Cablegate: Scenesetter for a/S Carson's Visit to Egypt
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHEG #1992/01 2931311
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 201311Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3930
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0355
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 0211
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 1374
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0441
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 CAIRO 001992
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, AF/SPG, AF/E
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2019
TAGS: PREL SU SO ER ET EG
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR A/S CARSON'S VISIT TO EGYPT
REF: A. CAIRO 1220 B. CAIRO 1341 Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(S/NF) Key Points: -- Welcome to Egypt. -- Egypt's top priority in Africa is unity of Sudan. The Government of Egypt (GoE) supports Special Envoy (S/E) Gration's efforts to resolve the crisis in Darfur and encourage implementation of the CPA. Egypt believes there will be "fatal implications" if South Sudan chooses to secede and it would like the USG to "educate" Southern Sudanese leaders on the dangers of separation and encourage them to advocate for unity. -- The GoE views the Horn of Africa as vital to its national security interests. Instability in the region might result in an increase in the flow of African refugees into Egypt, threaten Egypt's access to Nile waters, and affect Egyptian Suez Canal revenues and security in the Red Sea. -- Egypt is a strong supporter of Somali President Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), but is skeptical the TFG can militarily defeat Hizb Al Islam or Al Shibaab. Egypt would like to work with the U.S. to reach out to Shaykh Dahir Aweys to encourage him to join the TFG and has proposed the USG offer to remove Aweys from the "terrorist list" in exchange for his positive participation in a GoE-sponsored dialogue with TFG leadership. -- The GoE has good relations with Eritrea and believes Asmara could be part of the solution to the crises in Somalia. Egypt is working to improve its relationship with Ethiopia because it is the source of 85 percent of Nile waters, but the two countries disagree over current Nile Basin discussions on water sharing. The two countries agree that support for the Somali TFG is important in preventing the growth of extremism in the Horn of Africa. -- Egypt is using development and technical assistance through the Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa (EFTCA) to increase its influence in Africa and promote its agenda. It has proposed cooperation with USAID.
2.(C) Post warmly welcomes your visit to Cairo, which comes as Egypt's diplomatic energies are increasingly focused on the Horn of Africa, especially Sudan, Somalia, and Nile water issues. The U.S. and Egypt continue to face a number of difficult bilateral and regional issues, from Arab-Israeli peace to democracy and human rights. However, in the wake of President Obama's June 4 speech in Cairo and the kickoff of a U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue later that month, we have seen new diplomatic openings and a mutual commitment to find areas of common interest where we can work together. We have seen some success on the multilateral front over the past weeks and months, and we believe Africa offers another promising area of engagement. We have already begun working more closely with Egypt on Sudan issues, and Special Envoy for Sudan Gration visited Egypt in April and again in August for discussions with Egyptian leaders on resolving the Darfur crisis and encouraging CPA implementation. A high-ranking Africom delegation visited in September for discussions on Sudan, Somalia, and piracy.
3.(C) Egyptian foreign policy is centered on the maintenance of regional stability, and as GoE leaders look around their neighborhood, it increasingly appears to them that threats to regional stability and to Egypt's core interests could originate from the South. Among other things, instability in Sudan and the Horn of Africa could result in an increase in the flow of African refugees into Egypt and could threaten Egypt's access to Nile waters. Egypt is also concerned with the situation in Somalia, where instability and the related problem of piracy affects Red Sea shipping and Egyptian Suez Canal revenues. Egyptians have additional concerns that violence and instability in the Horn of Africa can be an incubator for regional extremism, a phenomenon with a long and painful history in Egypt. In response to these concerns, the GoE takes an approach it believes is focused on promoting peace, stability, development, and conflict resolution on the CAIRO 00001992 002 OF 004 continent. The GoE views the USG as a potential partner in Africa because it believes the two countries share many of these objectives. Additionally, it feels that U.S. financial resources and Egyptian regional expertise could be combined to address some of the continent's problems such as poverty and the lack of development. The GoE will likely encourage the USG to take the "public" lead on some issues, reflecting Egypt's aversion to risk and fear of the consequences if these initiatives fail.
