Cablegate: Arab League Pursuing Solutions On Somalia and Sudan

DE RUEHEG #0171/01 0391439
R 081439Z FEB 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 000171


E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/08
SUBJECT: Arab League Pursuing Solutions on Somalia and Sudan REF: 10 CAIRO 137 CLASSIFIED BY: Donal A. Blome, Minister Counselor, DoS, ECPO; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1.(C) Key Points: -- According to Zeid Al Sabban, African Affairs advisor to Arab League (AL) SYG Amr Moussa, the AL entered into an agreement with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to share information to combat Al Shibaab. -- Sabban said the AL is working with the Italian Government to formalize a plan to provide Somalia with security, humanitarian aid and reconstruction assistance. -- Radicals in Somalia, according to Sabban, are connected to those in Afghanistan and Yemen and the international approach on these three countries should be coordinated. -- Sabban said the AL is working to improve the situation in Sudan. SYG Moussa will discuss Sudan with Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and AU Representative Thabo Mbeki during the week of February 7.The AL will hold a meeting of its permanent representatives in Darfur on February 13-14 and an Arab Investment Conference in Juba on February 23. -- Sabban praised USG efforts on Sudan-Chad rapprochement and Fur reconciliation, but criticized recent statements blaming Khartoum for the lack of progress in South Sudan and Darfur as counterproductive. -------------------------------- Information Sharing with the TFG --------------------------------

2.(C) Zeid Al Sabban, African Affairs advisor to Arab League (AL) SYG Amr Moussa told us on February 4 that the AL has entered into an agreement with the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to share information in order to combat Al Shibaab. ------------------------------------------ AL Working with Italy to Stabilize Somalia ------------------------------------------

3.(C) Sabban said that the Arab League was working with the Italian Government to formalize a plan to provide security and humanitarian aid in Somalia. (Note: AF SYG and Italian FM Frattini co-authored an article on "An International Conference to Launch the Pact for Somalia," which was published on January 31. End Note). According to Sabban, the joint plan calls for cooperation between the AL, EU, UN, African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to take immediate action to support TFG and AMISOM forces so they can provide security to allow the World Food Program (WFP) to restart the distribution of humanitarian aid. He stated that the AL was mulling over the idea of asking its member states to provide troops to aid in AMISOM's mission. Sabban said the two parties also discussed holding an international conference this year to address the reconstruction and development of Somalia. He told us that reconstruction would start in the near future in Puntland, Somaliland and other stable areas. Sabban said Spain has also expressed interest in working with the AL on Somalia. CAIRO 00000171 002 OF 003 --------------------------------------------- ------ Radicals in Somalia Linked to Afghanistan and Yemen --------------------------------------------- ------

4.(C) Sabban expressed disappointment that the London conferences on Afghanistan and Yemen did not address the situation in Somalia. He said that Somalia, Afghanistan and Yemen comprised an "axis of crisis" where many radicals in Somalia came from Afghanistan and had close ties with groups in Yemen. Due to the "close relationships between radicals in Yemen and Somalia," Sabban believes there is a need to coordinate the strategies. He said that the AL was "shocked" not to be invited to the London meeetings on Yemen as it is a "core Arab League state" (reftel). Sabban urged not taking a "NATO-style" approach to address the crisis in Yemen, but to involve Arab countries and the Arab League. ------------------- AL Efforts on Sudan -------------------

5.(C) Sabban said AL SYG Moussa will host separately Sudanese Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha and AU representative Thabo Mbeki during the week of February 7. Sabban said the AL also agreed to provide around 50 individuals to monitor the April elections in Sudan. ------------------------------------ AL Meeting and Development in Darfur ------------------------------------

6.(C) Sabban expressed his excitement about the AL permanent representatives meeting in Darfur on February 13-14. He said this would give the representatives the chance to focus their discussions on Darfur and see the three villages that the AL "readapted." (Note: Unlike previous meetings, Sabban stressed that the AL had not rebuilt the villages but had provided existing villages with basic services such as hospitals, and water wells. End Note). He said the League was also digging wells in the "Arab corridor" and working with the Government of Sudan to identify other villages for "readaptation." ---------------------------- Cooperation with South Sudan ----------------------------

7.(C) Sabban said the AL was working closely with the Government of South Sudan to make the February 23 Arab Investment Conference in Juba a success. He said individuals from the private and government sectors have confirmed their participation in the conference. Sabban stated that the AL wants "direct relations" with the South because it in the event of secession it would consider South Sudan to be "an integral part of the Arab League." He expressed concern that secession will not resolve the South's problems because historical tribal conflicts will still need to be controlled. Sabban said the AL is ready to work with the U.S., U.K., and Norway to bring the tribes together and "control the neighborhood." He believes that without these efforts South Sudan could fall into a conflict that could "destroy Africa." CAIRO 00000171 003 OF 003 -------------------------------- Mixed Assessment of U.S. Efforts --------------------------------

8.(C) Sabban said U.S. efforts to resolve the problems in Darfur including Sudan-Chad rapprochement and Fur reconciliation were positive steps. However, he worried that recent statements by the Obama Administration pointing the finger at Khartoum for the lack of progress in South Sudan and Darfur were sending the wrong message and could actually be counterproductive. SCOBEY

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