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Viewing cable 09LONDON2583, WEST AFRICA: AF DAS FITZGERALD'S NOVEMBER 18

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LONDON2583 2009-11-18 17:05 2011-02-04 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy London
VZCZCXRO1697
PP RUEHPA
DE RUEHLO #2583/01 3221719
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181719Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4005
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0170
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA PRIORITY 0755
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 0322
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 0608
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1512
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 LONDON 002583 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/18/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MOPS XY GV NI ML UK
SUBJECT: WEST AFRICA: AF DAS FITZGERALD'S NOVEMBER 18 
CONSULTATIONS WITH THE UK FOREIGN OFFICE  REF: STATE 117707  Classified By: Political Counselor Robin Quinville, reasons 1.4 (b/d).  

1. (C/NF) Summary.  In meetings with British counterpart Janet Douglas and other Foreign Office officials, AF DAS William Fitzgerald reviewed the situation in Guinea, discussing the need for CNDD leader Dadis Camara to leave Guinea and to stabilize the country through an ECOWAS observer mission.  On Nigeria, Douglas said that it is a good thing that Nigerian President Yar'Adua had asked for USG and UK government assistance for the elections and supported the current approach of a joint assessment before moving forward.  Douglas also told Fitzgerald that the UK will open a one-person, ambassadorial-level post in Mali and remains interested in how Ghana develops its oil interests.  FCO officials noted the difficulties in dealing with Niger in the EU because of varing EU member-states' interests (most notably France's) and a desire to continue security cooperation.  Acknowledging the terrorist threat in the Sahel, Douglas said she foresees concrete cooperation on an ad hoc basis as the most likely way forward for the near term.  She also termed a Spanish Presidency of the EU as "not great" for the EU on Africa.  She said she anticipated a focus on migration issues and fishing, but also said that the Spain has been pushing for a "nebulous" Gulf of Guinea initiative.  End summary.  

2. (SBU) AF DAS William Fitzgerald met with Janet Douglas, Head of the Foreign Office's South, Central, and West Africa Group, Group Deputy Jennifer Townson, and West Africa team leader Paul Welsh on November 18 in London.  

Guinea - Forging a Consensus on the Way Forward --------------------------------------------- --  

3. (C/NF) After providing an update on the situation in Guinea and discussing his November 16 meetings with French officials (Paris septel), Fitzgerald explained the USG position that CNDD President Dadis Camara had to go and said the USG had raised with the Nigerians the idea of deployment of ECOWAS observers, which would provide security and an early warning system (reftel).  Douglas agreed and said the UK (as well as the EU) continues to support Burkina Faso President Compaore's mediation efforts, though with flagging faith.  She said any deal that left Dadis in power would be a "poor outcome."  Douglas agreed that the composition of any observer mission would be important and supported the idea of using a mix of observers from francophone countries and Nigeria.  She agreed that it would be difficult to get Dadis to accept the observers and that it would likely have to be part of any deal Compaore puts together.  Douglas and Townson agreed devising an exit strategy for Dadis, which could be proposed by an African, would be important and said they understood that President Toure had said Mali would take him.  They also agreed that bringing Morocco on board with sanctions was critical.  

4. (C/NF) Douglas and Townson agreed that an ECOWAS observer force may provide vital stability in any power vacuum created by a potential Dadis departure.  They questioned who might rise to the top in the aftermath, given the fluid situation and the relatively recent arrival on the political scene of many of the current players.  They agreed that Defense Minister Sekouba Konate may be distancing himself from Dadis and that, although he is not an ideal successor, he appears to at least be a rational actor.  They agreed that if Dadis continues to stay in power, he could potentially destabilize the region, especially with his current efforts to form ethnic militia.  They noted the particular damage regional instability could do to the hard-won successes in Sierra Leone and Liberia.  

5. (C/NF) In the EU, Townson said the focus of Guinea discussions has been on sanctions, the arms embargo, the travel ban, and supporting Compaore's political negotiations.  Douglas and Townson said the UK had raised the issues formally in Kiev with the Ukrainians and informally with the South Africans, and received "predictable responses" about looking into it.  They agreed with Fitzgerald to keep up the pressure, particularly on the South Africans and in the African Union, by continuing to follow up.  They noted that the report from the UN investigation would provide an opportunity to do so.  Townson said Foreign Office Africa  LONDON 00002583  002 OF 003   Director Adam Wood planned to raise Guinea when he sees his Chinese counterpart in the next couple of weeks.  

6. (C/NF) As a side note, Douglas said that Dadis had tried to send his son to the UK for 12 months of schooling after which he would transfer to a school in Israel.  She said the UK denied the visa request.  