4. (C) We have requested meetings for you with Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egyptian General Intelligence Services Chief Omar Soliman, and Assistant Foreign Minister for African Affairs Mona Omar. While the MFA takes the lead role in developing and articulating Egyptian policy toward Africa, Soliman and several other ministries, including the Ministry of Water, the Ministry of International Cooperation, and the Ministry of Defense play key roles as well. --------------------------------- Sudan's Unity is the Top Priority ---------------------------------
5.(C) Senior Egyptian officials will tell you the GoE's top priority in Africa is the unity of Sudan. Egypt supports S/E Gration's efforts to resolve the crises in Sudan, participated in four-party (U.S., Egypt, Libya and Sudan) talks on Darfur in August in Cairo, and in the June CPA supporters' conference in Washington. Egyptian officials tell us they believe the Government of Sudan (GoS) is serious about resolving the crises in the country, and are optimistic about the prospects for peace in Darfur. Egypt is working to resolve the Sudan-Chad conflict and encourage Darfuri rebel leaders to unite and negotiate with the GoS to facilitate peace in Darfur. It hosted Darfuri rebel unification talks in August and recently welcomed a visit by the envoy of Chadian President Deby to discuss resolving the conflict with Sudan. The GoE suggested it would be willing to host a Darfur Reconstruction Conference in 2010 after the unification of Darfuri factions and a final agreement in Doha are achieved.
6.(C) The GoE is concerned about the future of the CPA and the "deteriorating" situation in South Sudan. It believes there will be "fatal implications" if South Sudan chooses to secede because it would result in a war that would flood Egypt with refugees as occurred during the previous North-South civil war, and lead to further fragmentation in Sudan and the region. The result would be the creation of a "non-viable" state that could threaten Egypt's access to the Nile waters. Egypt, as the only Arab country to open a consulate in Juba, maintains good relations with both the GoS and the Government of South Sudan (GoSS). It has encouraged leaders in the GoS and GoSS to focus on ways to preserve the unity of Sudan. The Egyptian Fund for Technical Cooperation with Africa (EFTCA) provides assistance to South Sudan as a "benefit of unity," but also to establish strong ties in the event South Sudan chooses to secede. The GoE built and maintains a health clinic in Juba, is funding construction of multiple power plants and a university, and provides scholarships for South Sudanese to attend Egyptian universities. In recent bilateral meetings, GoE officials have asked the USG to "educate" Southern Sudanese leaders on the dangers of separation and encourage them to advocate for unity. Egypt has suggested that the 2011 referendum could be postponed for 4-6 years until the "capacity for statehood" in South Sudan can be developed, or the CPA could be amended to give South Sudan autonomy for 10 years before it chooses federation or independence. Cairo supports Khartoum's position that a two-thirds majority in the referendum should be required to divide Sudan, and all Southerners, including those in Khartoum and the South Sudanese Diaspora, should be allowed to participate in the referendum. --------------------------------- Somalia: Reconciliation and Unity ---------------------------------
7.(S/NF) Egypt is a strong supporter of Somali President Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmed and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The GoE provided training for Shaykh Sharif's presidential guards and is prepared to provide training to Somali police and armed forces. However, the GoE believes the TFG is not capable of militarily defeating Al CAIRO 00001992 003 OF 004 Shibaab and Hizb Al Islam. To resolve the problems in Somalia, Egypt believes there must be outreach to Shaykh Dahir Aweys to encourage him to join the TFG, and prevent Al Shibaab from succeeding in Somalia and expanding its influence into other countries in the region. In order to encourage Aweys, the GoE has proposed the USG offer to remove Aweys from the "terrorist list" in exchange for his positive participation in a GoE-sponsored dialogue with TFG leadership.
