Cablegate: Major Coverage of Ambassador's Thanks to Bahraini

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 163279

1. Major Arabic and English dailies carried a statement
September 7 from the Ambassador expressing "profound
gratitude" for the $5 million offer of assistance from the
Government of Bahrain, as well as the many gestures of
compassion, concern, and generosity shown by the Bahraini
people. English dailies Bahrain Tribune and the Gulf Daily
News carried the statement on the front page. Arabic
dailies Al Ayam and Akhbar Al Khalij printed the statement
in full with a photo of the Ambassador. Following a meeting
with the Ambassador, Minister of Labor Al-Alawi thanked the
Ambassador for his press statement, which he said was very
much appreciated by the Bahrainis.

2. The Ambassador gave a one-hour interview to government-
owned Arabic daily Al Ayam and its English sister paper
Bahrain Tribune on September 6, in which he thanked the
Bahrainis for their pledge, and commented on the outpouring
of support from friends around the world during America's
time of need. The article is expected in print in the
coming days.

3. Spotting a potentially positive human interest story,
APAO placed a stranded New Orleans-based Bahraini Fulbright
Exchange Scholar, Dr. Mohammed Merzaa, in touch with English
and Arabic dailies in Bahrain. In the interviews, Dr.
Merzaa told his story of evacuating his residence at Tulane
University as hurricane winds approached. His harrowing
tale of escape and heartwarming stories of kindness from
American families along the way were the subject of stories
in six Bahraini dailies and was featured on Al Jazeera's
talk-show, "From Washington" on September 5. In the Bahrain
Tribune Dr. Merzaa comments, "The US State Department and
the US Embassy in Bahrain were very supportive, as was the
Fulbright Foundation. They offered help and kept my family
informed of the situation."

4. Commentary on Hurricane Katrina was almost uniformly
positive, with one exception. The disaster was covered as a
major story in all newspapers and broadcast media. A
frequent critic of U.S. policy, writing in Akhbar Al Khalij,
applauded the humanitarian response and criticized
extremists who have characterized Katrina as God's wrath on
the United States. In an Al Ayam news report of a session
of parliament, Minister of Parliament Mohamed Al Sheikh
expressed reservations on the $5 million donation. He and
others argued that the government should have consulted
parliament first, and that the amount could have been spent
on needy Bahraini families. On the other hand MP Ahmed
Behzad pointed out that there was no reason for these
reservations as the aid was a humanitarian gesture.


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