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Viewing cable 09ABUDHABI754, S) MbZ HOSTS GULF SECURITY DINNER WITH ISA ASD VERSHBOW AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ABUDHABI754 2009-07-23 09:09 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abu Dhabi
VZCZCXRO4493
OO RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #0754/01 2040940
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 230940Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2770
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 0493
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1754
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0930
RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 0684
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 0436
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 0112
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 0646
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 0927
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0662
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0486
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 000754 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
FOR S AND S/SRAP HOLBROOKE 
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ARP AND SCA 
 
E.O. 12958: 07/22/2019 
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL PARM EAID MOPS IR IS AF PK SY LE SA
QA, AE 
 
SUBJECT: (S) MbZ HOSTS GULF SECURITY DINNER WITH ISA ASD VERSHBOW AND 
PM A/S SHAPIRO 
 
CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES DOUGLAS C.GREENE FOR REASONS 1.4 B 
AND D. 
 
REF A SECRETARY'S LETTER TO MBZ ON PUMA HELICOPTERS 
REF B SECSTATE 76108 
 
 
1. (S) Summary: Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ, also 
Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and de facto defense 
chief) hosted a July 19 executive session of the Gulf Security 
Dialogue in Abu Dhabi (July 20 plenary with UAE uniformed officers 
reported septel).  The U.S. delegation was led by Assistant Secretary 
of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow and 
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew 
Shapiro.  MbZ called for advanced U.S.-UAE joint military 
coordination and faster delivery of FMS items to respond to a 
worst-case scenario in Iran.  As with other senior U.S. officials 
(but with increasing alarm and a shortening time frame), MbZ focused 
on the Iranian threat and his belief that an Israeli pre-emptive 
strike on Iran is likely in a matter of months.  ASD Vershbow assured 
MbZ of the U.S. commitment to UAE security; A/S Shapiro relayed that 
this visit was his first since taking his new position - reflecting 
the importance we place on the relationship.  Discussions also 
centered on UAE military and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan 
and Pakistan and the peace process.   End summary. 
 
2. (SBU) Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) hosted a 
working dinner with U.S. Gulf Security Dialogue delegation the 
evening of July 19.  The U.S. Delegation was led by Assistant 
Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro and 
Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs 
Alexander Vershbow and included RADM William Payne, Ambassador, and 
DCM.  The UAE was represented by Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces 
Hamad Thani al-Rumaithi, Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef al-Otaiba, 
Under Secretary of the Crown Prince's Court Mohamed al-Mazrouei, 
Deputy Chief of Staff Ali Hamad al-Kaabi and Air Force Chief Mohammed 
Swaidan al-Qamzi. 
 
Joint Planning for Worst-Case Scenario in Iran 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
3. (S) In a three-hour working dinner, MbZ focused primarily on his 
overarching concern -- the threat from Iran, stressing as he has with 
other senior U.S. officials that U.S. engagement with Iran will 
ultimately fail and that he fears a surprise (Israeli pre-emptive 
strike on Iran) in a shorter timeframe than USG estimates (he fears 
it could happen this year).  ASD Vershbow assured MbZ of the U.S. 
commitment to UAE security; A/S Shapiro relayed that his trip to the 
UAE was his first since taking on his new position, reflecting the 
importance we place on the relationship. 
 
4. (S/NF) MbZ reiterated his belief that an Israeli pre-emptive 
strike against Iran was increasingly likely, saying he was convinced 
the Netanyahu government was prepared to act against Iran, and that 
he agreed with Israeli intelligence assessments regarding how close 
Tehran is to achieving its nuclear ambitions.  The Iranian response 
to a pre-emptive strike, predicted MbZ, would be attacks on U.S. 
allies in the region, foremost among them the UAE; Iran may also 
unleash terrorist cells against western interests around the world. 
ASD Vershbow explained that the USG assessment differed in timeframe 
-- we do not anticipate military confrontation with Iran before the 
end of 2009 -- stressing, however, that denying Iran's nuclear 
ambitions and stemming its efforts to achieve regional hegemony were 
foremost among U.S. international security concerns. 
 
