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Viewing cable 07ABUDHABI1214, SCENE SETTER - SECDEF GATES VISIT TO UAE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ABUDHABI1214 2007-07-19 12:12 2011-01-21 21:09 SECRET Embassy Abu Dhabi
VZCZCXRO7130
OO RUEHDE
DE RUEHAD #1214/01 2001226
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 191226Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9389
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 7177
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ABU DHABI 001214 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ARP, PM/FO, S/P 
DOD/OSD FOR A/S LONG, DAS KIMMITT, KELSO, QUINN, ANDERSON 
CENTCOM FOR CCJ5 - RODRIGUEZ 
NSC FOR NRAMCHAND, EABRAMS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2017 
TAGS: PREL PTER PARM MOPS MARR IR IZ AF LE AE
SUBJECT: SCENE SETTER - SECDEF GATES VISIT TO UAE 

REF: A. ABU DHABI 1180 (MBR) 
B. ABU DHABI 1161 (GSD/JMC) 
C. ABU DHABI 1143 (DCA) 
D. ABU DHABI 1119 (ABZ) 
E. ABU DHABI 0956 (AFGHAN DEFMIN) 
F. ABU DHABI 0765 (GEN DAYTON) 
G. ABU DHABI 0705 (NEW WAY FORWARD) 
H. ABU DHABI 0702 (ADM FALLON-MBZ) 

Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison, 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

SUMMARY 
------- 

1. (S) Secretary Gates: Embassy Abu Dhabi looks forward to 
your upcoming visit to Abu Dhabi. Your principal 
interlocutor will be Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy 
Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin 
Zayed Al-Nahyan (MbZ), whom you met at the Pentagon on May 
16. The U.S. enjoys a strong defense cooperation 
relationship with the UAE and the State-DOD-NSC-led Gulf 
Security Dialogue (GSD) has provided an opportunity to deepen 
that relationship. The UAE delivers strong support in the 
war on terror; has cooperated with us in Afghanistan, Iraq, 
Lebanon, and with security assistance to the Palestinians; 
and -- very importantly -- provides critical basing and 
over-flight for U.S. reconnaissance and refueling assets as 
well as naval logistics support. 

2. (S) While the UAE has offered political support for Iraq 
and identifies the first priority for the region as Iraqi 
stability, the UAE's (all-Sunni) leadership has lately 
exhibited a hardened attitude toward Prime Minister al 
Maliki, perceiving him as beholden to Iran and incapable of 
moving beyond sectarian bias to lead a unified Iraq. The UAE 
has in the past favored former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and 
has stalled on its commitment to Iraqi debt relief in order 
to avoid 
al Maliki claiming any credit. The UAE has expressed concern 
over the continued violence and chaos in and around Baghdad 
as well as the failure of the al Maliki government to improve 
overall security in the country. End Summary. 

3. (S) We suggest you thank MbZ for his strong support for 
the U.S. Air Force and Navy in the UAE and encourage 
continued partnership in Afghanistan. We offer the following 
background on issues facing the UAE and our bilateral 
relationship: 


I. U.S. Defense Interests (para 4) 
II. Iraq (para 5) 
III. Other Regional Issues: Afghanistan, Iran, 
Lebanon, the Palestinians (paras 8-13) 
IV. Gulf Security Dialogue (para 14-15) 
V. Defense Cooperation and the DCA (paras 16-17) 

-------------------------- 
I. U.S. DEFENSE INTERESTS 
-------------------------- 

4. (S) The UAE's contribution to U.S. defense interests in 
the region has been extensive and enduring. The ports of 
Jebel Ali and Fujairah are vital to U.S. Navy interdiction 
operations, re-supply and sustainment, and combat support 
efforts across the region. Jebel Ali has hosted more port 
visits for each of the past three years than any other port 
outside the United States. Quantitative measures of UAE 
support include: 

--- 1,300 USAF personnel at Al Dhafra Air Base; 
--- a vigorous training schedule at the Gulf Air 
Warfare Center at Al Dhafra; 
--- the F-16 Block 60 program; 
--- approximately 500 port visits last year; 
--- over 24,000 US military overflights/landings in 
2006; 
--- more than 150,000 U.S. servicemen and women 
enjoying liberty annually in the UAE; and 
--- 250 UAE Special Operations forces serving with the 
Coalition in Afghanistan (possibly increasing to 
300) to include BMPs and LeClerc tanks. 


ABU DHABI 00001214 002 OF 004 


You should express appreciation for this outstanding 
partnership. You might also remind MbZ that the evolving 
nature of military requirements mandates a bilateral 
relationship focused on joint planning, coordination, and 
strategic interoperability. 

--------------------------------------------- ---- 
II. IRAQ - UAE LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN PM AL MALIKI 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 

5. (S) In recent months there has been a definite hardening 
of the UAE leadership's attitudes toward al Maliki, who is 
viewed by the Emiratis as little more than an Iranian 
puppet. The UAE leadership has told us they do not see 
much hope in investing in Iraq or much light on the horizon 
with al Maliki and his government. UAE leaders perceive him 
as biased and incapable of leading a non-sectarian, unified 
Iraq. Earlier UAE commitments to forgive most of the $3.5 
billion in Iraqi debt the UAE holds remain unfulfilled, with 
the UAE leadership asking why it should give al Maliki a 
chance to claim credit for debt relief. (Note: Although the 
UAE has not forgiven the debt, it is not collecting payments 
on it. End Note.) 

