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Viewing cable 09MANAMA456, BAHRAINI CROWN PRINCE'S JULY 28 MEETING WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09MANAMA456 2009-08-04 10:10 2011-02-18 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manama
VZCZCXRO4129
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHMK #0456/01 2161003
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041003Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8842
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT  PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000456 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA AND SPECIAL ENVOY MITCHELL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAL IS IZ IR BA
SUBJECT: BAHRAINI CROWN PRINCE'S JULY 28 MEETING WITH 
CENTCOM COMMANDER PETRAEUS, SPECIAL ENVOY MITCHELL, AND NEA ACTING ASSISTANT SECRETARY FELTMAN REF: MANAMA 435 Classified By: Ambassador Adam Ereli for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1.(U) Participants: U.S: CENTCOM Commanding General David Petraeus Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell NEA Acting Assistant Secretary Jeffrey D. Feltman Ambassador Adam Ereli NAVCENT Commander Vice Admiral William Gortney Michael Gfoeller, CENTCOM Peyton Knopf Rachel Graaf, PAO (notetaker) Bahrain: Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Bahrain Defense Forces Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa Dr. Nizar Al Baharna, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Issa al Khalifa, Advisor to the Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdullah al Khalifa, Minister of State for Defense

2.(C) Summary: On July 28, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa met with CENTCOM CG David Petraeus, Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, and Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. Topics covered included Iran, Iraq, Syria and Israel-Palestine. He said Bahrain wanted to schedule reciprocal high-level visits with Iraq and stressed the importance of Arab nations taking steps to assist the Arab-Israeli peace process. End Summary. ---- Iran ----

3.(C) The Crown Prince reiterated Bahraini concerns about the threat posed by Iran. He assessed that the power base of the Iranian leadership has narrowed as result of the recent elections and their "aura was shaken." He believed that religious hardliners nevertheless remained in control and that the "military dictatorship" had emerged more dangerous than before. Taking up a theme repeated by all of Bahrain's senior leaders of late, he referred to a joint statement by the Iranian and Qatari Chiefs of Defense Staff on mil-to-mil exchanges and asserted that having Iranian forces visit the territory of a GCC member state would be of great concern to the organization. ---- Iraq ----

4.(C) Turning to Iraq, General Petraeus cited the importance of sustained visits by Arab leaders to Iraq and asked if the Crown Prince had any plans to travel to Baghdad. Sheikh Salman said that he had had a good meeting with Iraqi VP Tareq al Hashemi at the NAM conference in Sharm El Sheikh last month (reftel) and that as a result, he was considering a visit to Iraq after Ramadan. General Petraeus asserted that such a trip would send a positive signal to the other Arab countries. The CP agreed, but added that Maliki had visited Iran three times, yet had still not visited Bahrain despite multiple invitations. Sheikh Salman also urged the United States to use its influence to persuade Maliki to visit his GCC neighbors, as well as Egypt. Such moves could be useful in making Saudi Arabia more willing to strengthen ties with Iraq. The Crown Prince added that Bahrain has been encouraging the Saudis to visit Iraq.

5.(C) Acting Assistant Secretary Feltman briefed the Crown Prince on ongoing efforts to resolve outstanding issues between Iraq and Kuwait. The Crown Prince agreed that Iraq must be more fully integrated in the region, and said the Kuwaitis could more flexible with regard to compensation and Chapter VII issues. The Crown Prince said Bahrain would be supportive of USG diplomacy at the UN. ----- Syria ----- MANAMA 00000456 002 OF 002

6.(C) Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell offered a read-out of his recent conversations with Syrian President Bashar Al Asad. The Crown Prince stated that he believes President Bashar Al Asad wants to improve Syria's relations with the U.S. and is ready to "make a deal." The Crown Prince opined that Asad's two most important priorities are, first, to gain commercial access to the U.S., because he needs money to "pay his cronies" and secure his regime, and second, to obtain guarantees that the UN will not prosecute him for the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri. It is critical, he said, to pull Syria out from under Iran's influence, characterizing it as potentially a "great coup." ------------------------- Israeli-Palestinian Peace -------------------------

7.(C) Turning to the peace process, AA/S Feltman told the Crown Prince that Washington was impressed with his recent editorial in the Washington Post. Sheikh Salman acknowledged that the reaction has been mostly positive and greater than he had anticipated. He asserted that he believes that something needs to be done on the peace process, claiming that momentum (on this issue) is "glacial" and like "watching paint dry." He pointed out that the most pressing challenge facing the region is the one of "extremists versus moderates." He claimed that a majority of Arabs are moderates. They support the idea of peace with Israel, and the resumption of negotiations would reduce the power base of extremists.

8.(C) He also pointed out that the problem of Iran cannot be solved without settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For all these reasons, Sheikh Salman said, "the time for peace is now." If the Arabs do not succeed now, they may never have another chance at a comprehensive peace. He stated that it was important for Arabs to allay the Israeli public's fears by speaking to it directly. This would also make the job of Israeli PM Netanyahu easier, he said.

9.(C) The Crown Prince took exception to an article in the Israeli press by former Ambassador to the U.S. Zalman Shoval, who derided his op-ed by dismissing Bahrain as a small country with no influence. Sheikh Salman countered that despite its size, Bahrain was a trend-setter in the region and tried to set an example for others to follow. He asserted that Bahrain was the first in the Gulf to buy F-16's, the first to conclude a Free Trade Agreement and the first to command a combined task force. Returning to the issue of normalization, he urged the USG to think about "a peace dividend" for those countries, like Bahrain, that were willing to take risks for peace. He specifically mentioned that Bahrain would welcome increased trade and investment from the United States. "People in the region need to see that there's a benefit" from taking these steps, he said. "Bahrain is watched carefully and we can leverage that to fuel the competitive spirit" among the region's Arab states, he concluded. ERELI