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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ABUDHABI1725 2006-04-29 13:01 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 001725 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/28/2016 
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) 
     L. ABU DHABI 1520 
     M. ABU DHABI 1716 
     N. ABU DHABI 1422 
     O. ABU DHABI 1724 
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 May 7.  U.S. and UAE officials have had a 
number of productive meetings on the topic of 
counterterrorism, the most recent of which came on April 22, 
when Fran Townsend, Assistant to the President for Homeland 
Security and Counterterrorism, met over lunch with Abu Dhabi 
Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) and his brother, 
Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (AbZ).  Your visit 
builds on our ongoing dialogue and efforts 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).  We have 
requested separate meetings with Foreign Minister Sheikh 
Abdullah bin Zayed (AbZ), whom you met in New York last 
September, and State Security Director Sheikh Hazza bin 
Zayed, whom Deputy Coordinator Urbancic met last October.  In 
your meetings, you should commend the UAE for its assistance 
and cooperation, including its strong condemnation of the 
April 24 bomb attack in Dahab.  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).  Treasury U/S Levey is currently in the 
UAE to hold a second meeting 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 provoke 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 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.  In your meetings, we recommend that 
you inquire about the government's plan, announced by 
President Khalifa in December 2005, to place all the security 
agencies under a newly established National Security Council. 
 MbZ, asked by Townsend if the UAE was worried about its oil 
infrastructure, responded emphatically, "absolutely."  He 
told Townsend that there are three international companies 
currently conducting risk assessments of the UAE oil 
infrastructure and maritime security for the UAEG.  Townsend 
offered U.S. assistance in helping the UAE to reduce its 
vulnerability (ref O). 
4. (S) The UAEG reacts quickly when presented with evidence 
of a terrorist presence inside the UAE, but does not approach 
the problem from a transnational posture.  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.  Townsend 
discussed this matter with MbZ and urged the UAE to instead 
to fully investigate terror suspects and share the results of 
those inquiries with the USG. 
Counterterrorism Finance 
5. (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 have been weak.  In an effort 
to increase U.S. and UAE cooperation on terrorist financing, 
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.  The April 30 meeting will focus on cash 
couriers and charity regulations. 
6. (S/NF) UAE leaders are very concerned about escalating 
tensions between Iran and the international community.  AbZ 
publicly expressed his country's concern, and the entire 
region's "vulnerability," at a press conference in Kuwait 
April 25, while urging a peaceful resolution (ref M). 
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 has 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 not to 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 
Abbas.  AbZ told U/S Joseph during his April 8 visit to Abu 
Dhabi that the USG should approach the UAE on interdiction 
requests "only as a last resort" (ref N).  Two weeks later, 
he assured Townsend that the UAEG does not want Iran to take 
advantage of the UAE's open trading environment.  He said the 
UAE was in the final stages of ratifying its export control 
law and that it would be announced "soon."  In an encouraging 
development, the UAE on April 15 privately endorsed the 
Proliferation Security Initiative's Statement of Interdiction 
Principles (ref L). 
7. (S) In recent meetings with senior USG officials, Abu 
Dhabi's ruling family has expressed clear support for U.S. 
initiatives against Iran.  The U.S. and UAE have a "common 
desire to succeed," AbZ told U/S Joseph, noting that the 
combination of Iran and terrorism is something that cannot be 
tolerated.  "The threat from al-Qa'ida would be minor if Iran 
has nukes," AbZ said (ref N).  MbZ told Townsend April 22 
that the Iranians think that the U.S. will not do anything 
about their recent declaration that they have successfully 
enriched uranium.  He added that he thought the Iranians were 
wrong.  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 U.S. plans against Iran (ref E).  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. 
8. (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 meetings, 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.  These meetings will 
be a good follow-on to the discussion U/S Joseph had with AbZ 
April 8, when Joseph outlined the USG's policy priorities for 
Iran.  (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 
9. (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."  In his meeting with Townsend, 
MbZ said that the UAE "felt the Muslim Brotherhood rally 
behind Hamas" after its electoral victory in the Palestinian 
territories, and that the Hamas victory should be a lesson to 
the West.  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. 
10. (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). 
11. (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. 
12. (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 told Townsend that he had "no 
confidence" in the new Iraqi Prime Minister-designate, Jawad 
al-Maliki, and he reiterated his concern about Iran's 
meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.  He has pledged the 
UAE's support to the fight against al-Qaida. 
Ideological Extremism 
13. (S) The Abu Dhabi ruling family continue to be outspoken 
on the issue of Muslim extremists and the threat they pose to 
the region.  MbZ told Townsend that if there were an election 
in Dubai tomorrow, the Muslim Brotherhood would take over. 
He said the challenge is to find a way to remove the 
extremists in a way that they never come back.  One way he 
and his brothers have been trying to accomplish this is by 
reforming the education system, which they say was penetrated 
by the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1960s.  (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.)  UAE 
officials publicly and strongly condemn extremism and 
terrorist attacks, anti-extremism has been the focus of 
government-approved Friday sermons in the mosques.