UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUSCAT 002111
STATE FOR NEA/PI, EUR/ERA, E (JTURNER, DMORRISON)
ABU DHABI FOR MEPI: H. WECHSEL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON KMPI PGOV PREL MU
SUBJECT: OMAN: US-EU DIALOGUE ON MIDDLE EAST REFORM
REF: A. STATE 235816
Â¶B. MUSCAT 02050
Â¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Dutch Ambassador (EU Representative)
reports having received no instructions from Brussels on
quarterly BMENA coordination meetings with the U.S. (ref A).
Furthermore, there will be no EU funds earmarked for Oman
before 2007 at the earliest. Only seven EU states have
missions in Muscat, and each of them manages their limited
assistance programs on a purely bilateral basis.
Nevertheless, the Dutch will undertake to coordinate an EU-US
meeting in the first quarter of 2005. Prior consultations
with the UK Embassy (the most BMENA-active local EU-member
mission) revealed difficulties in securing funding and
overcoming challenges dealing with the Omani bureaucracy.
Â¶2. (U) Per ref B, Pol/E Chief met with the Dutch Ambassador
(current EU representative in Oman) on December 1.
Ambassador Annelies Boogaerdt reported having received no
instructions from Brussels requesting EU-US coordination
meetings. As the chief representative of the 7 EU embassies
in Oman (for the current Dutch and upcoming Luxembourg
presidencies), however, she offered to organize future
quarterly meetings beginning in early 2005 to coordinate
European Union Strategic Partnership (EUSP) and MEPI programs
at the deputies level. Both Pol/E Chief and Ambassador
Boogaerdt agreed to share outlines of current assistance
programs in Oman for the next meeting.
Â¶3. (SBU) Ambassador Boogaerdt noted that there are currently
no EUSP funds for Oman from Brussels, nor any envisioned in
the next two years. Moreover, the EU pays more attention to
its North African "back yard" rather than the distant Gulf.
Consequently, Ambassador Boogaerdt continues to promote her
modest Dutch assistance programs in Oman on a purely
bilateral basis, as do the other resident European missions.
She also said that her annual assistance budget (increasing
threefold to $50,000 in 2005), and limited personnel,
primarily support awareness and development programs in the
health (HIV/AIDS) sector. Encountering a similar obstacle as
MEPI, Ambassador Boogaerdt said that Omani government prefers
that the Dutch programs eschew the EUSP label.
UK's Limited Success
Â¶4. (SBU) EmbOffs conferred with UK Embassy colleagues on
assistance programs in October, as part of an informal and
irregular consultative process. UK DCM and PolOff noted that
they have no country-specific budget for Oman, but rather
compete for regional projects on a case-by-case basis. They
had focused a number of programs on human resources
development with both the Ministry of Manpower and the
Ministry of Civil Service that have been bogged down in the
Omani bureaucracy. Discussions with the Omani Attorney
General are ongoing on a needs assessment for training and
technical assistance. Whereas the USG has had a successful
program (through IRI) of professional staff development at
the Majlis al-Shura (Oman's elected quasi-legislature), the
UK has succeeded in engaging Shura members on a peer level
through a multi-party parliamentary group from the House of
Commons. The UK MPs have established a standing bilateral
committee in the Commons chaired by MP Alan Duncan, and are
considering offering clinics to Shura members on issues such
as constituent relations and managing district offices. Like
the USG, the UK Embassy works with Omani civil society groups
to help build their capacity.
Â¶5. (SBU) The EU missions in Muscat are limited both in
number, size, and funding. There appears to be little
coordination re their bilateral assistance programs. Like
us, they seem to grapple with limited funding (often designed
on a regional rather than country-specific basis), a shortage
of staff with which to implement programs, and difficulties
navigating a somewhat suspicious Omani bureaucracy. We will
encourage greater information sharing, ideally on a quarterly
basis, but expect the European programs collectively to lag
behind USG efforts in Oman.