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Viewing cable 09DOHA502, ASD VERSHBOW'S MEETINGS IN QATAR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09DOHA502 2009-08-10 11:11 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Doha
VZCZCXRO8648
PP RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHDO #0502/01 2221157
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 101157Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9316
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DOHA 000502 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2019 
TAGS: PREL MASS QA XF ZP ZR YM IR JO LE
SUBJECT: ASD VERSHBOW'S MEETINGS IN QATAR 
 
Classified By: Amb Joseph LeBaron for reason 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
(C) SUMMARY 
------------- 
 
1.    (C)  During their July 20-21 visit to Qatar, Assistant 
Secretary of Defense (ASD) for International Security 
Affairs, Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, and State 
Political-Military (PM) Assistant Secretary Andrew Shapiro 
held meetings with Qatar's military Chief of Staff, Major 
General (MG) Hamad al-Attiyah and the Crown Prince Tamim bin 
Hamad al Thani.  MG al-Attiyah and the Crown Prince tried to 
assure the Assistant Secretaries that Qatar used the Chief of 
Staff's visit to press Iran to respond to U.S. offers of 
engagement and to dismiss as "rubbish" Iranian efforts to 
blame the election crisis on U.S. and UK special services. 
The U.S. affirmed displeasure with Iranian behavior, and said 
the U.S. would not tolerate Iranian pursuit of nuclear 
weapons.  ASD Vershbow suggested now was the time for Qatar 
to distance itself from Iran and its proxies and urge Iran to 
end its destabilizing behavior. 
2.    (C) MG al Attiyah and the Crown Prince repeated the 
Qatari position that they felt the need to engage all their 
neighbors and that Qatar could perhaps influence Iranian 
behavior through its engagement.  MG al-Attiyah also 
expressed disappointment that the Large Aircraft Infrared 
Counter Measure (LAIRCM) system is not available to be 
installed on Qatar's recently purchased C-17 aircraft.  ASD 
Vershbow said he would look into the issue further and that a 
formal response from the SecDef would be forthcoming.  The 
Chief of Staff also said no decision had been made on 
fulfilling an earlier U.S. request to provide funding for the 
refurbishment of Jordanian tanks being provided to Lebanon. 
When ASD Vershbow requested that Qatar use its good offices 
to help the U.S. in Yemen and induce a change in Hamas's 
behavior, the Chief of Staff expressed irritation that 
U.S.-Qatar friendship did not extend to issues of importance 
to Qatar, such as LAIRCM.  END SUMMARY 
 
U.S.-QATAR RELATIONSHIP 
----------------------- 
 
3. (C) U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense (ASD) for 
International Affairs Vershbow and Assistant Secretary of 
State for Political-Military Affairs Shapiro, joined by 
Ambassador, met July 20-21 over dinner and in a separate 
office call with Chief of Staff (COS) Major General Hamad 
al-Attiyah.  The U.S. visitors thanked the COS for Qatar's 
continued hospitality and support and for hosting our 
presence at both Camp As Sayliyah (CAS) and Al-Udeid Air Base 
(AUAB). 
 
C-17 PURCHASE 
------------- 
 
4. (C) BG General al-Malki (Commander of the Fighter Wing and 
Chairman of the Transport Committee) informed ASD Vershbow 
that the first C-17 was on schedule for delivery and would 
depart California on August 11 with an ETA at AUAB O/A August 
15.  In addition, BG General al-Malki mentioned his 
disappointment at the delay of the pilot training program, 
which will further delay the aircraft from becoming 
operational.  In response, ASD Vershbow reassured him that 
USG would work to resolve the issue. 
 
5. (C) COS al-Attiyah expressed his concern to ASD regarding 
the C-17 LAIRCM.  The COS stated that he was greatly 
disappointed over USG disapproval of Qatar's application for 
LAIRCM.  Al-Malki pointed out that other nations had acquired 
the system and that Qatar's exclusion added to his 
frustration.  The COS said he did not want to elevate the 
matter to Qatar's civilian leadership.  He believed that 
Qatar's leaders would question the benefits of the 
U.S.-Qatari military relationship if the concern were to be 
raised. 
 
6. (C) ASD Vershbow responded that a letter would be 
forthcoming from SECDEF explaining that Qatar would be 
receiving the same aircraft as received by the United States 
Air Force (USAF).  Vershbow further clarified that the LAIRCM 
was an additional add-on, for which transfer to Qatar had 
been disapproved.  Vershbow recommended that Qatar pursue 
other options, noting he was unaware that other nations had 
access to the LAIRCM system for transport aircraft.  ASD 
Vershbow said he would look into the matter, adjust the 
SECDEF letter as necessary and respond formally to the GOQ. 
COS and al-Malki stressed Qatar's desire to use aircraft 
jointly with the U.S. and Coalition Forces. 
 
