http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/150519Sunday, 20 April 2008, 08:47
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 RIYADH 000649
WHITE HOUSE FOR OVP, DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP AND S/I
EO 12958 DECL: 04/19/2018
TAGS EAID, ECON, EFIN, IZ, PGOV, PREL, MOPS, SA, IR
SUBJECT: SAUDI KING ABDULLAH AND SENIOR PRINCES ON SAUDI
POLICY TOWARD IRAQ
Classified By: CDA Michael Gfoeller, Reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (S) Summary: US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus met with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, General Presidency of Intelligence Chief Prince Muqrin bin Abd al-Aziz, and Interior Minister Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz during their April 14-15 visit to Riyadh. The Saudi King and senior Princes reviewed Saudi policy toward Iraq in detail, all making essentially the same points. They said that the Kingdom will not send an ambassador to Baghdad or open an embassy until the King and senior Saudi officials are satisfied that the security situation has improved and the Iraqi government has implemented policies that benefit all Iraqis, reinforce Iraq's Arab identity, and resist Iranian influence. The Saudis evinced somewhat greater flexibility regarding the issues of economic and humanitarian assistance for Iraq and debt forgiveness. In a conversation with the Charge' on April 17, Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel al-Jubeir indicated that the King had been very impressed by the visit of Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus, and al-Jubeir hinted that the Saudi government might announce changes to its Iraq policy before the President's visit to Riyadh in mid-May. End Summary.
Positive Signs in Iraq
2. (S) In all their meetings with the Saudi royals, both Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus conveyed the progress in Iraq and confirmed the negative role Iran is playing in Iraq. They characterized the recent ISF-led operations in Basra and Baghdad as having a striking effect against the Shia militias, most importantly turning Iraqi public opinion away from the militias. While Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's decision to take action against the militias was described as hasty and not well-planned, Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus emphasized that any tactical shortfalls were overshadowed by the greater positive effect of unifying Iraq and demonstrating the GOI's, and most specifically al-Maliki's, determined resolve to take on the Shia militias, especially Jaysh al-Madhi. Concurrently, these operations unequivocally demonstrated Iran's subversive activities in Iraq and its broader regional ambitions. Throughout all their discussions, Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus stressed the importance and urgent need for the Saudis to join us in supporting Iraq.
The Saudi Embassy Issue
3. (S) King Abdullah, the Foreign Minister, and Prince Muqrin all stated that the Saudi government would not send an ambassador to Baghdad or open an embassy there in the near future, citing both security and political grounds in support of this position. The Foreign Minister stated that he had considered dispatching an ambassador and had sent Saudi diplomats to Baghdad to identify a site for the Saudi embassy. However, he said. "the King simply forbade us to go any farther." King Abdullah confirmed this account in a separate meeting with Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus. The King asserted that the security situation in Baghdad was too dangerous for him to risk sending a Saudi ambassador there. "He would immediately become a target for the terrorists and the militias," he said.
4. (S) The King also rejected the suggestion that by sending a Saudi ambassador to Baghdad he could give essential political support to the Iraqi government as it struggles to resist Iranian influence and subversion. He expressed lingering doubt on the Iraqi government's willingness to resist Iran. He also repeated his frequently voiced doubts about Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki himself by alluding to his "Iranian connections." The Saudi monarch stated that he does not trust al-Maliki because the Iraqi Prime Minister had "lied" to him in the past by promising to take certain actions and then failing to do so. The King did not say precisely what these allegedly broken promises might have been. He repeated his oft heard view that al-Maliki rules Iraq on behalf of his Shiite sect instead of all Iraqis.
5. (S) However, in a potentially significant move, the King did not reject the idea of dispatching a Saudi ambassador to Baghdad completely. Instead, he said that he would consider
RIYADH 00000649 002 OF 003
doing so after the Iraqi provincial elections are held in the autumn. The conduct of these elections would indicate whether or not the Iraqi government is truly interested in ruling on behalf of all Iraqis or merely in support of the Shia, King Abdullah asserted.
Grudging Acknowledgment of Change in Iraq
6. (S) The Foreign Minister signaled another potential softening in Saudi policy by saying that the Kingdom's problem was not with al-Maliki as a person but rather with the conduct of the Iraqi government. The King himself admitted that the Iraqi government's performance has improved in recent months and grudgingly accepted the point that al-Maliki and his security forces have indeed been fighting extremists, specifically Shia extremists in both Basra and Baghdad and Sunni extremists and Al Qaeda in Mosul. However, the King and the senior Princes argued that more time would be required to judge whether the recent change in Iraqi behavior was lasting and sincere. The King suggested that much of the Iraqi government's improved performance is attributable to US prodding rather than change in Iraqi attitudes.
7. (S) The Foreign Minister also suggested that the USG should prod Ayatollah Sistani to speak out in favor of a unified Iraq and national reconciliation among different Iraqi sects and groups. "You have paid a heavy price in blood and treasure, and Sistani and his people have benefited directly. You have every right to ask this of him," Prince Saud al-Faisal said.
