December 2009

09ANKARA1725 2009-12-04 11:11 2010-12-05 21:09 SECRET Embassy Ankara


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E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/30/2019

¶B. BURDICK 10/16/09 EMAIL
¶C. ANKARA 430
¶D. STATE 108151

Classified By: DCM Doug Silliman for reasons 1.4(b and d)

¶1. (C) Summary. During an October 19-20 visit to Ankara,
Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and
Financial Crimes David Cohen cautioned government and banking
officials about doing business with Iranian banks. GOT
officials insisted they will comply with all UNSC
obligations, but are unwilling unilaterally to sever trade
with their neighbor Iran. A/S Cohen also discussed a pending
review of Turkey by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said he has created a task
force to consider broadening Turkey’s narrow definition of
terrorism, but cautioned that the parliament would not be
able to consider new legislation until it completes budget
deliberations in December. A/S Cohen expressed appreciation
for the creation of the task force, but emphasized that only
actions completed before February 2010 would be factored into
the FATF report. GOT officials expressed appreciation for
the USG’s designation of three PKK terrorist financiers.
Treasury’s delegation also included Senior Advisor Elizabeth
Rosenberg and Policy Advisor Christopher Burdick. End

First Opening on Amending the Definition of Terrorism
——————————————— ——–

¶2. (C) On October 19, A/S Cohen met with Finance Minister
Simsek and representatives of the Financial Crimes
Investigation Board (MASAK). Simsek began the meeting by
commending the USG’s decision to name three PKK terrorist
financiers to the list of significant narcotics traffickers.
A/S Cohen and Simsek discussed the FATF’s decision to
undertake a “targeted review” of Turkey that will consider
Turkey’s compliance with the FATF’s Anti-Money Laundering and
Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards.
The G-20 Leaders have given the FATF a firm deadline of
February 2010 for reporting on this stage of the review

¶3. (C) A/S Cohen explained the work of the FATF’s
International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG). In April
2009, G-20 Leaders tasked the FATF to assess jurisdictions’
compliance with internationally-agreed standards on AML/CFT
and name jurisdictions that do not have adequate
jurisdictions. After preliminary assessments, Turkey is
being considered for failure properly to implement an AML/CFT
regime that meets international standards. A/S Cohen
detailed the timeline for the FATF review: by mid-November
the GOT will receive a draft “targeted review” paper
describing Turkey’s key strategic deficiencies written by an
unnamed member of the FATF. In December, Turkey will meet
with the ICRG’s Europe and Eurasian Regional Review Group in
Strasbourg to discuss the paper and the action plan proposed
by the review group. In mid-February, the FATF plenary will
assess Turkey’s key strategic AML/CFT deficiencies and any
progress on addressing them. At that time, the FATF will
decide whether Turkey’s AML/CFT deficiencies represent a
threat to the international financial system and should be
publicly identified. Simsek said Turkey would cooperate
fully with the process and would continue its reform efforts,
but cautioned that the parliament will be fully occupied with
review of the Turkish budget until late December and would
not have time or manpower available until then to work
closely on terrorism financing.

¶4. (C) Simsek said Turkey was one of the first countries to
adopt an Anti-Terror Law and, as a long-time victim of
domestic and international terror attacks, Turkey recognizes
the importance of having the right framework in place to deal
with terror. Simsek said Turkey does not, in practice, have
a narrow view of terrorism and would not ignore terror
attacks against foreign entities or businesses in Turkey and
would treat perpetrators severely. A/S Cohen noted the need
to amend Turkey’s narrow legal definition of terrorism, which
covers only attacks against the Turkish state or Turkish
national interests, in order to be compliant with
international standards. Simsek advised that he has named a
task force with representatives from the Prime Ministry,
Foreign, Finance, and Justice Ministries, chaired by MASAK to
prepare a report on Turkey’s definition of terrorism and
action against terrorist financing. The report will be given
to the respective ministers, who will decide whether a change
is possible. A/S Cohen expressed appreciation for the
creation of the task force, but emphasized that only actions
completed before February 2010 would be factored in to the

FATF’s decision.

¶5. (C) Cohen expressed concern about delays in Turkey’s
compliance with the UNSC 1267 and 1373 designation process
and the low level of money laundering or terror finance
prosecutions. A/S Cohen noted Turkey’s progress on reforming
its customer due diligence, but said Turkey must strengthen
its efforts to fight terrorism finance.

Turkey Must Do Business with Neighbor Iran

¶6. (S) A/S Cohen made Reftel D points on Iran’s efforts to
circumvent UNSC and international sanctions with Turkish
financial institutions to Simsek, MASAK, xxxxxxxxxxxx, and the Banking
Regulation and Supervision Agency in separate meetings.

