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Cablegate: Dcm Returns From Najaf and Engages Bahraini

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANAMA 000128

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARP DJONES, NEA/PPD DMACINNES AND MQUINN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP PREL KMDR KPAO BA
SUBJECT: DCM RETURNS FROM NAJAF AND ENGAGES BAHRAINI
AUDIENCES ON IRAQ

1. To further post's goal of convincing Bahraini audiences
about U.S. goals in Iraq, PAS Manama arranged tailored media
events for DCM Ford, who recently returned to Bahrain from a
three month rotation as the CPA Governorate Coordinator in
Najaf. Bahrain is a small island and many Embassy contacts
knew the DCM was in Najaf. They were curious about his
experiences there. Post took advantage of their interest by
programming him with top media contacts. He also visited
political salons (majlises) to renew his acquaintances and
highlight U.S. work in Iraq. Notably, younger Bahrainis
were keenly interested in first-hand observations of the
changes in Iraq since the war. (Comment: These majlises
are noticeably less hostile than they were last spring. End
Comment.)

2. Over an informal breakfast with the editors-in-chief of
Bahrain's daily newspapers January 13, DCM spoke first-hand
about the situation in Najaf. He responded to pointed
questions about the pace of reconstruction and the steps
that need to be taken before the CPA hands over sovereignty
to Iraqis in the summer. He also highlighted opportunities
for Bahraini businesses in rebuilding Iraq. At a reception
in the DCMR with Bahraini journalists and columnists January
14, Ford responded to numerous questions, and considerable
doubts, about the daily lives of Iraqis and U.S. hopes for a
democratic Iraq.

3. Ford's outreach activities paid off. "Akhbar Al
Khaleej," a daily Arabic newspaper which strongly opposed
the war and continues to regularly question U.S. intentions
in Iraq, finally carried a positive article on January 14.
Its headline: "The American Deputy Ambassador: We are
Committed to Hand Over a Democratic and Just Regime to the
Iraqis." The editor-in-chief thanked the PAO profusely for
inviting him to "chat" with Ford, and he stressed that his
newspaper is not "anti-American" and that he welcomes such
dialogues. Another leading Arabic daily, al-Wasat, carried
on January 14 a prominent story on an inside page reporting
DCM's remarks about the potential for Bahraini companies in
Iraq and the progress CPA has made setting up more
representative local government.

4. Comment: First hand knowledge about Iraq, combined with
Arabic language skills, made DCM a particularly effective
interlocutor with Bahraini media and groups. When our young
Arab-American APAO returns from a five month rotation in
Iraq next month, we plan to program him at the University of
Bahrain and with youth groups. Post recommends that other
posts consider programming officers upon return from similar
rotations in Iraq.

NEUMANN

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