Possible Saudi Economic Assistance
8. (S) The King, Prince Muqrin, and the Foreign Minister all suggested that the Saudi government might be willing to consider the provision of economic and humanitarian assistance to Iraq. Prince Muqrin asked Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus to send him a list of the kinds of assistance that the US government would like to see the Kingdom provide Iraq. Al-Jubeir later told the Charge' that this assistance would be separate from the USD 1 billion in aid that the Saudi government had promised at the Madrid Conference but still not delivered due to security worries. He said that the Madrid commitment consisted of $500 million in trade credits and $500 million in project assistance with strict conditionally, along the lines of what the World Bank would require. Al-Jubeir added that the assistance the Saudi government might provide via Prince Muqrin would initially be in the range of $75-$300 million.
Possible Debt Relief
9. (S) The King noted that Saudi debt relief for Iraq "will come at some point," although he did not say when. Al-Jubeir told the Charge' that debt relief is a real possibility. He also noted that the Saudi government might make changes to its Iraq policy, perhaps including both assistance and debt relief, prior to the President's visit to Riyadh.
The Need to Resist Iran
10. (S) The King, Foreign Minister, Prince Muqrin, and Prince Nayif all agreed that the Kingdom needs to cooperate with the US on resisting and rolling back Iranian influence and subversion in Iraq. The King was particularly adamant on this point, and it was echoed by the senior princes as well. Al-Jubeir recalled the King's frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program. "He told you to cut off the head of the snake," he recalled to the Charge', adding that working with the US to roll back Iranian influence in Iraq is a strategic priority for the King and his government.
11. (S) The Foreign Minister, on the other hand, called instead for much more severe US and international sanctions on Iran, including a travel ban and further restrictions on bank lending. Prince Muqrin echoed these views, emphasizing that some sanctions could be implemented without UN approval. The Foreign Minister also stated that the use of military pressure against Iran should not be ruled out.
RIYADH 00000649 003 OF 003
12. (S) Comment: Saudi attitudes toward Iraq, from the King on down, remain marked by skepticism and suspicion. That said, the Saudis have noticed recent events in Iraq and are eager to work with the US to resist and reverse Iranian encroachment in Iraq. The King was impressed by Ambassador Crocker's and General Petraeus' visit, as were the Foreign Minister, GPI Chief, and Interior Minister. Cautious as ever, the Saudis may nevertheless be willing to consider new measures in the areas of assistance and debt relief, although further discussions will be required to make these ideas a reality. End Comment. 13. (U) This cable was reviewed and cleared by Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus. GFOELLER
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-saudis-iranKing Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.
The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.
The Saudi king was recorded as having "frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme", one cable stated. "He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake," the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah's meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.
The cables also highlight Israel's anxiety to preserve its regional nuclear monopoly, its readiness to go it alone against Iran – and its unstinting attempts to influence American policy. The defence minister, Ehud Barak, estimated in June 2009 that there was a window of "between six and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable". After that, Barak said, "any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage."
The leaked US cables also reveal that:
• Officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran's nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military.
• Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as "evil", an "existential threat" and a power that "is going to take us to war".
• Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned in February that if diplomatic efforts failed, "we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike, or both".
• Major General Amos Yadlin, Israeli's military intelligence chief, warned last year: "Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on 11 September 2001."
Asked for a response to the statements, state department spokesman PJ Crowley said today it was US policy not to comment on materials, including classified documents, which may have been leaked.
Iran maintains that its atomic programme is designed to supply power stations, not nuclear warheads. After more than a year of deadlock and stalling, a fresh round of talks with the five permanent members of the UN security council plus Germany is due to begin on 5 December.
But in a meeting with Italy's foreign minister earlier this year, Gates said time was running out. If Iran were allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, the US and its allies would face a different world in four to five years, with a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. King Abdullah had warned the Americans that if Iran developed nuclear weapons "everyone in the region would do the same, including Saudi Arabia".
America is not short of allies in its quest to thwart Iran, though some are clearly more enthusiastic than the Obama administration for a definitive solution to Iran's nuclear designs. In one cable, a US diplomat noted how Saudi foreign affairs bureaucrats were moderate in their views on Iran, "but diverge significantly from the more bellicose advice we have gotten from senior Saudi royals".
In a conversation with a US diplomat, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain "argued forcefully for taking action to terminate their [Iran's] nuclear programme, by whatever means necessary. That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it." Zeid Rifai, then president of the Jordanian senate, told a senior US official: "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter."
In talks with US officials, Abu Dhabi crown prince Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed favoured action against Iran, sooner rather than later. "I believe this guy is going to take us to war ... It's a matter of time. Personally, I cannot risk it with a guy like [President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad. He is young and aggressive."
In another exchange , a senior Saudi official warned that Gulf states may develop nuclear weapons of their own, or permit them to be based in their countries to deter the perceived Iranian threat.
No US ally is keener on military action than Israel, and officials there have repeatedly warned that time is running out. "If the Iranians continue to protect and harden their nuclear sites, it will be more difficult to target and damage them," the US embassy reported Israeli defence officials as saying in November 2009.
