Cablegate: Arab League Assistance to Somalia and Sudan

DE RUEHEG #1616/01 2321157
P 201157Z AUG 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001616



E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2019

REF: A. STATE 79853
B.TRIPOLI 566 Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Key Points: -- The Arab League (AL) pledged USD 18 million to Somalia during its Doha Summit in January 2009, which supersedes any commitment made at the Brussels Donors conference, and does not include the USD 5 million pledge from the Government of Iraq. -- An AL representative was pleased to hear the details of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) agreement, citing member country concerns about transparency and "donor fatigue" on Somalia. The AL plans to make a push for countries to meet their donor commitments at its semi-annual meeting on September 10. -- Qatari Emir Hamad told AL SYG Moussa that his country is providing assistance to Eritrea, but it is not funding Al Shibaab. -- The AL plans to spend USD 15 million for development projects in Darfur hoping to change Darfuri perceptions that it is biased toward Khartoum. The League is working on three village development projects and provided 60 doctors for a two month rotation in the field. It hopes to begin work on building medical centers in three IDP camps in late October. -- The AL wants to be part of a coordinated effort including the USG, African Union (AU), Egypt, Libya and Qatar to end the Darfur conflict.

2.(C) Comment: Our Darfuri contacts have always scoffed at the AL's role in Sudan insisting that it is biased toward Khartoum and never provides any concrete results in Darfur. The AL hopes that its assistance efforts will change this perception. End Comment. -------------------------------- AL Financial Support for Somalia --------------------------------

3.(C) Zeid Al Sabban, African affairs advisor to AL SYG Moussa, told us on August 12 that the AL pledged USD 18 million to Somalia during its summit in Doha in January 2009. He said this commitment supersedes the USD 9 million contribution that AL Ambassador Samir Hosni mentioned at the April 2009 Brussels conference, and does not include a separate USD 5 million pledge from the Iraqi government (reftel A). Al Sabban said that the AL had dispersed USD 5 million shortly after the AL summit, but payments were halted when member countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, expressed concerns about transparency. He was buoyed by details of the agreement between the TFG and PWC and he hoped this would instill confidence in Arab donors, although he noted some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, were suffering from "donor fatigue" on Somalia. Al Sabban said the Arab League will make a push for countries to meet their Somalia commitments during its September 10 semi-annual meeting.

4.(C) Al Sabban said the AL is committed to Somalia, noting the League is the only organization with an Ambassador currently in Mogadishu. SYG Moussa met with TFG President Shaykh Sharif during the AU Summit in Sirte, Libya in early July to discuss TFG financing. Shaykh Sharif told Moussa the AL financial commitments to his government "are good words, but no one pays." Moussa stressed that Arab countries are looking for "positive signs" before they meet their pledges. Al Sabban stated most Arab countries want to see progress on reconciliation between Somali factions before giving funds to the TFG. He said the AL Secretariat staff did not subscribe to this viewpoint. They believe that a rapid disbursement of funds over the next few months would provide immediate assistance to Somalia, and encourage reconciliation between the Somali factions. However, Al Sabban stated the AL can only pay if its members make good on their pledges. ----------------------------- Qatar, Eritrea and Al Shibaab -----------------------------

5.(C) Al Sabban said SYG Moussa discouraged Qatari Emir Hamad from supporting Al Shibaab through Eritrea, a charge the Emir emphatically denied (reftel B). The Emir did admit CAIRO 00001616 002 OF 002 to providing Eritrea with financial assistance and encouraging Qatari investment in the country. Al Sabban asked for an update on USG discussions with the Qatari government on the topic of funding for Eritrea and Al Shibaab. -------------------------------------- Changing the AL's Reputation in Darfur --------------------------------------

6.(C) Al Sabban said the AL was trying to change the perceptions of Darfuris toward the League by providing direct development assistance, and pushing the Government of Sudan (GoS) to resolve the problems in the region. According to Al Sabban, SYG Moussa told Sudanese President Bashir and Presidential advisor Ghazi Salahuddin that the presence of 3 million IDPs in Sudan was "unacceptable and "shameful." He said Khartoum needed to resolve this problem quickly. Al Sabban also told us that the AL had committed USD 15 million for development in Sudan. He stated the AL had used USD 8.5 million on three village development projects, and sent 60 doctors to Darfur for a two month rotation in the field. The AL was also in negotiations with IDP leaders to establish medical centers in three IDP camps. Al Sabban hoped the remaining USD 6.5 million could be dispersed in mid to late October to build these three medical facilities. --------------------------------------- A Coordinated End to Conflict in Darfur ---------------------------------------

7.(C) Al Sabban highlighted the need for a plan to coordinate an end to the conflict in Darfur. He noted the efforts of the USG had stabilized the situation in the region, and he said it is important to combine the efforts of the U.S., AU, Egypt, Libya, and Qatar to arrive at a "coordinated solution" on Darfur. Al Sabban thinks there is danger that "competing solutions" could create confusion and lead to greater disunity amongst the Darfuri groups. AL SYG Moussa is looking forward to his August 23 meeting with S/E Gration to discuss common goals and the way forward on Darfur. Tueller

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