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Cablegate: Mfa Advisor Presents Bleak Picture of African Issues

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DE RUEHEG #0079/01 0141142
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 141142Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4731
INFO RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 0011
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RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 0055
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S E C R E T CAIRO 000079

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, AF/SPG, AF/E, OES FOR SALZBERG,
ADDIS ABABA FOR BAUMAN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2020
TAGS: PREL EAID SU SO ET ER EG
SUBJECT: MFA ADVISOR PRESENTS BLEAK PICTURE OF AFRICAN ISSUES
REF: A. 09 CAIRO 1506 B. 09 CAIRO 2384 C. O9 CAIRO 2129 D. 09 CAIRO 2319 Classified By: Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs Stephen P. O'Dowd for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(S) Key Points: -- The MFA's advisor for African Affairs told he saw little hope in the near future for improvement in the "bad" situation in Sudan, the Nile Basin and Horn of Africa. He said the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) was on the verge of collapse because the Government of Egypt (GoE) had been unable to sway upper Basin countries to reconsider signing the current version of the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA). -- According to the advisor, FM Aboul Gheit is concerned about the "future of South Sudan" and wants to work with the USG to manage the situation and period following the January 2011 referendum. He said the current approach on Darfur with meetings in Libya, Chad and Qatar appeared to be "disconnected." -- Egypt will begin training 200 Somali troops in the near future at Egyptian military locations, according to the advisor. -- The GoE Eritrea has responded "calmly" to the imposition of U.N. sanction, but is concerned that Iran is using Eritrean islands to provide military and logistical support to the Al Howthi in Yemen (reftel D).

2.(S) Comment: El Mullah appears exasperated both with the inability of Egyptian diplomatic efforts to significantly affect the situation in Sudan as well as the ongoing conflict over the NBI. He was not too interested in discussing Darfur and commented that "2010 is the year of South Sudan, Darfur has been the center of attention for the last three years and now may need to wait." ------------------------ NBI on Verge of Collapse ------------------------

3.(C) Egyptian MFA Advisor on African Affairs, Mohamed El Mullah, told us on January 11 that he saw little hope in the near future for improvement in the "bad" situation in Sudan, the Nile Basin and Horn of Africa. El Mullah said the late December trip by Egyptian PM Ahmad Nazif to Ethiopia resulted in agreements on Egyptian investments in Ethiopia, including agricultural development, factory construction and the importation of Ethiopian beef, but the issue of Nile Waters was not addressed. He stated that the lack of a resolution to the Nile Basin Initiative's (NBI) Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) was "leading to a crisis that will not be solved for years." El Mullah expressed frustration that the upper Nile countries had not lived up to their commitment, made in August at the Nile Council of Ministers meetings in Alexandria, to negotiate in good faith on the CFA (reftel A). He said the seven upper Nile Basin countries have used the period leading up to the February meeting in Sharm El Sheikh to consolidate plans to sign the current CFA, which El Mullah said Egypt will never accept. He anticipates that the seven countries will sign the CFA, and this will result in "the division and collapse of the NBI." ------------------------ Concern Over South Sudan ------------------------

4.(S) El Mullah told us that FM Aboul Gheit's meeting in Washington with S/E Gration was good, but the FM remains concerned about the "future of South Sudan," and he believes the GoE and USG should work together to manage the situation from now until the referendum and develop strategies for the post-referendum period. El Mullah believes it is a foregone conclusion that South Sudan will opt for independence. However, he said issues such as wealth sharing and border demarcation need to be settled by the NCP and SPLM well in advance of the January 2011 referendum, "otherwise North Sudan will not want to give anything." El Mullah said the GoE believes there should be an "interim transitionary period" after the referendum to help with the stability and viability of South Sudan (reftels B-C). He said Egypt is willing to help with state building activities, but the GoE and USG need to discuss these issues before the second CPA conference. ----------------------------------- USG Approach on Darfur Disconnected -----------------------------------

5.(C) El Mullah said the current approach on Darfur with meetings in Libya, Chad and Qatar appeared to be "disconnected." He said Egypt still wanted to be involved in the Darfur peace process, but he noted that it had not received an invitation to attend the Doha talks on January 18-19. El Mullah stated that the rapprochement between Sudan and Chad has improved peace and tranquility in Darfur, but had increased the pressure on the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He said there was "information" that JEM would soon "return to the fight" because it was concerned that the relative peace in Darfur coupled with pressure from N'Djamena and Doha would result in it losing its military advantage in Darfur. ------------------------- Training of Somali Troops -------------------------

6.(C) El Mullah said the Egyptian Ministry of Defense had recently approved a training request for 200 Somali troops. He anticipated the training would begin in earnest soon. The Somalis will be trained in groups of 20 at MOD facilities in Egypt, according to El Mullah. ------------------- Thoughts on Eritrea -------------------

7.(C) El Mullah said Eritrea had responded "calmly" to the imposition of U.N. sanctions on the country and was taking a "wait and see approach" to assess whether the sanctions would be painful. El Mullah believes that Uganda only tabled the sanctions because of the attack on its AMISOM troops in September 2009. El Mullah said the GoE is worried because Eritrea is becoming closer to Iran. He stated that Iran is using Eritrean islands to provide military supplies and logistical support the Al Howthi rebels in Yemen (reftel D). SCOBEY

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