wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04BRUSSELS5195
2004-12-09 12:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Brussels
Cable title:  

ENGAGING THE EU ON THE MIDDLE EAST IN 2005

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  EAID  ECON  MNUC  XF  EUN  USEU  BRUSSELS 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BRUSSELS 005195 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/ERA AND NEA
PLEASE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE AND PPC
NSC FOR ABRAMS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID ECON MNUC XF EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: ENGAGING THE EU ON THE MIDDLE EAST IN 2005

Classified By: CHARGE P. MICHAEL MCKINLEY; Reasons 1.4 (B,D)

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BRUSSELS 005195

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/ERA AND NEA
PLEASE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE AND PPC
NSC FOR ABRAMS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2014
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID ECON MNUC XF EUN USEU BRUSSELS
SUBJECT: ENGAGING THE EU ON THE MIDDLE EAST IN 2005

Classified By: CHARGE P. MICHAEL MCKINLEY; Reasons 1.4 (B,D)

Summary
--------------


1. (C) The Middle East remains a nexus of friction between
the United States and the European Union. Since 9/11, these
differences have affected our ability to work together on
Iraq, nuclear proliferation in Iran, Middle East Peace, and
the promotion of broader reform in the region. The irony
is that on each of these four issues, the EU largely shares
our vision of the desired end state: an independent
Palestine at peace with Israel; a stable, democratic Iraq; a
non-nuclear Iran; and a Middle East region pursuing political
and economic reform.


2. (C) This common ground has enabled us to coordinate
successfully our policies in the region, but only on a
case-by-case basis and with considerable effort on our part.
All too often, we are disappointed to find Europe pursuing
policies in the region that diverge from, conflict with, or
undermine our approach. These difficulties, however, should
not obscure the changes in the landscape. The Europeans are
coming to realize, for example, that their eighteen months of
engagement with Iran have at best won a window of respite
from the tough decisions ahead regarding Iran's nuclear
ambitions and its unhelpful role on terrorism and transition
in Iraq. With Arafat,s death, there are also new signs of
realism within the EU on how best to engage, and indications
they are hearing us about not rushing to final status
discussions. On Iraq, while it is unlikely there will be a
consensus EU decision to be more forthcoming before January
elections are concluded, they are looking more actively at
steps they can take to be helpful (the Paris Club debt
forgiveness being the most striking example to date). The

EU, while sensitive on protecting its investment in the
Barcelona process, is also supporting the Forum for the
Future. Finally, the EU remains a significant player on the
resource front, providing over $1 billion a year in
assistance to the region. The fact remains that when we
are able to bring the EU along on policy, its resources and
political capital can act as force-multipliers for us. This
cable examines what recent experience indicates we can and
cannot expect the EU to do with us in the Middle East in the
coming months. End Summary.

Iraq: What the EU is doing
--------------

3. (C) The transatlantic differences that emerged over the
U.S. intervention in Iraq also deeply divided the EU, and
revealed in stark contrast the shortcomings of Europe's
efforts to forge a common foreign policy. The EU's inability
to forge a consensus on use of force in Iraq was seen in
Brussels as a humiliating chapter never to be repeated.
Nevertheless, the EU's External Relations Commissioner Chris
Patten and its High Representative for Foreign and Security
Policy Javier Solana determined by the spring of 2003 that a
stable, democratic Iraq was in the EU's security interest,
and began quietly to work with member states to build a
consensus to fund Iraq's reconstruction.


4. (C) They have been remarkably successful. In the summer
of 2003, Patten committed the Commission to provide 200
million euros for 2004 -- equal to its contributions in
Afghanistan -- and at the Madrid donors' conference EU member
states added another $1.2 billion to this total. The
Commission is proposing another 200 million euros for 2005 as
well. Similarly, the Commission has consistently expressed
strong support -- in public statements and with assistance
money -- for the January 2006 Presidential elections.
Commission spokeswoman Emma Udwin has made clear that the EC
is not expecting "perfect" elections, but that the EC will
make every effort to lend international legitimacy to the
vote.


5. (C) Solana persuaded EU member states to welcome the
Interim Iraqi Goverment, and invited Prime Minister Allawi to
meet with EU Foreign Ministers in October. When the UN
launched an appeal for funding for security forces to protect
an expanded UN presence in Iraq, the EU quickly expressed its
commitment to help. When the Commission lawyers concluded
that for legal reasons it could not fund military operations,
the Dutch EU Presidency took on the burden of soliciting
bilateral pledges from member states, receiving a total of
some $12 million. The next hurdle was how to transfer the
funding, leading to protracted discussions with a UN
reluctant to establish a trust fund for that purpose. (The
UN has now done so, although new problems have arisen
regarding delays in withdrawals from the fund.)


6. (C) The Europeans are looking at other ways that the EU
can help support a successful outcome in Iraq that all their
25 member states can support. The Paris Club agreement on
Iraqi debt forgiveness was a major step. They have also
committed themselves to support police and rule of law
training. And the Commission is preparing the ground for
setting up a mission inside Iraq after the elections if the
security situation allows it. As follow-up to the recent
Senior Level Consultative Group (SLCG) meeting with the EU,
there was a recognized need for closer consultations with the
US on how to engage on Iraq reconstruction.

