April 2009

09TELAVIV936 2009-04-28 08:08 2010-12-19 21:09 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv

DE RUEHTV #0936/01 1180813
O 280813Z APR 09

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TEL AVIV 000936



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2019

Classified By: Ambassador James B. Cunningham, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)

¶1. (S) Summary. CODEL Kyl, accompanied by the Ambassador,
called on Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu April 6 in the
first official U.S. meeting with Netanyahu since he formed a
government. The main topics of discussion were stopping
Iran’s nuclear program and Netanyahu’s approach to
peace-making with the Palestinians. On Iran, Senator Kyl
raised ways to increase the effect of sanctions, including
possible legislation targeting Iranian imports of refined
petroleum. Adopting a forceful stance, Netanyahu asked
repeatedly what the U.S. plans to do if sanctions and
engagement fail to stop Iran’s program. Calling Iran’s
development of a nuclear bomb a world-changing event,
Netanyahu said all other issues become insignificant by
comparison. On the Palestinians, Netanyahu reviewed his
intent to pursue a three-track approach with political,
economic, and security aspects. While noting that his
government is conducting a review of Israeli policy toward
the Palestinians, Netanyahu asserted that there is agreement
within the government and among 80% of Israelis that the
Palestinians should be able to rule themselves, but with
limits imposed by Israel’s security requirements. Netanyahu
said the only difference between his position and that of
opposition leader Tzipi Livni is over the name of the goal,
i.e. the two-state solution. In response to comments by
Senator Sessions that the Palestinian Authority needs
functioning courts and jails as well as police, Netanyahu
agreed but said he had not yet focused much on Palestinian
governance issues. Netanyahu said he wants to show the
Palestinians the benefits of peace, but with the proviso that
if Iran goes nuclear, peace will fail. Predicting that his
government would pleasantly surprise many critics, Netanyahu
concluded that he hopes to come up with a common approach
with President Obama. End Summary.

¶2. (U) CODEL Kyl, consisting of Senator Jon Kyl (R, AZ);
Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL); Representative Jane Harman (D,
CA); Representative John Kline (R, MN); and Representative
Chris Carney (D, PA), called on Prime Minister Benyamin
Netanyahu April 6. The Ambassador, Congressional staff, and
Pol Couns (notetaker) participated in the meeting. Netanyahu
was joined by National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, Spokesman
Mark Regev, Policy Adviser Ron Dermer, former chairman of the
Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Kadima MK
Tzachi Hanegbi (Senator’s Kyl’s counterpart in the
U.S.-Israel Joint Parliamentary Committee on National
Security), and the Israeli Embassy in Washington’s
Congressional liaison officer. The meeting was the first
official U.S. face to face contact with Netanyahu since he
formed his government.

What Will the U.S. Do About Iran?

¶3. (S) After a brief discussion of the world economic crisis,
Senator Kyl raised Iran, noting the “sobering” briefings the
CODEL had received from senior Israeli defense and
intelligence officials the previous day. Kyl said the
Congress is looking at legislation that would target Iran’s
imports of refined petroleum products, adding that there are
only four or five companies that supply refined petroleum to
Iran and the U.S. has considerable leverage over most of
them. Kyl added that Israeli experts had told the CODEL that
they thought such legislation would be helpful. Netanyahu
said nothing is slowing the progress of Iran’s nuclear
program. The Prime Minister asked what will happen to the
Middle East if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon? If such a
prospect is unacceptable, what will the U.S. do as Iran
reaches the nuclear threshold? What will the U.S. do if
Pakistan is taken over by Islamic radicals?

¶4. (S) Representative Harman told Netanyahu that no one in
the CODEL disagreed with his analysis, but the U.S. should
give engagement an opportunity to see if it works. If it
does not, at least it would show the world that the U.S. had
tried. She added that Congress supports engagement on a
bipartisan basis. Senator Kyl added that the Europeans tried
to engage Iran for five years but it did not work. President
Obama will pursue engagement, but Kyl said he doubted it
would be successful. We should consider what to do in the
mean time. Netanyahu responded that the U.S. should move
quickly. Engagement should have a short time limit and a
specific goal, for example talk to the Iranians for four to
twelve weeks and make clear that the U.S. goal is an end to
their nuclear program. Leaning forward, Netanyahu repeated
his earlier question: “What will you do if it does not work?”

