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Cablegate: General Petraeus’ Visit to Bahrain

VZCZCXRO9368
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0541/01 2260925
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 130925Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8056
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 1374
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0275
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0695
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0996
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 1219

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000541

SIPDIS

BAGHDAD FOR AMBASSADOR ERELI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/13/2028
TAGS: PREL IZ SY LE IR BA

SUBJECT: GENERAL PETRAEUS’ VISIT TO BAHRAINREF: MANAMA 510Classified By: CDA CHRISTOPHER HENZEL FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) Summary: King Hamad said PM Maliki was &welcome8 to visit Bahrain. He accused Syria and Hizballah of helping train Bahraini extremists. He described Iranian diplomatic pressure and expressed gratitude for the continued U.S. military presence. Hussein, Bahraini Navy Deputy Commander Brig Gen Mohammed Al Sadah, and NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Bill Gortney.

2. (U) MNF-I Commanding General David Petraeus visited Bahrain July 29-31 for meetings with Bahraini leaders and at US NAVCENT headquarters in Manama.

King Hamad on Iraq, Syria and Iran

3. (S) Accompanied by Ambassador Ereli, Petraeus met with an upbeat King Hamad July 30 for almost ninety minutes . Petraeus congratulated Bahrain on its nomination of an Ambassador to Iraq, stressed the need for further Arab support for the Iraqi government in order to cancel out Iranian influence, and outlined the progress the GOI and Coalition forces have made against Iranian-backed militia groups and Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The King expressed hope that U.S. forces would remain in Iraq until the GOI was clearly capable of fending off Iranian-backed extremists. The King also commented on domestic politics in Bahrain (reftel.) and praised the Department of Defense Dependent School in Manama as a key element in strong U.S.-Bahraini relations over the years. The King related how his own experience at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas had been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding of his life; he praised the value of continued military education opportunities.

4. (S) General Petraeus briefed the King on the situation in Iraq, and the King characterized the transformation of Iraq as a tremendous success. The King offered to host Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Bahrain, and named his foreign minister as action officer for a visit. (Comment: Iraq,s Ambassador in Manama told Ambassador the next day that he had heard similar things from the GOB before, but that a formal Bahraini invitation had yet to materialize. Post will follow up with FM when he returns to Bahrain on/about August 10. End comment.) The King briefed General Petraeus on recent conversations among Arab leaders about Iraq. He said King Abdullah of Jordan was supportive of more active Arab relations with the Maliki Government, while President Mubarrak and Saudi King Abdullah were reportedly more cautious.

5. (S) King Hamad related the report that Bahrainis were receiving training from Hizballah in Lebanon, but admitted he had no definitive proof. He also speculated that the Syrian government was complicit, and &must be8 helping these Bahrainis &travel without passport verification as tourists.8 (Comment: Post has heard versions of this theory from Bahraini officials in the past, but despite our requests the GOB has been unable to provide convincing evidence. End comment.)

6. (S) King Hamad said Bahrain had received a message from Iranian FM Mottaki, urging regional governments to support the efforts of Iran, Iraqi insurgents, Hamas, Hizballah, Taliban and Syria to drive American forces from the Gulf. The King commented: &With friends like these, who needs enemies?8 The King expressed his gratitude for continued U.S. military presence in the region and, particularly, in Bahrain.

Other Meetings

7. (S) In a separate meeting July 30, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifah echoed his father,s views on the need for U.S. forces in Iraq. On Iran, the Crown Prince stressed the need for solidarity among the U.S., P-5 plus 1, and moderate Arab states. General Petraeus also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Khalifah bin Salman al Khalifah, and met with Bahraini journalists Mansour Al-Jamri and Reem Khalifah. On July 29, he dined at the Ambassador,s residence, joined by Deputy Prime Minister Jawad bin Salem

MANAMA 00000541 002 OF 002

Al-Arayedh, Commerce Minister Hassan Fakhro, MinState for Defence Lt Gen Dr. Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, Member of Parliament Jassim Hussein, Bahraini Navy Deputy Commander Brig Gen Mohammed Al Sadah, and NAVCENT/Fifth Fleet commander Vice Admiral Bill Gortney.

8. (U) General Petraeus cleared this message.
HENZEL

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