¶7. (S) A/S Cohen reminded Simsek of FATF’s repeated warnings
about doing business with Iranian banks and individuals.
Simsek was aware of these warnings and said Turkey would
uphold international law and comply with all UN Security
Council Resolutions. He said Turkish financial institutions
would continue to apply extreme due diligence and special
vigilance when dealing with Iran, but noted that Turkey has
the geographic reality of a long border and trading history
with Iran. He noted this trade must be financed on an
ongoing basis and insisted the U.S. must keep this in mind.
Simsek said Turkey would welcome any specific intelligence
the USG can share about Iranian entities supporting
terrorism. In response to downgraded intelligence
information on Iranian mis-use of the Turkish financial
system that A/S Cohen passed, Simsek noted Turkey wants all
its neighbors to be free of nuclear weapons. Simsek pledged
to instruct Turkish financial institutions to increase
vigilance against Iranians who might use deceptive methods to
circumvent international sanctions.

¶8. (S) On October 20, xxxxxxxxxxxx also expressed
appreciation for the USG’s “courageous” designation of the
three PKK terrorist financiers and the hope that Turkey’s
European partners will follow the U.S. example. He said
terrorists are not using weapons or components made or sold
in Turkey; instead, they are buying 90 percent of these
products from the EU. xxxxxxxxxxxx said pressure should be
brought against the EU to stop selling arms to Iran, rather
than just asking Turkey to stop the flow after the weapons
are sold.

¶9. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that Turkey has been suffering from
terrorism for decades and had an Anti-Terror Law in place
before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. He mentioned
the 2006 law criminalizing money laundering and GOT efforts
to enhance customer due diligence and suspicious transaction
reporting regimes. xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that Turkey follows
both domestic law and sanctions under its international
obligations when fighting terror finance, including the UN’s
Terrorism Finance Convention, UNSCR 1267 and 1373, and the
Counter Terrorism Committee, which Turkey will chair in 2010.

¶10. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said Turkey enforces all UNSCR sanctions
against Iran, despite a shared border and an
admittedly-difficult history, but cannot do anything beyond
UNSCRs and existing law. He added his hope that Europe will
follow the USG’s PKK designation example and noted that the
EU could and should do more against terrorist financing.

Aid to Gaza

¶11. (C) On Gaza, xxxxxxxxxxxx said Turkey’s interest is in
providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza directly without
providing support to Hamas. A/S Cohen encouraged the GOT and
private Turks to use UN mechanisms to give aid in ways that
keep money out of Hamas’s hands. He said “we sympathize with
the needs of people in Gaza” and will send money directly to
the people and work to “convince our Israeli friends to send
help also.” xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that the Israeli Government
has prohibited the movement of aid to Gaza. A/S Cohen raised
concerns about IHH, the Turkish Humanitarian Relief
Foundation, which was a large NGO providing material
assistance to Hamas. (See Reftel C.) xxxxxxxxxxxx said he
was not familiar with the NGO but would look into the matter.

Halkbank Cautious on Trade Finance with Iran

¶12. (S) A/S Cohen met with xxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxxxxx to discuss concerns about Halkbank’s involvement with
Iran and possible Iranian efforts to circumvent sanctions by
disguising the real origins and sources of transactions.
xxxxxxxxxxxx said Halkbank complies with all UN sanctions and will
remain alert and extra vigilant against these efforts. He
noted that Halkbank has a representative office in Tehran,
left over from its 2004 merger with Pamuk Bank. He noted
that after the 2004 merger, Halkbank ended its correspondent
banking relationship, but not its business development,
maintaining a representative in Tehran. He acknowledged
Halkbank has a long-inactive correspondent account with Bank
Sepah, which it can close. xxxxxxxxxxxx emphasized that Halkbank
provides financial services and products for trade, but does
not undertake third party or transit transactions. All of
its trade finance is done on a documentary basis with strict
customs controls and inspections. He added that no deals are
financed on a cash-for-goods basis. xxxxxxxxxxxx said Turkey has
“many millions of Euros” in trade with Iran, but apart from
oil purchases, the total is only 10-15 million Euro. A/S
Cohen warned that the USG has evidence of Iran falsifying
documents to push through transactions. xxxxxxxxxxxx said
they would remain vigilant and would welcome any specific

¶13. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that 25 percent of Halkbank’s equity
floats on the Istanbul Stock Exchange and 90 percent of that
total is foreign owned. He said Halkbank is careful to
consult and be alert to all names on the Office of Foreign
Assets Control list and all circulars and information from
MASAK. A/S Cohen discussed the need to broaden the Turkish
definition of terrorism and further criminalize terrorist
financing. The Halkbank officials agreed and said the AKP
has the votes needed to push this through the parliament.
xxxxxxxxxxxx asked A/S Cohen how the USG’s relationship with Iran
will develop over time. A/S Cohen responded that the USG
wants to work with the international community to prevent
Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We want to keep
communication lines open but also to hold Iran to UNSC
sanctions and obligations, he added. Halkbank closed by
noting that there was a sensitive balance that Turkey had to
play, noting the large numbers of unemployed youth in Iran
and the need for Turkey to offer legitimate help to the
Iranian economy.