TEL AVIV 00000936 002 OF 003

¶5. (S) Netanyahu said that learning to live with a nuclear
Iran would be a big mistake which would lead to a different,
more dangerous world. While he noted that he could not say
for certain that Iran would use a nuclear weapon against
Israel, if Iran had a bomb Israelis would have to ask that
question every day. This is a historic moment, and leaders
have a responsibility to make decisions. All other issues
are insignificant by comparison. For a third time, Netanyahu
asked, “What are you going to do?”

Netanyahu’s Approach to the Palestinians

¶6. (C) Senator Kyl asked the Prime Minister about his view of
the two-state solution. Netanyahu said he plans to engage
the Palestinian Authority quickly and will not tie political
talks with the Palestinians to developments with Iran.
Reviewing a now familiar formula, Netanyahu said he will
approach the Palestinians on parallel political, economic and
security tracks. Political talks would aim at achieving an
agreement within certain limits, the economic approach would
promote foreign and Arab investment and joint projects with
Israeli partners, while the security track would continue to
build up the PA’s security forces. In order to do any of
this, Netanyahu noted, he will need a Palestinian partner.

¶7. (C) Representative Harman observed that the CODEL had
visited units of the PA’s National Security Forces and the
Presidential Guard. PA Prime Minister Fayyad said he was
happy with the PA’s security forces, and they want to take on
increased responsibility for security in Jericho and Jenin.
Netanyahu replied that Israel would be happy to let them do
more, but it is not clear what Hamas will do next. If Hamas
forces a confrontation, Israel will have to initiate further
military action in Gaza. Israel did not want to go back into
Gaza, but it will do what is necessary to protect its people.

¶8. (C) Netanyahu said his government is reviewing Israel’s
policy toward the Palestinians. There is a consensus in the
government and among 80% of the Israeli public that the
Palestinians should be able to govern themselves. The only
limits on Palestinian sovereignty would be elements that
affect Israel’s security. A Palestinian state must be
demilitarized, without control over its air space and
electro-magnetic field, and without the power to enter into
treaties or control its borders. Netanyahu concluded that he
and opposition leader Tzipi Livni “only disagree about the
name,” i.e. the two-state solution.

¶9. (C) Senator Sessions noted that people everywhere want law
and order. Palestinians not only need to deal with
terrorism, they also need a functioning legal system. Moving
from a lawless system, the Palestinian Authority is showing
some pride, but police are not enough, they need courts and
jails that work. Economic development is impossible in a
lawless society. Netanyahu agreed this was a valid point and
uncharacteristically admitted that he had not focused much on
Palestinian governance. He added that international
assistance should provide funding for jails and courts. It
is possible to create crime-free zones and begin economic
development “in bubbles” which would then be expanded.
Senator Sessions noted that Lt. General Dayton is focused on
this issue. Representative Harman commented that “bubbles”
in the West Bank would not be enough, Palestinians need law
and order everywhere.

¶10. (C) Netanyahu said the “classic rhetoric” of the peace
process has been that if Israel withdraws, all will be well.
Now, however, if Israel withdrew from the West Bank, Hamas
would take over. Economic development would not be a
substitute for a political settlement, but it would change
the environment and show Palestinians the benefits of peace.
Israel has been trying to “build a roof without a foundation”
and it has not worked. Netanyahu said there was one proviso:
If Iran gets a nuke, peace efforts will fail.

¶11. (C) Netanyahu pointed to the example of Jordanian King
Hussein, whom he termed Israel’s best Arab ally and a man
deeply committed to peace. Yet when Saddam Hussein took
Kuwait, King Hussein got on board with the Iraqis. In the
event of a nuclear Iran, “all the Arabs will become Qatar.”
We should therefore move in parallel to work for peace with
the Palestinians while acting to stop Iran. Netanyahu said
he thought his government would pleasantly surprise many of
its critics. He concluded the meeting by saying that he
wants to coordinate Israel’s positions with the U.S. and
hopes to come to a common position with President Obama.

