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Viewing cable 07TELAVIV2280, APHSCT TOWNSEND TAKES STOCK OF BMENA REGION WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TELAVIV2280 2007-07-26 13:01 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv
VZCZCXRO3230
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHTV #2280/01 2071352
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 261352Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2487
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 002280 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
WHITE HOUSE FOR APHSCT TOWNSEND. 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2017 
TAGS: PTER PREL KNNP KWBG EFIN IR IS
SUBJECT: APHSCT TOWNSEND TAKES STOCK OF BMENA REGION WITH 
MOSSAD DIRECTOR DAGAN 
 
Classified By: Charge d'affaires Gene A. Cretz for reasons 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1. (S) SUMMARY:  Frances Fragos Townsend, Assistant to the 
President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (AFHSC), 
met Mossad Director Meir Dagan on July 12 for a general 
discussion of regional security threats.  On the Iranian 
nuclear program, Dagan proved surprisingly optimistic about 
the effects of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 
resolutions and their impact on Iranian elites.  On most 
other fronts, however, Dagan expressed deep skepticism 
regarding any near-term solutions.  Dagan believes that the 
Syrians were emboldened by the Second Lebanon War, and argued 
for a concerted international effort to enforce UNSC 
resolutions in Lebanon as a means of removing Syria from 
Iranian influence.  In Dagan's personal opinion, present 
attempts to prop up the government of Prime Minister Salam 
Fayyad will fail, and "an entirely new approach" with the 
Palestinians is required.  Dagan and Townsend surveyed 
political developments in North Africa, Turkey, and the Gulf, 
and shared concerns about Pakistan's ability to withstand the 
challenge of Islamic radicals. END SUMMARY. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Financial Sanctions Offer Hope on Iran 
-------------------------------------- 
 
2. (S) Mossad Director Meir Dagan began his two-hour meeting 
with Townsend by expressing satisfaction with sanctions 
against Iran.  Dagan said UNSC Resolutions 1737 and 1747 
caught the Iranians off-guard, and were having an impact on 
the Iranian elite and financial community.  The resolutions 
had been particularly successful through their indirect 
consequences, explained Dagan, by stigmatizing Iranian 
businesses and discouraging risk-averse Europeans from being 
connected with Iran.  Dagan praised ongoing GOI-USG 
cooperation on this front, and added that domestic economic 
problems were creating additional pressure on the regime. 
 
3. (S) With regard to their nuclear program, Dagan said the 
Iranians are attempting to convey a "false presentation" that 
they have mastered the uranium enrichment process.  The 
reality is that they are not there yet, said Dagan, and they 
are paying a heavy political price (sanctions) for something 
they have yet to achieve.  Dagan noted growing antipathy in 
Russia towards Iran and its nuclear program, and said the 
Iranians were shocked by Russian statements accusing them of 
supporting terrorism against the United States.  In Dagan's 
view, there is no ideological conflict within the Iranian 
leadership (all wish to see the destruction of Israel), but 
there is a growing divide on tactics with some supporting a 
retaliatory position against the West and others favoring new 
policies of moderation.  Recognizing the growing strength of 
the moderate camp, Dagan said that the militant followers of 
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are now trying to target 
supporters of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as spies. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Gulf States Await Action (From Others) on Iran 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
4. (S) According to Dagan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf 
States all fear Iran, but want someone else "to do the job 
for them."  Townsend and Dagan discussed the current state of 
affairs in the Saudi royal court, where the Mossad Chief 
accused Foreign Minister Saud bin Faysal of playing a "very 
negative role."  He also pointed to the recent visit of the 
Saudi King Abdullah to Jordan as a historical first and 
turning point for relations between the two countries. 
Townsend agreed, and said that the Saudi king has a sense of 
urgency on the political front.  Dagan characterized Qatar as 
"a real problem," and accused Sheikh Hamid of "annoying 
everyone."  In his view, Qatar is trying to play all sides -- 
Syria, Iran, Hamas -- in an effort to achieve security and 
some degree of independence.  "I think you should remove your 
bases from there...seriously," said Dagan.  "They have 
confidence only because of the U.S. presence."  Dagan 
predicted, with some humor, that al-Jazeera would be the next 
cause of war in the Middle East as some Arab leaders 
(specifically Saudi Arabia) are willing to take drastic steps 
to shut down the channel, and hold Sheikh Hamid personally 
responsible for its provocations. 
 
