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Cablegate: Deputy Secretary Armitage's April 19-20 Meetings

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

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000612

SIPDIS

FOR D, NEA, NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2014
TAGS: PREL BA
SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE'S APRIL 19-20 MEETINGS
WITH THE KING AND CROWN PRINCE OF BAHRAIN

Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY CDA ROBERT S. FORD FOR REASONS 1.4 (B AND
D).

1. (C) SUMMARY: In separate meetings with Deputy Secretary
Armitage, King Hamad and Crown Prince Sheikh Salman pledged
their government's full commitment to its strategic alliance
with the US. The King and Crown Prince stressed the need to
immediately restore order in Iraq with the selection of a
strong, Iraqi nationalist leader. However, the Crown Prince
stressed that stability in Iraq and the region was contingent
upon the US sponsoring an "even-handed" resolution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. END SUMMARY.

2. (S) King Hamad argued that the US's primary goal in Iraq
should be stability and the creation of a secular, modern
Iraq that poses no threat to its neighbors. To do so, the
King maintained that the US should shift its focus in Iraq
from fostering democratic processes to finding a strong
leader who would ensure security and order in the country. He
maintained that the US needed to do this spade work rather
than wait for a leader to emerge. King Hamad suggested that
we identify someone from the former Iraqi military, with a
substantially clean record, to lead a new government. He felt
that the USG should give less weight to confessional or
tribal ties, and instead focus on a strong leader. King
Hamad suggested Shia ex-Iraqi army general Nama El-Faris as a
potential candidate.

3. (S) The Deputy Secretary requested that Bahrain look for
ways to publicly support US efforts to stabilize the Sunni
Triangle and Southern Iraq. The Crown Prince agreed that they
could urge all Iraqis to work together with the CPA to
rebuild Iraq. He stated that, in addition to installing a
nationalist Iraqi leader, the US needed to commit itself to
national reconciliation. National reconciliation could only
be achieved by trying the worst offenders of Saddam Hussein's
regime and declaring a national amnesty for lower-ranking
Baathis and unthreatening regime collaborators. Sheikh Salman
asserted that these steps would "co-opt" people into the new
order. He used America's occupation of post-war Japan as an
example.

4. (S) Although King Hamad did not comment on the Middle East
Peace Process, Sheikh Salman warned that US efforts in Iraq
and its war on terrorism would fail if we if we did not
exercise consistent foreign policy goals across the region.
Rhetorically, he asked, how can the US advocate freedom,
democratic institutions and stability in Iraq when, to the
majority of Arabs, the US does not consistently exhort these
goals when addressing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? He
stated that it is essential to stop Israeli settlements now.
Salman commented that Arab leaders know that any new
agreement will not be able to conform to the 1967 boundaries.
Yet, he said, nothing the US does will count until its
efforts are on a par with former President Bush's efforts.
A/S Burns noted that the Israeli idea of moving out of Gaza
is part and parcel of the road map. He added that the World
Bank and the international community would have to start
rebuilding Gaza the day after Israeli withdrawal. Sheikh
Salman guaranteed the Deputy Secretary and A/S Burns that
resolution of the Israeli settlement and Palestinian boundary
issues was an essential factor in winning the war on
terrorism and that Islamic militant groups would atrophy as
a result.

5. (S) Moreover, Sheikh Salman commented that he had told
Israel's Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom, that Arab states
and Israel are natural partners against regional threats such
a Iran. However, the Crown Prince reported that he told
Shalom that Bahrain could never work with Israel to counter
common threats as long as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict
continued.

6. (S) With regard to more local regional issues, King Hamad
castigated Qatar's emir and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim for their
independent approach to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
issues. King Hamad asked the Deputy Secretary to encourage US
efforts to maintain GCC unity. He stated that it was Hamad
bin Jassim who took action and ensured that Qatar was
consistently out of step with its neighbors, although the
Emir was the "idea man." Both the King and the Crown Prince
proffered a withering analysis of, what they felt, was
Al-Jazeera's tendentious editorial point of view. (They noted
that both Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya news services are not
allowed to operate in Bahrain.) The King and Crown Prince
asserted that Qatar views Saudi Arabia as the real threat to
its sovereignty, not Iran. The Qataris depend on the US
presence to protect them from the Saudis.

7. (C) COMMENT: The Deputy Secretary and his party were
warmly received by King Hamad and Sheikh Salman. The King and
Crown Prince strongly identified with US regional interests
and stressed that any US success was also their success. It
was in this context that the King and Crown Prince offered
their advice to help the US achieve its goals in the region.

8. (U) Deputy Secretary Armitage has cleared this message.
FORD

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