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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ABUDHABI1401 2006-04-10 14:02 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Abu Dhabi
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ABU DHABI 001401 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2016 
REF: A. 05 ABU DHABI 3243 
     B. 05 ABU DHABI 3565 
     C. ABU DHABI 409 
     D. ABU DHABI 779 
     E. ABU DHABI 1228 
     F. ABU DHABI 248 (NOTAL) 
     G. ABU DHABI 176 
     H. ABU DHABI 605 
     I. USDEL 00007 
     J. ABU DHABI 1123 
     K. ABU DHABI 909 (NOTAL) 
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (S) Summary. Embassy Abu Dhabi looks forward to welcoming 
you to the UAE on April 23.  In the aftermath of the 
controversy of the Dubai Ports World acquisition of P&O, your 
assurances to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin 
Zayed (MbZ), your host for the visit, that the USG values the 
UAE as an ally and friend will be well received.  While you 
should commend the UAE for its assistance and cooperation, 
you should take advantage of your luncheon with MbZ and his 
brother, State Security Director Sheikh Hazza, to push the 
UAE on several areas of interest to the USG: 
counterterrorism, counter terror finance, Iran, Hamas, Iraq, 
and ideological extremism (each is covered in the 
scenesetter).  The UAE remains a committed partner in the 
global war on terror, but it continues to take an ad hoc 
approach to countering terrorism that "solves" the problem 
for the UAE locally, but fails to contribute on a 
transnational basis.  In January, the U.S. and the UAE held 
the first meeting of the Joint Terrorist Finance Coordinating 
Committee (JTFCC), but the discussions were not as detailed 
or as robust as the U.S. delegation anticipated.  Treasury 
U/S Levey will return to the UAE to hold a second meeting 
April 30 that will focus on cash couriers and charities. 
2. (S) Although the UAE regards Iran as one of its most 
serious threats to national security, UAE officials are 
reluctant to take actions that could anger their neighbor and 
compromise their extensive trading relationship.  At the same 
time, we are seeing more of a willingness on the part of the 
UAE to support USG initiatives without the full approval of 
the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).  As tensions escalate 
between Iran and the international community, the UAE is 
growing increasingly nervous.  The UAE leadership--which has 
told us they consider Hamas a terrorist organization--plans 
to uphold its previous commitments of humanitarian assistance 
to the Palestinian people.  The UAE has taken an active role 
in encouraging Sunni participation in the Iraqi political 
process and it continues to condemn the sectarian violence 
that is preventing stabilization of the country.  In the face 
of growing ideological extremism in the Gulf, the UAE 
leadership is politically determined not to allow Islamist 
extremists to gain a foothold on UAE soil.  End Summary. 
Counterterrorism Efforts 
3. (S) The UAE is concerned about the terrorist threat to the 
UAE, but lacks a comprehensive implementation strategy for 
reducing its vulnerability (ref A).  The UAE considers 
homeland security one of its top priorities, but rather than 
prioritizing national security projects, its efforts have 
focused on contracting risk assessments, forming committees, 
and procuring equipment.  The UAE has also aggressively tried 
to prevent the radicalization of UAE nationals and Arab/South 
Asian expatriates.  UAE officials publicly and strongly 
condemn extremism and terrorist attacks, anti-extremism has 
been the focus of government-approved Friday sermons in the 
mosques, and the UAE ministry of Education has modernized the 
Islamic studies curriculum in its schools. 
4. (S) The UAEG government reacts quickly when presented with 
evidence of a terrorist presence inside the UAE, but does not 
approach the problem from a transnational manner.  The UAE's 
immediate response when terrorists pose a risk is to deport 
them.  UAE agencies do not investigate fully to see how far 
the problem goes or whether there is an international network 
involved.  Although the U.S./UAE counterterrorism cooperation 
is strong (with the UAE working closely with the USG on 
specific cases), Emiratis do not consistently share lead 
information found in the possession of individuals in their 
custody with each other or with the U.S. Government.  These 
tactics limit law enforcement and intelligence services' 
ability to use intelligence to disrupt extremist cells and 
planned attacks.  The UAE's insistence on deportation as a 
solution does not protect the country long-term or truly 
address the nature and scope of the problem.  The UAEG must 
be willing to take action against Emirati nationals, it must 
investigate fully, and it must share information with other 
Gulf countries and with the USG. 
5. (S) The only way to generate significant change in the UAE 
on the issue of counterterrorism is to convince the senior 
leadership that it needs to continue to display political 
will and commitment in tackling the terror challenge with a 
transnational approach.  MbZ is the person most able to 
elicit this type of change.  Embassy recommends you have a 
frank and forthright discussion during your meeting with MbZ 
and his younger brother, Hazza, to encourage this type of 
change.  Although you should commend them for the UAE's CT 
efforts and cooperation, you should also encourage them to be 
personally involved in developing a more effective and fully 
cooperative counterterrorism posture. 
