06MOSCOW2212, MOSCOW REACTS TO HAMAS VISIT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW2212 2006-03-06 14:03 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9429
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2212/01 0651403
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 061403Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1831
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002212 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV RS
SUBJECT: MOSCOW REACTS TO HAMAS VISIT 
 
REF: MOSCOW 2134 
 
Classified By: A/POL Mike Klecheski.  Reasons: 1.4(B/D). 
 
1.  Summary:  While the MFA was able to point to few concrete 
results from Foreign Minister Lavrov's March 3 meeting with a 
Hamas delegation, we were told March 6 by the MFA Middle East 
Peace Process desk that the Moscow-Hamas channel was likely 
to remain open.  In Moscow's estimation, Hamas Politburo 
Chief Khaled Mish'al was a pragmatic figure who recognized 
the need for accommodation with the Quartet if he wanted a 
Hamas government to be successful.  Moscow's think tank 
community was divided -- while most observers saw the meeting 
as a coup for Russia's diplomacy, several we spoke to were 
skeptical that contacts with Hamas would produce results, 
given limits on Russia's capacity to influence the situation. 
 Press reaction was almost uniformly positive, but at least 
one informal poll suggests that the informed Russian public 
has concerns about the role Moscow aspires to in the Middle 
East.  End Summary. 
 
MFA Readout 
----------- 
 
2.  (C)  On March 6, Sergey Kozlov, who heads the MFA Middle 
East Department's Peace Process Office, provided us with 
further details of the talks to supplement the March 3 
readout DFM Saltanov and Ambassador Kalugin provided to the 
Ambassador (reftel).  Kozlov emphasized that Moscow had 
pushed hard on Quartet principles -- recognition of Israel, 
renunciation of violence and acceptance of prior agreements, 
but Hamas was not yet ready to make "hard decisions." 
 
Recognition:  According to Kozlov, Hamas Politburo Chief 
Mish'al was clear that Hamas would not recognize Israel soon. 
 As an interim step, Russia had suggested that Hamas weigh 
accepting explicitly the 2002 Beirut Declaration of the Arab 
League, in which all Arab states agreed to recognize Israel 
if it withdrew to 1967 borders. 
 
Renouncing Violence:  Kozlov said Hamas had agreed to 
continue the ceasefire for an indeterminate period, but also 
noted that the group conditioned observance on Israeli 
actions.  The MFA suggested to Hamas that if it wanted an 
Israeli partner it could eventually work with, it needed to 
exercise restraint and avoid provocations in the run-up to 
the Israeli elections.  If Israel elected a Likud government, 
Lavrov suggested, that would make it that much harder for any 
Hamas government to succeed. 
 
Prior Agreements:  Mish'al noted to FM Lavrov, Kozlov 
reported, that prior agreements between the PLO and Israel 
had been ultimately unsuccessful.  Hamas was reviewing the 
agreements to determine what had been useful and served the 
interest of the Palestinians. 
 
3.  (C)  Despite the lack of progress on Quartet principles, 
Kozlov said that Hamas had indicated to FM Lavrov that it 
wanted the channel with Russia to remain open, without 
setting a date for any future meeting.  Kozlov said that 
Mish'al, who spoke throughout the meeting for the Palestinian 
delegation, struck the Russians as a pragmatic politician who 
understood accurately the "correlation of forces" that the 
Palestinians faced and was ready to adapt to the political 
environment.  This made Moscow's engagement "on behalf of the 
Quartet" worth pursuing. 
 
Mixed Reactions in Moscow 
------------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Reaction to the visit from Moscow's Middle East 
experts was mixed.  Middle Eastern Studies Institute 
President and former Russian Jewish Congress President 
Yevgeniy Satanovskiy cast the visit as a public relations 
"success" for Russia: the GOR positioned itself as a friend 
to Arab states and as a counterweight to the U.S.  He told us 
that Moscow had also won a concession from Hamas by delinking 
Chechnya from the larger jihadi cause.  (Mish'al had said the 
situation in Chechnya is an internal Russian matter.)  But on 
the peace process itself Satanovskiy sarcastically expressed 
optimism in the "30-50 year" time frame.  He called Russian 
financial investment in the Palestinian Authority 
"impossible" and was equally critical of potentially training 
Hamas police on Russian territory, observing that 
U.S.-trained Afghan fighters later supported al-Qaeda's 
terrorists.  In his view, "Russia didn't need that!" 
 
5.  (C)  Oriental Studies Institute Professor Vladimir 
Isayev, who has ties to former PM and FM Yevgeniy Primakov, 
said "nothing positive" had come from Hamas' visit to Moscow 
and noted that Hamas continues touting the same old slogans. 
 
MOSCOW 00002212  002 OF 002 
 
 
The visit lent "no additional stimulus" to the peace process 
and he predicted only further stagnation in negotiations on 
implementing the Road Map.  He also said much now depends on 
whether Russia is willing to finance the Palestinian 
Authority (PA), a prospect he found unlikely.  Carnegie's 
Scholar-in-Residence Aleksey Malashenko was somewhat more 
upbeat, suggesting that inviting Hamas to Moscow had been a 
"good idea."  But he went on to criticize GOR implementation, 
characterizing the visit as poorly organized.  Malashenko 
thought it would have made sense to conduct preliminary 
negotiations before the Pal
estinians arrived.  He also called 
the delegation's call on Moscow mufti Ravil Gaynutdin 
"stupid."   Malashenko said Gaynutdin, whom he knows 
personally, is a liberal Muslim and an opponent of Hamas, 
therefore that official call sent the wrong message.  Mish'al 
also met with Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Aleksey II. 
 
6.  (SBU)  Press coverage of the visit was positive for the 
most part.  Echoing Satanovskiy, the reformist daily Gazeta 
presented Hamas' visit as a diplomatic coup for the Kremlin, 
making the familiar argument that the meeting was the message 
and that, in Russia, process is often more important than 
results.  Business-oriented Kommersant also looked favorably 
on Russia's role as mediator, but noted that the Hamas 
invitation had ignited speculation in the West about the 
GOR's motives; the article also questioned the 
appropriateness of Hamas' meeting with Patriarch Aleksey II 
(who has refused to receive the Pope).  Articles in the 
moderate dailies Izvestiya and Vedomosti drew attention to 
some moderation in Hamas' anti-Israeli rhetoric during the 
course of the visit.  That said, Izvestiya went on to note 
that the visit brought almost no results.  The reformist 
newspaper Vremya Novostey sounded the theme of Quartet unity, 
describing close coordination between President Putin and the 
other Quartet leaders as well as German Chancellor Merkel and 
Israeli A/PM Olmert. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
7.  (C)  The Russian public itself -- or at least the small 
segment that pays attention to Russia's foreign policy -- 
does not appear completely reconciled to efforts by Moscow to 
play a greater role in the Middle East as a counterweight to 
the U.S.  For example, at the outset of an Ekho Moskvy radio 
interview with Ambassador Burns on March 2, moderator Aleksey 
Venediktov invited the audience to phone in their opinion on 
whether Russia should be a partner or competitor with the 
U.S. in the Middle East.  By the end of the interview 4065 
listeners had called in: 65 percent thought Russia should 
partner with the U.S. while 35 percent favored competing with 
us.  While in no way a scientific poll, the results do 
reflect concerns also shared by many in the academic 
community and some in the media that Russia lacks the 
capacity and resources to play a significant role in the 
Middle East and that in doing so, it risks causing greater 
damage to more significant relationships, especially with the 
United States. 
RUSSELL

Wikileaks

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