¶14. (SBU) A/S Cohen met with representatives of the Banking
Regulation and Supervision Agency (BRSA) to discuss points
mentioned above. BRSA noted Turkey’s progress in complying
with FATF regulations and efforts to expand that work. They
outlined the bank examination and auditing process and the
collection of data on all banks in Turkey. The officials
made note of all A/S Cohen’s points and pledged to share the
information with xxxxxxxxxxxx. In response
to specific instances of illicit Iranian activities, the BRSA
officials pledged to pass this information to the BRSA’s
Enforcement Division and reply with any information that they
found. Regarding the activities of Bank Mellat, BRSA
officials noted that the bank has a negligible share of the
banking sector. Mellat conducts mainly trade transactions
through its Turkish branches, and the bank is audited four
times per year by external auditors.

¶15. (U) A/S Cohen has cleared on this report.


“Visit Ankara’s Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s”

09TELAVIV2734 2009-12-18 08:08 2010-12-19 21:09 SECRET Embassy Tel Aviv

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2019

Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Marc Sievers, reasons 1.4

¶1. (S) Summary: During a December 14 meeting with Senate
staff members (Michael Kuiken, Senate Armed Services
Committee, and Perry Cammack, Senate Committee on Foreign
Relations), the Prime Minister’s Director for Policy Planning
Ron Dermer confirmed a solid U.S.-Israeli relationship that
weathered a “rocky start” following the transition to new
administrations in both countries. He argued that the
international environment has changed in favor of pursuing a
pressure track with Iran; tougher sanctions combined with
continued domestic pressure within Iran might bring about
change in Tehran. He expressed frustration with the peace
process, noting that the GOI has taken steps in the effort to
convince Abu Mazen to return to the negotiating table to no
avail. Dermer said PM Netanyahu’s patience has “run out,”
and that the GOI will make no more concessions in that regard
— it is time for Abu Mazen to “be a leader.” End summary.

U.S.-Israeli Relations

¶2. (S) Dermer described U.S.-Israeli relations as good and
improving, but acknowledged that the relationship between the
new Obama and Netanyahu administrations got off to a “rough,
rocky start.” He noted that changes in administrations in
both countries at nearly the same time were “relatively rare”
— both entered office and started formulating policy based
on electoral mandates representing change from the previous
administrations. Dermer said that the United States and
Israel agree on so many things; when an issue of disagreement
arises, the media tends to disproportionally accentuate the
disagreement — as was the case earlier in the year on

¶3. (S) Since this disagreement, Dermer said relations between
the two administrations have improved daily, and were “only
getting stronger.” He noted greater U.S.-Israeli cooperation
and coordination, especially with regard to confronting Iran
and its attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Dermer said
that President Obama does not get enough credit in Israel for
weighing in helpfully on several issues affecting Israel’s
security, such as the Goldstone Report, problems in the
Turkey-Israel relations, and the recent EU Council statement
on East Jerusalem. He also cited the successful Juniper
Cobra joint missile defense exercise hosted by Israel in
November 2009.


¶4. (S) Dermer said there was “great understanding” between
President Obama and PM Netanyahu on Iran during their first
meeting in May 2009. Since then, several events related to
Iran have helped changed the international community’s view
on Iran: the Iranian elections and the regime’s subsequent
crackdown, the discovery of the Qom enrichment facility, and
Iran’s refusal of the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) proposal.
Dermer noted that PM Netanyahu has been quite vocal on Iran
over the last 15 years; as the PM’s communications advisor,
Dermer said he is often asked why Netanyahu has not spoken
out against Tehran recently. Dermer described the PM’s
uncharacteristic public reticence as a strategic decision to
give the United States a chance to succeed and not undermine
the engagement process.

