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Cablegate: Tfle01: Jordan's King Discusses Regional

VZCZCXYZ0009
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #5567/01 2060904
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 250904Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2578
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD IMMEDIATE 3442
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU IMMEDIATE 0025
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE 1395

C O N F I D E N T I A L AMMAN 005567

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV KWBG LE IR SY IZ AJ JO
SUBJECT: TFLE01: JORDAN'S KING DISCUSSES REGIONAL
CHALLENGES WITH CODEL HOEKSTRA

Classified By: Ambassador David Hale for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: King Abdullah reviewed for codel Hoekstra his
long-standing concerns about the strategic threat posed by
Iran, and his efforts to build quietly a unity of purpose
among Arab states, focusing on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
The King also discussed the situation in Lebanon, offered
advice on the Rome Lebanon Core group meeting, and said that
Abu Mazen needed support as he was the only alternative to
Hamas. END SUMMARY

COUNTERING IRAN
---------------

2. (C) Codel Hoekstra met for an hour with King Abdullah II
on July 24 at Queen Alia International Airport, just before
the King's departure for Kuwait. Intelligence Committee
Chairman Peter Hoekstra thanked the King for his support of a
strong U.S.-Jordan relationship and his contributions toward
stabilizing the region. Congressman Renzi praised the King
for his courage and creativity, and for his help in the
campaign against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He asked for more
detail on the King's effort to build an alliance against
Iran. The King described this effort as containing offensive
and defensive elements. The defense included rebuffing
Iranian efforts reach out to Arab Shia; the King wanted the
conflict cast in Arab-Persian terms, not Sunni-Shia ones. As
for the offensive component, the Arabs needed to develop
stronger cards to use against Iran. The King did not believe
Iran was as strong as it pretended to be. There were chinks
in its armor. One idea was to use Iran's own tactic, and
support minority elements inside Iran. He was considering a
trip to Azerbaijan with this thought in mind. The King
described the government of Qatar, fearing for its security,
as having embraced Iran. Al-Jazeera television was moving the
whole Arab street in favor of Iranian objectives. It was
important to prevent Iran from exploiting Arab and
international disunity of purpose.

3. (C) The King felt it was necessary to address the Iranian
threat with one voice, and focus initially on Syria as the
most vulnerable of Iran's assets. He described privileged
Saudi/Egyptian relations with Syria as "gone" but said that
Jordan had gone along with a Saudi/Egyptian desire to give
the Asad regime one last chance to join the Arab mainstream
and disavow obnoxious policies, including support for Iraqi
insurgents, its behavior in Lebanon, and its facilitation of
Iranian threats to the Arab world. Abdullah discounted the
likelihood of Syrian action, but at least this effort would
clarify matters for those who make excuses for Damascus. The
King stressed the importance of focusing on Syria in the
campaign to curtail Iranian influence. President Asad, he
said, argued that the internal choice was "me or the Muslim
Brothers." The King advocated concerted efforts to develop
other options, perhaps by cultivating a coalition of Kurds,
Druze, Sunni tribes, and the Sunni urban class. As for the
challenge of Iran, it was important to "close the
vulnerability" the present paralysis on the
Palestinian/Israeli front presented for Iranian exploitation.

4. (C) Just as he believed Iran orchestrated accelerated
action by Hizballah and Hamas, the King saw the surge in
targeted sectarian violence in Baghdad as a part of a
deliberate Iranian strategy to create chaos and challenge the
U.S. and its allies. The clear intent was to compel the
Sunnis to flee Baghdad and foment civil war. The King
described events as having come to a crossroads. In a
worst-case scenario, the King envisioned the disintegration
of Iraq along sectarian/geographic lines, posing a dilemma
for Jordan. Jordan could face the threat of massive refugee
flows from Iraq, yet could not accommodate them as it was
already bursting with displaced Iraqis and Lebanese. He
could not foresee simply blocking them by force at the
border, given the humanitarian crisis that step would create
in the desert. Jordan's only real option would be to deploy
armed units deep into al-Anbar, to stabilize the situation
and prevent Syria and insurgents from filling the vacuum. He
said he was seeking immediate and senior-level consultation
with the U.S. on this matter. Iraq also was a major field
for Iranian advances, the King said. He viewed the Maliki
government as "the government of the green zone." GID Chief
Dhahabi described Maliki as sincere but overshadowed by
pro-Iranian ministers who, for example, blocked his visit to
Amman earlier this month. Dhahabi described the Iranians as
helping Abdelaziz al-Hakim establish a southern federation
with Basra as its capital, and helping Muqtada al-Sadr kill
Sunnis in Baghdad and clear the city of them.