Sahel - The "Creeping Terrorist Threat" ---------------------------------------  

7. (C/NF) Douglas said she sees the terrorist threat in the Sahel as the "creeping threat" of radical islamization across the region and indicated northern Nigeria is the area of most concern.  She acknowledged a variety of opinions within the UK government, as a recent inter-agency assessment was only able to identify nebulous threats.  Other than the recent terrorist murder of UK national Edwin Dyer, the UK did not possess much specific information on threats to the UK or its interests, though she recognized information gaps on the issue.  Noting that some within the UK government see the Sahel "as the new terrorist frontier," she said she does not want the UK government's engagement on the region to become "fixated" on the terrorist threat to the detriment of other programming and initiatives in the region.  She agreed with the assessment the current level of terrorist activity does not pose a major threat to the central governments in the region.  

8. (C/NF) On the long-standing idea of a Sahel summit in the region, she said the UK would continue to publicly support the idea, but that she foresees concrete cooperation on an ad hoc basis as the most likely way forward for the near term. Townson said the political friction in the region, especially between Mali and Algeria, complicates the task.  She also said that many in the UK government sees it as France's responsibility to lead on the issue.  She agreed that if Sahel terrorist groups become more involved in the narcotrade, it would be more of a problem because of the increased money available to them.  

Nigeria - The Way Forward on Elections --------------------------------------  

9. (C/NF) Noting the close cooperation of the U.S. and UK missions on the ground, Douglas said that it is a good thing that Nigerian President Yar'Adua had asked for USG and UK government assistance for the elections and she supported the current approach of a joint assessment before moving forward.  She agreed that an Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Maurice Iwu's leadership did not bode well for elections but understood that Yar'Adua would not remove him before his term is up in July because it would erode the President's political credibility.  Townson said the UK had been thinking through various political scenarios in the run-up to the elections, though they had not come up with any firm assessments.  Fitzgerald agreed that it would be beneficial to do more joint U.S.-UK work assessing Nigeria's political alliances in the run-up to the elections.  

Ghana - Mills' Rumored Illness and Oil --------------------------------------  

10. (C/NF) Douglas and Welsh said they had heard rumors of Ghanaian President John Atta Mills' various illness (diabetes, cancer), but that he had seemed healthy during his May 2009 visit to the UK.  Welsh said people close to the President have said that he has slowed because of age. Townson said the Foreign Office continues to be interested in how the Government of Ghana will handle its oil exploitation and agreed that it was more likely to go the way of countries in the region, i.e. increasing corrupt practices.  

Niger - Dealing with the Third Term -----------------------------------  

11. (C/NF) Townson said dealing with Niger in the EU has been "interesting" because the French thought they would be able "to sort out the third term issue through quiet diplomacy," advocating for patience in Brussels.  When President Tandja went ahead with it, the EU opened Article 96 discussions, which suspended some EU assistance until a benchmarked process leading to the return to democracy could be agreed with the Government of Niger.  Townson noted the French have  LONDON 00002583  003 OF 003   significant commercial interest in Niger and have not wanted the EU to make tough statements.  She also said the security angle will play into discussions because Niger has been more or less a good partner on dealing with counter-terrorism initiatives in the region, which the EU is keen to continue.  

Mali - UK to Open One-Person Post ---------------------------------  

12. (C) Following Foreign Office junior minister Ivan Lewis' November 4 visit to Mali, Townson explained that the Foreign Office planned to open a one-person mission in Bamako in large part because of the growing concerns about the trans-Sahel terrorist threat.  Similar to the model of the UK's post in Guinea, Townson said the plan is to find a very active individual who will be at the ambassadorial level. After the visit, Lewis told the press that he went to Mali to "deepen and strengthen" the UK-Mali relationship and to congratulate President Toure on "the tremendous progress he has made on democracy and human rights."  Lewis also said he discussed the challenges Mali faces, noting the murder of UK national Edwin Dyer, the terrorist activity in the region, and the need to improve the social conditions in the country.  He also met with Imam Essayuti and presented a check for GBP 14,000 (USD 22,500) to build a meeting room in the Islamic Council of Timbuktu.  

13. (C/NF) Townson said the recent kidnapping attempt had caused the UK to review the whereabouts of its nationals in the region.  Townson said the UK has one British national working for OXFAM in Gao.  

A Spanish EU Presidency -----------------------  

14. (C/NF) Douglas said a Spanish Presidency "wasn't great" for the EU on Africa.  She said she anticipated a focus on migration issues and fishing, but also that the Spain has been pushing for a "nebulous" Gulf of Guinea initiative, the details of which so far amount to a "collective EU reflection" on the issue.  15. (U) This cable was cleared by DAS Fitzgerald.    Visit London's Classified Website: XXXXXXXXXXXX Susman