TEL AVIV 00000936 003 OF 003

¶12. (U) CODEL Kyl has cleared this cable.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv’s Classified Website:
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09AMMAN813 2009-04-02 05:05 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET Embassy Amman


DE RUEHAM #0813/01 0920549
P 020549Z APR 09

S E C R E T AMMAN 000813



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2029

REF: A. STATE 25892
¶B. 08 AMMAN 3329
¶C. AMMAN 668
¶D. 08 AMMAN 3189
¶E. 08 AMMAN 2660
¶F. 08 AMMAN 3372

Classified By: Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (S) Summary: This cable responds to Ref A request for
evaluations of third-country reactions to possible U.S.
engagement with Iran. Jordan’s leaders believe such
engagement would reward regional hardliners while undermining
Arab moderates – without convincing Iran to cease its support
for terrorism, end its nuclear program or drop its hegemonic
aspirations. Jordanian officials argue that the best way to
counter Iran’s ambitions is to weaken the salience of its
radicalism on the Arab street by fulfilling the promise of a
“two-state solution,” resolving other Arab-Israeli disputes,
and making sure that Iraq’s political and security
institutions are not overwhelmed by Iranian influence when
the U.S. drawdown is complete. If U.S.-Iran engagement does
proceed in earnest, Jordan hopes to be closely consulted in
advance and for its interests to be taken into account. End

Beware the Iranian Tentacles … and Cut Them Off
——————————————— —-

¶2. (S) The metaphor most commonly deployed by Jordanian
officials when discussing Iran is of an octopus whose
tentacles reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and
undermine the best laid plans of the West and regional
moderates. Iran’s tentacles include its allies Qatar and
Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian
territories, an Iraqi government sometimes seen as supplicant
to Tehran, and Shia communities throughout the region. While
Jordanian officials doubt dialogue with the U.S. will
convince Iran to withdraw its “tentacles,” they believe they
can be severed if Iran is deprived of hot-button issues that
make it a hero to many on the Arab street, such as its
championing of the Palestinian cause.

¶3. (C) According to the GOJ analysis, Iran’s influence
derives from the perception that Tehran is able to “deliver”
while moderates are not. The main failure of moderates as
cited by radicals is ongoing Palestinian suffering and
dispossession despite an international consensus favoring a
viable, independent Palestinian state living peacefully next
to Israel. The MFA’s Deputy Director of the Arab and Middle
East Affairs Department, Muwaffaq Ajlouni, put it this way:
“Iran is not welcomed in the Arab world, but it is taking
advantage of helpless people.” From Jordan’s perspective,
the U.S. would benefit from pressing Israel to proceed to
final status negotiations, which would garner Arab support to
deal with shared security concerns about Iran.

¶4. (S) In Lebanon, the GOJ fears Iran’s Hizballah proxy has
been given too much rope and could be poised to increase its
political influence during upcoming parliamentary elections.
The King sees the Lebanon-Israel War of 2006 as having
benefited Iran and Hizballah, by allowing a Sunni Arab street
enamored of “resistance” to see past its suspicions of the
Shia. And then-Foreign Minister Salah Al-Bashir in late 2008
described the spring 2009 vote as “when we will know who won
last May,” referring to the outcome of the Doha Accords that
put an end to Lebanese infighting. Much like with the
Palestinian issue, Jordanian leaders have argued that the
only way to pull the rug out from under Hizballah – and by
extension their Iranian patrons – would be for Israel to hand
over the disputed Sheba’a Farms to Lebanon. With Hizballah
lacking the “resistance to occupation” rationale for
continued confrontation with Israel, it would lose its raison
d’etre and probably domestic support.

¶5. (S) In Iraq, signs of growing security and political
stability over the past year in particular have served
somewhat to calm Jordanian nerves about Iran’s interference.
The King and others have cited indications that Iraqi Prime
Minister Nuri Al-Maliki is showing himself to be a national
rather than a parochial or Iranian-controlled leader. During
the U.S.-Jordan Political Dialogue in November 2008, FM
Bashir noted that the Iraqi government had a “tendency to
appease Iran,” but he saw increased Jordanian (and Sunni
Arab) diplomatic engagement with Baghdad as a potential
bulwark against Iran (Ref B). Positive trends
notwithstanding, many of our Jordanian interlocutors stress
that the U.S. should leave Iraq only when it “makes sense,”
and thereby avoid a political and security vacuum that could
be easily filled by Iran (Ref C).

Prepare for Iran to Disappoint

¶6. (S) Jordan’s leaders are careful not to be seen as
dictating toward the U.S., but their comments betray a
powerful undercurrent of doubt that the United States knows
how to deal effectively with Iran. Foreign Minister Nasser
Joudeh has suggested the Iranians would be happy to let talks
with the U.S. continue for ten years without moving them
forward, believing that they can benefit from perceived
acceptance after years of isolation without paying a price.

