February 16, 2011 ·15 Comments
Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks 8:22PM GMT 15 Feb 2011
Ref ID: 09CAIRO1571
Date: 8/12/2009 9:35
Origin: Embassy Cairo
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001571 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ELA, AF/E E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2019 TAGS: PREL, PTER, EWWT, KCRM, SO, EG SUBJECT: PM PDAS COUNTRYMAN TALKS PIRACY WITH EGYPTIAN OFFICIALS Classified By: Minister Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1.(C) Key Points: — The Government of Egypt (GoE) stressed it values cooperation with the USG on piracy and Somalia. Egypt is anxious to implement the media strategy, agreed upon in the May 25 Fourth Working Group (WG4) meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), and wants to discuss this at the next CGPCS meeting in New York on September 10. — PDAS Countryman urged the GoE to become one of the first affected countries to accept, detain, and prosecute pirates. However, MFA officials stated Egypt supports the creation of an international court to address piracy because Egypt and other countries are “reluctant to change their laws,” and an international court would ensure fairness and uniformity in the process. PDAS Countryman noted the USG’s many serious reservations about establishing an international court for this purpose. — Both the USG and GoE are committed to addressing the broader situation in Somalia, but the USG believes piracy can be effectively addressed in the near term by the CGPCS. — PDAS Countryman assuaged Egypt’s concerns that Western engagement with local government officials in Somaliland and Puntland would lead to recognition of these regions as separate states.
2.(C) Comment: The GoE is beginning to understand USG ideas on the division of labor between the two Somalia contact groups, but would like to create a link between the two. We do not expect the GoE to prosecute suspected Somali pirates because Egypt values its position as an interlocutor with all Somali parties including Shaykh Sharif, Shaykh Aweys and Al Shibaab. Ambassador Abdelhammed Marzouk, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for East and South Africa has been the key champion of the U.S. policy on piracy in the MFA. He will leave the MFA in September to assume his post as Ambassador to Mauritius. End Comment. ————————————– Cooperation on Piracy and in the CGPCS ————————————–
3.(C) PM PDAS Countryman met in separate meetings on August 2 with Ambassador Abdelhammed Marzouk, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for East and South Africa, and Dr. Ashraf Mohsen, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Counterterrorism and the Egyptian chair of Working Group 4 of the CGPCS, to discuss U.S.-Egyptian cooperation on piracy. Countryman said addressing piracy is a priority for the USG. He said the USG was looking 1) to encourage more countries to sign the New York Declaration dealing with shipping best practices, 2) increase prosecutorial capacity in Kenya and other regional states, 3) address financial levers to interrupt the flow of money generated by piracy, and 4) urge affected countries to prosecute the pirates and not pay ransoms.
4.(C) Marzouk said the GoE values cooperation with the USG on piracy and Somalia. He had recommended increasing U.S.-Egyptian cooperation by sending a frigate to join in counter-piracy operations, but this idea was met with reluctance by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense, stating financial and operational constraints. Mohsen said Egypt’s position as WG4 chair was not a difficult mandate, although he claimed his colleague “mismanaged” the first WG meeting. He was buoyed by the widespread agreement at the May 25 WG meeting on counter-piracy media strategy, including the message, target audience, and means of delivery. He said the CGPCS should discuss how to implement the strategy at the September meeting. Mohsen opined the GoE and the Government of Yemen can have a positive influence in Somalia to counter piracy, and said he asked an Al Azhar shaykh to work on a paper explaining why piracy is anti-Islamic. However, he warned that Ethiopian outreach efforts could have a negative impact within Somalia.
5.(C) Countryman stated 20 countries are currently participating in joint anti-piracy naval operations. However, he recognized Egypt’s small Red Sea fleet was involved in preventing weapons smuggling into Gaza, and it was reasonable for Egypt to focus on this as a higher priority than anti-piracy operations. CAIRO 00001571 002 OF 002 ———————————— Detention and Prosecution of Pirates ————————————
6.(C) Countryman advocated for prosecution of pirates by affected countries and said if Egypt were one of the first to accept, detain, and prosecute pirates it would enhance the GoE’s credibility and show its commitment to the fight against piracy. He said an international court was unnecessary because piracy cases number in the hundreds, not the thousands, and the crime doesn’t rise to the level of other crimes tried in international courts. He also noted it would undermine state sovereignty – a concept especially dear to both Egypt and the US – on what should be a relatively routine law enforcement matter.
7.(C) Mohsen said the idea of local Egyptian prosecution was a “non-starter.” He claimed the international court was his idea and opined that this court, based in an African country, would be affordable. Mohsen said in the battle against piracy, Kenya is perceived as “the dumpster of the West,” and corrupt Kenyan officials are “getting paid” to convict pirates. He also stated the Somali Government is opposed to using Kenya for the detention and prosecution of pirates. Marzouk said the GoE failed to realize why the USG was pushing for local prosecution when this would require most countries to change their laws. He told us Egypt has no laws specific to the issue of piracy, and pirates brought to Egypt for prosecution would not see jail time. He said the MFA passed the USG request to take the suspected pirates from the MV Amira to the Ministry of Justice, which Marzouk reported “lacked interest in this issue.” Marzouk said Egypt favors an international court to address piracy because it would ensure fairness, uniformity, and most countries are “reluctant to adjust their laws.” He clarified that he understood the U.S. position, and expressed his view that it would not get in the way of our cooperation on counter-piracy. ———————– The Solution in Somalia ———————–
8.(C) Countryman explained the USG is committed to the long-term stabilization of Somalia, but feels piracy can be effectively addressed in the near term through the CGPCS. This accounts for the “division of labor” between the two contact groups related to Somalia. Marzouk repeated the Egyptian MFA position that piracy will not be eradicated unless we work to solve the “mess of Somalia.” He understood the U.S. and Western countries want to keep the CGPCS focused on piracy, but he said that in order to address the Somalia issue there need to be linkages between the CGPCS and the Contact Group on Somalia, which is charged with capacity building in Somalia.
9.(C) Marzouk noted that the U.S. was working separately with the local governments in Somaliland and Puntland, and he asked if the U.S. supported recognizing these areas as separate sovereign entities. He stated the GoE respects the territorial integrity of Somalia and wants to ensure that a solution for Somalia includes the entire country, not specific regions. He also inquired if the USG would be willing to engage with all Somali factions including Aweys and Al Shibaab. Countryman said the USG was committed to Somalia’s territorial integrity, and stated Western engagement with officials in Somaliland and Puntland stemmed from the local authorities, willingness to assist in the battle against piracy and help stabilize Somalia. Noting the USG’s designation of Al Shibaab as a terrorist group, he expressed skepticism that “extremist groups” could be part of the solution in Somalia, and said the USG would listen, not lead, if mediated peace discussions between the TFG and the groups developed.
10.(U) PDAS Countryman cleared this cable. SCOBEY
Source: The Telegraph | 15 Feb 2011Follow @somalilandpress