Counterterrorism Finance 
6. (S) The UAE has made significant strides in regulating the 
financial sector against money laundering and terrorist 
financing (ref B).  Although the UAE now has a strong legal 
framework in place, it must turn its efforts to enforcement. 
It is imperative that UAE authorities investigate and 
prosecute violators of terror finance/anti-money laundering, 
cash courier, and charity laws and regulations.  To date, 
investigation and prosecution has been weak.  In an effort to 
increase U.S. and UAE cooperation on terrorist financing, the 
first meeting of the U.S/UAE Joint Terrorist Finance 
Coordinating Committee (JTFCC) was held in Abu Dhabi on 
January 24, 2005 (ref C).  The UAE team had representatives 
from the Central Bank, State Security, Ministries of 
Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Justice.  However, no one 
participated from Dubai.  In order for the JTFCC to be an 
effective committee, Dubai's Police, State Security, Customs, 
and the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charities must 
participate.  Embassy is coordinating a second meeting April 
30 that will focus on cash couriers and charity regulations. 
7. (S/NF) UAE leaders are very concerned about escalating 
tensions between Iran and the international community.  The 
UAE feels vulnerable--as evidenced by the fact that its 
leaders frequently note that Iran is "very near" the UAE. 
Commercial ties between Dubai and Iran are significant (Dubai 
is Iran's largest non-oil trading partner), and as a result 
the UAEG walks a fine line between maintaining and 
encouraging this trade and working to prevent suspected 
Iranian proliferation activities.  Although the UAEG is 
worried about Iran's nuclear ambitions, its short-term policy 
decisions regarding Iran center on not provoking its 
neighbor.  The USG has approached the UAEG four times since 
January, asking it to interdict and inspect cargo suspected 
of going to Iran's nuclear and/or missile programs.  None of 
those instances have resulted in a successful interdiction. 
In the first two instances UAE officials simply refused to 
take action (refs F and G).  The Director of Dubai's State 
Security Organization explained during the 11 February 
U.S./UAE Counterproliferation Task Force meeting that the 
decision to not inspect the containers had been a political 
decision based on the UAE's concern that Iran might retaliate 
(ref H).  In the two later instances (ref K), ships that had 
been scheduled to arrive in Dubai went directly to Bandar 
8. (S) In recent meetings with senior USG officials, MbZ has 
expressed clear support for U.S. initiatives against Iran. 
MbZ and UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed 
bin Rashid agreed with Secretary Rice February 23 about the 
need to counter Iran's growing influence in the region and 
its nuclear ambitions, although they specified that any 
sanctions should target the key Iranian leadership, not the 
Iranian people (ref I).  MbZ told A/S Welch March 28 that he 
did not think it was necessary to wait for all Gulf 
Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to agree before 
proceeding with any plans against Iran (ref E).  "Whoever is 
interested in getting on board ship should be encouraged," he 
said.  "I don't think it's logical or smart to wait for 
everyone to get involved so we can sail. ... If another GCC 
member believes it's not right, that's his choice."  In the 
Arab region, MbZ specifically identified Bahrain and Jordan 
as two countries that also view Iran as a threat and that are 
"capable to work with us."  He told A/S Welch that the UAE 
would prepare a paper responding to USG concerns about Iran 
and mechanisms for addressing the challenge posed by Iran. 
In a March 27 meeting with CENTCOM Commander General Abizaid, 
MbZ spoke about the Iranian threat with a greater sense of 
urgency.  He was strongly in favor of taking action against 
Iran and its president sooner rather than later.  "I believe 
this guy is going to take us to war. ... It's a matter of 
time," MbZ warned, adding that action against Iran and 
President Ahmedinejad should be taken this year or next year. 
 MbZ said he was unwilling to wait much longer.  "Personally, 
I cannot risk it with a guy like Ahmedinejad.  He is young 
and aggressive." 
9. (S/NF) SSD Director Hazza told A/S Welch March 29 that the 
Ayatollah Ali Khameini had once issued a fatwa prohibiting 
the use of nuclear weapons by Iran, but noted that this 
should not be considered a guarantee.  Hazza assessed that 
Iran is also a threat due to its ties to international 
terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, as well as their 
financial support to Hamas.  He added that the relationship 
between Iran and Syria, and their links to Hizballah, was 
also of concern, as was Iran's attempts to expand its 
influence in Iraq and elsewhere in the world.  MbZ also 
expressed to A/S Welch March 28 the concern that Hizballah 
was supporting Hamas.  During your meeting, you should 
explain the graduated approach to addressing Iran in the 
United Nations Security Council and encourage the UAE to 
isolate Iran--regardless of potential economic backlash.  You 
should also explain the importance of the UAE working closely 
with the USG on interdiction requests.  This meeting will be 
a good follow-on to the discussion U/S Joseph had with 
Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan (AbZ) on April 
8, where Joseph outlined the USG's policy priorities for Iran 
(septel).  (Note: While AbZ, like MbZ, expressed support for 
U.S. initiatives against Iran, he stated that the USG should 
come to the UAE as a "very last resort. ... If you can solve 
something without involving the UAE, please do so."  End 
Palestinian Territories/Hamas 
10. (S) UAE leaders have told us that they consider Hamas a 
terrorist organization and that they would not fund Hamas 
unless they denounce violence (refs D and E).  However, after 
Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal visited Abu Dhabi on 
March 22 and met with UAE Minister of Presidential Affairs 
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Minister of State for 
Foreign Affairs Mohammed al-Sha'ali, Meshaal publicly claimed 
that the UAEG had pledged to continue to provide financial 
assistance to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (ref J). 
