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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06RABAT1372 2006-07-19 17:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

TFLE01: MFA VIEWS ON LEBANON, GAZA AND THE ARAB

Tags:   PREL PGOV PTER MO 
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1. (C) Summary: On July 17, Charge met with Ambassador
Mohamed Azeroual, Director General of Multilateral Relations
and Global Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MFA) to discuss the Arab League meeting held in Cairo over
the weekend and recent events in Lebanon. Azeroual views the
conflicts in Gaza and Lebanon as both linked to lack of
progress in the peace process. He encouraged the USG to work
with Egypt, Morocco and Israel to reinvigorate the peace
process, to strengthen Lebanon, and to support Abu Mazen. He
admitted to little dialogue with Syria or Iran, especially on
the subject of those countries' support for Hizballah. While
media commentary in Morocco runs strongly against Israel, the
GOM sees clearly the threat posed by Hizballah and Hamas, as
well as by radical Islamists in Morocco. Conscious of its
Jewish minority and historic dialogue with Israel, the GOM is
well positioned to play a constructive role in the Middle
East. End Summary.



2. (C) The Charge met July 17 with Ambassador Mohamed
Azeroual, MFA Director General of Multilateral Relations and
Global Cooperation. Poloff and Hassan Hami, Chief of the
Division of Arab and Islamic Organizations, attended the
meeting. The Charge asked for Moroccan perspectives on the
weekend Arab League (AL) meeting in Cairo. According to
Azeroual, Israel's current conflicts in Gaza and with
Lebanon are both the result of lack of progress in the peace
process. Azeroual described Hizballah as a central
impediment to peace and security in Lebanon and the region.
The Government of Lebanon (GOL) needs the financial and
military means to rid Lebanon of Hizballah, Azeroual said.
The U.S., according to Azeroual, should participate actively
in providing the resources. While the GOL under Sinoria is
working to reconstruct Lebanon, its army is not as strong as
Hizballah's, Azeroual observed. He believed Hizballah's
strength has grown in the aftermath of the Lebanese civil war
with continued Syrian support. The only path to peace is
eliminating Hizballah's strength, Azeroual said.



3. (C) Azeroual nevertheless criticized the scope of
Israel's attacks on Lebanon, and described Moroccan
difficulty in assisting hundreds of Moroccan nationals
trapped in Lebanon to evacuate. The Charge expressed concern
for Moroccan citizens in Lebanon, adding that the State
Department is currently working to evacuate thousands of U.S.
citizens from Lebanon. He underlined that the violence has
been triggered by the Hizballah kidnapping of an Israeli
soldier, and that Hizballah continues to launch rockets into
Israel. It is vital for countries like Syria to take steps
to restrain Hizballah, he said. In response to Charge's
question about the extent of Moroccan dialogue with Syria,
Azeroual said that contact is limited and "not on a political
level." He similarly insisted that FM Benaissa's recent
travel to Tehran had focused on the nuclear issue, and that
Morocco has not discussed support for Hizballah with the
Iranians.



4. (C) Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azeroual
recalled that during A/S Welch's last visit to Morocco, he
had urged the U.S. to help strengthen Abu Mazen. However,
the peace process had stalled, and the current violence was
the result. The Charge noted that Hamas is preventing
progress on peace by refusing to embrace the principles
outlined by the Quartet and international community,
including renunciation of violence, respecting prior
Palestinian commitments, and recognizing Israel's right to
exist. Azeroual acknowledged this but strongly encouraged
continued U.S. support for Abu Mazen and continuing dialogue
with regional actors.



5. (C) Comment: This discussion illustrates the Moroccan
government's careful positioning regarding events in the
Middle East. The Moroccan leadership recognizes the serious
threat posed by Hizballah and Hamas, and by extension its own
Islamist groups - the radical Justice and Charity
Organization and the Party for Justice and Development, which
is more moderate but has nevertheless reached out to Hamas.
While media commentary in Morocco concerning the current
conflicts is overwhelmingly anti-Israel, the GOM is conscious
of its history of dialogue with Israel and its valued Jewish
minority, brought to the fore by the fact that Israel's
current defense minister is Moroccan. Although informal GOM

RABAT 00001372 002 OF 002


reaction to the Saudi statement holding Hizballah responsible
for violence was positive, Morocco rarely breaks with Arab
League consensus. Nevertheless, if requested by and with
encouragement from the U.S., the Moroccan leadership is well
positioned and intellectually disposed to play a constructive
role in the Middle East.

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RILEY