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Viewing cable 10MUSCAT71, OMANI GOVERNMENT REACTS STRONGLY TO SUGGESTION OF PATRIOT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10MUSCAT71 2010-02-02 14:02 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Muscat
VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMS #0071/01 0331443
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 021443Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MUSCAT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1190
INFO RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT
RHMFISS/COMUSAFCENT SHAW AFB SC
C O N F I D E N T I A L MUSCAT 000071 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2020/02/02 
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS IR MU
SUBJECT: OMANI GOVERNMENT REACTS STRONGLY TO SUGGESTION OF PATRIOT 
OFFER 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Richard Schmierer, Ambassador, Department of State, 
Embassy Muscat; REASON: 1.4(A), (B), (D) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  A recent New York Time's (NYT) article describing 
Patriot missile deployment to countries in the Gulf in order to 
counter Iran, assuage Israel, and reassure our Gulf partners has 
been disquieting to the Omani Government.  There has never been an 
official USG offer of Patriots to Oman, due in large part to the 
GoO's rejection of any undertaking that might include or would 
imply the presence of Patriot missiles here.  Oman's close 
partnership with the USG, particularly through the Base Access 
Agreement (BAA), is contingent on maintaining an extremely low 
profile and continuing the Sultanate's foreign policy objective of 
carefully balancing public perception of its relationships with the 
U.S. and Iran.  Press of this sort, however unintended, makes it 
extremely difficult for Oman to maintain that balance.  End 
Summary. 
 
 
 
Press Articles on Missile Defense in the Gulf 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
2. (U) A NYT article appeared on January 30 titled "U.S. Speeding 
Up Missile Defenses in Persian Gulf," which quoted General Petraeus 
as saying that Patriot missile batteries would be located in four 
gulf countries, and noted that Saudi Arabia already has Patriots. 
An unnamed military official named the countries as Qatar, the UAE, 
Bahrain and Kuwait.   The version of this article syndicated by the 
NYT news service includes the sentence "Oman, which has always been 
sensitive about perceptions that it is doing U.S. bidding, has also 
been approached, but there is no deployment of Patriots there, 
according to U.S. officials."  (Note:  That sentence does not/not 
appear in the version currently available via the NYT website, and 
it is unclear to post if it appeared in the print edition on 
January 31; the syndicated version of the article is otherwise not 
substantially different from the NYT original.  End Note).   The 
item was picked up by regional press on January 31, quoting the NYT 
article and specifically noting that "Oman has declined the offer." 
On February 2, the private English daily "Times of Oman" carried a 
front page article titled "Missile Shield: Oman denies receiving 
any offer from US."  In it, Sayyid Badr al Busaidi, Secretary 
General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), is quoted as 
saying, "the Sultanate's position on such matters is firm and that 
it does not ... enter into alliances or axis (sic) against any 
state."  He stressed that Oman "does not allow its territory to be 
used to carry out any military operations against any country in 
the region." 
 
 
 
Oman is not Interested 
 
------------------------------ 
 
3. (C) The Embassy has no record of a formal offer of Patriot 
missiles made to Oman by the USG.  However, a number of discussions 
have occurred in which USG intent was to gauge Omani interest in 
collective missile defense capability.  Oman has consistently shown 
a lack of interest and has politely declined to engage in 
substantive discussions on "shared early warning" systems, 
"integrated air defense,"  or "collective defense."  (Note:  This 
is likely due to its assessment that Iran does not pose an imminent 
threat, its desire to not needlessly antagonize Iran, and its 
distrust of fellow GCC members, making it unwilling to share data 
within that group.  End Note.)  Further, in official 
correspondence, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) rejected an offer for 
a "Missile and Air Defence Working Group" on February 6, 2009; 
rejected further offers for an "Air and Missile Defense Shared 
Early Warning (SEW) System" on March 30, 2009, citing Oman's 
"unwillingness to commit itself to a SEW"; and on July 22, 2009 
again rejected any participation in the "Air Defense Missiles 
Advanced Warning System" project. 
 
 
 
Direct Omani Reaction 
 
----------------------------- 
 
4. (C) The Omani Royal Office made contact with the Embassy on 
February 2 to express strong concern about the article and its 
repercussions, as that office had just received a pointed inquiry 
from the Sultan on this matter.  In a follow-up discussion embassy 
officer provided the history of discussions on the issue, of which 
the Royal Office was previously unaware, due to what was described 
 
 
as a "lack of lateral coordination within the GoO." 
 
 
 
5. (C) Comment:  The strength of Oman's immediate reaction, and the 
level at which it transpired, is reflective of the tremendous 
seriousness with which this matter is viewed by the GoO.  It is 
likely that one of the goals of Badr's media statement was to 
protect the U.S./Omani relationship, as any belief that the U.S. 
would attempt to utilize Omani territory in this way could 
potentially cause a public backlash that would jeopardize other 
aspects of our relationship.  The deployment of Patriots to Oman, 
especially with the goal of countering the Iran threat, would run 
completely counter to Oman's publicly-stated foreign-policy 
objectives.  Although they do not find the threat imminent, Iran is 
Oman's number one strategic threat; however, the GoO fundamentally 
believes the threat can be mitigated through careful management of 
the relationship.  Therefore, the GoO works very deliberately to 
create a  public perception of balance in its relationships with 
the U.S. and Iran.  Oman's security strategy of keeping a low 
public profile in general has been threatened by the attention 
brought by the NYT article, and the GoO is working to manage the 
message for the public.  End Comment. 
Schmierer