MbZ told A/S Welch March 28 that the UAEG allowed Meshaal to 
come, but that "officially, we don't recognize Khaled 
Meshaal."  MbZ said that once a new Palestinian Prime 
Minister is selected, UAEG officials will travel to the 
Palestinian territories to ascertain that UAEG assistance is 
"going to the right people."  UAE Vice President and Prime 
Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid sounded a note of 
optimism when he told Secretary Rice February 23 that Hamas, 
"with some pressure," would understand the need to respect 
the will of the international community. 
11. (S) The UAE has historically provided significant 
financial assistance to the Palestinian people.  Typically, 
the UAE sends aid to the Palestinian territories through 
charity organizations, or by projectized assistance; but the 
UAEG has also provided financial assistance directly to the 
Palestinian Authority, most recently $20 million in March 
2006 to Mahmoud Abbas for salaries.  In the wake of the Hamas 
electoral victory, UAE leaders told us they intend to honor 
their previous commitments of humanitarian assistance 
(including the $100 million Sheikh Khalifa housing complex 
that was announced last year). 
12. (S/NF) In his meeting with A/S Welch March 29, SSD 
Director Hazza assessed that there was both a positive and a 
negative side to the Hamas election win.  On the negative 
side, he cited Hamas' position with regard to Israel, and 
their violent agenda.  On the positive side, Hazza noted the 
fact that Hamas was now in power and was accountable to the 
international community.  He spoke to A/S Welch of the threat 
posed by the Muslim Brotherhood.  Hazza also asked A/S Welch 
how the USG would react to those countries that did support 
the Hamas government, and whether they would run afoul of 
U.S. laws restricting support to terrorist organizations. 
A/S Welch replied that that would be a problem, emphasizing 
that no money should go to the government unless Hamas 
renounced violence and accepted Israel.  A/S Welch also told 
Hazza that it was not the responsibility of the U.S. or other 
Arab countries to pay the salaries of the new Hamas 
government, underscoring the need for Hamas to show 
accountability.  MbZ told A/S Welch that Hamas benefited from 
"official and private contributions" from Saudi Arabia, 
Kuwait, and Qatar.  MbZ said it was "easy to take $1 million 
in a suitcase" to Lebanon, alluding to cash couriers. 
13. (S/NF) A partner in the war on terror, the UAE continues 
to provide U.S. forces access, overflight clearances, and 
other critical logistical assistance to Operation Iraqi 
Freedom (and Operation Enduring Freedom).  The UAE has also 
been a helpful supporter of Iraq's burgeoning political 
process.  It has worked with Iraqi political and religious 
figures to encourage greater Sunni integration, and it has 
consulted with Ambassador Khalilzad on a number of occasions 
about the need to stem sectarianism in Iraq.  The UAE has 
publicly condemned acts of sectarian and terrorist violence 
in Iraq, most recently, the February 22 bombing of the 
al-Askariya Shrine.  MbZ and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid 
expressed their concerns about Iran's interference in Iraq's 
internal affairs to Secretary Rice during her visit to Abu 
Dhabi February 23.  MbZ further told General Abizaid that 
discontent with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'afari was 
creating volunteers for al-Qaida.  He pledged the UAE's 
support to the fight against al-Qaida.  In his meeting with 
A/S Welch, MbZ advocated using the Arabic language media to 
tell Iraqis the truth about how many of their own people are 
dying at the hands of the insurgents.  If Iraqis were to see 
the figures, he opined, they would conclude that support of 
the insurgency is "not worth it." 
Ideological Extremism 
14. (S) MbZ and his brothers continue to be outspoken on the 
issue of Muslim extremists and the threat they pose to the 
region.  MbZ underscored for A/S Welch the UAE's preferred 
approach of denying extremists a foothold rather than 
allowing them to play a role in the political process. 
Although he warns of the dangers of free elections in 
countries with a well-organized Muslim Brotherhood presence, 
he tells USG guests that the UAE will go ahead with 
elections.  The Emirati leadership has told us that they will 
not allow Islamists to participate in elections.  (Note: The 
UAE has announced that half of the members of the Federal 
National Council would be elected while half would continue 
to be appointed by the rulers of the various emirates. 
Despite this announcement, the UAE still lags behind other 
Gulf states in terms of democratization.  End Note.)  MbZ 
also sees extremist ideology threatening the educational 
system, where he and his brothers are spending considerable 
resources to modernize the curriculum and the teaching corps.