There are differing views within Israel. But the US embassy reported: "The IDF [Israeli Defence Force], however, strikes us as more inclined than ever to look toward a military strike, whether launched by Israel or by us, as the only way to destroy or even delay Iran's plans." Preparations for a strike would likely go undetected by Israel's allies or its enemies.
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told US officials in May last yearthat he and the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, agreed that a nuclear Iran would lead others in the region to develop nuclear weapons, resulting in "the biggest threat to non-proliferation efforts since the Cuban missile crisis".
The cables also expose frank, even rude, remarks about Iranian leaders, their trustworthiness and tactics at international meetings. Abdullah told another US diplomat: "The bottom line is that they cannot be trusted." Mubarak told a US congressman: "Iran is always stirring trouble." Others are learning from what they describe as Iranian deception. "They lie to us, and we lie to them," said Qatar's prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim Jaber al-Thani.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/191130Monday, 09 February 2009, 16:10
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 CAIRO 000231
FOR THE SECRETARY FROM THE AMBASSADOR
EO 12958 DECL: 02/09/2019
TAGS PREL, KPAL, EG, IS, QA, IR, SY
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR REQUESTED EGYPTIAN FM ABOUL GHEIT
MEETING WITH THE SECRETARY
Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (S/NF) Madame Secretary, Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit has been looking forward to meeting you since your nomination was first announced. The Egyptian leadership, including President Mubarak, are encouraged by the Administration's immediate attention to the Middle East and your and the President's early outreach to them. Overall, the Egyptians believe they did not receive fair treatment from the previous Administration and hope to see improvements. Aboul Gheit likely will explain Egypt's "soft power"--its ability to influence regional events without benefit of deep pockets. He likely will focus more on the strategic challenges of the region--the peace process and Iran--but may also address some pending bilateral matters. He may ask for your support for Egypt to be part of an expanded G8 or G20 and press the candidacy of Egyptian Culture Minister Farouq Hosny for Director General of UNESCO. He may not raise human rights (specifically Ayman Nour), political reform, or democratization; but you should. Aboul Gheit will want to discuss Gaza, including smuggling and counter-tunneling; Iran; and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. On Iraq and counter-terrorism, we and the Egyptians see largely eye-to-eye; intelligence cooperation is close and effective; and our military-to-military relationship is durable but stuck in a force-on-force mindset.
2. (S/NF) Summary continued: Aboul Gheit is smart, urbane, with a tendency to lecture and to avoid discussing Egyptian failings with all-purpose recourse to Egyptian sovereign pride. However, because this is his first meeting with you and it is in Washington, he may be more inclined to listen. You should thank him for Egypt's continuing regional leadership, in particular regarding their efforts to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza, and press him for Egypt to continue to use their influence and good offices to achieve a permanent solution to intra-Palestinian infighting and conflict. You should also stress the need for Egypt to more effectively insure that Hamas cannot rearm via smuggling across -- or tunneling under -- the border with Gaza. Aboul Gheit will press for your attendance at the March 2 Gaza Donors Conference in Cairo, and may complain about unhelpful Qatari and Syrian behavior. He will also want to explore US intentions towards Iran; President Mubarak told Senator Mitchell during his recent visit here that he did not oppose our talking with the Iranians, as long as "you don't believe a word they say." End summary.
Respect and Appreciation
3. (S/NF) In terms of regional affairs, Special Middle East Envoy Senator George Mitchell struck the right chord during his recent visit to Cairo when he told President Mubarak that he was here to "listen and hear your advice." The Egyptians have long felt that, at best, we take them for granted; and at worst, we deliberately ignore their advice while trying to force our point of view on them. You may wish to thank Aboul Gheit for the vital role Egypt played in bringing about a ceasefire in Gaza, and its efforts at making it last. You should ask him what the current state of play is between Hamas and Fatah and have him describe Egypt's vision of the future for the Palestinians, both among their factions, and vis a vis Israel. Note: Although the Egyptians will react well to overtures of respect and appreciation, Egypt is very often a stubborn and recalcitrant ally. In addition, Egypt's self-perception as the "indispensable Arab state" is contingent on Egyptian effectiveness on regional issues, including Sudan, Lebanon, and Iraq.
Egypt and the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
4. (S/NF) Although Aboul Gheit was never enthusiastic about the Annapolis Peace process, resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the primary strategic political goal for the Egyptians. They are proud of their role as intermediary, well aware that they are perhaps the only player that can talk with us, the Israelis, and all Palestinian factions. Mubarak hates Hamas, and considers them the same as Egypt's own Muslim Brotherhood, which he sees as his own most dangerous political threat. Since the
CAIRO 00000231 002 OF 004
June 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza, the Egyptians, under the leadership of intelligence chief Omar Soliman (the de facto national security advisor with direct responsibility for the Israeli-Palestinian account) have shifted their focus to intra-Palestinian reconciliation and establishment of the Hamas-Israel ceasefire. Soliman brokered a half-year-long truce last year, which Hamas broke in December, leading to the Israeli invasion of Gaza. He has recently re-started those efforts, with the goal of getting Hamas to agree to a year-long ceasefire, which should give the Egyptians space to bring about their political goal of Palestinian reconciliation under a technocratic, non-partisan government headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Gaza and Tunnels
5. (S/NF) Smuggling through the Sinai Peninsula and into Gaza is an old and complicated problem for Egypt. Egypt views a well-armed and powerful Hamas as a national security threat, a point driven home in dramatic fashion by the January 2008 border breach when Hamas bulldozed the old border fence and more than half a million Palestinians poured into Egypt, unchecked and hungry. Since the closure of the Egypt-Gaza border following the June 2007 Gaza takeover by Hamas, most smuggling of consumer goods and weapons has gone underground. The narrow corridor between Egypt and Gaza is as honey-combed with subterranean passageways as a gigantic ant colony.
