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Viewing cable 09ABUDHABI744, UAE GULF SECURITY DIALOGUE (GSD) JULY 20 PLENARY SESSION AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ABUDHABI744 2009-07-22 10:10 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abu Dhabi
VZCZCXRO6352
OO RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #0744/01 2031011
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 221011Z JUL 09 ZDK CTG RUEHDO #3763
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2753
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0485
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1746
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0922
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0676
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0428
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0654
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA 1587
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0104
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ABU DHABI 000744 
 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR S AND S/SRAP HOLBROOKE 
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ARP AND SCA 
 
E.O. 12958: 07/21/2019 
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL PARM EAID MOPS IR IS AF PK SY LE SA
QA, AE 
 
SUBJECT: UAE GULF SECURITY DIALOGUE (GSD) JULY 20 PLENARY SESSION AND 
COS DIALOGUE 
 
ABU DHABI 00000744  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES DOUGLAS C.GREENE FOR REASONS 1.4 B 
AND D. 
 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1.  (S/NF) In a July 20 plenary session of the GSD with a large UAE 
delegation, accompanied by a smaller session with the UAE Chief of 
Staff, the immediate focus was largely on Iran.  Participants 
reiterated the good defense cooperation that the U.S. and UAE enjoy, 
while noting the need to improve coordination further to deal with 
real and urgent threats in the region. In this regard, the  UAE put 
the threat of Iran's potential reaction to a "likely" Israeli attack 
on its nuclear program at the center of scenarios to be considered. 
Other issues, to include Yemen, counter-proliferation, Pakistan, the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and extremism were also addressed, but 
even these were often seen through the prism of Iranian intentions. 
 
2.  (S/NF) This message begins with the Chief of Staff's urgent plea 
on "munitions" to deal with an unpredictable Iran, followed by a 
synopsis of GSD plenary proceedings.  A list of UAE participants is 
included at para 20.  End summary. 
 
Chief of Staff Presses for Munitions: 
Urgent about Iran's unpredictability 
------------------------------------ 
 
3.  (S/NF) In a brief session with principals only, Chief of Staff 
Hamad Thani al-Romaithi (who also participated in the MbZ dinner and 
was on his way to Lebanon later July 20) said the UAE cannot act 
alone in the region and needs coherent plans -- especially to deal 
with the unique threat of Iran.  How to deter Iran without provoking 
it is a challenge.  Ambassador al-Otaiba emphasized how the proximity 
of the UAE to Iran magnifies the threat perception; the CoS said UAE 
military planning had to consider worst-case scenarios. 
 
4.  (S/NF) ASD Vershbow said the USG did not disagree with the UAE 
evaluation of Iran's objectives, but that we need to work to prevent 
them from achieving those objectives.  Diplomacy is only one tool. 
The USG wants to help provide the UAE with defensive capabilities and 
our troop presence here should help act as a deterrent to Iran.  We 
don't want to signal that we will give up on diplomacy, yet in 
parallel to that effort we intend to keep the pressure on Iran.  We 
appreciate the candor of our defense engagement with the UAE.  We are 
dealing with an unpredictable foe and need to take all precautions. 
 
5.  (S/NF) The CoS said Iran will remain a threat in any case, as its 
objectives are constant.  He added that if the Israelis strike, Iran 
may lash out at the UAE and around the Gulf -- one can conceive of 
many possible scenarios from missile strikes to attacks on isolated 
islands to the exploitation of 130,000 Iranians living in the UAE. 
The UAE therefore seeks ongoing support from the region's "main 
actor," the U.S., and desires close defense coordination.  The UAE's 
friends in the GCC, on the other hand, are not always realistic in 
their approach to Iran, he said, citing Arab misinterpretation of 
"brotherly" Iraqi intentions with regards to Kuwait back in 1990. 
 
6.  (S/NF) ASD Vershbow said that our message to Iran is that threats 
against our allies will not go unanswered.  We need to be prepared in 
case deterrence does not work, with the realization that with or 
without nuclear weapons Iran seeks to be a dominant power in the 
region.  This is a very interconnected region, asserted the CoS.  "If 
I was in the Israelis' shoes, I would attack, to reduce the nuclear 
threat."  The first reaction may be that the Iranians launch missiles 
against targets in Israel and then the Gulf, he added.  Air Chief 
Sweidan added that the UAE needs munitions on a tighter timeline than 
previously assumed -- with urgent needs in 2010, 11, and 12.  He said 
the UAE Armed Forces could receive munitions from the U.S. inventory 
and then replenish them later (he supplied the same list of 
requirements as was relayed some months ago, noting that they had 
only received a "political" answer to that inquiry thus far). 
 
