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Cablegate: Egyptians Miffed Over Continuing Algerian Antagonism

VZCZCXRO0598
RR RUEHBC RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHEG #0185 0411436
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 101436Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0218
INFO ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000185

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/10
TAGS: PREL PGOV AG EG
SUBJECT: Egyptians Miffed Over Continuing Algerian Antagonism

REF: 09 CAIRO 2261; 09 CAIRO 2193; 09 ALGIERS 1077

CLASSIFIED BY: Donald Blome, Minister Counselor, State, ECPO; REASON:
1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) MFA Cabinet Advisor Mahmoud Afifi told poloff Feb 7 that
although the Egyptians have returned their ambassador to Algeria,
and are seeking to publicly downplay the recent diplomatic row
between the two countries, the Algerians continue to antagonize
Cairo. Note: The diplomatic tension was sparked by violence
surrounding two soccer matches between the countries' national
teams in November (reftels). Algeria advanced to the World Cup as
the result of those two matches while Egypt's hopes were dashed.
Egypt, however, recently defeated Algeria en route to winning the
African Cup. End note.

2. (C) Afifi said that as far as the Egyptians are concerned, "the
crisis is over." However, he claimed the Algerians are still
harboring a grudge. He expressed frustration with the Algerian
media, and cited a Feb 7 MFA report that highlighted recent
Algerian articles critical of Egypt. Afifi said the criticism is
largely focused on Egyptian foreign policy, especially Cairo's
relations with Israel, but Algerian media has also "attacked the
political equilibrium and the future of power in Egypt." Afifi
said the Egyptian media had complied with a request from the GOE to
cease attacks on Algeria in early December, and did not understand
why Algerian media attacks continued. He said some believe the
continuing criticism is related to internal Algerian politics; he
noted that President Boutiflika and FM Medelci had been careful in
their statements, but Said Boutiflika, (the president's younger
brother) had been leading the antagonism.

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3. (C) According to Afifi, the Algerians have not responded to
Egypt's demand for compensation to business property damage
following the November soccer matches, which he estimated to be in
excess of USD 60 million for approximately 14 Egyptian companies.
He claimed that the Algerians had been obstreperous toward Egyptian
efforts to file insurance claims.

4. (C) Afifi said the African Handball Championship will be hosted
in Cairo (beginning Feb 10) and will include the two Algerian
national teams (women and men). Afifi said the Egyptians have
encouraged the Algerians to participate. However, he complained
that the Algerians had requested over-the-top security measures,
and had sent an "antagonistic" letter to the African Handball
Federation expressing security concerns. Nevertheless, Afifi said
the GOE policy will continue to focus on a positive public posture
toward Algeria.
SCOBEY

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