8.(C) The GoE is concerned about the territorial integrity of Somalia and wants to ensure that a solution for Somalia includes the entire country, not specific regions. Egyptian officials have queried U.S. officials about our engagement with the governments in Puntland and Somaliland because they believe such direct engagement could encourage separatism. Egypt says it has a plan to assist with the "reintegration" of these regions back into Somalia. --------------------------------------- Piracy Needs a "Comprehensive" Solution ---------------------------------------
9.(C) Egypt is a member of the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and chairs Working Group 4 on diplomatic and public relations. The GoE believes piracy is a byproduct of the absence of development and political and economic institutions in Somalia, and has advocated in the CGPCS for a "comprehensive" approach to dealing with piracy. Egypt held eight suspected pirates captured during the retaking of two Egyptian fishing vessels, the Samarah Ahmed and Momtaz
1. However, the GoE decided in September to return the pirates to Puntland for prosecution, contending the suspects were not involved in the original hijacking of the ships but had been hired by the pirates to guard the fishing vessels. Egypt questions whether individual nations have jurisdiction to prosecute suspected pirates and prefers to prosecute the suspects in a "regional or international court" instead of national courts. The Egyptian Ministry of Defense (MOD) has decided not to send forces to participate with the international naval forces off the coast of Somalia. -------------------------------------------- Eritrea: Part of the Solution or the Problem --------------------------------------------
10.(S/NF) Egypt has good relations with Eritrea and is keen to maintain these ties at least partly in practical acknowledgment of Eritrea's strategic position on the Red Sea. The EFTCA provides physicians and capacity-building training to address economic and development needs and scholarships for Eritrean students to study in Egyptian schools. The GoE believes Eritrea can enlist the support of Shaykh Aweys in its proposed dialogue with the TFG, and facilitate his rapprochement with the TFG. Egypt proposed having the U.S. forestall potential UNSC sanctions against Eritrea in exchange for pushing Shaykh Aweys to negotiate a peace and cooperation agreement with TFG (reftel B). The GoE believes this would encourage Eritrean President Afworki to stop playing a negative role in Somalia.
11.(C) FM Aboul Gheit and EGIS Chief Soliman visited Eritrea on September 30 and spoke with President Afworki about the potential Eritrean role in resolving the situation in Somalia. Both countries share the belief that the problems in Somalia were created by the political vacuum in the country. However, while Egypt supports the TFG, Afworki reportedly told Soliman and Aboul Gheit he did not recognize the TFG as legitimate. Egypt is ready to work with the U.S. to resolve the Eritrean-Ethiopian border dispute, believing that if unsolved Eritrea will remain "radical" and continue to play the "spoiler role" in the region. --------------------------------- Ethiopia: Nile Waters and Somalia ----------------------------------
12.(C) The GoE is working to improve its relationship with Ethiopia because it is the source of 85 percent of the Nile waters, and the two countries agree that support for the TFG is important to controlling extremism and restoring "balance" to the Horn of Africa. Recent discussions in the Nile Basin Initiative over water rights have been "tense." Egypt CAIRO 00001992 004 OF 004 believes upstream countries (including Ethiopia) should be required to obtain the approval of downstream countries (i.e. Egypt and Sudan) before beginning any projects that could affect the flow of the Nile. Further, the GoE wants to guarantee its "historical right" to 55.5 billion cubic meters of Nile waters, which is based on a 1959 Nile agreement signed by Egypt and Sudan. Thus, while Ethiopia has plans to use Nile waters for agricultural development projects to feed its burgeoning population, Egypt feels such projects would threaten its supply of water and insists downstream countries such as Ethiopia can use rain and wells to increase agricultural production. The GoE is willing to provide assistance to dig wells and build hydroelectric dams in upstream countries to aid development, but does not support agricultural development projects that would drain Nile water resources.
13.(C) Egypt and Ethiopia are concerned with controlling "Muslim extremists" in Somalia. Both countries believe they need to support the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to eliminate a potential foothold in the region for Al Shibaab, and cooperation on this front could help bring the countries closer. The two countries are divided on how to deal with Eritrea. Addis Ababa supports sanctions on Asmara for its role in destabilizing Somalia, while Cairo prefers to engage with the Eritrean Government to minimize potential threats to Djibouti, Somalia and the rest of the region. Egypt appears to be balancing relations between the two antipathetic states because of the value of Blue Nile waters originating in Ethiopia and the importance of Eritrea to Red Sea security, which directly affects Suez Canal revenues. Scobey