¶7. (S) Upper House President Zeid Rifai has predicted that
dialogue with Iran will lead nowhere, arguing that if the
U.S., the EU, and the Arab states agree that under no
circumstances should Iran be allowed to obtain a nuclear
weapon, military force becomes the only option. “Bomb Iran,
or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives
won’t matter,” was how he put it to visiting NEA DAS David
Hale in November. While Rifai judged a military strike would
have “catastrophic impact on the region,” he nonetheless
thought preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would
pay enough dividends to make it worth the risks (Ref D).

¶8. (C) Speaking to PolOffs in early February 2009, Director
of the Prime Minister’s Political Office Khaled Al-Qadi noted
that the Gaza crisis had allowed Iranian interference in
inter-Arab relations to reach unprecedented levels. He urged
the U.S. to “understand the history,” explaining that “after
the Israelis, the Iranians are the smartest. They know where
they are going and what they are doing.” He doubted there
would be any diplomatic breakthrough before Iran’s June
elections, partly because Iranian pragmatists cannot be
practical due to religious and ideological considerations.
He hoped any dialogue would be aimed at weakening hardliners,
many of whom believe their “Great Satan” rhetoric.

Talk If You Must, But Don’t Sell Us Out

¶9. (S) If direct U.S.-Iran talks must happen, the Jordanian
leadership insists it not be at the expense of Arab
interests, particularly those of moderates like Jordan,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
Furthermore, they worry that engagement will set off a
stampede of Arab states looking to get ahead of the curve and
reach their own separate peace with Tehran. King Abdullah
counseled Special Envoy George Mitchell in February that
direct U.S. engagement with Iran at this time would just
deepen intra-Arab schisms and that more “countries without a
backbone” would defect to the Iranian camp. The Prime
Ministry’s Qadi has assessed that Iran sought to “transform
the Israeli-Arab conflict into an Islamic-Israeli conflict”
and that this strategy was already working with Syria and
Qatar. Even more conspiratorially, then-FM Bashir in
September 2008 highlighed Arab fears to a visiting CODEL that
the United States and the West would allow Iran to play a
hegemonic role in Iraq and throughout the region in exchange
for giving up its nuclear program (Ref E).

¶10. (S) Asked late last year whether he advocated engaging
Iran or working against its interests without engagement, the
King told visiting U.S. Senators that U.S. should undertake
both approaches concurrently but that engagement needs to be
done “smartly” by setting benchmarks for behavior (Ref F).
International Affairs Director at the Royal Court Jafar
Hassan on April 1 operationalized Jordan’s position as
follows: the U.S. must not only consult its friends in the
region, but declare that it is doing so publicly as a signal
to Iran that the Arabs are full parties to the U.S. policy
review. He called for the U.S. and the Arabs to work
together to determine what deliverables are required from
Iran, what subjects are appropriate for discussion, and also
to set clear redlines. (Note: Hassan said Jordan was trying
to work with its friends in the region to develop a
joint-Arab strategy, but that this has yet to materialize.
End Note.)

¶11. (S) Comment: Believing the U.S. is predisposed toward
engagement with Iran, Jordanian officials have avoided
forthrightly rejecting such overtures, but they remain
anxious that Iran will be the only one to benefit – at their
expense. Given Jordanian skepticism that Iran’s regional
ambitions can be reined in, they probably see establishing
benchmarks as a way to keep U.S.-Iranian engagement limited
and short-lived. Re-engagement could trigger a review of
Jordan’s relationship with Iran and with Islamic groups like
Hamas, with which Jordan held limited security talks last
year. When asked periodically whether by engaging with
Hamas, Jordan was undermining PA President Mahmoud Abbas,

official interlocutors simply pointed out that Israel meets
with Hamas through Egypt, that Syria and Iran are actively
engaged with Hamas, and that Jordan cannot be disengaged.
End Comment.

Visit Amman’s Classified Website at

09STATE34688 2009-04-09 04:04 2010-12-03 21:09 SECRET Secretary of State

INFO LOG-00 EEB-00 AGRE-00 AID-00 AEX-00 A-00 CCO-00
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PM-00 GIWI-00 P-00 SCT-00 ISNE-00 D-00 DOHS-00
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O P 090422Z APR 09

S E C R E T STATE 034688

E.O. 12958 DECL: 04/07/2019
SUBJECT: (U) Secretary Clinton’s April 7, 2009 meeting
with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed

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.

