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Cablegate: Sayyid Ammar Al Hakim, Chairman of the Islamic

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PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMK #0651 3161248
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121248Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9009
INFO RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000651

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/12/2029
TAGS: PREL KISL IZ BA
SUBJECT: SAYYID AMMAR AL HAKIM, CHAIRMAN OF THE ISLAMIC
SUPREME COUNCIL IN IRAQ, VISITS BAHRAIN

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

1.(C) Summary: Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq, Sayyid Ammar Al Hakim, paid a highly publicized three-day official visit to Bahrain, during which he met with King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa, leaders of Parliament and the Shia community and the press. According to read-outs of the visit from King Hamad and the Iraqi Ambassador to Bahrain, each side was looking for help from the other. End summary.

2.(C) Sayyid Ammar came to Bahrain on November 8 for the first time since assuming the leadership of ISCI, and spent three days of very public interaction with Bahrain's political and religious leadership, including the King, the Speaker of Parliament, chairpersons of the parliamentary committees, Shia religious leaders and the press. The focal point of the visit was an audience with King Hamad and Prime Minister Khalifa on November 9, which was all the more notable in that it took place as scheduled, despite the death the day before of Sheikh Mohamed bin Sultan al Khalifa, the King's uncle and brother of the late Emir.

3.(C) According to the King Hamad, who met with the Ambassador on November 10 and spoke of his discussions with Sayyid Ammar, Bahrain was eager to show the Arab world that it was embracing Iraq and its political leaders from all communities. The King also made it clear that he wanted Sayyid Amar's help, and that of the Najjaf marja'iyya, to channel the energies of Bahrain's Shia community in positive directions. The King explained to al Hakim his vision of a peaceful, prosperous and empowered citizenry, irrespective of religious or ethnic background, and said that his government was committed to meeting the needs of all, equally and fairly. According to Iraq's Ambassador to Bahrain, King Hamad asked for the help and support of Sayyid Ammar and the Najjaf marja'iyya for this vision. In particular, he said it was important for them to urge the Shia of Bahrain to participate in the democratic process and reject violence. The Iraqi Ambassador added that Sayyid Ammar told King Hamad that Ayatollah Sistani regularly communicates this message to his Bahraini visitors. Sayyid Ammar pointed out that on his part, he tells the Shia of Bahrain they have it a lot better than their other co-religionists in the region.

4.(C) King Hamad probed al Hakim on the subject of Iran. "Iraq needs friends," the King reported Sayyid Ammar as replying. "In our hearts, we are Arabs," he continued and made a plea to the King to help improve relations with Saudi Arabia. King Hamad said he would do what he could and reiterated to the Ambassador his strong conviction that the Gulf states need to strengthen their ties with Iraq.

5.(U) In his statements to the Bahraini local press, Al Hakim focused on the role of the GCC in bolstering the Iraqi economy and security, stating that the "role of the Arabs has been below our expectations." Al Hakim characterized Bahrain as Iraq's "window to the Gulf states." He also conveyed appreciation for King Hamad having sent a personal emissary to express his condolences following the death of his father, Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, as well as Bahrain's support for the development of a democratic Iraq. He called on Bahrain and all GCC countries to contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq and admit Iraq into the GCC.

6.(U) Turning to Iran, Al Hakim told local journalists that he believed a relationship with Tehran was in Iraq's national interests, and pointed specifically to the two countries' shared border and historical and cultural ties. He stated, "We view Iran as a friendly country... and need to develop relationships with neighboring countries including Iran. We are seeking a balanced relationship with countries in the region and cannot eliminate Iran from the equation." ERELI

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