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Viewing cable 09MANAMA442, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE VERSHBOW AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANAMA442 2009-07-26 08:08 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manama
VZCZCXRO6486
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0442/01 2070855
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260855Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8828
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0116
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT  PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000442 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2019 
TAGS: PREL MOPS MARR AF IZ QA BA
SUBJECT: ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE VERSHBOW AND 
AMBASSADOR ERELI MEET WITH KING HAMAD OF BAHRAIN 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: In a July 22 meeting with Assistant Secretary 
of Defense for International Security Affairs, Ambassador 
Alexander Vershbow, and the U.S. Ambassador to Bahrain, Adam 
Ereli, King Hamad of Bahrain was unwavering in his support 
for United States policies in the Gulf, welcomed any new 
requests the U.S. may need from Bahrain, voiced strong 
support for U.S. actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and said he 
was ready to play a positive role toward Israel.  However, he 
voiced strong "annoyance" at Qatari behavior, particularly 
the recent visit of Qatar's Chief of Staff of its Armed 
Forces to Iran, as well as Qatari rebuffs to Bahraini 
requests for natural gas.  END SUMMARY 
 
2. (C) King Hamad warmly welcomed Ambassadors Vershbow and 
Ereli and began the meeting by thanking the United States for 
the staunch support we provide Bahrain.  He reminded the 
Ambassadors that Bahrain is a long-time U.S. ally, remains 
firm in its support of U.S. efforts in the Gulf, and greatly 
values our bilateral relationship that is of significant 
importance to Bahrain's interests.  He said Bahrain will do 
anything to work together with the U.S.  He was particularly 
praiseworthy of the bilateral defense relationship, 
commenting that the superb advice Bahrain's Defense Forces 
(BDF) receive from the U.S. has resulted in the BDF being one 
of the cleanest organizations in Bahrain's government.  The 
King also noted that the equipment received through the 
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) process was of high quality 
and operationally effective, and he was also proud of the 
strong relations established with U.S. 5th Fleet. 
 
3. (C) Ambassador Vershbow thanked His Majesty for hosting 
the Military Consultative Committee that was currently 
meeting in Manama and for his country's support to U.S. 
interests.  He noted that the U.S.-Bahraini relationship was 
very strong and mutually beneficial and affirmed to the King 
that the U.S. and Bahrain shared a similar vision in the 
region despite its many challenges. 
 
-------------------- 
Afghanistan and Iraq 
-------------------- 
 
4. (C) Turning to Afghanistan and Iraq, King Hamad said the 
upcoming deployment of Bahrain's Ministry of Interior (MoI) 
security unit to provide fixed site security in Afghanistan 
would provide great experience to MoI personnel and allows 
Bahrain to show its flag and demonstrate support for the 
Coalition.  He stated that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan 
provided a golden opportunity for the Afghan people to build 
their country's security forces as well as their education, 
medical, science and trade programs and ministries.  The King 
added that U.S. efforts should be touted more in the media. 
He quoted President Eisenhower, saying the "U.S. is 
soldiering for peace and not waging war" and he understood 
that the U.S. was not seeking to rule over Afghanistan or 
Iraq.  He is convinced that the U.S. is in both places to 
help the Afghan and Iraqi people and he was appreciative of 
our armed forces personnel performing their duties in places 
so far from home.  King Hamad noted some instability in Iraq, 
but thought overall, Iraq was on a positive slope.  ASD 
Vershbow thanked the King for his comments and said it was 
important that the world hears his, as well as similar 
explanations, of U.S. policies in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
 
5. (C) Commenting on Bahrain's participation in coalition 
maritime operations and efforts against terrorism and piracy, 
King Hamad said he had recently told his Parliament that, 
"Ships are sailing to defend the region and why don't we join 
them?  If we don't join, we will miss an opportunity."  His 
remarks acknowledged Bahrain's past and current participation 
in Combined Task Force (CTF) 152 and its anticipated 
participation in CTF 151. 
 