¶5. (S) Dermer suggested that the “stars are aligning” in
favor of putting more pressure on Iran. He described the
upcoming French UNSC presidency as positive, while the GOI
was pleased to see the Swedish EU presidency come to an end.
Dermer said the trick was to convince Tehran that the
continued pursuit of its weapons program would cause the
regime’s downfall, and that Russia remains the key on

¶6. (S) Dermer acknowledged disparate voices within the GOI on
strategy regarding Iran, but added that PM Netanyahu favored
tough economic sanctions combined with support for internal
democratic dissent. Dermer compared Iran to the former
Soviet Union, in which experts were shocked by its internal
fragility and subsequent sudden collapse. The assumption is
that Iran is powerful, he said, but internal dissent coupled
with constant external pressure could lead to the fall of the
regime. He noted the importance of finding Iran’s “Achilles
heel” to apply pressure on the regime — perhaps through
Iran’s lack of oil refinery infrastructure. Dermer also said
that PM Netanyahu was impressed with the recent efforts by
Senators Brownback and Specter to secure funding to provide
all-source, uncensored internet access to peoples living

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under repressive regimes.

Peace Process

¶7. (S) Dermer noted that the GOI has taken a number of steps
in the effort to jump-start the peace process with the
Palestinians, but to no avail — as a result, Netanyahu’s
patience has “run out,” he said. Dermer noted progress on
West Bank checkpoints and outpost evacuations, Netanyahu’s
acceptance of the two-state solution during his June 2009 Bar
Ilan speech, allowing “violent” individuals into the West
Bank to attend the Fatah party congress, and the recent
settlement moratorium. He claimed that 70 percent of the
Israeli public opposes the moratorium (note: we think this is
an exaggeration) — this was a difficult decision for
Netanyahu, but one he decided to make to restart

¶8. (S) Dermer lamented the lack of a partner on the
Palestinian side to pursue negotiations. He pointed to an
interview Abu Mazen gave to The Washington Post’s Jackson
Diehl six months ago in which Abu Mazen implied he would “sit
back and wait” for the United States to deliver Israel to the
negotiating table. Dermer accused Abu Mazen of trying to
internationalize the conflict, which he described as a “big
mistake.” The GOI understands Abu Mazen’s political
constraints and lack of support from Arab regional partners
— but at the end of the day, Abu Mazen must “be a leader,”
Dermer said.

¶9. (S) Dermer noted that there will come a point readily
apparent to the GOI in which the settlement freeze offers
diminishing returns. He said the steps or “concessions” the
GOI has taken thus far have been devalued because they were
made outside the context of negotiations — “give us
context,” he said. In that regard, Dermer stated
categorically that the GOI will not make any more concessions
to Abu Mazen in order to return to negotiations — “that is
over.” He asked what steps the PA has taken to return to the
negotiating table, and dismissed Palestinian progress in the
security sector as simply efforts to preserve Fatah’s power.

¶10. (S) Dermer said that while Netanyahu is ready to engage
at any time, the Israeli public is skeptical regarding the
benefits of returning to negotiations with the Palestinians.
He noted that it would be “extremely difficult” for Netanyahu
to approach the Cabinet at this point regarding negotiations
when all the GOI has received in return for its efforts was a
“slap-down from the international community” following the
Goldstone Report.

¶11. (S) Dermer said Netanyahu does not believe Abu Mazen is
as weak as he claims, and that Abu Mazen has the potential to
“rise to the occasion” in negotiating peace. However, he
said Abu Mazen must make some sort of gesture to return to
the table and “prepare his people” for the difficult
decisions necessary for peace. Seemingly simple steps such
as employing new language or condemning violence and
terrorism — something the GOI believes Abu Mazen has not
done since 2003 — would be very appreciated, Dermer said.

¶12. (U) The staffdel cleared this cable.

09TELAVIV2777, CODEL SKELTON’S MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER 2009-12-23 10:10 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tel Aviv

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2019

Classified By: DCM Luis G. Moreno, Reason 1.4 (b) (d)

¶1. (C) Summary. CODEL Skelton met with Prime Minister
Netanyahu November 16 at the Prime Minister’s office in
Jerusalem. Their discussion covered Netanyahu’s meeting with
President Obama the previous week, Netanyahu’s interest in
resuming negotiations with the Palestinians, the Iranian
nuclear program and options for tougher sanctions, possible
negotiations with Syria, U.S.-Israeli cooperation on missile
defense, and Israel’s objections to the Goldstone Report.
Netanyahu said his meeting with the President was the best
meeting that they have had. He stressed that he had told the
President that he is ready to negotiate with Abu Mazen now,
and contrasted Israel’s position with the PA’s setting of
preconditions for negotiations. Netanyahu listed steps the
GOI has taken to support Abu Mazen, noting that the PA is
“doing a good job” on security. A nuclear Iran, however,
would “wash away” all progress as well as undermining
Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. Netanyahu
said that Iran is vulnerable to sanctions and urged the U.S.
to increase the pressure on Iran, with likeminded countries
if Russia and China will not support new sanctions in the
Security Council. Netanyahu commented that there is broader
Arab and European support for tough sanctions than in the
past, although the Arabs may not say so publicly. Netanyahu
praised President Obama’s commitment to missile defense, and
commented that U.S.-Israeli cooperation on missile defense
sends a strong signal to Israel’s enemies. He thanked the
CODEL for the Congress’ support. Netanyahu said Israel faces
three main threats: Iran’s nuclear program, the build-up of
rockets and missiles in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and the
Goldstone Report, which condemned Israel for defending its
civilian population from years of rocket attacks. Netanyahu
said Israel will need to ensure that a future Palestinian
state cannot launch rockets at Israel’s international airport
or critical facilities. End Summary.