6. (S/NF) Although it is not directly in Aboul Gheit's bailiwick, belonging more to the security and intelligence forces, nonetheless the issue of tunnels and rearming Hamas is the subject of intense scrutiny (by Israel and the Congress), and sensitivity (by the Egyptians). Long criticized by Israel for "not doing enough" to halt arms smuggling via tunnels, the Egyptians have stopped complaining and started acting. Egypt has increased efforts to counter arms smuggling by accelerating its $23 million FMF-funded tunnel detection program along the Egypt-Gaza border and requesting U.S. support to purchase four backscatter X-Ray machines to scan vehicles entering the Sinai for weapons and explosives (note Aboul Ghait may not be of this EGIS-originated request). Egypt also continues to cooperate with Israel, especially via intelligence sharing, to prevent militants from Hamas and other extremist organizations from crossing the Gaza border, and on thwarting militant activity in Egypt. Egyptian efforts are all justified under President Mubarak's pledge that Egypt with "protect its borders."
7. (S/NF) Egypt will not take any action that could be perceived as collaboration in Israel's siege of Gaza, and they have been hyper-sensitive to any suggestion that foreigners are assisting them or overseeing their efforts to counter smuggling. Aboul Gheit publicly distanced Egypt from our January MOU with Israel to combat arms smuggling into Gaza, although he knew about it in advance and consulted with Secretary Rice and me about its contents. The Egyptians do not want to be stuck holding the Gaza bag, and must be able to point the finger of blame at Israel for the plight of the Palestinians. At the same time, Egypt has withstood scathing and widespread criticism in the Arab world for refusing to open the Rafah border crossing to supply Gaza. Even during the height of the December fighting, the Egyptians only sent medicine and medical supplies through the Rafah border; all other humanitarian goods went through the Israeli crossing at Kerem Shalom. They likewise insist that Rafah will only reopen to handle Gazan travellers when the Gazan side is under PA control with EU observers according to the 2005 AMA.
8. (S/NF) Ultimately, Egypt believes that the only realistic and viable solution to erode Hamas' power and stop arms smuggling is the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza and the opening of Gaza's border to legitimate trade. While in the short term we can best assist the Egyptians with technical know-how and training, long term counter smuggling success will depend on reducing the financial incentives to smuggling by providing the Sinai Bedouin with legitimate economic opportunities and by regularly opening the Gaza borders to trade, thereby reducing economic incentives to smuggle.
The March 2 Gaza Donors Conference
9. (S/NF) President Mubarak told Senator Mitchell that he
CAIRO 00000231 003 OF 004
wanted to personally invite you to the March 2 Gaza Donors Conference in Cairo. Aboul Gheit will press hard for you to accept this invitation. He is keen to keep up the momentum on Gaza reconstruction and for Egypt to be seen as taking the lead in helping the Palestinians. It is very important to him that this conference be at the ministerial level, and he will be disappointed if you are unable to accept.
Iraq and Iran
10. (S/NF) President Mubarak enjoys recounting for visiting members of Congress how he warned former President Bush against invading Iraq, ending with, "I told you so!" and a wag of his finger. In addition, there are Egyptian misgivings about Nuri Al-Maliki and Shia majority rule in Iraq. Egypt therefore will need additional prodding to continue to take steps to help rehabilitate Iraq into the greater Arab world. You should ask Aboul Gheit when he plans to fully open the Egyptian embassy in Baghdad and exchange accredited ambassadors with Iraq (the first Egyptian ambassador to post-Saddam Iraq was assassinated). As for Iran, Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as "liars," and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region. He sees the Syrians and Qataris as sycophants to Tehran and liars themselves. There is no doubt that Egypt sees Iran and its greatest long-term threat, both as it develops a nuclear capability and as it seeks to export its "Shia revolution." Nonetheless, Mubarak told Mitchell pointedly that he did not oppose the U.S. speaking to the Iranians, as long as we did not "believe a single word they say." Aboul Gheit will be keen to hear your description of U.S. intentions towards Iran. In his conversation with Senator Mitchell, Aboul Gheit carefully noting he was speaking personally, expressed more interest into bringing the Syrians into negotiations again; President Mubarak was not enthusiastic about dealing with the Syrians at this time.