--------------------------------- 
Annoyed and Concerned about Qatar 
--------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) The King voiced concern about what is happening in the 
region and stated that he would like to see a stronger Gulf 
Cooperation Council (GCC) as a deterrent against future 
threats and to provide more security in the region.  King 
Hamad flatly stated that Bahrain is not happy with Qatar. He 
took particular exception to the recent visit to Iran by 
Qatar's Chief of Staff, MG Hamad al Attiyah.  He noted that 
during the visit, the two sides released a statement agreeing 
to joint training exercises, intelligence exchange and 
 
MANAMA 00000442  002 OF 002 
 
 
reciprocal visits of military staff and units.  "This is 
going too far," King Hamad fumed.  It's one thing to have 
trade and commercial exchanges, he noted, but to welcome 
Iranian military units on the territory of a GCC member state 
is "a strategic matter."  He went on to say that Iran is the 
number-one threat in the region; any country should be 
cautious about exchanging military information with Iran, and 
no GCC country should allow an Iranian military unit or 
personnel to land on its shores.  The King stated that he 
would like to show Qatar some type of unhappiness for its 
actions with Iran. 
 
7. (C) The King said it is rumored that MG al-Attiyah may 
retire as the Qatari CHOD and perhaps this influenced his 
decision to visit Iran.  (NOTE:  In a separate meeting with 
ASD Vershbow and State P/M Assistant Secretary Shapiro, 
during their July 20-21 visit to Doha, MG al-Attiyah did 
state that his visit to Iran was long planned but perhaps 
ill-timed to coincide with recent post-election activities in 
Tehran; since it was previously planned, he had not wanted to 
cancel his visit. END NOTE.) King Hamad added that Qatar's 
behavior "is an annoyance, but it was too early to be angry 
at them."  King Hamad went on saying he "would like our 
brother in Saudi Arabia to send a note telling Qatar not to 
play like this." 
 
8. (C) ASD Vershbow affirmed U.S. displeasure with Iranian 
behavior, particularly its nuclear program, and stated the 
U.S. would not tolerate Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons. 
He told the King we were disappointed with the timing of the 
Qatari CHOD's visit, but hoped the Qataris could persuade 
Iran to engage with the U.S. to end its nuclear program, 
rather than seeking a confrontation with the international 
community. 
 
------------------------- 
Plug for the Crown Prince 
------------------------- 
 
9. (C) ASD Vershbow said he appreciated the Crown Prince's 
recent op-ed published on the Middle East which he understood 
bore the King's stamp.  He said the Crown Prince's points 
about Arab countries seizing the opportunity at hand and 
setting aside past differences to move forward on the peace 
process was right on mark.   King Hamad responded that 
Bahrain supported U.S.-led efforts to make peace and agreed 
that the Arab world needed to contribute positively to this 
effort.  Returning to Qatar, King Hamad noted that Abdul Bari 
al Atwan, the editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab daily "Al Quds 
al Arabi," had written a widely-read article critical of the 
Crown Prince's op-ed.  Qatar is a major financial backer of 
al Quds al Arabi, the King remarked, and he clearly saw the 
hand of Doha behind Abdul Bari's attack.  Continuing on this 
theme, King Hamad said there were two major issues that made 
him angry with regard to Qatar.  The first was the Iran 
issue; the second was gas.  For years, Bahrain has been 
asking to buy Qatari gas, but their response has always been 
that Qatar exports were maxed out and it was not prepared to 
enter into new supply contracts.  These rejections 
notwithstanding, the King asserted that he had recently 
learned that Qatar has inked a new supply deal with Mexico 
and will increase gas supplies to England. He was at a loss 
to understand Qatari behavior. 
 
--------- 
On Israel 
--------- 
 
10. (C) Commenting on Bahraini initiatives with Israel, King 
Hamad said Bahrain continues to do its best to make Bahrain's 
position clear to Israel and the world, and expressed thanks 
for President Obama's recent detailed letter.  He was taking 
his time in drafting a similarly detailed response, and would 
share his response with Ambassador Ereli when it was ready. 
King Hamad said he looks forward to cooperating more with the 
U.S. on key regional issues and specifically referenced the 
soon to be executed moves of P-3 aircraft to Isa Air Base and 
DoD's location of its forward Near East South Asia (NESA) 
Center to Manama.  ASD Vershbow and AMB Ereli thanked the 
King for his strong support for U.S. policies and encouraged 
Bahrain to continue its constructive behavior and leadership 
in the Gulf. 
 
11. (U) ASD Vershbow has cleared this message. 
ERELI