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06RABAT1874 2006-10-06 18:49:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Rabat
Cable title:  

MOROCCAN PLANS FOR S MEETING NEXT WEEK ON THE

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1. (C) SUMMARY: In response to Ambassador,s urging that
the proposed delegation bring a concrete autonomy plan to
Washington, MFA Minister Delegate Fassi Fihri indicated they
would not be able to present a written draft plan. There are
still many complex internal issues to be resolved, so they
are unable now to present a plan that is supported by CORCAS,
political parties and the government ministries, although the
King has mandated one be ready by next spring. The
delegation, including 6 ministers, half from the major
coalition parties, would affirm their commitment to
developing a plan, note progress so far, and some internal
differences, and provide a notional timeline: a CORCAS Report
to the King at the end of the year, 2-3 months to reconcile
it with the parties, positions, and a concrete proposal by
April. He mentioned the Polisario only to criticize its
latest insistence on the Baker plan. While appreciating this
readout of their intentions, Ambassador reiterated that
without more concrete commitments it was unclear how a
ministerial meeting now would advance the resolution of the
Saharan issue. End Summary.



2. (C) Ambassador called on MFA Minister Delegate Taib
Fassi Fihri, the King,s Man in the MFA, on October 6, to
flesh out Moroccan goals for proposed meeting(s) next week
with Secretary Rice, NSA Hadley and others on the Western
Sahara. Ambassador noted that a meeting with the Secretary
had been requested, but that she was only staying in
Washington briefly at the time of the proposed visit and her
calendar was already full. Nonetheless, we are trying to
accommodate their request and would try to respond as soon as
possible. He stressed however that any meeting would need to
be productive. As noted in our demarche, we are prepared to
publicly support a well-defined realistic autonomy plan that
could be accepted by the full spectrum of Sahrawis.
Washington was eager to see a draft plan -- a rehash of
familiar reasons why this was difficult could hardly be seen
as a ministerial-level discussion. .



3. (C) Fassi Fihri said there may have been some
misunderstanding of the purpose of the trip. There was not
now a written plan. Morocco had already made significant
strides towards a plan. Internally the views of three key
groups: government ministries; Sahrawis, through CORCAS, the
main political parties, who had been drawn into the process
for the first time. CORCAS had just been in Washington. Its
internal consultations were not complete, but CORCAS Chairman
Kalihenna Ould Er Rachid was already pushing for a robust
autonomy, beyond what the parties were ready to accept. The
party leaders, ministers representing the three government
coalition parties, were a key component of the present
delegation, to show their commitment to the process and how
their views differed from those of CORCAS. Some parties were
opposed to the idea of a Sahrawi legislature with law-making
powers. Also, he hinted, having party leaders in a session
with the Secretary would enhance the pressure on them to be
flexible on developing a common draft the King could approve
and to support his proposed timeline.



4. (C) The Minister-Delegate insisted that the King had
mandated that a plan be produced next spring (Note: about a
year after the King,s kick-off speech.). Fassi Fihri
averred he had laid out this timetable in his meetings in
Washington last April, but was prepared now to be more
specific about the timeline. Kalihenna would submit the
CORCAS comments formally to the monarch in the November-
December timeframe, it would take two or three months for the
government to reconcile the currently widely divergent
positions between the CORCAS and some of the parties. There
would be &about a month8 of subsequent government
processing time and Morocco would be able to deploy the plan
internationally and with the public. He stated categorically
that Morocco will present its plan then, not disputing the
Ambassador,s efforts to pin this down to early April, but
seemed to waffle at the idea this might be a &government
commitment.8 He suggested that the King intended to
subsequently move to implement the plan so that the other
side would have to respond not just to a plan but to a
process.



5. (C) Fassi Fihri offered almost no details on what the
plan might contain other than to say that it would provide
for local government and local taxation and make some
provision of sharing natural resource revenues. On this, and

speaking more generally he referred to the U.S. federal
model. (Comment: Unclear how serious a reflection this was
of their thinking, but it suggests rather less autonomy than
other models we know the Moroccans have considered, such as
Spain, Portuguese Madeira, etc. He appeared to imply this
was somewhat less &generous8 then the December 2003
proposal to Baker, due to &changed circumstances8 in the
Sahara.)



6. (C) Fassi Fihri made no mention of any plans to consult
of even communicate with the Polisario, other than to observe
that they had just recently commented for the first time on
the Moroccan autonomy proposal of 2003, rejecting it entirely
in favor of the Baker plan. He also criticized the Algerian
presentation to the UNGA (Decolonization Committee) as
utterly inflexible on that score. He also said one feature
of their thinking on the plan would have the Saharan self
governing mechanism tilted slightly in favor of the Rguibat
tribe, the tribe of most of the Polisario to attract their
interest (Note: coincidentally it is also the tribe of
Kalihenna). He noted that balancing the tribal differences
in Sahrawi are part of the complications slowing down the
Moroccan deliberations.