U.S. Assistance to Egypt
11. (S/NF) The greatest Egyptian outrage a year ago -- Congressional conditioning of $100 million of U.S. assistance to Egypt -- may now be moot, according to our latest understanding of the state of play with the FY2009 appropriations language. Beyond the issue of conditioning, the Egyptians resent the U.S. unilateral decision to cut ESF in half, from $415 million in FY-08 to $200 million in FY-09, a level which the Egyptians find embarrassing, not because they need the money (they say), but because it shows our diminished view of the value of our relationship. In my view, it is important to the U.S. to continue an ESF program aimed at health, education, and poverty eradication to demonstrate concern for the Egyptian people as opposed to a strictly military assistance program. Egypt has also been unhappy with the use of these funds to support democracy in Egypt. It would be useful if you could urge that Egypt accept the FY 2009 levels so that we can proceed to program funds to benefit Egypt, while promising to engage in a serious review of the conflicts that exist and a desire to resolve them as soon as possible.
12. (S/NF) Concerning military assistance, the Egyptian political and military leadership feel that they have been "short changed" by our holding to an FMF level of $1.3 billion, (the same level for 30 years despite inflation), and which they contrast with increases to our military assistance to Israel. Finally, Egypt seeks a higher profile in international financial circles (Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali was recently named Chairman of the IMF's policy-setting committee, the IMFC, the first from a developing country), and Aboul Gheit is likely to ask for your support to include Egypt in expanded G8 and G20 fora.
Ayman Nour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim
13. (S/NF) Egypt's political leadership considers our public chastisement of their treatment of jailed former opposition Al Ghad party leader Ayman Nour as interfering with internal affairs and infringement on national sovereignty. Mubarak takes this issue personally, and it makes him seethe when we raise it, particularly in public. Aboul Gheit's view is that we have made Ayman Nour a freedom martyr, and a damaging (and
CAIRO 00000231 004 OF 004
distorting) prism through which we view our relationship with Egypt. Much the same can be said about Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the outspoken political science professor and democracy activist who is in self-imposed exile in the U.S. because of spurious law suits brought against him for allegedly defaming Egypt. In a negative development in late January, Egypt,s Attorney General-equivalent took action to advance the only criminal case pending against Ibrahim. You should press Aboul Gheit hard on Nour and Ibrahim, and also urge the GOE to stop arresting other less prominent political activists. Nour's health is bad and he has served more than half his sentence; he deserves a humanitarian pardon. You may wish to lay down a marker for a future discussion on democratization and human rights concerns. You might note that although you and the President want to improve the relationship, Egypt could take some steps to remove these very volatile issues from the agenda.
13. (S/NF) Egypt has mounted a full-scale international campaign to support the candidacy of Culture Minister Farouq Hosny for Director General of UNESCO. The Arab League and the African Union have already publicly stated their commitment to Hosny, and the Egyptians believe they also have the support of several Europeans, notably the French. Aboul Gheit will also seek US support -- or, at least, not to actively oppose -- the candidacy of Farouq Hosny as the next Director General of UNESCO. The U.S. informed him last year that we could not support the candidacy and urged Egypt to put forward another name. Abould Gheit will argue Hosny's merits for facing down the Islamic extremists who want to narrow the space in Egypt for artistic expression. U.S. objections have been to statements Hosny has made that "Israel had no culture. . .it stole cultural ideas from others and claimed them as its own" and other objectionable remarks. If we plan to derail the Hosny candidacy, we must provide a credible alternate, preferably an Arab and/or Muslim. SCOBEY
Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December.
The American ambassador to Eritrea reported last year that “Eritrean officials are ignorant or lying” in denying that they were supporting the Shabab, a militant Islamist group in Somalia. The cable then mused about which seemed more likely.
The most serious leak so far:Dispatches from early this year, for instance, quote the aging monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, as speaking scathingly about the leaders of Iraq and Pakistan.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has "frequently" urged the US to launch an attack against Iran in order to scupper Tehran's nuclear ambition.
Of course it'd not surprising- that's just the undiplomatic side of diplomacy, where the truth is said. Everyone knows the truth so that's not actually new.So that's all new to you guys?
I mean, none of those articles surprise me that much.
How does it make them stupid?So Bahrain's king, Saudi king and UAE urged military action against Iran, lol... damn, at least Kuwaitis aren't that stupid!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/250177Tuesday, 23 February 2010, 10:47
C O N F I D E N T I A L DOHA 000070
EO 12958 DECL: 02/13/2020
TAGS PREL, KWBG, KPAL, IR, QA
SUBJECT: SENATOR KERRY'S MEETING WITH QATAR'S AMIR
Classified By: Ambassador Joseph E. LeBaron, for reasons 1.4 (b, d).
(C) KEY POINTS
-- The Amir of Qatar urged the U.S. in his February 14 meeting with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) to do everything in its power to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Amir said the best way to begin is by moving first on the Syrian track.
-- In Qatar's view, now is the time to reach out to Damascus. The Syrian Government can help Arab extremists make tough choices, but only if the U.S., whose involvement is essential, demonstrates to Syria early on a willingness to address the return of the Golan Heights and supports Turkey's mediation efforts between Israel and Syria.
