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Cablegate: Bahrain's King Hamad On Nato's Use of Isa Air

VZCZCXYZ0027
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMK #0025 0181205
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181205Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9156
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0064

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 000025

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARP, EUR/RPM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/18/2020
TAGS: PREL MARR NATO BA
SUBJECT: BAHRAIN'S KING HAMAD ON NATO'S USE OF ISA AIR
BASE, LONG-TERM COMMITMENTS TO U.S. NAVY

REF: MANAMA 647 Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(C) SUMMARY: King Hamad bin Isa al Khalifa told the Ambassador that he would await a recommendation from the United States before moving forward on a NATO request to station AWACS at Isa Air Base. He also expressed a desire to provide for the long-term energy needs of U.S. forces in Bahrain in order to guarantee their presence "for the next fifty years." End summary.

2.(C) King Hamad summoned the Ambassador to a meeting on Tuesday, January 12, during the course of which he raised two issues concerning bilateral military cooperation (other topics reported septel.) King Hamad spoke of NATO's interest in bringing aircraft to Isa Air Base for operations over Afghanistan. He noted that the U.S. military presence in Bahrain contributed directly to Bahraini security, while the NATO commitment did not. He said that he was aware of requirements from the United States for expanded use Isa Air Base. He concluded that his priority was to satisfy U.S. requirements first and that he would seek our opinion before moving forward with NATO. Ambassador said that we understood and were working closely with the Bahrain Defense forces on a way-ahead.

3.(C) The King also offered some blue-sky thinking on the U.S. regional security presence. He said he wanted to ensure a U.S. naval presence in Bahrain "for the next fifty years" and wondered aloud what kind of commitment Bahrain could offer that would serve this purpose. He suggested, for example, that Bahrain could increase production of crude or refined products to meet the Navy's fuel requirements. The Ambassador thanked the King for the offer and noted that, with or without it, CENTCOM and the U.S. Navy considered Bahrain a welcome home for the Fifth Fleet, now and for the future. He pledged to review the issue of fuel requirements with the U.S. military and looked forward to discussing the issue further. (C) Post recommends a joint Embassy/Navcent demarche to the GOB that addresses the King's request for our opinion on how he should move forward on the multiple requests for the use of Isa Air Base, as well as offering feedback on his ideas for longer-term support for the U.S. Navy. We will need to coordinate this with CENTCOM, State (EUR/RPM and ARP), and OSD. ERELI

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