7. (C) Fassi Fihri also made no direct mention of MINURSO.
He regretted that on this issue the UN international calendar
was not consonant with the Moroccan political calendar.
(Comment: Making clear that the latter took priority for the
kingdom.) He separately asked &what if war breaks out in
the region?8



8. (C) Comment: It appears the Moroccans do not have enough
new to say about their plans for autonomy commensurate with a
six-minister delegation. We are also disappointed that they
have not responded to our offer to broker talks with the
Polisario, even if the other side looks incalcitrant.
Nonetheless, it seems clear that the Moroccans are continuing
to work on autonomy, perhaps with a view to putting into
place a mechanism that would be totally a product of the
palace. MOROCCAN PLANS FOR S MEETING NEXT WEEK ON THE
WESTERN SAHARA



1. (C) SUMMARY: In response to Ambassador,s urging that
the proposed delegation bring a concrete autonomy plan to
Washington, MFA Minister Delegate Fassi Fihri indicated they
would not be able to present a written draft plan. There are
still many complex internal issues to be resolved, so they
are unable now to present a plan that is supported by CORCAS,
political parties and the government ministries, although the
King has mandated one be ready by next spring. The
delegation, including 6 ministers, half from the major
coalition parties, would affirm their commitment to
developing a plan, note progress so far, and some internal
differences, and provide a notional timeline: a CORCAS Report
to the King at the end of the year, 2-3 months to reconcile
it with the parties, positions, and a concrete proposal by
April. He mentioned the Polisario only to criticize its
latest insistence on the Baker plan. While appreciating this
readout of their intentions, Ambassador reiterated that
without more concrete commitments it was unclear how a
ministerial meeting now would advance the resolution of the
Saharan issue. End Summary.



2. (C) Ambassador called on MFA Minister Delegate Taib
Fassi Fihri, the King,s Man in the MFA, on October 6, to
flesh out Moroccan goals for proposed meeting(s) next week
with Secretary Rice, NSA Hadley and others on the Western
Sahara. Ambassador noted that a meeting with the Secretary
had been requested, but that she was only staying in
Washington briefly at the time of the proposed visit and her
calendar was already full. Nonetheless, we are trying to
accommodate their request and would try to respond as soon as
possible. He stressed however that any meeting would need to
be productive. As noted in our demarche, we are prepared to
publicly support a well-defined realistic autonomy plan that
could be accepted by the full spectrum of Sahrawis.
Washington was eager to see a draft plan -- a rehash of
familiar reasons why this was difficult could hardly be seen
as a ministerial-level discussion. .



3. (C) Fassi Fihri said there may have been some
misunderstanding of the purpose of the trip. There was not
now a written plan. Morocco had already made significant
strides towards a plan. Internally the views of three key
groups: government ministries; Sahrawis, through CORCAS, the
main political parties, who had been drawn into the process
for the first time. CORCAS had just been in Washington. Its
internal consultations were not complete, but CORCAS Chairman

Kalihenna Ould Er Rachid was already pushing for a robust
autonomy, beyond what the parties were ready to accept. The
party leaders, ministers representing the three government
coalition parties, were a key component of the present
delegation, to show their commitment to the process and how
their views differed from those of CORCAS. Some parties were
opposed to the idea of a Sahrawi legislature with law-making
powers. Also, he hinted, having party leaders in a session
with the Secretary would enhance the pressure on them to be
flexible on developing a common draft the King could approve
and to support his proposed timeline.



4. (C) The Minister-Delegate insisted that the King had
mandated that a plan be produced next spring (Note: about a
year after the King,s kick-off speech.). Fassi Fihri
averred he had laid out this timetable in his meetings in
Washington last April, but was prepared now to be more
specific about the timeline. Kalihenna would submit the
CORCAS comments formally to the monarch in the November-
December timeframe, it would take two or three months for the
government to reconcile the currently widely divergent
positions between the CORCAS and some of the parties. There
would be &about a month8 of subsequent government
processing time and Morocco would be able to deploy the plan
internationally and with the public. He stated categorically
that Morocco will present its plan then, not disputing the
Ambassador,s efforts to pin this down to early April, but
seemed to waffle at the idea this might be a &government
commitment.8 He suggested that the King intended to
subsequently move to implement the plan so that the other
side would have to respond not just to a plan but to a
process.



5. (C) Fassi Fihri offered almost no details on what the
plan might contain other than to say that it would provide
for local government and local taxation and make some
provision of sharing natural resource revenues. On this, and
speaking more generally he referred to the U.S. federal
model. (Comment: Unclear how serious a reflection this was
of their thinking, but it suggests rather less autonomy than
other models we know the Moroccans have considered, such as
Spain, Portuguese Madeira, etc. He appeared to imply this
was somewhat less &generous8 then the December 2003
proposal to Baker, due to &changed circumstances8 in the
Sahara.)



6. (C) Fassi Fihri made no mention of any plans to consult
of even communicate with the Polisario, other than to observe
that they had just recently commented for the first time on
the Moroccan autonomy proposal of 2003, rejecting it entirely
in favor of the Baker plan. He also criticized the Algerian
presentation to the UNGA (Decolonization Committee) as
utterly inflexible on that score. He also said one feature
of their thinking on the plan would have the Saharan self
governing mechanism tilted slightly in favor of the Rguibat
tribe, the tribe of most of the Polisario to attract their
interest (Note: coincidentally it is also the tribe of
Kalihenna). He noted that balancing the tribal differences
in Sahrawi are part of the complications slowing down the
Moroccan deliberations.



7. (C) Fassi Fihri also made no direct mention of MINURSO.
He regretted that on this issue the UN international calendar
was not consonant with the Moroccan political calendar.
(Comment: Making clear that the latter took priority for the
kingdom.) He separately asked &what if war breaks out in
the region?8



8. (C) Comment: It appears the Moroccans do not have enough
new to say about their plans for autonomy commensurate with a
six-minister delegation. We are also disappointed that they
have not responded to our offer to broker talks with the
Polisario, even if the other side looks incalcitrant.
Nonetheless, it seems clear that the Moroccans are continuing
to work on autonomy, perhaps with a view to putting into
place a mechanism that would be totally a product of the
palace.
******************************************
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RILEY