to the Security Council in
December or January, according to the Sharq al-Awsat report.
Al-Mahmood gave no indication in his P5 briefing that a time
limit for the Qatar-led initiative existed.
End Key Points and Comments.
1. (SBU) Al-Mahmood's 40-minute briefing loosely described a
three-stage process designed to "stop the fighting," bring
the parties into negotiation, and address the cross-border
conflict. The first stage, nearing its end, involved
Al-Mahmood's recent fact-finding trip to Sudan and some of
the neighboring states (but not, interestingly, Chad).
2. (SBU) While in Sudan, he met with al-Bashir and traveled
to southern Sudan and Darfur assisted by UNAMID. He said he
told Bashir that Qatar would not request an Article 16
deferral by the Security Council on the findings against the
Sudanese president by ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, not
until Qatar had something positive to report to the Security
Council. He also pressed Bashir to take additional action,
beyond house arrest, against Ali Mohamed Ali Abdel-Rahman.
Arrest is not enough.
3. (SBU) Al-Mahmood was deeply affected by his visit to
western Darfur. "I visited the camps; there was such great
suffering. I was very moved. It affected me a lot. There
were no schools. They need teachers. Everything. People
had no identity cards. We need a political settlement to end
this human suffering," he said.
4. (SBU) He did not describe any meetings or conversations
he or anyone else associated with the Qatar-led initiative
might have had with Darfuri rebel groups. But he did say he
was optimistic that the rebel groups and others would be
ready to work with Qatar, because Qatar is known for what he
described as Qatar's "neutrality" and its willingness to talk
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5. (SBU) Turning to how Qatar's initiative got underway,
al-Mahmood stressed that Qatar had been well aware of Egypt's
special relationship with Sudan. Qatar had consulted very
early on with the Egyptians. "We told them what we are
planning. If you don't like it, we will go. You can do it.
But we have to bring peace to these people," Al-Mahmood said.
6. (SBU) He said not only were the Egyptians receptive to
Qatar's involvement, Egypt has joined the Ministerial
7. (SBU) The second stage of the initiative will focus more
on the neighboring states, especially Chad, Libya, and Egypt.
(Note: In the Q&A following the briefing, Ambassador asked
Al-Mahmood specifically about Qatar's contact with Chad.
Al-Mahmood said Qatar "has a plan for how to deal with Chad."
He did not elaborate. He did indicate that Qatar's contacts
with Chad have so far been minimal. End Note.)
8. (SBU) The third stage would be the reconciliation
conference between the Sudanese government and the rebel
groups, to be called only if Qatar believes it will be
successful. No gathering for talks about talks, or to talk
just to be talking, he indicated.
9. (SBU) Al-Mahmood ended the briefing with a plea to the
P5, and a prediction. "You have to help us; we need a just
settlement for everybody." He predicted that, "if we don't
get a just settlement, terrorists, our common enemy, will
benefit," and at the expense of all -- "first, Egypt, then
others," he said.