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Cablegate: Arab League Toying with Idea of a Joint Arab Force

VZCZCXRO7561
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #2460 3381514
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031514Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0991
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002460

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, AF/E

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2018
TAGS: PREL EWWT AL EG
SUBJECT: ARAB LEAGUE TOYING WITH IDEA OF A JOINT ARAB FORCE

Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs
William R. Stewart for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Zeid al-Sabban, Advisor to the Arab League (AL) SYG,
told us on December 1 that the AL is thinking about creating
a ""joint Arab force,"" which could be deployed in places of
conflict similar to United Nations and African Union forces.
He said that this idea arose after the December 20 conference
on piracy hosted by the Egyptian MFA. Al Sabban said the
only concrete idea proposed at the conference was the AL
suggestion for an Arab maritime force to counter piracy in
the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. He contended that an Arab
force is appropriate because the Arab countries of Egypt,
Saudi Arabia, and Yemen are the most affected by the piracy
issue. Al Sabban added that such an AL maritime force would
work in cooperation with the NATO, EU, Russian and Indian
navies already deployed to the region.

2. (C) In an effort to address the historical concerns
surrounding a joint Arab force, Al Sabban said that this idea
was not a ""revision of 1948."" He said the force would be set
up to cooperate with other multi-lateral forces such as NATO
and the EU. Al Sabban added that today there are ""many"" Arab
countries that are ""in effect"" at peace with Israel, and he
dispelled the notion that a joint Arab force would have any
role to play in the issue of Palestine.

3. (C) Comment: This is the first that we have heard about a
joint Arab force. The AL is probably toying with the idea,
but our conversations with the Government of Egypt, and the
Arab League's lack of experience in this realm, lead us to
believe that it would be difficult to garner support for such
a pan-Arab force.
SCOBEY

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