ABU DHABI 00000744  002 OF 004 
 
 
 
7.  (S/NF) The CoS was appreciative of Patriot deployments, progress 
on command and control systems, and movement toward more effective 
shared early warning, but lamented that other pieces of the air 
defense puzzle require immediate attention.  Ambassador al-Otaiba 
reiterated the need to "borrow from U.S. inventories" to meet urgent 
timelines.  A/S Vershbow said we were leaning far forward for the UAE 
on THAAD, for example, and would continue to look into opportunities 
to assist, including filling gaps before UAE-purchased systems were 
delivered. 
 
8.  (S/NF) Highlighting the importance of close defense coordination, 
the CoS noted that in the event of an attack the UAE may have no time 
to react.  Taking the fight to Iran may require "passing over U.S. 
aircraft carriers," for example, so we need to be in lock-step at all 
phases of preparation and operation. 
 
Introductory remarks 
-------------------- 
 
9.  (C) The Plenary session of the U.S.-UAE Gulf Security Dialogue 
(GSD) convened July 20 at the Armed Forces Officers' Club, with newly 
promoted Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Ali Hamad Subaih 
al-Kaabi stating that the "small but significant" Gulf region makes a 
large contribution to global peace and development and seeks enhanced 
cooperation with the U.S.  He cited UAE troops in Afghanistan, U.S. 
use of UAE bases, a robust intelligence exchange, strong 
counter-terror efforts, and improved border control as evidence that 
the UAE shares common goals with the U.S.  Citing the "high 
importance" of strong relations among GCC members, he thanked the 
U.S. for its role in the defense relationship and wanted to learn 
more about U.S. strategies vis-a-vis Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and 
Palestine. 
 
10.  (C) Assistant Secretary of Defense Vershbow, leading the U.S. 
team along with Assistant State of State for Political-Military 
AffairsShapiro, expressed confidence in the strength and future of 
the bilateral relationship, anchored by common strategic interests. 
Recounting shared priorities, he noted that the GSD was being taken 
to a new level as we seek strategic synergy in facing real threats 
like Iran -- which we are obligated to defend against.  He called for 
a more multi-lateral approach to counter-proliferation and cited the 
need to prepare missile defenses.  He lauded the UAE decision to host 
LEADING EDGE 2009 and cited the 123 agreement with the U.S. as the 
high standard on civil nuclear cooperation.  The responsible drawdown 
of U.S. troops in Iraq also calls for continued UAE support, he 
emphasized, as Iraq seeks to assume responsibility for its own 
security and integrate into the region.  The UAE's advanced fighter 
squadron, growing air defense net, participation in RED FLAG, and 
leadership of CTF 152 are all indications of a maturing defense 
capability. 
 
11.  (C)  A/S Shapiro emphasized the USG desire to ensure regional 
stability, counter extremism, curb WMD proliferation, and tackle the 
inter-related challenges of the region holistically.  He focused on 
the threat from Iran, stressing that the USG was attempting a 
diplomatic solution -- if possible -- and would proceed in 
consultation with our friends in the region.  Recounting the basic 
components of our Iraq policy, he also highlighted the need to 
strengthen the institutions of government in Lebanon and build 
capacity within the Palestinian Authority. 
 
UAE offers threat analysis: all Iran 
------------------------------------ 
 
12.  (S) The UAE's presentation of the primary regional threat 
assessed that Iran's leadership "genuinely believes that it has 
emerged victorious from its clash with the U.S.," with gains made in 
Iraq, an expanding "Shi'a tide" in the region, an ongoing nuclear 
program, missile modernization, and continued provocation of 
resistance in Gaza.  While Israel was able to neutralize to some 
degree threats on its flanks in Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2008/9), 
 
ABU DHABI 00000744  003 OF 004 
 
 
Iran's main goals of regional influence were not inhibited.  The UAE 
assessment continued that Israel may act on its perception that only 
"extreme" (and unlikely) UNSC action or unilateral Israeli military 
action can slow Iran's nuclear goals.  As Iran continues to reject a 
political solution, the UAE must prepare for the fallout should 
Israel act on its fears.  With that, the briefer introduced a slide 
on Iran's capabilities, with missile sites in the south of Iran and 
concentric circles showing their likely range all covering UAE 
territory. 
 
13.  (S) Iranian promotion of "Shi'ism," coupled with sleeper cells 
in the region, magnify the threat articulated by the UAE.  If 
attacked, it may seek to obstruct shipping in the Gulf and control 
(more) islands over which it does not have legitimate sovereignty. 
Working in alliance with al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shi'a, Iran 
is poised to do damage of an unpredictable nature if/when provoked. 
In sum, Iran continued as the traditional focus of the threat 
briefing offered by the UAE at GSD sessions.  Other regional concerns 
noted in lesser detail included Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, 
the Arab-Israeli conflict, terrorism, and piracy. 
 