09CAIRO722 2009-04-28 15:03 2010-12-13 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Cairo

DE RUEHEG #0722/01 1181534
O 281534Z APR 09

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 000722



E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2029

¶B. CAIRO 618
¶C. CAIRO 451

Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey for reason 1.4 (b).


— (S) President Mubarak sees Iran’s attempts to exert
influence throughout the region as Egypt’s primary strategic
threat. However, Mubarak’s focus on the Iranian threat
differs somewhat from ours. While he will readily admit that
the Iranian nuclear program is a strategic and existential
threat to Egypt and the region, he sees that threat as
relatively “long term.” What has seized his immediate
attention are Iran’s non-nuclear destabilizing actions such
as support for HAMAS, media attacks, weapons and illicit
funds smuggling, all of which add up in his mind to “Iranian
influence spreading like a cancer from the GCC to Morocco.”

— (S) In particular, Egypt views Iran as an adversary that
is trying to undermine GOE efforts on Palestinian
reconciliation and preventing weapons smuggling to Gaza,
while endangering key GOE interests such as stability in
Lebanon and Sudan.

— (S/NF) The GOE remains concerned with Iranian efforts to
interfere in Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq and Sudan, and Egypt views
the recently dismantled Sinai Hizballah cell as an
unacceptable Iranian escalation.

— (S) The MFA believes that a harder U.S. line in UN fora on
Israel’s nuclear program would strengthen the U.S. position
on demanding Iran cease working to develop nuclear weapons.

¶2. (S) Ambassador Ross, welcome to Egypt. Your visit comes
as Egypt continues its efforts to mediate a permanent
cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, to facilitate
intra-Palestinian negotiations and to stop the smuggling of
arms into Gaza. The GOE realizes that Iran is working to
undermine all of these Egyptian efforts. Many Egyptians see
the new U.S. Administration as a cause for optimism in both
the bilateral relationship and in U.S. engagement with the
region. President Mubarak appears ready to accept President
Obama’s invitation to visit Washington within the next
several months, which will mark his first visit to Washington
since April 2004. Special Envoy for the Middle East Senator
George Mitchell has visited Egypt and the region three times.
While President Mubarak unfortunately will not be available,
we have requested meetings for you with Foreign Minister
Aboul Gheit, Intelligence Chief Omar Soliman, Arab League
Secretary-General Amre Moussa, National Democratic Party
Assistant Secretary-General Gamal Mubarak and Interior
Minister Habib Al-Adly.

President Mubarak

¶3. (S/NF) President Mubarak has made it clear that he sees
Iran as Egypt’s — and the region’s — primary strategic
threat. His already dangerous neighborhood, he has stressed,
has only become more so since the fall of Saddam, who, as
nasty as he was, nevertheless stood as a wall against Iran,
according to Mubarak. He now sees Tehran’s hand moving with
ease throughout the region, “from the Gulf to Morocco,” as he
told a recent congressional delegation. The immediate threat
to Egypt comes from Iranian conspiracies with Hamas (which he
sees as the “offspring” of his own most dangerous internal
political threat, the Muslim Brotherhood) to stir up unrest
in Gaza, but he is also concerned about Iranian machinations
in Sudan and their efforts to create havoc elsewhere in the
region, including in Lebanon via Hezbollah. While Tehran’s
nuclear threat is also a cause for concern, Mubarak is more
urgently seized with what he sees as the rise of pan-Shi’ism
and Iranian attempts to dominate the Middle East.

¶4. (S) The Egyptians have been clear they do not intend to
resume normal diplomatic ties with the Iranians until
specific political and security issues are addressed,
including the renaming of “Islambouli Street” named after
Sadat’s assassin. The GOE recognizes that Iran’s long arm
has extended into Gaza via Hamas, but the same time, they are
worried that we are going to strike a “grand deal” with the
Iranians. Accordingly, the Egyptian MFA has reported to us
that they are in touch with the Iranians and “listen” to them
on regional issues. The prevailing GOE view remains a
principled rejection of any diplomatic rapprochement, but we

CAIRO 00000722 002 OF 003

believe the Egyptians are maintaining contact in the event
there is a need for a quick shift in their approach. The
Egyptians are also marginally increasing cultural and
economic ties with Iran. The Egyptians are also concerned
about Iranian Shi’a proselytizing in Egypt.

