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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09MUSCAT93
2009-02-03 14:27:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Muscat
Cable title:  

EGYPTIAN COM CONFIRMS OMANI GOVERNMENT CONCERN OVER PUBLIC

Tags:   PREL  PTER  KWBG  MU 
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VZCZCXRO2065
RR RUEHROV
DE RUEHMS #0093 0341424
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 031427Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY MUSCAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0103
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT
						C O N F I D E N T I A L MUSCAT 000093 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019-02-03
TAGS: PREL PTER KWBG MU
SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN COM CONFIRMS OMANI GOVERNMENT CONCERN OVER PUBLIC
OPINION ON GAZA

REF: a) A) MUSCAT 55, b) B) MUSCAT 27, c) C) MUSCAT 13

CLASSIFIED BY: Gary A. Grappo, Ambassador, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Em
bassy - Muscat; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

C O N F I D E N T I A L MUSCAT 000093

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019-02-03
TAGS: PREL PTER KWBG MU
SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN COM CONFIRMS OMANI GOVERNMENT CONCERN OVER PUBLIC
OPINION ON GAZA

REF: a) A) MUSCAT 55, b) B) MUSCAT 27, c) C) MUSCAT 13

CLASSIFIED BY: Gary A. Grappo, Ambassador, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Em
bassy - Muscat; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)


1. (C) Summary: According to the Egyptian ambassador to Muscat,
the Omani government facilitated recent public protests over the
situation in Gaza to let both Omanis and expatriate residents vent
their anger. The Egyptian COM also confirmed that the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFA) had set-up the resident ambassadors of UN
Security Council nations for a media ambush by summoning local
journalists to the ministry to elicit statements following a
surprise meeting called by Oman's foreign minister. The Egyptian
government is unsure of where Oman stands vis-a-vis Hamas and is
concerned that it may be leaning towards following the approach of
Qatar. End Summary.


2. (C) In a January 31 meeting with the Ambassador, the
well-connected head of the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Muscat,
Ezzeldin Fahmy, stated that Oman's Minister of Awqaf and Religious
Affairs recently told him that the Omani government had not only
tolerated public protests over Israeli military operations in Gaza,
but that certain government elements had helped to organize them.
The government had stepped in to facilitate the demonstrations in
order to allow Omanis, as well as foreign residents, enraged by the
situation in Gaza to peacefully let off steam, rather than channel
their pent-up anger elsewhere. When asked why the southern city of
Salalah had been the site of the largest protests, Fahmy replied,
"Because it's far from Muscat." [Note: Muscat hosted the GCC
Summit from December 29-30, 2008 and accordingly prohibited
demonstrations while Gulf leaders were in town. End Note.]


3. (C) The Egyptian COM further shared with the Ambassador that
the head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Oman revealed
that a candlelight vigil held in front of the Palestinian embassy
in Muscat (ref B) was largely staged for local media. Participants
in the vigil assembled quickly as the cameras arrived and disbursed
shortly after the press departed.


4. (C) In discussing the surprise appearance of local reporters at
the MFA following a meeting called by Omani Minister Responsible
for Foreign Affairs Yusef bin Alawi for resident ambassadors of UN
Security Council member nations (ref C), Fahmy confirmed that this
was a government-orchestrated set-up. According to an Egyptian
journalist working for a major Omani daily, the MFA asked selected
media outlets the morning of the meeting to send senior journalists
to a "press conference" at the MFA and further directed that these
journalists should elicit statements from the U.S., British and
French ambassadors. The Turkish ambassador, however, was given
warning of the media ambush and thus came prepared with talking
points to address the press.


5. (C) The Egyptian ambassador opined that the Omani government's
actions on all these matters were taken to mollify public opinion.
The government also likely felt it had to play catch-up after
falling behind in responding to the strong local sentiments
generated by non-stop graphic coverage of Gaza events in Arab print
and TV outlets, he added. Fahmy stated that Egypt was unsure of
where Oman stood vis-C -vis Hamas, particularly the position of
Minister bin Alawi. [Note: Fahmy did not believe that bin Alawi's
thoughts were representative of those of Sultan Qaboos. End Note.]
Cairo suspected that Oman could unfortunately be leaning towards
following Qatar's lead in its approach towards the situation in
Gaza.


GRAPPO

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