5. (S) In response to MbZ's position that ultimately engagement 
efforts with Iran would fail, both ASD and A/S  made clear than while 
the USG continues to press for a diplomatic solution, the offer of 
engagement is not opened-ended and will not come at the expense of 
Gulf security. 
 
ABU DHABI 00000754  002 OF 004 
 
 
 
6. (S) Referring to the Iran Region Presence Office (IRPO) in Dubai, 
MbZ asked "how's that office doing?"  He did not demonstrate any 
particular concern or sensitivity regarding IRPO activities in UAE. 
MbZ said that the Iranian regime was in trouble internally and would 
move swiftly to oppress post-election opposition.  As for Rafsanjani, 
MbZ said he was a "survivor" who would not succeed in a leadership 
bid because he will not act unless he is one-hundred percent sure he 
will win.  Again turning to his primary security concern, MbZ 
suggested that Tehran would likely accelerate its nuclear program to 
draw attention away from its internal weakness and to foment 
nationalism among its citizenry.  "Time is not on our side", he said, 
hinting that a move should be made against Iran and "the sooner the 
better." 
 
Russia 
------ 
 
7. (C)ASD Vershbow briefed MbZ on the positive outcome of POTUS's 
recent talks in Moscow.  MbZ said that he had met with Putin in June 
and he did not believe Russia saw a nuclearized Iran as a challenge 
to its interests, nor did Putin appreciate the threat of regional 
proliferation in response to an Iranian bomb.  He encouraged the U.S. 
to continue to press the Russians saying he believed if the Russians 
came over to our side, (with regard to tougher sanctions), the 
Chinese would follow.  MbZ said his he would travel in late July to 
Beijing, where he will surely press the Chinese on Iran.  ASD 
Vershbow suggested he urge the Chinese to send Iran a message by 
diversifying its oil imports away from Iran. 
 
Afghanistan - Neighbors Not Doing Enough 
---------------------------------------- 
 
8. (S/NF) MbZ complained that Arab regimes are not doing enough to 
help in Afghanistan.  He said that as of one month ago, he surveyed 
the region and found that only Oman had funded its Tokyo conference 
pledge of $2 million.  He singled out Saudi Arabia and Qatar in 
particular for not doing their part, saying that the Saudis clearly 
did not see how important it was to their own interests. 
 
9. (S/NF) MbZ criticized other regional leaders for playing both 
sides and for "dating" Iran.  MbZ compared the current situation to 
pre-WWII Europe saying, "Ahmedinejad is Hitler," and neighboring 
capitals believe erroneously that they can prevent Iranian 
retaliation by playing nice or signing agreements with Tehran.  "They 
think the are backing the winning horse," MbZ explained, emphasizing 
that if they think that by appeasing Iran they will avoid Iranian 
retaliation "then they are seriously mistaken, Sir." 
 
National Defense Strategy 
------------------------- 
 
10. (S) Throughout the discussions, MbZ repeatedly called for 
coordinated military planning for the worst-case scenario of an 
unpredictable Iranian response to an Israeli strike, stressing that 
U.S.-UAE preparations must begin now well before commencement of 
hostilities.  Both sides agreed that improved coordination was a good 
idea, with ASD Vershbow utilizing the opportunity to push for a UAE 
national defense strategy.  (Note: GSD July 20 plenary meeting 
reported septel.  End Note.) 
 
Pakistan - 14 Additional PUMAs 
------------------------------ 
 
11. (C) Passing a letter from Secretary Clinton thanking the UAE for 
its transfer of 14 U.S.-origin PUMA helicopters to Pakistan, A/S 
Shapiro thanked MbZ for the UAEG's partnership and regional 
leadership in providing assistance to Pakistan as well as its 
long-term participation in the coalition in Afghanistan.  MbZ updated 
the delegation on delivery status, saying that 10 of the promised 14 
 
ABU DHABI 00000754  003 OF 004 
 
 
had been delivered and the remaining 4 would shortly follow.  He 
added that efforts were underway to find and purchase additional 
helicopters, announcing (for the first time that we have heard this) 
the UAE's intentions to provide Pakistan with an additional 14 PUMAs. 
 