Let’s Get on with Negotiations

¶2. (U) CODEL Skelton, consisting of House Armed Services
Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D, MO) and Mrs. Skelton,
Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), Representative Tim Murphy
(R, PA), Congressional Staff members Phil McNaughton, Michael
Casey, and John Wason, Military aides Colonel Jeff Koch and
PolCouns met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu November
¶16. Netanyahu was joined by Deputy National Security Adviser
Rear Admiral (reserve) Avriel Bar Josef, media adviser Mark
Regev, policy adviser Ari Harrow, and a Congressional liaison
officer from the Israeli Embassy in Washington.

¶3. (C) Netanyahu began the meeting by noting his
appreciation for his meeting with President Obama at the
White House the previous week. Netanyahu described his
conversation with the President as “the best we’ve had so
far.” He said that regarding negotiations with the
Palestinians, he told the President, “let’s get on with it.”
Netanyahu stated that his government had removed hundreds of
obstacles and roadblocks in the West Bank, helping the West
Bank economy achieve a seven percent growth rate, adding “and
we can kick it up to ten percent growth.” Netanyahu said his
Bar Ilan address last June had been difficult for him, but it
had united Israelis in support of accepting a demilitarized
Palestinian state. The current GOI had also restrainted
construction in settlements more than its past several

¶4. (C) Netanyahu then contrasted his efforts with the PA,
which he said is maintaining a “political and economic
boycott” of Israel, setting preconditions for negotiations,
supporting the Goldstone Report in the UN, and is now talking
about a unilateral declaration of independence. Israel wants
to engage, but the Palestinians do not. Netanyahu quoted a
Palestinian official as saying that the PA had “exhausted the
negotiating process,” then noted that the Palestinians have
not even started to talk to his government. The real
difference, he pointed out, is that Abu Mazen is facing
elections, while Israel has already conducted its elections.
Netanyahu also commented that the Palestinians had initially
expected the U.S. to “deliver Israel” on all of their
demands, but are now realizing that this will not happen.
President Obama understands, he stated, that Israel is ready
to move forward. The alternatives to negotiations are bad
for everyone. Netanyahu said that if Abu Mazen would engage,
they would confront all the issues. The process would not be
easy, but it has to get started.

¶5. (C) Netanyahu said the West Bank had remained quiet
during Operation Cast Lead because the Palestinians do not

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want to live under Hamas’ rule. He asserted that according
to recent polls, Abu Mazen and Fatah would easily win an
election, even in Gaza. Netanyahu stressed that he was not
pushing for the Palestinians to hold elections, but was
instead focused on promoting the expansion of the West Bank
economy by removing both physical and bureaucratic obstacles.
He acknowledged that the PA is “doing a good job” on
security, though he added that PA leaders are not aware of
everything Israel is doing to support the PA’s security. If
we could add a political process to the cooperation that
currently exists, we could get security, economic
development, and peace. Netanyahu warned, however, that if
Iran gets a nuclear bomb, the peace process would be “washed
away.” Even Israel’s peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan
would come under enormous pressure.

Iran Sanctions

¶6. (C) Chairman Skelton noted that his Committee is
following Iran closely. Netanyahu said he had advised the
President to stick to the deadline on the TRR offer, adding
that it is also important to ask Iran to stop its enrichment
activities. Netanyahu commented that there is a new mood in
the major European capitals in support of sanctions. The
U.S. does not need to depend on the Security Council, but can
work with likeminded countries. Sanctions should focus on
Iran’s importation of gasoline, while also focusing on
opening up the information networks. The U.S. should lead
the world toward tougher sanctions, or more of the Arab
states will start appeasing Iran, as Qatar is doing.
Netanyahu summed up his advice as: “stick to the deadline,
be firm on the terms, and apply sanctions” if Iran does not
comply. He thought Russia may be more inclined than in the
past, but it would be best not to count on the Security
Council. Having set a deadline, the P5 1 should stick to it.
The Western powers at least will go along. We should close
the gap between understanding the problem and acting on it,
he said. Netanyahu said Israel’s problems with Iran are not
limited to its nuclear program. Even without a nuclear
umbrella, Iran is sending hundreds of tons of weapons to
Syria, Hamas and Hizballah. The ship seized November 3 by
the Israeli Navy had on board two thirds of the amount of
rockets fired at Israel during the 2006 Lebanon War.

