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Leaked Cables on Iran: Saudis Fear Shia Alliance of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan

(April 9, 2009)

Classified U.S. diplomatic cables, leaked by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks, contain accounts of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to the Gulf region, during which the United Arab Emirates foreign secretary told her the Saudi government feared a Shia muslim alliance between Pakistan and Iran.

Thursday, 09 April 2009, 04:22
S E C R E T STATE 034688
EO 12958 DECL: 04/07/2019

1.(U) Classified by Bureau Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)

2. (U) April 7, 2009; 1:30 p.m.; Washington, DC.

3. (U) Participants:



The Secretary Acting Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman Jake Sullivan, S staff Barbara Masilko, NEA Notetaker



UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (AbZ) Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba Abdullah al Saboosi, UAE Notetaker

4. (S) SUMMARY. The Secretary reviewed the status of the US-UAE 123 agreement and additional action the UAE can take to encourage a positive Congressional review. The UAE request for participation in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) is under serious consideration. The Secretary expressed her interest in participating in a GCC plus three meeting in Baghdad in the near future. The UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (AbZ) also suggested a GCC plus 3 and P5 plus 1 joint meeting to discuss Iran. AbZ confirmed his intention to participate in the Pakistan Donors conference in Tokyo and expressed concerns about Saudi back peddling. The Secretary thanked the UAE for the positive support for both the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Palestinian Authority. AbZ noted that Qatar wants the Arab League to request a meeting with the Quartet focused on settlements and East Jerusalem. END SUMMARY.


Nuclear Cooperation and Export Control


5. (S) The Secretary expressed the Administration's commitment to the U.S.-UAE Agreement for Cooperation on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (aka 123 Agreement). She emphasized that our goal is to get the agreement completed as smoothly as possible. AbZ said that he is delighted with the progress on the agreement. He added that the UAE's goal is to create a gold standard for a nuclear power program. Then, because of the strong commitments the UAE has made, it will be impossible to have improper use of its nuclear facilities.

6. (S) Turning to the need to be prepared to respond to Congress, the Secretary committed to form a State Department committee including H, NEA and ISN to work on the notification. The Secretary noted the importance of implementing the UAE export control law and continued UAE efforts against illicit Iranian trade and Iranian front companies. The Secretary encouraged action on nonproliferation treaty commitments as especially helpful actions the UAE could take to support our efforts. AbZ noted that the UAE would formally join the additional protocol on April 8.

7. (S) AbZ agreed that the August 2007 export control law had some "loopholes" and said that the UAE Cabinet "revisited" the issue last week. Otaiba said that AbZ had personally intervened to ensure timely action. Otaiba elaborated that the committee charged with implementing the export control law will have its first meeting later this month to begin operations.

8. (S) Otaiba noted that, even in the absence of a formal implementation committee, the UAE is taking action - citing a recent case involving German-made Siemens computers and a Chinese ship bound for Iran interdicted in port in the UAE.


Major Economies Forum


9. (S) The Secretary noted UAE interest in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF). While noting that the UAE does not technically meet the criteria for the meeting, based on size of the economy alone, the Secretary said there are many criteria that make it important for the UAE to attend, adding she will make a recommendation for UAE participation as an observer. AbZ said the UAE bid to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) headquarters would be very difficult to achieve if the UAE is locked out of the MEF preparatory meeting in Washington and promised "we will remember your help."




10. (S) The Secretary said the U.S. is looking to see if Iran can be engaged in any productive manner and noted that Special Advisor Ross would travel to the region soon for consultations. AbZ told the Secretary that UAE feels threatened by Iran today, even though Iran does not yet have a nuclear capability. AbZ asserted that the UAE is even more worried about Iranian intentions than is Israel. AbZ encouraged the U.S. to consider a GCC plus 3 and P5 plus 1 joint meeting.


Iraqi GCC plus 3


11. (S) The Secretary expressed interest in the Iraqi invitations for a GCC plus 3 meeting in Baghdad, at a date to be determined. She noted the value of the GCC plus 3 mechanism not only for furthering Arab engagement with the Iraqi government during a time of transition, but as a way to send a message to Iran that Iraq has broad support in the Arab world.




12. (S) The Secretary told AbZ that the U.S. needs help to stem the flow of funds from the Gulf to the Taliban. She noted that one area of potential action is reviving training related to bulk cash smuggling.

13. (S) Thanking the UAE for hosting the Friends of Pakistan preparatory meeting, the Secretary said she hopes AbZ would attend the April donors conference in Tokyo. AbZ confirmed that he plans to attend and said that the UAE will make a "strong" pledge, but no decision has been made on an exact dollar figure.

14. (S) AbZ express concern over Saudi Arabia's decision not to make a pledge at the Tokyo conference. AbZ said that the Saudis have never liked the Pakistan Peoples Party, and support Nawaz Sharif. In addition, AbZ posited that Saudi Arabia suspects that Zardari is Shia, thus creating Saudi concern of a Shia triangle in the region between Iran, the Maliki government in Iraq, and Pakistan under Zardari. Feltman noted a pattern of Saudi behavior of withholding financial assistance - not supporting March 14 in Lebanon, not sending funds to the PA, and not planning a pledge for Pakistan. Otaiba added that Saudi Arabia also failed make a commitment at the G20 meeting.




15. (S) The Secretary noted the need to support Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the run up to the elections with concrete displays of support. Feltman added that the UAE had been particularly helpful already by funding the delivery of the first ten refurbished tanks for the LAF. AbZ noted that he would meet with visiting Lebanese Minister of Defense Murr later on April 7. AbZ said the UAE will purchase additional munitions for LAF helicopters, donated by the UAE to LAF last year, but is waiting for France to provide a price estimate.


Middle East Peace Process


16. (S) The Secretary thanked the UAE for its strong financial support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Secretary asked if AbZ had an update on the status of Palestinian unity talks. Acknowledging that Hamas and Fatah are not coming to an agreement, AbZ replied with a smile that things are "going well."

17. (S) AbZ said that in addition to financial support for the PA it is important that the new Israeli government reach out to President Abbas. AbZ said that the Secretary should expect the Qatari Prime Minister to request an Arab League meeting with the Quartet focused on settlements and East Jerusalem. AbZ said the Quartet will need to use the same standards for the new Israel government as already applied to the Palestinians regarding respecting previous agreements. The Secretary agreed. AbZ said that it is important to create a road map of Israeli and Palestinian actions towards an end game. The Secretary agreed on the importance of simultaneous reinforcing actions in support of negotiations. AbZ said that the UAE candidacy to host IRENA could yield political benefits, if successful. Israel is already a signatory to the agreement, so it would have a representative IRENA mission in Abu Dhabi should the UAE be chosen to host headquarters.


Sources: Wikileaks