Cablegate: Egyptian Approach On Yemen Conference


DE RUEHEG #0131 0270732
R 270732Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000131


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/01/27

REF: STATE 006928

CLASSIFIED BY: Margaret Scobey, Ambassador, Embassy Cairo; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1.(C) Key points: - The Egyptians agree with our general approach (as outlined in reftel) for the Jan 28 London conference on Yemen. FM Aboul Gheit will lead the Egyptian delegation. The Egyptian MFA asked we intercede with the British to invite both the Egyptians and Jordanians to join a planned lunch hosted by the U.K. that will include the GCC on Jan 27. - The MFA agrees that public support for Yemen's government now is critical; Aboul Gheit and Egyptian Intelligence (EGIS) chief Omar Soliman visited Sanaa Jan 23 primarily for that purpose. The Egyptians do not believe Yemen is a lost cause, but immediate steps are needed to prevent a failed state. - The Egyptians are currently treating wounded Yemeni soldiers in local hospitals, and could potentially provide training in various fields. The Al Azhar Institute currently is hosting Yemeni students, including Shiites.

2.(C) Poloff delivered points in reftel Jan 24 to MFA Deputy Assistant Minister for Arab Affairs Hossam Essa. Essa said the Egyptians are in agreement with our approach, and stressed that the conference's focus should be on increasing awareness and international attention to Yemen. He expressed some concern that any public comments at the conference on the need for political reform, or any implication that internal Yemeni matters were being discussed at the conference, would be seized on by adversaries, especially the Iranians in order to embarrass Sanaa. Essa said the situation in Yemen was not yet irreversible, but worried that failure would result in Yemen becoming "another Afghanistan or Somalia."

3.(C) Essa said the main objective of FM Aboul Gheit and EGIS Chief Soliman's Jan 23 visit to Sanaa was to show overt support to the Yemeni government, a message the Egyptians want to be received both by the Yemeni people and the international community. Aboul Gheit and Soliman also urged the Yemenis to focus on building confidence within the international community that they can confront the tough challenges. Essa said the Egyptians have privately raised the issue of improving economic conditions in the south with the Yemenis. He said the GOE is not advocating any outside mediation, neither with Al Qaeda nor the Houthis. Essa commented that he believed the previous round of Sanaa-Houthi negotiations had led to the current conflict, (i.e. a ceasefire was established without Houthi acceptance of key demands by the government, allowing the Houthis time to regroup and rearm). He said it was critical the Houthis accept Sanaa's current conditions for a ceasefire.

4.(C) Essa said the GOE is currently treating Yemeni soldiers in local hospitals. He said the Egyptians stand ready to provide training in various fields to Yemenis, and said Al Azhar Institute already is hosting Yemenis, including Shiites, for Islamic studies. He offered his personal thought that the U.S. or international community could potentially support additional Egyptian training programs in other fields. Essa said the Egyptians are working in concert with the Saudis, noting that President Mubarak had visited Saudi Arabia last month. The Egyptians fully support Saudi Arabia's right to self defense.

5.(C) Later in the day, MFA Cabinet Advisor for Arab Affairs Mahmoud Afifi called poloff to request the U.S. intercede with the British in order to invite both the Egyptians and Jordanians to attend the planned January 27 lunch that will be hosted by the U.K. and will include the GCC countries. Afifi said the Egyptians had raised the issue with the British, and expressed the view that inclusion of the two countries would be important for all involved. SCOBEY

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