-- According to the Amir, Hamas will accept the 1967 border with Israel, but will not say it publicly so as to lose popular Palestinian support.
-- The Egyptians' goal, according to the Amir, is to stay in the game and maintain their relationship with the U.S., which is built around brokering regional peace, for as long as possible.
-- The Amir recommended that the U.S. and Qatar establish a small bilateral committee to discuss how to advance regional peace. Qatar can help move Hamas, because Qatar does not "play in their internal politics." That does not mean Qatar shares Hamas' ideology, stressed the Amir.
-- On Iran, the Amir said President Ahmadinejad is strong because he is uncorrupted. The Amir also advised the U.S. to continue ts efforts to open a dialogue with the Iranian ladership.
End Key Points.
1. (C) Senator Joh Kerry (D-MA), the Chairman of the Senate Foreig Relations Committee(SFRC), joined by Ambassador,P/E Chief, and SFRC staff member Dr. Jonah Blank met February 14 with the Amir of Qatar, Hamad bn Khalifa Al Thani. The meeting took place at Waba Palace, the residence of the Amir, and the Amir began the meeting by pointing out that the comfortable chairs on which the U.S. party was seated were made in Syria.
IMPORTANCE OF THE SYRIAN TRACK
2. (C) This opening led Senator Kerry to remark that he had held great discussions with Syria's President, Bashar Al-Asad, when he met him in Damascus some months ago. The Amir said President Asad is committed to "big change," but Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri's death and complications resulting from Syria's alleged involvement in it had brought about "complications" for Asad. The Amir added that "Bashar is still young and can grow."
3. (C) Senator Kerry said he took away from his visit to Damascus that Asad wants change. The Amir added that the Syrian President also wants peace with Israel and that the arrival of a U.S. Ambassador in Damascus would help in this regard. Senator Kerry said he had wanted a U.S. Ambassador in Syria a year ago, but agreed that the naming of an Ambassador is a positive development.
4. (C) The Amir cautioned that the Syrians will not accept everything the U.S. proposes, stressing that the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights continues and that the return of this land to Syria is paramount for Damascus. The Amir observed that the "Syrians have lost confidence in the U.S. and that the Israelis now have the upper hand in the region because of the support of the United States." The Israeli leaders need to represent the people of Israel, who themselves do not trust Arabs. The Amir said this is understandable and "we can't blame them" because the Israelis have been "under threat" for a long time.
5. (C) What has changed, continued the Amir, is that Arabs "for sure" now want two states -- Israel and Palestine. When you consider that many in the region perceive that Hizballah drove Israel out of Lebanon and Hamas kicked them (at least initially) out "of the small piece of land called Gaza," it is actually surprising that the Israelis still want peace. The region, however, is still "far away" from peace, concluded the Amir.
6. (C) Senator Kerry responded that in his long experience with the region, it was not unusual for people to take positions adverse to their own interests. Yasser Arafat went from living as a terrorist in Tunisia to signing an agreement with Israel on the White House lawn. The transformation of Arafat is an example of how actors in the region need to take risks if we are to move forward in advancing regional peace. Turning the conversation back to Syria, Chairman Kerry pointed out that Syria's facilitation of arms to Hizballah and its turning a blind eye to missile upgrades in Lebanon do not represent risk-taking in the promotion of peace.
7. (C) The Amir pointed out that any progress toward regional peace had come about due to American involvement. He implied that it would take U.S. intervention on the Syrian-Israeli track to address these issues and asked Senator Kerry what he would have Damascus do.
8. (C) The Chairman responded that President Asad needs to make a bolder move and take risks. He observed that if the Syrian President wants peace and economic development for his country, he needs to be more statesman-like, which would in turn help Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu engage him.
9. (C) The Amir agreed with Senator Kerry's assessment of Asad's aims and said he is ready for peace, but asked if the Israelis are ready. Would Israel accept to resume Turkey's mediation between Syria and Israel? Would the U.S. play a role in advancing the Syria track?
10. (C) If we can get Abu Mazen back to the negotiating table, we can engage on border issues -- including Israel's borders with Syria, advised Senator Kerry. Abu Mazen right now is not strong enough, though, to make necessary compromises with Israel because the Palestinian people have wanted him to stick to his guns on a settlement freeze and the Goldstone Report. The Chairman added that Netanyahu also needs to compromise and work the return of the Golan Heights into a formula for peace.
11. (C) The Amir encouraged the U.S. to work the Golan Heights issue first. He stressed that Syrians are very different from Iranians in "mentality," and said the Syrians turned to Iran for support only because they had nowhere else to go. Now is the time, the Amir told Senator Kerry, to reach out to Damascus.
PARAMETERS FOR DISCUSSION
12. (C) Senator Kerry responded that the U.S. is prepared to play a strong role in bringing about peace in the region. President Obama, said the Chairman, understands that he personally must engage and do so strongly. The Senator told the Amir that in his speech to the U.S.-Islamic Forum the previous evening, the Senator had focused on former President Clinton's parameters for peace and the 2002 Arab League peace initiative. Now, said the Senator, is the time to put those back on the table and resume talking, with the U.S. acting as a legitimate agent of peace. Chairman Kerry told the Amir he is convinced that we can see great progress in the coming year by moving swiftly from proximity talks, to direct talks between the parties and ending with final status discussions.