Humanitarian Aid for CT 
----------------------- 
12. (C) In the context of defeating AQ in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 
MbZ called for Arab and Muslim regimes to do more to stem terrorist 
financing, whether it means closing down charities, business 
interests, "whatever is necessary."  He also pointed to the 
zealousness of Arab fighters vice Afghani nationals.  Nine-five 
percent of Arab fighters go to Afghanistan knowing they are going to 
die for ideological reasons.  Afghan nationals, on the other hand, 
are more practical.  "This makes one of them [Arabs] more valuable to 
AQ than ten or more Afghan fighters."  Afghanis, MbZ pointed out, 
have tribes, families, homes -- therefore the best way to counter 
local extremism in Afghanistan, and to a lesser extent Pakistan, is 
to improve the quality of life. 
 
13. (SBU) MbZ described UAE humanitarian commitments of $300 million 
to build "model villages" in Afghanistan, complete with housing, 
hospitals and schools.  He invited the USG to join the UAE, Germany 
and France in this effort.  A/S Shapiro stressed the urgency of the 
displaced persons crisis in the Swat region of Pakistan, suggesting 
the UAE consider housing aid in this region.  MbZ replied "Why not? 
We will try to help wherever needed." 
 
MbZ on Pakistani Leadership 
--------------------------- 
 
14. (S/NF) MbZ shared his assessment of the current Pakistani 
leadership saying President "Zardarni is dirty but not dangerous," 
while Prime Minister Sharif is "dangerous but not dirty -- this is 
Pakistan.  Sharif cannot be trusted to honor his promises.  MbZ 
continued that a new personality may emerge but for the time being 
the UAE position was to play a helpful role by supporting the PM. 
 
Lebanon - Support for LAF and PM Hariri 
--------------------------------------- 
 
15. (C) ASD Vershbow reiterated our request that the UAEG assist the 
Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) by funding the purchase and transfer of 
some of 56 U.S.-origin tanks from Jordan to Lebanon, noting our 
appreciation of the UAE's earlier funding of the first 10 tanks. 
This would help capitalize on the positive outcome of the elections 
and help reduce Hezbollah's (and Iran's) influence in Lebanon. 
Promising to look into what the UAE could do to help with this 
matter, MbZ asked if we had made the same request to Doha.  ASD 
replied that we had and that he would do so again when he arrived in 
Qatar July 20. 
 
16. (C) Reiterating his favored theme of the generation gap in 
regional leadership (UAE having already passed the baton to the 
younger generation), MbZ praised Lebanese PM Saad Hariri, saying he 
was a good man.  "He feels very threatened at the moment (presumably 
by the Syrian regime), and it is important we do not lose him."  A/S 
Shapiro agreed, pointing to U.S. security assistance as proof of our 
concern and suggested that the UAE support U.S. efforts to strengthen 
Lebanese government institutions as the best opportunity to build GOL 
stability and security. 
 
July 18 Nasrallah Speech 
------------------------ 
 
17. (S) MbZ pointed to Hezbollah SYG Hassan Nasrallah's July 18 
speech, saying he believed it reflected a change in Hezbollah's tone 
due to calculations that its Iranian backers were currently in a 
weakened state post-Presidential elections.  MbZ said that Nasrallah 
is likely suffering from decreased financial support, at least for 
 
ABU DHABI 00000754  004 OF 004 
 
 
the next six months. 
 
Behavior Change in Syria - I Think Not 
-------------------------------------- 
 
18. (S/NF) Vershbow pointed to recent progress with Syria on border 
control issues to stem the flow of foreign fighters to Iraq as a 
small step forward in effort at eliciting behavioral change from 
Damascus.  MbZ showed no confidence that Syria could be separated 
from the Iranian camp.  "If you want my opinion," replied MbZ, "I 
think not."  He advised that Syria had a lot of options and that, 
judging from past behavior, the regime would continue hedging on key 
regional issues (Iran, support for Hezbollah, peace process) for the 
foreseeable future. 
 
Praise for Bahraini Crown Prince 
-------------------------------- 
 
19. (C) MbZ said that a two-state solution was the only option for 
solving the Israeli-Palestinian issue.  MbZ praised the Bahraini 
Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa for his "courageous" 
(July 17) editorial in the Washington Post (ref B), commenting that 
not enough Arab countries we on the right side of this issue. 
 
20. (U) ASD Vershbow and A/S Shapiro cleared this message.