Discussions on Lebanon
----------------------

5. (C) King Abdullah expressed understanding for Israel's
situation and its desire to "take down" Hizballah; however he
felt to have a lasting solution the government and people of
Lebanon needed to be on board. The destruction of Lebanon's
infrastructure and harming of civilians were defeating that
aim and pushing Lebanese into Hizballah's arms. They had
also mobilized the "Arab street" behind Hizballah. That
development put pressure on Arab moderate leaders. Despite
that pressure, he and the Saudis remained determined to stand
up to the Iranian threat. But they had to keep in mind
emotional popular moods in their countries.

6. (C) Representative Harman thanked the King for his
contributions to peace and stability, made at personal risk,
and for his "magnificent" role in getting Arab moderate
leaders to stand up. She said the Codel had been reassured
by Prime Minister Olmert that Israel is not at war with the
Lebanese government or people. The objective was to degrade
Hizballah, and every attack was targeted against Hizballah.
Our message to him, she said, was of the need to make that
case more persuasively in public. Israeli leaders, she
continued, are also focused on a NATO/Arab force with a
mission to implement resolution 1559 and establish a
monitoring group on the Lebanese-Syrian border. The King
said he also was working in that direction, although
deployment of Arab forces may be problematic. As with Iraq's
neighbors, Arab deployments could raise suspicions about
hidden agendas. However, he supported creation of a
multinational force prepared to take on and fight Hizballah,
and would support that idea in Rome. Jordan for months had
proposed providing equipment and training for the LAF, and he
hoped that initiative would be accelerated. He emphasized
the importance of measures to keep any security assistance to
the Lebanese from falling into Hizballah's hands. He also
cautioned against unrealistic expectations for the LAF.
Except for token elements and perhaps special forces, it
would take at least six months to deploy the LAF effectively
up to the blue line. An MNF was essential to fill the vacuum.

7. (C) Congressman Issa raised the Sheba Farms. In the
medium-term, the King identified the opportunity posed by
this crisis to establish the conditions needed to move toward
an Israeli-Lebanese peace agreement and a complete break
between Lebanon and Syria. An intelligent approach to
defusing the Sheba Farms issue could be a key element in this
process; addressing Lebanese sensitivities about Sheba could
clear the path to Syrian isolation. Congressman Issa
acknowledged the King's point about Arab participation in an
MNF, but hoped he would leave open the possibility of Arab
involvement in the monitoring group, in a non-combat role.
The King again reiterated that Jordan and Egypt might be just
too close geographically to avoid certain political
sensitivities.

8. (C) As for the Rome Lebanon Core Group meeting, the King
pledged to work closely with us and support that effort, but
said it was important that process not appear to be simply
U.S.-driven. Such an appearance would create suspicion that
we were all working off an Israeli agenda. The Israelis
needed to be flexible and the outcome needed to look like the
agenda of the international community. If the Rome meeting
did not take these concerns into account, moderate Arabs
would have difficulty prevailing with their public.

SUPPORT FOR ABU MAZEN
---------------------

9. (C) The King spoke of the need to support Abu Mazen as the
only current alternative to Hamas. He said Israeli officials
for the first time had expressed interest in deploying the
Badr Brigade, a unit of Palestinians in Jordan under
Jordanian control, for Abu Mazen's use. Foreign Minister
Khatib described Abu Mazen's effort to form a national unity
or emergency government. Chairman Hokestra said the codel
had just met the PA President, but did not find his ideas
realistic. GID Chief Dhahabi gave a gloomy assessment of Abu
Mazen's ability to get the "factions" to commit to an
acceptable government program and pointed to Khalid Mishaal's
effectiveness in sabotaging any understanding reached between
Abu Mazen and Haniya.

10. (SBU) Jordanian participants were Prince Feisal
al-Hussein, the King's Office Director Bassem Awadallah,
General Intelligence Director Dhahabi, Royal Advisor Farouk
al-Qasrawi, Communications Advisor Amjad al-Adaileh, and a

notetaker. Ambassador (notetaker) and A/SIMO Chief joined
Chairman Pete Hoekstra and Representatives Jane Harman,
Darrel Issa, Rick Renzi, and staffers Jim Lewis, and Jeremy
Bash.

11. (U) Codel Hoekstra did not clear this cable.

Visit Amman's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman/
Hale

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