Iraq: What the EU won't do in Iraq
--------------

7. (C) As the EU has sought creative ways to support a
stable and democratic Iraq, it has consistently staked out
what for it constitute -- at least for now -- "redlines."
The EU cannot, for example, be expected to take any steps
that members like France or Germany would interpret as
legitimizing the use of force ex post facto. Not only does
this mean no EU boots on the ground in Iraq (as distinct from
troops supplied by individual EU member states, it means that
until an elected government is in office and the U.S. has a
firm departure date for the bulk of its troops, every appeal
we make to the EU for additional assistance will be suspected
-- by some -- as an effort by the U.S. to obtain back-door
endorsement for our intervention. The EU's second consistent
"redline" is that the Commission will not put staff inside
Iraq until the security situation is stabilized. Thus, the
EU has declined to deploy election observers inside Iraq.
Instead, it will mount a remote monitoring mission in Amman.
Similarly, the Commission has held back on opening an office
in Baghdad, coordinating its assistance from Amman instead.

Peace Process: what the EU is doing
--------------

8. (C) The EU's Javier Solana has consistently stated that
Middle East Peace is his and the EU's highest foreign policy
priority (the Balkans is his other area of focus). This
issue remains very much at the forefront of every
Commissioner working foreign affairs, and is a central
concern in European Council meetings as well. In part, this
is due to the strong sense of priority EU member states
collectively attach to this issue -- Solana's job, after all,
is to look for areas where it is possible to forge common
policies, and the Middle East fits the bill.


9. (C) The EU has put its money where its mouth is. They
have been a major donor to the Palestinian Authority, and
were heavily engaged in sustaining the reform agenda in the
PA -- a crucial factor in establishing and sustaining
effective Palestinian governance. Following Arafat's death,
the EU has focused on supporting Presidential elections in
January, and on the steps Israel should take to facilitate
the vote. The EU is also intensely interested in providing
observers for the election, in response to a request from the
PA, and consistent with EU support during the 1996 elections.


10. (C) More importantly, and after pressure from the United
States, and after initial skepticism regarding Israel's Gaza
disengagement plan, the EU is now firmly on board working
with other donors to support a successful withdrawal. The
tactical shift is noticeable elsewhere. When EU frustration
with the lack of progress on the roadmap surged in the months
prior to Arafat's death, Spain's FM Moratinos (former EU
envoy to the peace process) and Germany's Fischer indicated
they wanted to see a more active EU policy or would consider
taking independent initiatives. In reaction, Solana prepared
a blueprint for renewed EU engagement. The purpose, in the
words of one EU official, was to reign in Spain and Germany
and ensure that the EU maintained the integrity of Quartet
coordination.


11. (C) In each of these instances outlined above, the EU,
and Solana in particular, has been prepared to coordinate its
actions with the U.S. The indications are that they view the
proposed January 9 elections in the Palestinian territories
as an opportunity to reengage in the peace process in a
meaningful fashion, and seem receptive to our pitch on
step-by-step application of the Roadmap, with a focus on
elections, security, Gaza withdrawal, and the emergence of
effective democratic Palestinian institutions before moving
to final status questions. As we move into 2005, however, we
will need to be wary of European freelancing; PM Blair's
proposal for an international conference on the Middle East
in particular will likely gain momentum as the UK takes over
both the G-8 and EU presidencies next year.

Peace Process: What the EU won't do
--------------

12. (C) The tactical shift cannot mask the fact that the EU
does not share the U.S. view of the conflict in key respects,
and even Solana has not been content with what he perceives
to be an assigned secondary role within the Quartet. The EU
looks to the U.S. to use its influence on Israel to
kick-start implementation of the Roadmap, and has been deeply
disappointed by the lack of progress these past four years.
In EU minds, the asymmetric capabilities of the two parties
confer different responsibilities on each. The EU believes
that Israel, with all the power of a state, bears the burden
for taking the initiative to make peace. Europeans see
Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory -- and continued
settlement expansion -- adding a legal and moral
justification to their views. As a result, the EU holds
Israel to a higher standard than it does the Palestinians,
and many believe the US is not applying enough pressure on
Sharon to moderate Israeli policies. They hold a much harder
view on Israel's separation fence, and the implementation of
the ICJ decision.


13. (C) At the same time, there is no sense that the EU sees
a corresponding obligation on itself, as proponent of the
Palestinian cause, to compel the PA to take real steps to
curb terrorist violence. Instead, EU officials talk of the
"limited capacity" of the PA, given Israeli actions against
PA security forces and its tight grip on the territories.
The main result of the position the EU has taken has been the
loss of credibility with Israel as a potential mediator.
Neither the EU's expectation that Israel should take the
first conciliatory step, nor its readiness to explain the
PA's inability to do so (or even to respond), are likely to
change. This does not mean the EU cannot be a constructive
partner, but it does mean that we will always need to devote
a certain amount of effort to keeping the EU on the
reservation, and limiting the potential damage it can
unintentionally cause merely by restating its perspective on
the conflict.