---------------------------- 
Syria Taking Dangerous Risks 
---------------------------- 
 
 
TEL AVIV 00002280  002 OF 003 
 
 
5. (S) Dagan echoed other reports that Syria expects an 
Israeli attack this summer, and has raised its level of 
readiness.  Despite the fact that Israel has no intention of 
attacking, said Dagan, the Syrians are likely to retaliate 
over even the smallest incident, which could lead to quick 
escalation.  Dagan believes that Syria's strategic alliance 
with Iran and Hizballah has not changed, and that Assad views 
these policies as both "successful and just."  There is a 
tendency to assume that Syria can be separated from Iran, 
said Dagan, and that this offers the key to weakening 
Hizballah.  Dagan argued that the opposite is true:  by 
enforcing UN resolutions on Lebanon and increasing efforts to 
disarm Hizballah, the international community can remove the 
glue that binds Iran and Syria.  Enforcing the resolutions 
would put additional pressure on Assad, who fears being tried 
for the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri 
above all else.  The advantage of such an approach, continued 
Dagan, is that the legal ground is already in place for 
action by the UNSC.  This credible threat could sufficiently 
frighten Syria away from Iran and towards more natural allies 
in the Arab League. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
Deep Pessimism on Relations With Palestinians 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
6. (S) Departing from official GOI policy, Dagan expressed 
his personal opinion that after more than a decade of trying 
to reach a final status agreement with the Palestinians, 
"nothing will be achieved."  Only Israeli military operations 
against Hamas in the West Bank prevent them from expanding 
control beyond Gaza, lamented Dagan, without which Fatah 
would fall within one month and Abbas would join his 
"mysteriously wealthy" son in Qatar.  Offering what he 
believed to be a conservative estimate, Dagan said that USD 6 
billion had been invested in the Palestinian Authority since 
1994.  "What did it accomplish, other than adding a few more 
people to the Fortune 500?" asked Dagan.  Although he 
expressed his personal faith in Salam Fayyad, Dagan said that 
the Palestinian Prime Minister had no power base.  Fatah as a 
party would have to completely reorganize itself in order to 
regain credibility, argued Dagan, but instead they have 
turned once again to the "old guard."  The Mossad Chief 
suggested that a completely new approach was required, but 
did not provide Townsend any additional details. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Pakistan...and Other Regional Concerns 
-------------------------------------- 
 
7. (S) Townsend and Dagan then embarked on an informal tour 
of the region, comparing notes on countries critical to 
combating terrorism.  Dagan characterized a Pakistan ruled by 
radical Islamists with a nuclear arsenal at their disposal as 
his biggest nightmare.  Al-Qaeda and other "Global Jihad" 
groups could not be relied upon to behave rationally once in 
possession of nuclear weapons, said Dagan, as they do not 
care about the well being of states or their image in the 
media.  "We have to keep (President Pervez) Musharaf in 
power," said Dagan.  In North Africa, Dagan contended that 
Qaddafi needs to be pushed more in order to put Libya on the 
right track.  Qaddafi faces little domestic pressure, said 
Dagan, but has traditionally responded to outside threats and 
runs foreign policy based on his emotions.  The only reason 
Qaddafi moderated his position to begin with, said Dagan, was 
that he feared that he was "in the crosshairs" for regime 
change.  Dagan viewed the situation in Algeria as more 
serious, with the south of the country becoming increasingly 
dangerous and the leadership uncertain as it faces radical 
Islamic forces.  Morocco is coping better with these issues 
"in spite of the king," said Dagan, who appears to take 
little interest in governing.  In Turkey, Dagan said that 
Islamists there are not of the same cloth as others in the 
region, but he does fear that they are slowly breaking down 
the secular character of the state and could become more 
radical over time.  Dagan argued that if the Turkish military 
received more direct support from the United States, it would 
be better able to prevent the rise of Islamists. 
 
********************************************* ******************** 
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv 
 
You can also access this site through the State Department's 
Classified SIPRNET website. 
********************************************* ******************** 
 
TEL AVIV 00002280  003 OF 003 
 
 
CRETZ