13. (C) To be successful, continued Senator Kerry, we must begin by agreeing at the outset the amount of land each side (Israelis and Palestinians) will obtain in the end and use that understanding to draw the borders. If both sides make good compromises, we can address the settlement issues in the context of giving something up so that the borders, when drawn, contain the agreed-upon amounts of land for both sides. The Amir agreed with the Senator's assessment and complimented President Obama for being the first U.S. President to take on the Middle East conflict in the first year of his term.
14. (C) Continuing the presentation of his ideas on the parameters of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Senator Kerry noted that one of the biggest problems for Israel is the potential return of 5-6 million Palestinian refugees. The parties broached the return issue in discussions at Taba and agreed that the right of Palestinian return would be subject to later negotiation, pointed out the Chairman. If we can proceed from that point on the right of return, the Senator believes there is an "artful way" to frame the negotiations on borders, land swaps, and Jerusalem as a shared capital. 15. (C) Any negotiation has its limits, added Senator Kerry, and we know for the Palestinians that control of Al-Aqsa mosque and the establishment of some kind of capital for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are not negotiable. For the Israelis, the Senator continued, Israel's character as a Jewish state is not open for negotiation. The non-militarization of an eventual Palestinian state and its borders can nonetheless be resolved through negotiation.
16. (C) The Amir underscored that Abu Mazen needs Arab support to make the above happen. Hamas "for sure," he said, will accept the 1967 border but will not say it publicly so as to lose popular Palestinian support.
DEALING WITH THE EXTREMISTS
17. (C) Senator Kerry told the Amir he knew Qatar could help the U.S. but asked how we deal with those who advocate violence. The Amir said the short answer is to work the Syrian track, which means pushing for Israel's return of the Golan Heights to Syria. The Amir said return of the Golan is important not just to Syria but also to Hizballah and Iran. The U.S. must bear in mind that Misha'al, a leader of Hamas based in Damascus, has drawn the conclusion that the Oslo accords were bad for Arafat. He lost the support of his own people and died living under Israeli siege. The Syrians can help Misha'al and others make tough choices, but only if the U.S. demonstrates to Syria early on a willingness to address the Golan. Senator Kerry responded that the U.S. would accept a legitimate discussion of the Golan Heights.
18. (C) What is more, said the Amir, the U.S. needs to support Turkey's mediation between Israel and Syria. It is important that the U.S. encourage Israel to understand that that resolving the status of the Golan Heights is very important to the United States.
19. (C) Senator Kerry asked the Amir if Hamas is under pressure given the circumstances in Gaza. The Amir answered by saying that Hamas needs Iranian support. He added that the biggest misconception in the region is that the Syrians, who host Hamas leaders in Damascus, go to Iran because they like the Iranians. This is wrong. Syria goes to those who will not shun them.
ROLE OF EGYPT
20. (C) Returning to the pressure Hamas is facing, Senator Kerry observed that economic development in the West Bank is taking place, but not in Gaza. The Palestinian reconciliation that would make possible developmental assistance in Gaza has not happened. The Egyptians have not delivered, said Senator Kerry.
21. (C) The Amir said the Egyptians' goal is to stay in the game and maintain their relationship with the U.S., which is built around brokering Middle East peace, for as long as possible. According to the Amir, Fatah and Hamas agreed on a memorandum of understanding, but the Egyptians wanted it changed. The Amir remarked that he has a feeling he knows which capital (Cairo) is the source of reports that Gaza is under pressure. He said the economic pressure in Gaza on families is not what it was. He offered as an example that Qatar Charity recently offered a family in Gaza 500 USD, but the family declined the gift saying its members had enough to get by and suggested another family that was in more dire need of assistance. The Amir said the notion that a family would turn down money is new.
22. (C) The Amir told Senator Kerry that everyone knows "Egypt has a problem with the Muslim Brotherhood. Okay, we understand. But Egypt should not expect the world to take external actions that would help it internally."
23. (C) Asked his advice for President Obama, the Amir recommended the establishment of a small U.S.-Qatar committee to discuss how to proceed. Qatar is close to Hamas, emphasized the Amir, because "we don't play in their internal politics." That does not mean we share their ideology or do not disagree with them. "I can remember many arguments with them (Hamas) on the 1967 border with Israel." The Amir noted that he had mediated with Hamas previously at the U.S. request, namely when he urged Hamas at the previous Administration's request to participate in Palestinian elections.
24. (C) Returning to the leadership of Hamas, Senator Kerry asked the Amir for his insights into how the leadership, with leaders sitting in both Gaza and Syria, makes decisions. The Amir said the impression that Misha'al sits in Damascus and others take orders from him is wrong. Several key players within Hamas are involved in decisions. They have differences over policy, but "the bottom line is that they all want the Palestinians to take their rights from Israel."
25. (C) Senator Kerry observed that the international community is moving toward imposing additional economic sanctions on Iran. Understanding and respecting that Qatar needs to balance its relationships with regional powers, including Iran, the Chairman asked the Amir for his perspective on where we are going on Iran.
