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Cablegate: Qataris See Truth in Mehlis Report but Are Cautious

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L DOHA 001779


E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2015

Classified By: Ambassador Chase Untermeyer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary. Qataris and resident non-Qatari Arabs
(largely Palestinians, Jordanians, and Egyptians) are
generally of the view that the Mehlis report on the Hariri
assassination is credible but should not be used as a
justification to use force against Syria. Qataris and
non-Qatari Arabs hold similar views. There has been no public
comment by the GOQ. The Amir, in a family dinner with the
Ambassador October 21, did not defend Syrian President Bashar
al-Asad as he had done previously, but he warned against U.S.
military action. End Summary.

2. (C) Qataris and non-Qatari resident Arabs believe the
Mehlis report on the assassination of ex-Lebanese PM Rafiq
al-Hariri is broadly accurate. There has been some
questioning of how high the assassination conspiracy reached
-- whether to the Syrian president's cohorts or to the
president himself. Some contacts have said privately that
such a thing cannot happen "in an Arab government such as we
have throughout the region" without the highest level of

3. (C) While accepting the general truth of the report, the
Arab community remains skeptical about its accuracy of its
details. They characterize it as a preliminary report that
was completed rapidly and is not a final account. Many of
these private commentators see the need for a more thorough,
final investigation. Almost all share the view that the
Mehlis report should not be used alone as a justification for
a "judgment" against Syria.

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4. (C) Viewing the report more negatively are those who see
it as a tool of the U.S. against Syria. They believe the U.S.
position is based on a desire to break Syria and does not
reflect a concern for the Lebanese people, as U.S. officials
have stated. Balancing this more critical view are those who
say that the report, by putting pressure on Bashar al-Asad,
gives him an opportunity to "clean house" of senior Baath
party officials who are pursuing their own agendas.

5. (C) In a family dinner with the Ambassador October 21, the
Amir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, did not
come to the defense of al-Asad. In the past, when asked about
Syria in meetings with U.S. officials, the Amir has
vigorously defended al-Asad, calling him someone the U.S.
should cultivate and support against "his father,s cronies."
The Amir's rambling reply was essentially recognition that
dad and junior shared the same cronies. The Amir said the
U.S. would do itself great harm by intervening in Syria, but
later he said he sees no likelihood of such intervention.

6. (C) Background and Comment. Senior Qatari officials have
been meeting with Syrian counterparts over the past year,
presumably to play an intermediary role with respect to
Lebanon and the U.S. Most significantly, President al-Asad
spent approximately six hours privately with the Amir in July
of this year. Cementing the political efforts, Qatar signed a
memorandum the same month to establish an investment company
capitalized at $100 million to channel investments to Syria.
With the Mehlis report fingering the Syrian government,
Qatar's efforts at private diplomacy may have been derailed
and their role on the UN Security Council -- with its
enforcement role -- will come to the forefront.

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