Cablegate: Uae Fm Discusses Taliban Financial Flows and Reintegration
DE RUEHAD #0033/01 0250933
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 250933Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0187
INFO GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0010
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0014
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0012
Monday, 25 January 2010, 09:33
S E C R E T ABU DHABI 000033
STATE FOR S/SRAP, SCA AND NEA/ARP
EO 12958 DECL: 2020/01/25
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, EFIN, AF, IR, YM, AE
SUBJECT: UAE FM DISCUSSES TALIBAN FINANCIAL FLOWS AND REINTEGRATION
WITH AMB. HOLBROOKE AND TREASURY A/S COHEN
CLASSIFIED BY: Richard G. Olson, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
1. (S/NF) Summary: During a January 11 meeting in Abu Dhabi, visiting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) Amb. Richard Holbrooke discussed Afghan reintegration with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (AbZ). AbZ noted the importance of establishing an effective and transparent reintegration trust fund that includes Saudi support. Amb. Holbrooke urged the UAE to do more to disrupt Taliban financial flows. AbZ discussed his recent visit to Iran, noting Iran is acting more confident even as the country moves backwards. He added that Pakistani President Zardari had asked the UAE to take in his family in the event of his death. End Summary.
2. (S/NF) Amb. Holbrooke began by thanking AbZ for hosting the well-timed SRAP meeting in Abu Dhabi on January 12. AbZ said he was looking forward to the Gulf participation, including that of the Jordanian Foreign Minister, particularly following the recent attack in Khost. AbZ said Judeh had told him Jordan plans to send more troops to Afghanistan; Amb. Holbrooke said Judeh had made the same point during his recent visit to Washington.
3. (S/NF) Amb. Holbrooke said the decisions on the Afghan reintegration program and the upcoming elections would be the key deliverables for the Abu Dhabi meeting and would pave the way to success in London. AbZ asked what the role of reintegration fund contributors would be, noting that the UAE did not want to be associated with a fund that Afghans would find ineffective, non-transparent or slow. AbZ said funding must go to programs with clear benchmarks that have strong financial and policy oversight. He added that it is “very crucial” Saudi Arabia donate to the fund, for symbolic reasons. Turning to the elections, AbZ suggested a compromise solution, whereby the Afghan government would ask ISAF when it would be ready to support the elections, rather than having any party dictate to President Karzai.
DISRUPTING TALIBAN FINANCE
4. (S/NF) Amb. Holbrooke stressed to AbZ the importance of UAE efforts to combat Taliban financial flows through the UAE. Amb. Holbrooke noted the productive meeting he and Treasury A/S Cohen had with UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Hazaa bin Zayed earlier on January 12 and the UAE’s efforts to crack down on bulk cash smuggling. A/S Cohen added that the USG is most concerned about Dubai’s central role in regional financial flows.
5. (S/NF) AbZ asked several questions about USG concerns and the UAE’s response, including if Taliban financial flows are regional and/or transiting Dubai, what is the suspected value of these flows, why the USG does not intercepting the funds in Afghanistan, if incoming or outgoing cash declarations would help, and if the USG believed the UAE was not effectively enforcing existing regulations. Amb. Holbrooke and A/S Cohen explained that the USG is concerned that Dubai is being used for the facilitation of the flow of Taliban funds, goods and personnel to and from Afghanistan. The USG is working with Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that the UAE should also take steps to enforce and investigate inbound cash declarations and amend laws to require outbound declarations. A/S Cohen noted that the planned DHS/ICE cash courier training in February would focus on identifing and intercepting likely couriers.
PAKISTAN - ZARDARI CONCERNS
6. (S/NF) AbZ said he had met with Pakistani President Asif Zardari in Dubai in late December and the latter was “in better shape” than AbZ expected. Stressing the sensitivity of the information, AbZ told Amb. Holbrooke that Zardari had asked AbZ to convey a request to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa (AbZ’s half-brother) that Zardari’s family be allowed to live in the UAE in the event of his death. (Note: The Bhutto family has lived in Dubai for years and in effect this would be a continuation of a commitment late UAE President Sheikh Zayed made to Ali Zulfikar Bhutto. End Note.)
IRAN - AND YEMEN
7. (S/NF) Turning to his late December trip to Iran, AbZ said it was his first meeting with Ahmedinejad that did not include a cleric (murshid). He interpreted this to mean that Ahmedinejad is now trusted and does not need constant supervision. Noting that Ahmedinejad had cited Western media criticism of Dubai’s financial situation as a plot against Dubai, AbZ told Amb. Holbrooke he believes Ahmedinejad is “crazy but well-educated.” AbZ said he felt Tehran is going backwards although he was surprised by the number of women “not covered up properly.” The Iranians believe that the United States is now preoccupied in Afghanistan and Iraq, which will prevent any US attack on Iran. AbZ said the U.S. message on Iran in the region is “not loud and clear.” Many are acting like Iran is already a nuclear power, and Iran sees the United States is not doing anything about it. If Middle East peace was achieved, AbZ said the Iranians would be unable to suggest they are the defenders of the Palestinian cause.
8. (SBU) AbZ said that FM Mottaki was polite and courteous, “for a change” during the December visit. He added that Mottaki called him on January 3 to convey that the U.S. had promised democracy and development in Afghanistan, but the result was more smuggling, narcotics and terrorist acts. Mottaki went on to discuss Yemen, telling AbZ that Saudi and US forces are attacking civilians in Yemen.
9. (SBU) Amb. Holbrooke’s office has cleared this cable. OLSON