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Cablegate: Some Reform Activists Boycott Embassy Over Lebanon

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #6519 2361318
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241318Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3482
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L AMMAN 006519

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/24/2021
TAGS: PGOV KDEM IS LE JO
SUBJECT: SOME REFORM ACTIVISTS BOYCOTT EMBASSY OVER LEBANON

REF: AMMAN 5745

Classified By: Ambassador David Hale for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) Summary: Citing U.S. policy toward Lebanon and the
Palestinians, several long standing Embassy contacts among
the reform activist community have begun in recent weeks to
boycott Embassy functions or have ended information-sharing
relationships. Those who continue to work with us report
feeling pressure in a Jordanian society that is beginning to
conflate reform causes with regional conflicts. End summary.

2. (C) A number of Embassy contacts have recently ended or
scaled back long-standing work relationships with us because
of regional developments.

--Dr. Abdulrahim Melhas, a reformist Member of Parliament and
an Embassy contact for two decades, declined to attend an
event at the Ambassador's residence honoring political reform
activists. He later told poloff that he stayed away because
he viewed the U.S. "as an enemy lately."

--Leaders of Adaleh Human Rights Center, a human rights NGO
that has long contributed information useful to our annual
human rights and religious freedom reports, boycotted an
Embassy reception in late July. In late August, they refused
to discuss human rights issues with emboff, and told her they
were "enraged" by U.S. policies toward Lebanon and the
Palestinians. The NGO's president said that because of the
war, U.S. commitments to democracy in the region had no
credibility.

--A director of Amman Center for Human Rights, another human
rights NGO that has long worked with Embassy, told PolFSN
that he would not meet with us following recent events in
Lebanon out of concern he would be "seen as a spy."

--Ten recent returnees from a Spring 2006 International
Visitors Program for democratization activists invited the
Ambassador to lunch, but four of the hosts then boycotted
their own event citing developments in Lebanon. The
attendees were eager to continue cooperation with the
Embassy, but also observed that as self-styled "liberals"
promoting democratic reform, they are vulnerable to
accusations of promoting an American agenda - electoral death
in the current climate.

--One econ contact declined to meet with emboffs citing the
Qana tragedy, but we were able to get our business done with
his superior, who received us as usual (reftel).

3. (SBU) Most other civil society NGOs continue to do
business with us, but many report they feel pressure from
other Jordanians because their causes are increasingly seen
as "pro-Western."

4. (C) Comment: As late as the end of July, we saw little
sign that our contacts were letting their perceptions of U.S.
policy interfere with their day-to-day business with us.
These anecdotes suggest emotions here peaked toward the end
of the conflict. If the region moves toward calm and visible
diplomatic progress, we expect things to gradually return to
normal. End Comment.

Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/

Hale

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