EGIS Chief Omar Soliman

¶5. (S/NF) Soliman, the key GOE advisor on national security
policy after President Mubarak, recently told us that Egypt
has started a confrontation with Hezbollah and Iran and will
not allow Iran to operate in Egypt. Soliman has noted that
after the GOE’s recent arrest of a Hizballah cell in the
Sinai, Egypt had sent a clear message to Iran that if they
interfere in Egypt, Egypt will interfere in Iran, adding that
EGIS had already begun recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria.
Soliman has warned us against only focusing on one issue at
time, such as Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He believes
Iran must pay the price for its actions and not be allowed to
interfere in regional affairs. Soliman has offered GOE
cooperation on Iran, and welcomes a U.S.-Egyptian partnership
on combating Iranian influence in the region.

¶6. (S/NF) Soliman recently noted that Iranian financial
support to Hamas amounted to $25 million a month, but that
Egypt was “succeeding” in preventing financial support from
entering Gaza through Egypt. According to Soliman, Iran has
tried several times to pay the salaries for the al-Qassam
Battalions, but Egypt had succeeded in preventing the money
from reaching Gaza. Soliman has expressed concern over
Hezbollah’s first attempt to stand up a cell within Egypt,
and noted to us that Iran was also trying to recruit support
from the Sinai Bedouins, he claimed, in order to facilitate
arms smuggling to Gaza.

Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit

¶7. (C) Aboul Gheit has speculated that the new U.S.
Administration will engage with Iran, but will be
disappointed in late 2009 or early 2010 when it realizes that
Iran will not stop its enrichment activities. Aboul Gheit
believes Israel may then attack Iran. According to Aboul
Gheit, the “intransigence” of Israel and Iran will place the
U.S. in an awkward position with the Islamic world. Aboul
Gheit will reiterate President Mubarak’s strong opinion that
the only real solution is a nuclear free zone in the Middle
East, which would require Israel to give up its nuclear
weapons. Aboul Gheit believes that while the U.S. may not
perceive a nuclear-armed Israel as a threat, it is so
perceived throughout the Middle East. In the Foreign
Minister’s opinion, if the U.S. pushed Israel to renounce
nuclear weapons, the U.S. and Arab governments would be in a
much stronger position to demand that Iran end its nuclear

¶8. (C) MFA officials have made it clear to us that they do
not expect Israel to give up its nuclear weapons in the
absence of comprehensive regional peace; however, the GOE is
frustrated with what it perceives as a lack of political
progress in international fora to advance the Middle East
Resolution that came out of the 1995 Nuclear Proliferation
Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which called in part for a
Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (MENWFZ). The GOE’s
campaign for progress on the eventual establishment of a
MENWFZ — even if the ultimate goal remains far in the future
— will likely guide their approach to the 2009 NPT
Preparatory Conference in May and the 2010 NPT Review

Arab League Secretary-General Moussa

¶9. (C) Moussa has publicly and privately minimized Iran’s
threat, claiming that the Arab world should strengthen its
economic and cultural ties with Iran. Moussa believes that
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses the greatest danger to
the region, and has consistently pressed the U.S. to do more
to stop Israeli settlement activity and advance the political
process between Israelis and Palestinians. The Arab League’s
views on the importance of advancing a Middle East nuclear
weapons free zone are similar to those of the MFA. Moussa
also plays an important role in trying to manage intra-Arab
squabbles, including Qatar-Syria vs. Egypt-Saudi Arabia. The
Egyptians have made it clear that they consider the Qataris

CAIRO 00000722 003 OF 003

“nouveau riche upstarts” who are trying to buy their way to
influence via big spending and posing as the “true” champions
of the Palestinian cause by allying themselves with Syria and
Iran. The Qatari attempt to invite Iran to the Doha Arab
League summit incensed the Egyptians, many of whom blamed
Moussa for mismanaging the issue.

Interior Minister Adly

¶10. (S) Interior Minister General Habib Al-Adly focuses on
counterterrorism and suppressing domestic political
opposition. He will not offer strategic analysis of Iran
role in the region, but should be able to provide details on
the nascent Hizballah cell in the Sinai, which the GOE
recently dismantled and arrested. Adly may also be able to
share information on the steps the GOE is taking to disrupt
the flow of Iranian-supplied arms from Sudan through Egypt to
Gaza. In March, he told us that Egyptian police had killed
arms smugglers trying to transfer weapons from Sudan into
Egypt (ref C). He has described GOE efforts to combat
smuggling over the long Egyptian-Sudanese border region as

Gamal Mubarak

¶11. (C) Ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) Assistant
Secretary-General and Presidential son Gamal Mubarak does not
currently play a significant role in Egypt’s formal foreign
policy process, focusing instead on NDP matters and economic
development. Gamal’s recent trip to Washington raised his
political profile in Egypt, and he is of course a possible
successor to his father. As a UK-trained former
international banker, Gamal is perhaps most at home
discussing economics and the current financial crisis.