Iran: Engagement vs. Isolation
--------------

14. (C) The EU and the U.S. have common ground: we share
the conviction that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons
program, we have both stated publicly a nuclear Iran is
unacceptable, and we have successfully kept Iran's nuclear
program in the public spotlight. But, where we conclude that
Iran will only respond to pressure and isolation, the EU is
firmly committed to a policy of engagement.


15. (C) In part, the EU pursues engagement so persistently
because, lacking a military capability, it has no other
viable alternative, as a senior EU official has admitted.
When engagement fails, as it has for the EU with Iran during
the past two years, the EU response is to offer "more
engagement." Hence the EU-3's recent initiative to provide
sufficient "carrots" to entice Tehran to suspend uranium
enrichment. We view this as rewarding Iran for complying
with commitments it has made and breached. The EU sees it as
an unfortunate but necessary compromise to keep open Iran's
remaining channel for dialogue with the West, in the hope
that the EU can influence the "reform" element inside Iran.


16. (C) In this situation, our best ally in changing the EU
view over time will probably prove to be Iran's own
duplicity. Sharing information that indicates
Iran's response to the EU-3 is a tactical ploy, and not a
strategic decision to forego pursuit of nuclear weapons, can
help the EU draw its own conclusions about the
ineffectiveness of engagement in this instance. Whether the
Europeans can be convinced to adopt tougher stances in the
future is another question, but as Iranian intransigence
becomes ever more obvious, it may be possible to move the EU
away from blocking international sanctions in the future.

Broader Middle East: Reluctant Ally with Deep Pockets
-------------- --------------

17. (C) After initial hesitation, The U.S. and EU are now
on the same track; our respective missions in the region are
meeting to identify areas where we can work in parallel to
promote political, economic and social reform in the region.
Since early spring 2004, officials of EuroMed and the US
Middle East Partnership Initiative have been pursuing a
senior-level consultative process to improve information
sharing and coordination of our respective reform efforts.
We each provide about $1 billion annually to the region, and
both the EU and U.S. have recently reviewed their assistance
programs with an eye to making aid more conditional on
progress on reform. This linkage is explicit in the EU's new
European Neighborhood and Partnership Initiative, where
negotiated Action Plans provide EU incentives as specific
reforms are enacted. Clearly, there is potential for
synergies that can help raise the profile of reformers in the
region.


18. (C) Getting to this point with the EU, however, has not
been easy. The EU was skeptical of our BME approach from the
start. First, the EU questioned our decision to launch the
initiative at high-profile G8 and U.S.-EU summits, fearing
this would create the perception that we sought to impose
reform on the region. Next, the EU insisted that without
progress on Middle East Peace, the initiative would appear
insincere. Third, given Europe's own historical baggage in
the region, the EU was reluctant to have its programs
identified with the U.S. at a time when they believe U.S.
credibility in the region has fallen to record lows. Fourth,
the EU was concerned that we were proposing to create
jointly-funded assistance programs, a concept that is a
complete non-starter given the EU's complex assistance
regulations and long budgeting cycle.


19. (C) Finally, the EU was sensitive to having a U.S.
initiative overshadow its ten-year efforts under the
Barcelona Process to build relations and promote change with
its Mediterranean partners. In fact, the U.S. initiative
opened a fresh wound among EU member states, who are
privately divided over the effectiveness of the Barcelona
Process. Northern European countries view the program as
completely ineffective; southern members see good value in a
program that has bought stability and good relations with
North Africa. Only recently, the EU has grudgingly begun to
acknowledge that, in contrast to the EU's Barcelona Process,
the BME initiative has actually succeeded in putting the
issue of reform front and center on the region's political
agenda.


20. (C) The Forum for the Future may indeed provide the
launch of a new phase in US-EU cooperation on reform in the
Middle East. As we look beyond Rabat, keeping our sights
focused on how we and the EU together can most effectively
advance reforms, including by letting the EU take the lead on
issues or in countries where it has a comparative advantage,
will be critical to keeping the EU engaged with us.

Comment
--------------

21. (C) In recent meetings by high-level officials in
Brussels, the message from the new Commission is one of
realistic engagement. They will have to deal with the
realities of national politics in member states, some of them
with strong alternative agendas in the Middle East. That
said, there seems to be an opportunity for a revitalized
dialogue with the EU that can become more operational in
areas of key concern to the United States as the harsh and
complex realities of the post 9/11 world sink in at new
levels in Europe. EU endorsement offers a legitimacy to
U.S. initiatives in the region that no other country or
institution can match. When the U.S. and EU speak with a
single voice, countries in the region will listen. When the
U.S. and the EU are divided, it is easy to play us off
against each other and avoid taking the tough decisions
needed for the region's long term stability and prosperity.

MCKINLEY