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Viewing cable 09MANAMA611, AFCENT COMMANDER'S MEETING WITH CROWN PRINCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANAMA611 2009-10-19 10:10 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Embassy Manama
VZCZCXRO3314
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHMK #0611/01 2921055
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 191055Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8977
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT
RHMFISS/USCENTAF SHAW AFB SC
RUQVSAN/USCENTAF DEPLOYED
RHIUFAA/USCENTAF SWA
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000611 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/19/2029 
TAGS: PREL MARR IR AF BA
SUBJECT: AFCENT COMMANDER'S MEETING WITH CROWN PRINCE 
SALMAN FOCUSES ON IRAN 
 
REF: MANAMA 599 
 
Classified By: CDA Christopher Henzel for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
 1.  (S) SUMMARY: During USAFCENT Commander Mike Hostage and 
CDA's October 12 meeting with Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin 
Hamad al Khalifa, the CP assured them that Bahrain would keep 
the pressure on Iran to live up to the commitments it made in 
Geneva (reftel).  Lt Gen Hostage explained that the threat 
posed by Iran was leading the U.S. to pursue a Regional 
Integrated Air and Missile Defense (RIAMD) strategy with GCC 
countries.  Shaikh Salman welcomed this and stressed that 
Bahrain wanted to be part of the solution to the GCC's 
defense integration challenges.  Lt Gen Hostage and the 
Charge thanked him for Bahrain's commitment to contribute a 
small contingent for the effort in Afghanistan.  End Summary. 
 
IRAN AND REGIONAL AIR AND MISSILE DEFENSE: 
------------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (S) On October 12, U.S. Air Forces Central (USAFCENT) 
Commander Lt Gen Mike Hostage and Charge d'Affaires called on 
the Crown Prince.  The CP commended COMAFCENT for now being 
forward deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar because it was 
important to spend time with the U.S.' counterparts in the 
Gulf.  If more U.S. troops were added into Afghanistan, and 
Iran tried to delay the process begun in Geneva, Shaikh 
Salman commented that there would be tough months ahead for 
the region.  As the P5 1 pursued its carrot and stick 
approach with Iran, Salman wondered if Tehran would pursue a 
"tit for tat" in its military posture.  Because of the lack 
of sophisticated intelligence gathering among the Gulf 
states, the CP observed that the press "plays a propaganda 
war into our psyche."  He decried Iran's interference in Iraq. 
 
3.  (S) Lt Gen Hostage explained that, because of the threat 
posed by Iran to the region, his primary goal was to work on 
establishing Regional Integrated Air and Missile Defense 
(RIAMD) between the U.S. and the GCC states.  First, this 
involved integrating the U.S.' own air and missile defense 
assets (Navy Aegis, Army Patriots, etc.).  Then he would 
offer to link each Gulf state into a Shared Early Warning 
(SEW) Common Operating Picture (COP), to the extent that each 
government was willing to participate.  The U.S. would share 
the same picture to all, and each could add as much 
information as it liked, while keeping data it did not wish 
to share behind a secure firewall. 
 
4.  (S) The CP responded that this would be the largest game 
changer because it would be a permanent fixture and would 
affect Iran's ability to project power.  He thanked the U.S. 
for the two U.S. Patriot batteries stationed here and said he 
would like to help further integrate the Gulf states into 
RIAMD project because it would not be enough without 
everyone's participation.  He cautioned, however, that the 
U.S. would have to lead the effort and it would have to be 
bilaterally with each government, with a multilateral system 
as the long-term goal.  He asked whether and where the U.S. 
would deploy a THAAD (Theater High Altitude Air Defense) 
system to the Gulf.  Gen Hostage replied that the location 
was not yet certain, but yes, THAAD would be deployed within 
a year, and would prove to be a very capable mid-course 
intercept system.  Prince Salman worried that, in an attack 
scenario, Iran would try to swarm and overwhelm specific 
targets and we would all have to be ready for that. 
 
5.  (S) Lt Gen Hostage pointed to the Air Warfare Center in 
the UAE as a Center of Excellence (COE).  A COE for RIAMD 
could be established there as well as a training vehicle to 
help the Gulf states get comfortable with the technical 
solutions so they could share information.  Shaikh Salman 
said he wanted Bahrain to be part of the solution.  He noted 
that Bahrain had been the first GCC government to participate 
in Task Force 152 and it liked to be a leader.  "Consider us 
serious partners," he stated. 
 
IRAN: TO DEGRADE OR DETER? 
-------------------------- 
 
6.  (S) Lt Gen Hostage asked for the CP's views of Iran's 
willingness to deal in good faith with the P5 1.  Shaikh 
Salman said his views had not changed - Iran's behavior would 
continue to be problematic.  However, he speculated that the 
reason Iran had changed course and cooperated with the P5 1 
in Geneva was due to Russian President Medvedev's comment at 
UNGA that sometimes sanctions were unavoidable.  CDA pointed 
 
MANAMA 00000611  002 OF 002 
 
 
out that as the P5 1 pursued a dual track strategy of 
engagement and preparing for sanctions, the GCC countries' 
roles would be important.  Confirming that Bahrain would do 
what it could to keep the pressure on Iran, the CP lamented 
that Gulf countries had few levers on China.  He thought that 
if Saudi Arabia were to sell more oil to China, it would help 
provide some leverage. 
 
7.  (S) The CP asked whether Russia had shipped its S-300 air 
defense system to Iran yet.  Lt Gen Hostage said no.  Salman 
said he was  sure that the international community would have 
to wait until the next election in Iran to see real internal 
changes.  The regime was still in firm control and 
Ahmadinejad was consolidating his power, even as the economy 
was failing.  The world would need a strategy led by the U.S. 
 "We are still a ways away from knowing whether force is 
necessary," the CP stated. 
 
BAHRAIN'S CONTRIBUTION TO THE EFFORT IN AFGHANISTAN 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
9.  (C) The CP asked whether the U.S. was changing its goals 
in Afghanistan to a strategy of reconciliation and power 
sharing with some elements of the Taliban while targeting 
senior Al Qaeda figures.  Lt Gen Hostage said a way had to be 
found to let the Afghans live in their, not our, version of 
peace, but he wondered whether it could be done on our 
timeline.  Shaikh Salman counseled patience as with the 
implementation of the surge in Iraq.  Lt Gen Hostage and 
Charge thanked him for Bahrain's commitment to contribute a 
company from its security forces to provide inner perimeter 
security at a coalition base in Afghanistan.  Shaikh Salman 
stated that  his father King Hamad had approved a budget of 
USD 13 million for the deployment the day before, so the 
troops would have the necessary equipment. 
 
10.  (C) The CP asked whether the U.S. would still need to 
deploy aerial refueling tankers to Isa Air Base.  Lt Gen 
Hostage related that AFCENT's problems with the Manas Air 
Base (Transit Center) in Kyrgyzstan had been resolved. 
 
HENZEL