Internal Politics and Economics

¶12. (SBU) We continue to promote democratic reform in Egypt,
including the expansion of political freedom and pluralism,
and respect for human rights. Egyptian democracy and human
rights efforts, however, are being stymied, and the GoE
remains skeptical of our role in democracy promotion,
complaining that any efforts to open up will result in
empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, which currently holds 86
seats in Egypt’s 454-seat parliament. Economic reform is
ongoing although Egypt still suffers from widespread poverty
affecting 35-40% of the population. Egyptian-U.S. trade has
more than doubled in the last four years, reaching almost $9
billion in 2008. The U.S. exports to Egypt about twice as
much as it imports. Egyptian banks operate very
conservatively and have been spared involvement in risky
financial products, but the effects of the global economic
crisis on Egypt are beginning to be felt. As the global
credit crunch worsens, Egypt remains vulnerable as exports,
Suez Canal revenues, tourism, and remittances — its largest
sources of revenue — are all down and likely to continue to

09CAIRO746 2009-04-30 15:03 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Cairo

DE RUEHEG #0746/01 1201500
O 301500Z APR 09

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 000746


E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2019

Classified By: Ambassador Margaret Scobey per 1.4 (b) and (d).

¶1. Key Points:

– (S/NF) During an April 21 meeting with Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Egyptian
General Intelligence Service Chief Omar Soliman explained
that his overarching regional goal was combating radicalism,
especially in Gaza, Iran, and Sudan.

– (S/NF) On Gaza, Soliman said Egypt must “confront” Iranian
attempts to smuggle arms to Gaza and “stop” arms smuggling
through Egyptian territory.

– (S/NF) Soliman shared his vision on Palestinian
reconciliation and bringing the Palestinian Authority back to
Gaza, saying “a Gaza in the hands of radicals will never be

– (S/NF) On Iran, Soliman said Egypt was “succeeding” in
preventing Iran from funneling financial support to Hamas
through Egypt. Soliman hoped that the U.S. could encourage
Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions and stop interfering in
regional affairs, but cautioned that Iran “must pay a price”
for its actions.

– (S/NF) Egypt is “very concerned” with stability in Sudan,
Soliman said, and was focusing efforts on convincing the
Chadean and Sudanese presidents to stop supporting each
others’ insurgencies, supporting negotiations between
factions in Darfur, and implementing the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA). “Egypt does not want a divided Sudan,”
Soliman stressed.


¶2. (S/NF) Soliman said radicalism was the “backbone” of
regional security threats, adding that radicalism in Gaza
posed a particularly serious threat to Egyptian national
security. Soliman said Egypt must “confront” Iranian
attempts to smuggle arms to Gaza and stop arms smuggling
through Egyptian territory. “Egypt is circled by
radicalism,” he continued, expressing concern over
instability in Sudan and Somalia as well. Egypt’s own
successful campaign against radicalism in the 1990s provided
a useful lesson in how to counteract extremist groups by
reducing their ability to operate and raise funds, in
additional to educating people on the dangers of extremism.
Soliman noted that only the Muslim Brotherhood remained and
the Egyptian government continued to “make it difficult” for
them to operate.

¶3. (S/NF) “We do not want incidents like Gaza to inflame
public anger,” Soliman said, adding that the Gaza conflict
put “moderate (Arab) regimes” in a corner. To prevent
another outbreak of violence, Egypt is focusing on
Palestinian reconciliation and a durable cease-fire between
Hamas and Israel. On reconciliation, Soliman explained, the
ultimate goal was to return the Palestinian Authority to
Gaza, as “Gaza in the hands of radicals will never be calm.”
The problem, however, is that the PA cannot return to Gaza
without Hamas’ acquiescence. Soliman said the PA must return
before the January 2010 Palestinian elections, or else Gazans
would be afraid to vote for moderates.