¶7. (C) Representative Israel asked Netanyahu about the
timetable for Iran to achieve a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu
responded that Iran has the capability now to make one bomb
or they could wait and make several bombs in a year or two.
It is important to bear in mind that the Iranian regime was
exposed as a fraud during their presidential elections. The
Iranian people detest the regime and have shown great courage
in the streets. The exposure of the Qom facility also helped
convince doubters in the international community that Iran
has a weapons program. Iran has a weak economy and a
fractured political system, so it is vulnerable to sanctions.
The time to act diplomatically is now, Netanyahu said,
adding that we still have a year or two to stop the Iranian
program. Netanyahu said he thought President Obama
understands Iran perfectly. The Arab leaders hope Iran will
be stopped, there is broad Arab and European support for
“vigorous steps.” Chairman Skelton asked whether the Arabs
would state their support publicly. Netanyahu replied they
might not, but it would not make a large difference since the
Arab “street” will not rise up in support of the Iranian

Ready to Talk to Syria

¶8. (C) Regarding Syria, Netanyahu urged the U.S. to press
Damascus to stop supplying arms to Hizballah. Noting that he
had stopped in Paris to meet President Sarkozy on his way
back to Israel from Washington, Netanyahu confirmed media
reports that Sarkozy had offered to mediate between Israel
and Syria. Netanyahu said he would prefer direct
negotiations with the Syrians, but added that he would accept
France as a mediator. President Asad, however, still wants
Turkey as the mediator. Noting that Turkish PM Erdogan had
recently stated that he would prefer to meet with Sudanese
President Omar Bashir than with Netanyahu, Netanyahu asked
how the Turks could be fair mediators.

Working Together on Missile Defense

¶9. (C) Netanyahu said that in addition to peace with the
Palestinians and Iran, he and the President had discussed
joint U.S.-Israeli efforts on missile defense. Netanyahu

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commented that he had personally visited the Juniper Cobra
joint military exercise. The program has reached a phase at
which it is possible to monitor incoming missiles with a good
lead-time, but it is still very expensive to intercept “crude
rockets” such as those fired from Gaza. The information
shield is moving ahead nicely, but the physical shield is
lagging behind. Netanyahu observed that it is very important
for the U.S. and its allies to be able to defend themselves
against missile attack. Chairman Skelton noted that U.S.
personnel who briefed the CODEL were very optimistic about
the program. Netanyahu said only the U.S. and Israel are
currently working on missile defense. This cooperation sends
a powerful message to Israel’s enemies he noted, and thanked
the CODEL and the Congress for their support.

Goldstone Report a Key Threat

¶10. (C) Netanyahu commented that Israel currently faces
three principal threats: Iran’s nuclear program, missile
proliferation and the Goldstone Report. Goldstone gave
terrorists immunity to attack Israel if they fire from
populated areas. During Cast Lead the IDF send thousands and
flyers, text messages and phone calls to civilians, warning
them to get out of the way, yet Israel was accused of war
crimes. Hamas and other terrorists fired 12.000 rockets into
Israel from Gaza, Netanyahu said, noting that Israel is the
only country in the world faced with threats to annihilate
it. Netanyahu asked the CODEL to imagine a situation in
which Israeli Air Force pilots must consult with lawyers
before they can travel abroad. Former PM Olmert, former
FonMin Livni and DefMin Barak could be hauled before the
International Criminal Court. Netanyahu said he could not
accept that IDF soldiers could be charged with war crimes for
protecting their country from constant attack. The deaths of
several hundred civilians in Gaza was “tragic,” Netanyahu
said, but there was no deliberate targeting of civilians by
Israel. Deliberate targeting of civilians is a war crime,
but what should Israel do when terrorists deliberately target
Israeli civilians and then hide within their civilian

¶11. (U) CODEL Skelton did not clear this cable.

09DOHA733 2009-12-21 12:12 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Doha

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Classified By: Ambassador Joseph E. LeBaron, for reasons 1.4 (b, d)

¶1. (S) Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani (who serves
concurrently as Foreign Minister) of Qatar will visit
Washington beginning January 4 to continue the strategic
consultations that Qatar and the USG have pursued since June,
when Near Eastern Affairs Assistant Secretary Feltman first
proposed them in Doha. As part of those consultations,
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Al-Mahmoud and
Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Mohamad Al-Rumaihi
visited Washington last fall.