6. (S) Meanwhile, the UAE has been engaged in regional 
efforts to facilitate reconciliation between Sunni and Shi'a 
forces. The UAEG has frequently expressed alarm regarding 
Iranian influence in Iraq, and has made attempts to reach out 
to moderate Shi'a to encourage their engagement in the Iraqi 
political process independently of Iran. The UAE values and 
seeks reassurance of continued close consultation on U.S. 
plans and strategy involving Iraq. 

7. (S) While al Maliki has not visited the UAE in a year, 
Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq Al Rubaie was in Abu 
Dhabi on June 28, briefing the UAE National Security Advisor 
and Foreign Minister (both are MbZ's brothers) on security 
developments in Iraq. Reportedly, Al Rubaie was told that 
the Group of Six nations (UAE, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi 
Arabia, Kuwait) would invite Iraq's security chief to its 
next meeting. According to the UAE leadership, during this 
visit Al Rubaie took the attitude that UAE outreach actions 
in Iraq were hostile and also indirectly justified the 
Iranian influence. Al Rubaie reportedly focused his efforts 
on urging the Emiratis not to support the Iraqi Sunnis. At 
the same time, Al Rubaie promised to work with the UAEG to 
identify a location for a new UAE embassy in Baghdad. 
(Concern has been expressed by the Coalition about the use by 
terrorists of the UAE's abandoned Embassy compound -- the UAE 
has not maintained diplomatic staff in Baghdad since the 2006 
kidnapping of one of its diplomats.) 

-------------------------- 
III. OTHER REGIONAL ISSUES 
-------------------------- 

IRAN - UAE BALANCING ITS PRIVATE 
RHETORIC WITH PUBLIC CAUTION 
-------------------------------- 

8. (S) MbZ has called privately for action sooner rather 
than later against Iran and speaks caustically about 
Ahmadinejad. MbZ may opine that any attempt at dialogue by 
Iran should be regarded as a pure facade. He has also 
remarked that the UAE thinks carefully about risks in the 
region and about its own future. The leadership has told us 
they are not in a position to sacrifice $16 billion in annual 
trade with Iran, while realizing that this same neighbor and 
major trading partner is also a threat to the UAE. It is 
also worth recalling that the May 10-12 visit of Vice 
President Cheney to the UAE was immediately followed by a 
one-night stopover by Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who gave 
a defiant anti-U.S. speech at a Dubai sports arena. (The 
following day, MbZ left on his official visit to Washington, 
where he met you.) 

9. (S) However, much as they may assist our mission in the 
region, the Emiratis are conscious of being vulnerable 
players in a rough and unforgiving neighborhood. The UAE 
leadership has consistently pursued a cautious, 
non-confrontational public posture towards Iran. In the past 
the UAE has been hesitant to participate in certain military 
exercises. The UAE did, however, send observers to Leading 
Edge 07 in October 2006 in the Gulf, which had a 

ABU DHABI 00001214 003 OF 004 


Proliferation Security Initiative theme. The decision to 
host Eagle Resolve 2008, with a Theater Air and Missile 
Defense theme, should be seen as a praiseworthy step. 

AFGHANISTAN - UAE SPECIAL OPERATIONS TROOPS 
------------------------------------------- 

10. (S) While the UAE contributes 250 Special Operations 
troops to the Coalition effort in Afghanistan (with a 
potential increase of 50), it has not yet publicly 
acknowledged this participation in Operation Enduring 
Freedom. The UAE pursues Afghanistan reconstruction aid with 
an emphasis on road networks, mosques, medical facilities and 
schools and has made efforts at political mediation between 
Pakistan and Afghanistan. In January 2007 LTG Eikenberry 
escorted Afghan Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Bismillah 
Mohammadi Khan to Abu Dhabi in a bid to deepen direct 
engagement between the UAE and Afghanistan. The UAE Armed 
Forces Chief of Staff declared himself willing to help in any 
way possible, including training Afghan troops. UAE 
subsequently disbursed another $30 million in general 
assistance and is renovating two runways in Afghanistan for 
military use. During the June visit of Afghan Defense 
Minister Wardak to Abu Dhabi, MbZ agreed to donate nine Mi-19 
helicopters to Afghanistan. One of MbZ's oft-stated 
interests in sending Emirati Special Ops troops to 
Afghanistan is to get his military forces battle-hardened so 
they may effectively confront imported or domestic extremism. 