¶4. (S/NF) Stability in Gaza also depends on giving people a
more “normal” life, Soliman continued, saying Israel must be
convinced to regularly open the border crossings for
legitimate commercial activity. The current system – where
Egypt informs Israel of a humanitarian shipment and Israel
waits two days before accepting or rejecting the shipment for
transfer to Gaza – does not adequately meet people’s needs.

¶5. (S/NF) On Palestinian reconciliation, Soliman said he
expected the factions to return to Egypt on April 26 to
discuss his proposal on establishing a high committee
comprised of the various factions. The committee would be
responsible for preparing for the January 2010 elections,
monitoring reconstruction, and reforming the security
services in Gaza. On reconstruction, the committee would
issue licenses for companies eligible to participate on
projects, but the PA would decide who receives the money for
private and government contracts. Arab governments would
assist with reforming the security services and could base
security assistance out of Egypt. Soliman doubted that Hamas
would agree to the high committee, but said it was important

CAIRO 00000746 002 OF 002

to keep Hamas and Fatah talking, so they would not resort to

Iran, Counter Smuggling

¶6. (S/NF) Iran is “very active in Egypt,” Soliman said.
Iranian financial support to Hamas amounted to $25 million a
month, but he said Egypt was “succeeding” in preventing
financial support from entering Gaza through Egypt. Iran has
tried several times to pay the salaries for the al-Qassam
Battalions, but Egypt had succeeded in preventing the money
from reaching Gaza. Soliman said the Egyptian government had
arrested a “big Hezbollah cell,” which was Hezbollah’s first
attempt to stand up a cell within Egypt. Iran was also
trying to recruit support from the Sinai Bedouins, he
claimed, in order to facilitate arms smuggling to Gaza. So
far, he continued, Egypt had successfully stopped Hamas from
rearming. Soliman noted that in six months, MOD will have
completed the construction of a subterranean steel wall along
the Egypt-Gaza border to prevent smuggling. He warned,
however, that people will find an alternative to the tunnels
to smuggle arms, goods, people, and money. Admiral Mullen
expressed appreciation for Egypt’s efforts to combat
smuggling, adding that he hoped Egypt felt comfortable enough
to ask for additional border security assistance at any time.

¶7. (S/NF) Egypt has “started a confrontation with Hezbollah
and Iran,” Soliman stressed, and “we will not allow Iran to
operate in Egypt.” Soliman said Egypt had sent a clear
message to Iran that if they interfere in Egypt, Egypt will
interfere in Iran, adding that EGIS had already begun
recruiting agents in Iraq and Syria. Soliman hoped the U.S.
would “not walk the same track as the Europeans” in regards
to negotiating with Iran and warned against only focusing on
one issue at time, like Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Iran
must “pay the price” for its actions and not be allowed to
interfere in regional affairs. “If you want Egypt to
cooperate with you on Iran, we will,” Soliman added, “it
would take a big burden off our shoulders.”


¶8. (S/NF) Egypt is very concerned with stability in Sudan,
Soliman said, but asked for the U.S. to be “patient” with the
Sudanese government and give Egypt time to help the Sudanese
government deal with its problems. He applauded the
appointment of Special Envoy Gration and recent U.S.
statements on Sudan. Soliman said Egypt was focused on three
areas for promoting stability in Sudan: 1) repairing the
relationship between Chadean President Deby and Sudanese
President Bashir and stopping their support for each others’
insurgencies 2) supporting negotiations between the various
factions in Darfur, and 3) implementing the CPA. Soliman
encouraged a larger role for French President Sarkozy in
mediating between Chad and Sudan. He said that Southern
Sudan “feels no benefits from unity,” and Egypt is trying to
bridge the “physiological gap” between north and south itself
by providing humanitarian assistance. “Egypt does not want a
divided Sudan,” he stressed. Admiral Mullen replied that
Egypt’s leadership on Sudan was critical and looked forward
to increased cooperation between Egypt and Special Envoy

Piracy and Somalia

¶9. (S/NF) Admiral Mullen stressed that piracy was an
international crime that needed an international solution,
especially on support for trying captured pirates. The U.S.
did not want Somalia to become the next safe haven for
al-Qaeda after Pakistan, he stressed. Soliman replied that
there were not enough ships in the region to provide adequate
security against pirate attacks and recommended that the
international community, through the UN Security Council,
focus counter piracy efforts on the Somali shore.

¶10. (U) Admiral Mullen did not have the opportunity to clear
before his departure.