¶2. (S) The Prime Minister travels to Washington with the aim
of laying the groundwork for visits in the first half of 2010
by Qatar’s Heir Apparent and the Amir. We believe he will be
prepared to discuss the gaps between the USG and GOQ on
Middle East peace and counterterrorism cooperation, as well
as to discuss setting the stage for joint cooperation on
Iran, Iraq and other regional issues.

¶3. (S) Suggested talking points for meetings with the PM:

— We thank you for bringing with you to Washington a
commitment to fund the PA. Your decision to do so is
extremely important to us. We view it as a clear gesture of
friendship to us and of a commitment to partner with us on
Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, just as the United States and
Qatar have partnered on Darfur.

— As your ally and friend, we hope we can look to you to
increase your cooperation with us on counterterrorism. We
want to work particularly closely with you and enacting
policies and programs that deter financial flows to Hamas and
the Taliban.

— In this context, we applaud your work with the IMF on
making needed legal and procedural changes to curtail
financing to terrorists. We are ready to help you with
technical support and training once the IMF and Qatar have
worked out an action plan.

— We especially value consultations with you on Iran. We
recognize your national need for a working relationship with
Iran, given the natural gas reserves you share with Iran.
How best do you think we can persuade Iran to give up its
military nuclear aims without military confrontation?

— We understand that you are close to announcing a decision
to open an Embassy in Baghdad, but that much depends on
resolving the issue of Iraq’s debts to Qatar. Is there
anything we can do to help?

— We encourage you to recognize an independent Kosovo, as
Saudi Arabia and others have now done. We certainly
appreciate your votes in favor of Kosovo in the IMF and World
Bank. They are important precursors to formal recognition,
but when will you take that final step?

— On Yemen, we know that President Saleh asked Qatar to stop
its mediation between the central government and Huthi
rebels. Given your past involvement there, what thoughts do
you have on bringing about stability on the Arabian

— We applaud Qatar’s decision to make food security a
priority, not just for itself but for the entire Arab world.
Food security is a priority for the USG, as well, and we
share Qatar’s view that it must be addressed through a
combination of commerce, investment, technical assistance,
technology transfer, and direct aid.

Addressing the Fatah-Hamas Split and Funding the PA
——————————————— ——

¶4. (S) Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim (HBJ) has told NEA A/S
Feltman that he will come with a financial commitment to fund
the Palestinian Authority. This is an extremely important
gesture by Qatar to the United States. He will also be
prepared to discuss with Secretary Clinton and others Qatar’s
view of Hamas, continued contacts with whose leaders it sees
as key to bringing about a stable and enduring Middle East
peace. We expect HBJ to share what other steps Qatar is
prepared to take in support of the Palestinian Authority (PA)
and, in particular, Mahmoud Abbas, whose continued leadership

DOHA 00000733 002.2 OF 003

of the PA Qatar’s leaders support. HBJ is likely to bring
with him new ideas to reconcile Hamas and Fatah. Given
Qatar’s history of mediation efforts HBJ will no doubt
suggest that Qatar can play a helpful role. Qatar’s
restoration of normal operations of the Israeli Trade Office
in Doha would also give testimony to Qatar’s willingness to
help achieve U.S. objectives, but we do not expect the
Qataris to take this step absent some significant gesture
from the Israelis, such as much less restricted access to
Gaza for Qatar’s humanitarian efforts.

¶5. (S) Qatar almost certainly will not be willing to break
off ties or dialogue with Hamas. If asked to do so, we think
HBJ will explain that the Amir gave his word to both Hamas
and Fatah that he would financially support the winner of
democratic elections in Palestine. Hamas won those
elections, which the Bush Administration pressed the Amir to
support actively. The Amir believes that it would be
dishonorable to isolate Hamas after he convinced its leaders
to participate in elections that were backed by the United

Greater Cooperation on Counterterrorism Needed
——————————————— –

¶6. (S) It is important to make clear to HBJ that cooperation
between the United States and Qatar on counterterrorism
issues in general needs to be greatly improved. Officials
should make known USG concerns about the financial support to
Hamas by Qatari charitable organizations and our concerns
about the moral support Hamas receives from Yousef
Al-Qaradawi. It is also essential to stress that high-level
Qatari political support is needed, if financial flows to
terrorists are to stop.

¶7. (S) An International Monetary Fund (IMF) employee began
advising Qatar’s Financial Intelligence Unit in October (in a
relationship expected to last three full years) on making the
necessary legal and procedural changes to address the 49
areas in which international experts have recommended changes
to Qatar’s procedures. We assess that the FIU is serious
about making technical changes that will enhance Qatar’s
reputation as a global financial center, but we project that,
absent political support from the top, the IMF/Qatari
partnership will fall short in achieving its goals.

