Cablegate: A/S Carson and Egis Chief Soliman's October 27

DE RUEHEG #2129/01 3160947
P 120947Z NOV 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 002129



E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2019
DISCUSSION ON SOMALIA AND SUDAN REF: STATE 110709 Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Key Points: -- Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) chief Omar Soliman told Assistant Secretary (A/S) for African Affairs Johnnie Carson on October 27 that the Government of Egypt (GoE) supports Somali President Sheikh Sharif and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and is working on a plan for peace in Somalia, which includes imposing a ceasefire and opening a dialogue between the TFG and Somali opposition groups. -- Soliman believes engaging Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will encourage him to use his influence over Somali opposition leader Sheikh Dahir Aweys to push him toward a ceasefire and a peace deal with the TFG, which would split him away from al-Shabaab. -- Soliman said the GoE has offered to send doctors, soldiers, and police to train their TFG counterparts in Somalia once the violence has subsided. -- Soliman said Egypt supports full implementation of the CPA, but is concerned about the increasing prospects for the separation of South Sudan. End Key Points. --------------------------------- Egypt Focused on Isaias and Aweys ---------------------------------

2.(C) A/S Carson met with EGIS chief Omar Soliman on October 27 to discuss Somalia and Sudan. Soliman told Carson that Egypt supports the TFG and is working on a plan to bring peace to Somalia that involves imposing a ceasefire and opening a dialogue between the TFG and Somali opposition groups. He believes Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and Somali opposition leader Sheikh Dahir Aweys are the "keys" to obtaining a ceasefire in Somalia and beginning a dialogue for peace. Soliman said Isaias can encourage Aweys to agree to a ceasefire and subsequent talks with the TFG, which would split him away from al- Shabaab. He presented the plan to Isaias on September 30 in Asmara, warned the Eritrean President that his current support for the Somali opposition would only increase his "bad reputation" in the West, and asked Isaias to "help to bring stability to Somalia." According to Soliman, Isaias did not "fully accept" the Egyptian proposal, contending that the international community is against him and wants him isolated.

3.(C) According to Soliman, Isaias asked Egypt to convoke a meeting in Cairo with the Arab League, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, and the TFG to discuss the Somalia issue and the role of each in resolving the problem. Soliman supported the idea of increased regional involvement to address the Somalia problem. He also told Carson that trade and investment incentives and mediation with Ethiopia over the border dispute could sway Isaias to cooperate with the peace plan. Soliman said he spoke with Libyan President Qaddafi and Sudanese President Bashir and both agreed to help push Isaias to take the right decision.

4.(C) Soliman said Egypt has had no direct contact with Somali opposition leader Sheikh Dahir Aweys. He called Aweys a "fanatic" and "jealous" of Sheikh Sharif, but Soliman believed Eritrea can convince him to support a ceasefire in exchange for a key position in parliament of the TFG or a new Somali Government. He hoped that Aweys would come to Asmara in November to talk with Isaias about the Egyptian proposal. Alternatively, Soliman suggested that if Aweys rejected the offer, he could be offered shelter and a home in Saudi Arabia. --------------------------------------- Egypt to Provide Assistance After Peace ---------------------------------------

5.(C) Soliman told Carson that the Egyptian approach advocates a "broadening of the Djibouti Process" to which the GoE is firmly committed. He said Arab League SYG Moussa was working with member states to collect funding pledges for CAIRO 00002129 002 OF 003 Somalia. He added that Egypt has offered to send doctors, soldiers and police to train their counterparts in Somalia, but will only do so once the violence has subsided. Soliman said the GoE asked AMISOM troops to step up their protection of Mogadishu because it is the "symbol of a united Somalia." He said it was important for Sheikh Sharif to move his office to the capital and for the seaport and airport to be opened to send a positive message to the rest of the country. Soliman told Carson that Egypt is willing to "send its forces to Somalia as peacekeepers, but not as fighters" (reftel). --------------------------------------------- ----- USG Skeptical About Intentions of Isaias and Aweys --------------------------------------------- -----

6.(C) Carson thanked Soliman for Egyptian efforts to bring peace to Somalia and noted that the U.S. and Egypt share the strategic goal of supporting the TFG and the Djibouti process. He expressed concerns about the reliability of both President Isaias and Sheikh Aweys. Carson said Isaias was "one of the most difficult leaders with whom he had interacted." He noted that Isaias had refused to accept the credentials of the U.S. Ambassador in Asmara, grant A/S Carson a visa, or accept a phone call from Secretary Clinton. Carson expressed skepticism about bringing Aweys in with the TFG. He said Aweys is an "extraordinary radical" and bringing him into the TFG would be like "putting the crocodiles in with the tilapia." He encouraged Soliman to increase Egypt's support for AMISOM and the TFG so they can be a formidable opponent to Aweys and al-Shabaab. ------------------------------ Concern for the Unity of Sudan ------------------------------

7.(C) Soliman told Carson that Egypt is pleased with the work of S/E Gration. He said the GoE supports the "full implementation" of the CPA, but is concerned about the current political direction toward the separation of southern Sudan. Soliman said Egypt's three-track plan is to encourage CPA implementation and unity, provide southern Sudan with development assistance, and help the South Sudanese people understand the "price of separation." He expressed disappointment that northern Sudanese leaders are not concerned with separation, "have done nothing to encourage unity," and see CPA implementation as a burden. Soliman believed separation would leave the south without oil revenues, currency, banking, passports, or defined borders, which will result in a renewed North-South conflict. He told Carson that he met with Government of South Sudan President Salva Kiir on October 26 and asked him to agree to postpone the referendum to give more time to make unity attractive. According to Soliman, Kiir insisted on holding the January 2011 referendum. Soliman said the challenge is to use propaganda to convey "the privileges of unity and the dangers of separation." --------------------------------------------- - Searching for an Alternative to the Referendum --------------------------------------------- -

8.(C) Soliman asked Carson whether there was another alternative to the January 2011 referendum such as postponing the referendum for 3-4 years, granting autonomy, or having an interim period before full independence would be granted. Soliman stated that one possible exit strategy from the January 2011 referendum would be to insist that all aspects of the CPA be implemented before holding the referendum. ------------------------------- USG Supports Self Determination -------------------------------

9.(C) Carson noted Egypt's concern, but stated that Salva Kiir could not sell a postponement of the referendum to his people without committing political suicide. Carson said Khartoum has not done enough to encourage unity and many people in southern Sudan have made up their minds about the referendum. He said the USG supports the southerners' right to choose unity or separation.

10.(U) A/S Carson cleared this cable. CAIRO 00002129 003 OF 003 Scobey

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