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Cablegate: Uk Rep On Bmena Developments, Lebanon

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: UK Coordinator for Outreach to the Arab
World Nick Abbott offered an update on UK coordination
of BMENA activities to MEPI Regional Office Director.
The four civil society components are coming together:
UK organizing Transparency, U.S. Rule of Law,
Bahrain Businesswomen, and hopefully Qatar
committing to do Human Rights. We discussed the need
to improve public outreach efforts to improve public
awareness and understanding of the BMENA process.
Abbott reported that the EU is struggling with Arab
resistance to efforts to make reform central to the
Barcelona Process as part of its tenth anniversary
celebration in November. Finally, we agreed on the
importance of U.S.-European coordination on policy and
programming as we move forward post-elections in
Lebanon. End summary.

BMENA Civil Society Components

2. MEPI Regional Office Director met June 29 with
Nick Abbott, UK Coordinator for Outreach to the Arab
World, who is based in Cairo and who was in Tunis for
a conference. BMENA coordination was the focus of
discussions. Abbott outlined the UK G8 Presidency's
efforts with BMENA partners to organize activities for
the four components of Civil Society activities in
advance of the Bahrain Forum for the Future in

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3. Transparency: The UK is organizing the
Transparency/Governance component, using Transparency
International in Germany as its implementer. They
plan 2-3 events, but no dates or venues have been set
yet. TI Germany is supposed to share a proposed
participants list for the gatherings with HMG soon.

-- Rule of Law: Abbott said that London had been in
discussions with NEA/PI and his understanding was that
the U.S. would organize this component, probably using
ABA as its implementor.

-- Women in Workplace: Bahrain is reportedly eager to
take on this activity and the GOB has already chosen a
local NGO to organize an event.

-- Human Rights: Qatar has expressed interest in
taking the lead, but has not yet offered anything
concrete. The UK embassy in Doha is planning to
approach the GOQ officially to obtain a commitment.

4. Abbott explained that the UK plan is to have each
of these four components produce some sort of workplan
for future civil society efforts in these areas. At
the same time, the participants in the four component
activities will elect representatives to represent
them at the Forum for the Future in November. These
representatives will act as rapporteurs on the
component activities and workplans to the Forum during
the Civil Society Dialogue.

Public Awareness/Understanding of BMENA

5. We shared assessments of the recent BMENA
Democracy Assistance Dialogue (DAD) meeting in
Istanbul. While the discussions were useful and the
participants engaged, many of them still do not fully
understand what BMENA is or how the DAD and other
activities fit into it. Abbott agreed that, if the
participants themselves don't understand BMENA, there
is little hope that the general public has any
awareness of BMENA developments. This is a pity,
since there are an increasing number of activities
taking place with a lot of enthusiastic participation.
As a start, we discussed the need to get basic
information about BMENA on paper and circulated at all
upcoming meetings, including information on all the
different events taking place in the BMENA context.
This is essential to portraying BMENA as a dynamic
process and to creating a momentum in the lead-up to
the Bahrain Forum.

EU -- UK Presidency

6. Abbott did not foresee any significant change in
EU positions toward the region with the UK taking over
the EU Presidency in July. The big battle at the
moment for the EU, he reported, is getting the Arabs
to accept language placing reform at the center of the
Barcelona Process for the tenth anniversary meeting in
November. Abbott said that the Egyptians and others
are arguing that this is not what Barcelona was about
and they disagree with this transformation. The
Europeans are responding, "times have changed."
Abbott was hopeful the EU would overcome this
resistance. If so, the Barcelona meeting could
combine with a productive Forum in November to give a
real shot in the arm to the status of the reform
agenda in the region.


7. MEPI Regional Director stressed the importance of
coordination between the U.S. and Europe on both
policy and programming as we move ahead in the post-
election phase in Lebanon. Abbott agreed, saying he
was fairly confident that policy coordination is on
track, but feared that donor coordination was not
good. He also noted that, because of the past
political situation, the UK had only focused on
development assistance in the hinterlands and needed
to focus now on more politically oriented programs.
Abbott and the MEPI Regional Director will both be in
Beirut next month. We agreed to raise the importance
of coordination in our meetings there and to compare
notes before departing.

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