LEBANON (AND SYRIA) 
------------------- 

11. (S) The UAE provides significant humanitarian and 
security assistance to Lebanon. The UAE has been at the 
forefront of reconstruction efforts, continuing a 
longstanding de-mining operation, and contributing resources 
for school construction and hospitals. UAE Air Force C-130s 
and helicopters have been used in relief efforts. The UAE 
has also provided UAE-manufactured pistols (Caracal) and 
ammunition to the LAF. The UAE Foreign Minister recently had 
a conversation with Lebanese PM Siniora on a proposal for a 
Muslim force for Lebanon (under UN mandate). 

12. (S) The UAE seeks to strengthen the Siniora government, 
having delivered $300 million in assistance to Lebanon this 
year, while also seeking engagement with other parties. UAE 
President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other senior 
UAE officials paid a July 15-16 visit to Damascus, announcing 
the donation of $10 million towards the support of Iraqi 
refugees. The UAE has conveyed private frustration and 
displeasure with Syrian meddling in Lebanon and has said it 
would express its (and our) concern about foreign fighters 
entering Iraq through Syria to the Syrian leadership. UAE's 
goal, according to the UAE Foreign Minister, is to try to 
persuade Syrian President Bashar Al Asad to loosen his close 
ties to Iran. 

Palestinian Issue 
----------------- 

13. (S) The UAE would like to see tangible progress on the 
Middle East Roadmap, rejects the Hamas agenda, and continues 
to support the Palestinian people through more than $400 
million in housing and humanitarian assistance since 2000. 
MbZ and his brothers, Foreign Minister Abdullah and National 
Security Advisor/State Security Director Hazza, are in close 
contact with President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam 
Fayyad. As the result of the May 2007 visit of USSC General 
Dayton, the UAE transferred $80 million to the Palestinian 
president. The UAE has issued a public statement supporting 
the choice of Tony Blair as the Quartet envoy (Blair is 
scheduled to meet MbZ on July 24). 

--------------------------- 
IV. GULF SECURITY DIALOGUE 
--------------------------- 

14. (S) The UAE currently has over $2.6 billion in Foreign 
Military Sales cases and another $8.5 billion plus in direct 
commercial sales in the Block 60 F-16 program, one of the 
premier portfolios in the USCENTCOM Area of Operations. 
Since the May 2007 Gulf Security Dialogue and earlier 
meetings of the Joint Military Committee working groups and 
Air and Missile Defense working group, we have seen progress 

ABU DHABI 00001214 004 OF 004 


in our bilateral relationship in the areas of defense 
cooperation and regional security. The UAEG has indicated 
strong interest in purchasing 12 Patriot PAC-3/GEM-T 
anti-ballistic missile batteries and other lower and 
upper-tier missile defense systems in order to create an 
overarching Air and Missile Defense architecture and Concept 
of Operations. The UAE has also requested Stinger/Avenger 
missiles for short range air defense and has expressed 
interest in Surface Launched Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air 
Missile and Theater High Altitude Air Defense missile system. 
The UAE is on the verge of purchasing the High Mobility 
Artillery Rocket System for counter battery, a case valued at 
approximately $650M. Both Boeing and Northrop-Grumman are 
providing Requests for Information on an Airborne Early 
Warning and Control aircraft later this year. The UAE has 
also expressed interest in leasing three E2-C Hawkeye AEW&C 
aircraft as a stop-gap measure until a permanent AEW&C 
aircraft is procured. 

15. (S) The UAE has also made a request to buy 40 UH-60 
Blackhawk helicopters for their Special Operations Command. 
They should be offered a contract for 26 of those, plus a 
training package, in the next several weeks, a case valued at 
$750M. The UAE is upgrading their AH-64 Apache helicopters 
to the D (LONGBOW) model and has requested 1300 Hellfire 
missiles with the expectation of a request for an additional 
1200 missiles. Three separate requests for additional 
weapons for their F-16s have been received, valued at over 
$200M. Additionally, the UAE is coordinating to include 
Proliferation Security Initiative themes in Iron Falcon at 
the UAE Air Warfare Center and Iron Siren, a Naval Surface 
Warfare exercise in the upcoming year. 

----------------------------------- 
V. DEFENSE COOPERATION AND THE DCA 
----------------------------------- 

16. (S) Although differences exist on status of forces issues 
and the use of passports/visas versus military IDs/orders for 
UAE entry and exit, overall mil-to-mil cooperation with the 
UAE has been excellent, with consistently reliable support at 
Jebel Ali and Fujairah ports and at Al Dhafra Air Base. We 
are currently moving routine military cargo flight operations 
from UAE civil airports in the northern Emirates to the 
Minhad air station, in accordance with the UAE's request. 

17. (S) The Embassy believes the timing may be right to make 
progress on negotiating a new Defense Cooperation Agreement 
(DCA) with the UAE and has suggested submission of a USG 
counter-draft in answer to the UAE draft DCA presented for 
possible discussion at October 17-19 Joint Military Committee 
(JMC) working group meetings and a full JMC meeting 
tentatively set for January 15-17, 2008 in Abu Dhabi. We 
recommended that we urge the UAE to sign a new DCA 
superseding the unratified 1994 version as the official basis 
for existing and expanding military-to-military cooperation. 
(It is, however, important that no linkage be made between 
the DCA and pending sales or other routine cooperation.) 

SISON