26. (C) The Amir answered by affirming that his first obligation is to defend the interests of Qatar. Due to the natural gas field Iran shares with Qatar, Qatar will not "provoke a fight" with Iran. He added that in the history of the two countries, "Iran has not bothered us." That said, the Amir noted that Iran is an important country in the Middle East. He faulted the U.S. for "making the mistake of speaking up for protesters" after the disputed Iranian presidential elections.
27. (C) The Iranian regime is strong, continued the Amir, because President Ahmadinejad is uncorrupted. "That is the secret to his success." Khatami is also not corrupted, but as a reformer he is in a weak position. Rafsanjani, on the other hand, is corrupt.
28. (C) Senator Kerry lamented that every communication the current Administration has attempted to the Government of Iran has gone back channel and been met with no response. There have been non-U.S. initiatives, too. Again, no success. The Chairman observed that the Iranians are scared to talk. The Supreme Ayatollah had met with Russian President Putin, but seems not inclined to meet with other political leaders. Our instinct is that we need to find a way to talk to him.
29. (C) Your instinct is right, replied the Amir. The U.S. needs to talk directly with senior Iranian officials. The Amir then asked, "What if I talk to the Iranian President. What would you have me say?"
30. (C) Senator Kerry responded, "The U.S. seeks serious discussion and sought to create a new foundation for a relationship based on Iran's non-confrontational compliance with IAEA requirements and other mutual interests." Those interests include dealing with drug-running, the Taliban, and illicit trade. The Chairman told the Amir he feared that Iran still thinks it is dealing with the 1953 America that tried to overthrow the Iranian government.
31. (C) The Amir responded that you cannot blame them for having that attitude, and Senator Kerry agreed, adding that the U.S. has a very different posture in the post-Cold War world of today. Iran has ambitions; I know this from other regional leaders, said the Senator. These are the first words that come out of their mouths.
32. (C) Iran wants to be a "big power," agreed the Amir, but what sort? He reminded Senator Kerry the U.S. should not forget that Iranians are Persian and the U.S. needs to approach them in that framework.
33. (C) Senator Kerry stressed that the U.S. "would love to have that dialogue." The U.S. respects Iranian civilization -- talent, art, culture, etc. It is crazy to continue on this collision course. The region needs schools and jobs, emphasized the Chairman, not another war. The Amir agreed that "demographics are a big worry." Not just for the countries in the region but for the U.S. too.
34. (C) Many scientific and technological transformations are underway, noted the Senator, "but Iran misinterprets the road to being a great power and the degree to which the international community is concerned about Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons." We are at a "fork in the road," and Iran must choose between confrontation or building partnerships. If the latter, we can open up new opportunities for cooperation in the sciences, technology, education, robotics, energy and other ongoing transformations.
35. (C) Going back to the speech he had delivered in Doha the previous evening, Senator Kerry told the Amir that 17 former U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense had come out in favor of eliminating nuclear weapons. Every stop closer to realizing that goal is a sign of progress, but "no one believes Iranian nukes get us closer to that goal."
36. (C) Senator Kerry reported that leaders of regional Arab countries tell me they want nuclear weapons if the Iranians have them. The Amir responded that he did not believe they were serious, but are saying this to put additional pressure on Iran.
37. (C) The Chairman noted that the disputed Iranian presidential elections may have derailed U.S. efforts to have serious dialogue with Tehran. The Amir agreed, offering that the Israelis are also using Iran's quest for nuclear weapons as a diversion from settling matters with the Palestinians. The historical backdrop of Arab-Persian relations does not help, the Amir added.
38. (C) The Amir advised the U.S. to continue trying to open a dialogue with the Iranian leadership. He also told Senator Kerry the U.S. needs to tell the Israelis they are causing the U.S. to lose the hearts and minds of Muslims. There was a time, such as during the Suez Canal crisis, when the Arabs loved the Americans and disliked the British and French, he said.
39. (C) Senator Kerry asked the Amir how the U.S. goes about changing its reputation. The Amir said first and foremost the U.S. must do everything in its power to find a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the best way to begin is by moving first on the Syrian track.
40. (C) The Chairman of the SFRC said he expects a genuine effort by the President this year on an agreement and expressed his hope that Iranian issues would not complicate matters. The Amir agreed, adding that China likes the distraction for the U.S. as its forces fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
41. (C) Senator Kerry concurred, noting that China is lending the U.S. money and expanding its influence at U.S. expense. He added that he ran against President George W. Bush saying the war with Iraq was the wrong war in the wrong place and time.
42. (C) The Amir closed the meeting by offering that based on 30 years of experience with the Iranians, they will give you 100 words. Trust only one of the 100.
43. (U) CODEL Kerry has cleared this message.
I doubt that the Iranian opposition is a major factor right now- its chance to make a change disappeared after the elections in Iran.Well, its stupid because attacking Iran or their Nuclear Plants will only rally the people and Iranians to stand behind their stupid government and regime, further polarizing Iran and the Middle East.