Strategic Cooperation 
--------------------- 
 
14.  (C) In further briefings, the UAE team highlighted good 
operational cooperation with the U.S. and offered a review of the 
maturing Critical National Infrastructure Agency (CNIA) which is 
taking charge of security on land, along the coast, and off shore -- 
with an initial focus on Abu Dhabi but an intent to serve as a 
federal agency.  The U.S. Coast Guard and NYPD were cited as partners 
in the growing CNIA mission, with a U.S. promise of first-time 
"Nuclear Security Training" in the near future. 
 
15.  (S) The UAE delegation received  a draft "UAE National Defense 
Strategy and U.S.-UAE Comprehensive Defense Strategy" document 
outlining key priorities in the defense relationship (a document 
proposed by UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef al-Otaiba).  Without 
immediate comment on the substance of the USG draft, al-Kaabi said 
the UAE would reply via embassy channels and looked forward to 
continuing the dialogue. 
 
Q&A on Iran, Yemen 
------------------ 
 
16.  (C) When the floor was open to general discussion, two topics 
dominated:  Iran and Yemen.  The UAE asked whether the USG had any 
new information since the December 2007 NIE regarding Iran's nuclear 
weaponization program; the U.S. team noted that a new estimate was in 
progress but it was premature to comment.  The DMI representative 
also noted that Iran exploits crises for its own advantage, making 
the defusing of crises like Palestine and Lebanon imperative if we 
are to keep Iran in check.  In the case of Palestine, he added 
optimistically, it is time to "cut to the chase" and deal with final 
status issues; Lebanon is also ripe for progress, he suggested, 
without a drawn out process. 
 
17.  (S) On Yemen, the UAE said it shared a U.S. concern that a 
"failed state" could emerge on the Arabian Peninsula, with terrorist 
partners and Iranian influence further poisoning the mix.  A 
collapsed Yemen "gives us Afghanistan," said Commander of the Air 
Force and Air Defense Major General Hamad bin Suweidan al-Qamzi, and 
then it presents a long-term threat to the region.  He said the UAE 
was coordinating economic development support for Yemen while also 
trying to assist with political reconciliation.  He noted the dangers 
of "another Somalia."  ASD Vershbow hoped the UAE could help secure a 
unified GCC approach to Yemen, as time is running out on the 
seccession question and Yemen cannot afford a "two front" war with 
both seccesionists and the Al-Houthi insurgency.  In a brief 
discussion of Pakistan, all agreed that Islamabad needs to focus 
resources to fight insurgency rather than obsessing with India as its 
potential military foe. 
 
 
ABU DHABI 00000744  004 OF 004 
 
 
Positive Conclusions 
-------------------- 
 
18.  (C) Enhanced U.S.-UAE cooperation to counter troublesome 
financial flows and cash smuggling -- solidified during a recent 
visit by Treasury Secretary Geithner -- was noted by the Charge as 
another area of productive engagement.  Both sides also put in very 
positive words about the role of the Air Warfare Center which has 
become a proud center of excellence for the region. 
 
19.  (S) In closing, al-Kaabi raised Iran yet again, noting that its 
leadership is not likely to change fundamentally and therefore the 
threat is likely to continue.  He looked forward to ongoing 
discussion of the defense strategy discussed earlier as we continue 
to pursue a common vision. 
 
20.  (SBU) UAE delegation: 
 
--- Staff Major General Ali Hamad Subaih al-Kaabi, Deputy Chief of 
Staff 
--- Staff Major General (Pilot) Hamad bin Suweidan al-Qamzi, 
Commander of Air Force and Air Defense 
--- Staff Colonel Abdullah Saeed al-Hamoodi, Intelligence and 
Military Security 
--- Lt. Colonel (Dr.) Albadr Shareef al-Shatri, Intelligence and 
Military Security 
--- Staff Brigadier General Khalfan al-Kaabi, Ground Forces 
--- Staff Colonel (Pilot) Salim Saeed, Ground Forces 
--- Staff Lt. Colonel Abdullah al-Yamahi, Directorate of Joint 
Operations 
--- Brigadier General (Dr.) Humaid Ali al-Kitbi, Purchasing 
Directorate 
--- Staff Colonel Saeed Rashid al-Shihi, CNIA 
--- Staff Brigadier General Mohamed Murad al-Baloushi, Air Forces 
--- Colonel (Engineer) Ahmad Sultan, Air Forces 
--- Staff Lt. Colonel Engineer Jamal Mohamed al-Ameri, Air Forces 
--- Major Juma Sultan, Air Forces 
--- Staff Major (Pilot) Ali Saleh, Air Forces 
--- Major (Pilot) Abdullah Sultan al-Mazroui, GSD secretariat for 
plenary 
 
21.  (U) The GSD traveling party approved this message . 
 
GREENE