Need for Close Consultations on Iran

¶8. (S) Qatar shares a mammoth natural gas field with Iran.
As a result, Qatar carefully maintains with Iran a high tempo
of top-level contacts , which have increased since the
protests following Iranian presidential elections). Qatar
does this because it is convinced that such a close
relationship with Iran is key to safeguarding trillions of
dollars in potential wealth. We are convinced that Qatar
will not be dissuaded from maintaining those ties.

¶9. (S) That said, Qatar’s leaders — while careful not to say
it publicly — do not trust Iran; and Qatar does not want
Iran to have nuclear weapons.

¶10. (S) Qatar’s relationship with Iran is important to us
for another reason. Qatar hosts the forward headquarters of
CENTCOM and allows us to use Al-Udaid Air Base for
unrestricted air operations over Iraq and Afghanistan. We
pay no rent for these facilities, and the Qataris have funded
about 60 percent of the improvements to Al-Udaid since our
partnership on that base began. While few, least of all
Qatar, want a military confrontation with Iran, the USG no
doubt would want to use these Qatari facilities in any
kinetic operations against Iran. Right now, we anticipate
that Qatar would refuse to allow Qatari soil to be used to
attack Iran, short of some sort of permanent USG security
guarantee to Qatar, to include its offshore natural gas field
shared with Iran.

Finding a Way Forward on Iraq

¶11. (S) For several months, Qatar has expressed frustration
with the current government of Iraq, which it views as too
Shi’a in orientation for its liking, but appears now to be
prepared to consider investment offsets, provided by the
Government of Iraq, but owned by Qatar, as a means for Iraq

DOHA 00000733 003.2 OF 003

to repay the GOI’s debt owed Qatar. That would be an avenue
for the resumption of a political relationship, to include an
HBJ visit to Baghdad and the opening of a Qatari Embassy in
Iraq. We should encourage Qatar’s outreach to Baghdad and
also encourage Iraq’s government to shore up its relations
with Doha.

Recognizing Kosovo

¶12. (C) MFA Assistant Minister Mohamad Al-Rumaihi told
Ambassador December 20 that Qatar’s IMF and World Bank votes
in favor of Kosovo show Qatar’s true sympathies on
recognizing Kosovo. The Russian President, however, has
asked Qatar to “go slow” in announcing recognition, he said.
Out of sensitivity to Russian concerns, Al-Rumaihi said,
Qatar has done so. He encouraged Secretary Clinton to ask
HBJ about the timing of Qatar’s eventual recognition, noting
that that Qatar had been approached by organizers of a UK
project about using its good offices with the Government of
Kosovo to protect Kosovo’s Christian heritage once Qatar
formally recognizes its independence.

Cool to Yemen’s Approach on the Huthi

¶13. (S) Having attempted to mediate between Huthi rebels in
Yemen and the central government there (before President
Saleh put an end to Qatar’s involvement), Qatar believes the
Huthi tribes have legitimate grievances that the central
government must address in dialogue and negotiations. It can
be expected that HBJ will discourage a military approach to
solving the Huthi problem and claim that the role of Huthi
elements in supporting terrorism in the guise of Al-Qaida is

Food Security

¶14. (U) Qatar will host March 3-4, 2010 an international
conference focused on food security in the Arab World. IFAD
(International Fund for Agricultural Development) is a
co-host, as is the Islamic Development Bank. The conference
will have a set of ambitious goals, to include a conference
declaration establishing a permanent secretariat to address
the food security issues of the poorer states of the Arab
League. According to officials of Texas A&M’s Borlaug
Institute, this will be the first such conference on regional
food security issues hosted by an Arab government in the 50
years the institute has been active in the Middle East and
North Africa.

¶15. (SBU) In Embassy Doha’s judgment, Qatar’s food security
policies and strategies reflect the rapidly growing intent by
the Amir and Crown Prince to make food security a key
national priority for Qatar, not just in terms of Qatar’s own
food security needs, but in terms of the food security needs
of the Arab region. (HBJ supports having an active food
security policy, as long as it has a strong commercial focus.)

¶16. (SBU) That judgment stems from our conversations with
Qatar government officials:

— While QNFSP’s short-term focus is on the State of Qatar
and building the domestic agricultural sector to diminish
reliance on imports, the strategic goal of QNFSP is to export
the technologies developed in Qatar to countries throughout
the MENA region, and other areas with arid climates.

— Toward that end, some research results will be part of the
public domain and available to everyone. Some technology
transfer to poorer MENA nations will be donor-based, through
the activities of the offices of the State Minister for
International Cooperation. The third component of Qatar’s
strategic goal of exporting QNFSP technology will be more
commercially based, and will employ public/private