IRAN 
---- 
 
DOHA 00000502  002 OF 003 
 
 
 
7. (C) ASD asked the COS to recount his visit to the Islamic 
Republic of Iran.  COS briefed that his first visit to Iran 
was short in duration.  The Qatari delegation praised 
President Obama's Cairo Speech while in Iran and urged the 
Iranians to take steps to avoid isolating themselves 
internationally.  Further, the Qataris suggested that the 
Iranians seek engagement and rapprochement.  ASD Vershbow 
said this was the right message, and those who have contacts 
with Iran should use every opportunity to persuade Iranian 
leaders to end their destabilizing behavior. 
 
8. (C) ASD Vershbow reiterated the need for Iran to take 
steps to convince the international community that it was not 
pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, and to end its support 
for Hamas, Hizballah, and other extremist groups.    He said 
we understand why Qatar, because of its close proximity and 
its economic and political ties to Iran, felt the need to 
engage with Iran.  Qatar should help the Iranians to avoid a 
conflict with the U.S. and the international community, 
remarking that "friends do not let friends drive drunk." 
 
9.  (C) COS al-Attiyah responded that while Iran expresses a 
desire privately to change its behavior, these could be 
meaningless platitudes.  The COS reiterated that the GOQ 
opposes any Iranian pursuit of a military nuclear capability, 
noting that it would destabilize the region.  COS further 
suggested that the USG continue its own dialogue with the 
Islamic Republic.  COS al-Attiyah closed the discussion by 
making clear that, with respect to Iran, "while we're 
neighbors, we're not friends."  He summed up his recent visit 
to Tehran as an overture to maintain open channels of 
communication with Iran. 
 
LEBANON 
------- 
 
10. (C) ASD asked if the GOQ had a response to an earlier 
request to the Prime Minister by Secretary Gates to help fund 
the transfer of 55 M1A1 tanks from Jordan to Lebanon.  COS 
said he was aware of the request, but that no decision had 
been made.  He added that he had discussed the issue during a 
recent CHOD conference with Jordanian and Lebanese 
representatives. 
 
HAMAS 
----- 
 
11. (C) ASD Vershbow raised Qatar's ties with Hamas, and told 
the COS that Hamas needs to be encouraged to rejoin the 
Palestinian Authority and the Peace Process.  He added that 
there should be "no blank checks, no checks at all," for 
Hamas.  ASD suggested that Qatar was in a position to 
influence Hamas; if Qatar helped bring about a change in 
Hamas's behavior, it could enhance the U.S.-Qatar strategic 
relationship.  COS undertook to relay that message to the 
Amir and Crown Prince.  While the COS underscored that Qatar 
wants a good relationship with the U.S., he noted there were 
times when USG decisions sent a different signal, such as the 
USG's decision on LAIRCM.  COS al-Attiyah rhetorically asked, 
"Are we friends or not?" 
 
YEMEN 
----- 
 
12. (C) ASD Vershbow asked if Qatar, or the GCC as a whole, 
would be renewing efforts to help solve the troubles in 
Yemen, citing Qatar's previous mediation efforts.  COS 
al-Attiyah responded that GOQ had engaged Yemen in the past, 
but noted that maintaining productive dialogue is difficult, 
given Yemen's economic plight and decentralized tribal 
society.  The COS added that the GOQ was unsure how Yemeni 
President Saleh plans to curtail the violence there.  He also 
noted that there is little military cooperation between the 
Qatar Armed Forces (QAF) and Yemen, but that he would make 
the GOQ leadership aware of the ASD's interest.  The COS said 
that the GCC had earlier presented a "unified package," but 
its efforts in Yemen had failed.  COS al-Attiyah recommended 
that this subject be addressed at the Manama Dialogue in 
December. 
 
NSS and CIP 
----------- 
 
13. (C) ASD commended the COS on the upcoming 
CENTCOM-GOQ-Naval War College effort to develop a National 
Security Strategy.  Qatar and others in the region need to 
place more emphasis on Critical Infrastructure Protection, 
added the ASD.  COS al-Attiyah agreed and said he was looking 
forward to this effort. (Note: OMC Qatar will escort an 
interagency Qatari delegation back to Tampa August 11-13 to 
 
DOHA 00000502  003 OF 003 
 
 
begin this process.) 
 
CLOSING REMARKS 
--------------- 
 
14. (C) COS ended the discussions by stating that he valued 
the U.S.-Qatar relationship.  The GOQ was committed to the 
friendship forged between the two nations, he said.  COS said 
he is looking forward to the P4 visit and expressed his 
desire to invite the P4 to his beach house as schedules 
permit. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
15.  (C) Qatar clearly registered its disappointment in not 
receiving LAIRCM for its C-17.  We believe this could fester 
into an open wound in the vital U.S.-Qatar security 
relationship.  The Chief of Staff is particularly sensitive 
about the issue, since Qatar's senior leadership (the Amir 
and Crown Prince) holds him responsible for maintaining a 
close and productive U.S.-Qatar military relationship. 
However, given the Qatari leadership's perception of the 
Chief of Staff's inability so far to get LAIRCM, senior 
leadership may start to question the Chief of Staff's 
assurances about the strength of the U.S.-Qatar military 
relationship.  End Comment. 
 
16. (U) This cable was cleared by Assistant Secretary of 
Defense Alexander Vershbow. 
LeBaron