Cablegate: Qatari Media Warm to Sudan Special Envoy
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DE RUEHDO #0862/01 3510642
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160642Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8528
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0046
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 000862
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KPAO SU QA
SUBJECT: QATARI MEDIA WARM TO SUDAN SPECIAL ENVOY
-- Al Jazeera Arabic and English aired two interviews with Special
Envoy for Sudan Richard Williamson on November 25 in prime time.
-- Qatari local newspapers provided accurate, prominent coverage of
Williamson's press roundtable. An op-ed on November 29 highlighted
the Government of Sudan's lack of credibility.
-- (SBU) Qatar News Agency head Sheikh Jabor bin Yusuf Al Thani, who
is close to the Prime Minister, told Ambassador that he found the
Special Envoy's media engagements positive and helpful.
-- (SBU) At a time when the USG is trying to help steer Qatar's
efforts on Darfur in the right direction, media engagements like
this one -- demonstrating that we are supportive, but also clearly
communicating our goals and views -- are vital to our diplomatic
1. (U) Responding to requests from post, Al Jazeera English and Al
Jazeera Arabic (two separate channels) arranged back-to-back
interviews for Special Envoy Williamson on November 25. The first,
a 15-minute live-to-tape interview, aired on Al Jazeera English
during news bulletins in the prime 1300 - 1500 GMT time slot.
(NOTE: A prominent background image of Sudanese President Omar
al-Bashir scowling provided an appropriate visual for the Special
Envoy's points on the Government of Sudan's lack of credibility.
2. (U) Williamson then appeared live on Al Jazeera's main afternoon
news bulletin as the "Mid-Day Guest," a format in which a guest is
interviewed by two news presenters on the news of the day. The
seven-minute segment provided an opportunity for the Special Envoy
to demonstrate USG support for Qatar's efforts on Darfur; emphasize
the central role of the African Union mediator; and call for
implementation of commitments by the GOS and rebel groups. The
interview aired at 1330 GMT.
3. (U) All seven Qatari newspapers also provided prominent coverage
of Williamson's remarks at a press roundtable held at the
Ambassador's residence. Most headlines focused on U.S. support for
Qatar's initiative, and the articles accurately reflected
Williamson's comments. Two newspapers also included in their
headlines the Special Envoy's assessment that the Security Council
would not take action to stop a process within the International
Criminal Court related to President Bashir.
4. (U) An op-ed published in Arabic-language daily "Al Raya"
addressed the lack of confidence suffered by the GOS as a result of
corruption and tensions within the regime. The article ended with
the question, "Are those in charge of the country up to this mission
so that they can uproot those who hinder the implementation process
and were also a reason that the lack of confidence took root?"
5. TEXT of Opening Statement by Richard C. Williamson - Press
Roundtable - November 24, 2008
It's a great pleasure for me to be in Doha; I thank all of you for
taking the time to come out and let me visit with you, especially
our friend from Sudan. The U.S. goal in Sudan has been and remains
relieving the great humanitarian suffering that continues. In our
efforts to make progress in relieving that humanitarian suffering,
we welcome the Qatar initiative and Qatar's role as a diplomatic
leader in this region.
Mr. Bassol, the former Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, is the
joint mediator for the African Union and the United Nations, which
the United States strongly supports; he has a unique role to play as
a mediator between the parties. In my discussions today with the
Prime Minister and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, I had
the opportunity to discuss the need for close coordination between
Qatari officials and the Qatari initiative with Mr. Bassol and his
Unfortunately, past pledges by the Government of Sudan have not been
lived up to. There's a history of declarations followed by delay,
diversion, denial, and non-performance. Therefore, it's
particularly challenging to bring the parties together because
there's such a lack of trust, which is why the United States
continues to demand there be concrete, verifiable progress on the
ground. This is a goal shared by the leadership in Qatar. We join
with them in working to get those concrete, verifiable steps on the
ground to bring in humanitarian assistance.
It's time to translate promises and declarations into action, and
the United States looks forward to working closely with Qatar as
they accept a leadership position in trying to bring international
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pressure and cooperation for progress. Thank you and I'll be happy
to take any of your questions.
6. (U) Khartoum minimize considered.