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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03KUWAIT115
2003-01-15 09:49:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

BAGHDAD ON HIS MIND: GOK'S PRE-OCCUPATION WITH IRAQ

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  IZ  IR  KU 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000115 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP, NEA/NGA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV IZ IR KU
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD ON HIS MIND: GOK'S PRE-OCCUPATION WITH IRAQ


Classified By: Richard H. Jones for Reason 1.5 D.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000115

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP, NEA/NGA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV IZ IR KU
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD ON HIS MIND: GOK'S PRE-OCCUPATION WITH IRAQ


Classified By: Richard H. Jones for Reason 1.5 D.


1. (C) SUMMARY: During a recent meeting with a visiting
delegation led by former US senior diplomat Frank Wisner,
Kuwait's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shaykh Dr.
Mohammed Al-Sabah shared candid views on pressing priorities
for his government. Discussion centered on four main themes:
Saddam Hussein's removal; visions for a new Iraq; America's
interest and image in the region; and the role Arab states
should assume at this time. END SUMMARY.


2. (U) On January 11, 2003, Dr. Mohammed met with Ambassador
Wisner's four-member non-governmental delegation, which was
in Kuwait to lead a seminar on economic reform organized by
the Embassy and hosted by the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (septel). Ambassador Wisner, a former Under
Secretary of Defense for Policy and of State for

SIPDIS
International Security Affairs, was joined by Henry Siegman,
Director and Senior Fellow of the US/Middle East Project at
the Council on Foreign Relations (which commissioned the
study from which the seminar was based); Dr. Bernard Hoekman,
Research Manager of the International Trade Group at the
World Bank (who co-wrote the study); and Fouad Makzoumi, a
Lebanese businessman and Chairman of the Future Pipe Group
(who sponsored the study). Also attending the meeting with
Dr. Mohammed were Ambassador Jones and Econoff (notetaker).



3. (C) SADDAM MUST GO: Asked how the United States should
understand Kuwaiti needs, Dr. Mohammed was blunt and explicit
in his response. In the short term, he said, Saddam must
exit the scene. In his view, the Iraqi leader was a pariah
who had committed sacrileges that placed him beyond
redemption or rehabilitation. Dr. Mohammed said consensus
among Gulf leaders was that Saddam is a compulsive liar who
cannot be trusted and a dangerous man who has brought great
instability to the region.


4. (C) Dr. Mohammed was doubtful regarding the possibility of
resolving the present standoff without military conflict. He
acknowledged that providing Saddam exile had become a hot

topic of discussion throughout the Arab world, with much
press speculation that both Arab and non-Arab envoys were
visiting Baghdad to offer him safe passage. Dr. Mohammed
predicted that these invitations would increase in the coming
weeks but that the Iraqi leader would ultimately spurn them
all. "Saddam invented the concept of the human shield," the
Kuwaiti minister said, "so I would be surprised to see him
exit before many Iraqis are sacrificed."


5. (C) Dr. Mohammed did not expect many negative reactions
toward the United States should it use military force against
Iraq. On the contrary, he said, expectations in the region
were that the "nightmare" would soon be over. The mood in
Kuwait was upbeat, he added, noting that the stock market was
"going through the roof" in anticipation that Iraq soon would
be opening again for business.


6. (C) BUILDING A NEW IRAQ: Ambassador Wisner told Dr.
Mohammed that in his view there would be violent
confrontation in Iraq, followed by a period of chaos and
uncertainty. Even if Saddam were to leave peacefully, he
said, the United States would still require certain criteria
be met in the formation of a new Iraq. These conditions
included that Iraq become peaceful and friendly with its
neighbors and that weapons of mass destruction be accounted
for and destroyed. Dr. Mohammed agreed that Saddam's removal
was necessary but not sufficient. He said that in the long
term there needed to be a more stable, democratic Iraq, and
the question now was how to achieve this outcome.


7. (C) The Kuwaiti minister observed that Iraq was in essence
a failed state, which had become partitioned and was not
likely to be reconstructed in its present configuration. He
added that another "strongman" leader, such as Saddam, was
not apt to succeed, and what the country needed now was a
completely different direction. Ambassador Wisner agreed,
stating that a new Iraq should be reconstructed as a
confederation, with a center shared between the major ethnic
and religious groups. He outlined three stages for
development: 1) "early," in which order is re-established; 2)
"transitional," in which key Iraqis are consulted and
advised; and 3) "permanent," in which Iraq begins attending
again to its own affairs.


8. (C) Dr. Mohammed asked what role in this reconstruction
process the USG sees for the Iraqi opposition groups.
Ambassador Wisner replied emphatically that there is no
government in exile waiting to rule Iraq and that no external
entity, such as the Iraqi National Congress, would
exclusively run the country. He said that post-Saddam Iraq
will require a combination of outside actors and individuals
presently inside the country, including figures from the
military once it has been cleansed of its subversive Baathist
elements. Ambassador Jones added that the USG has resisted
the opportunity to name a government-in-exile, as the INC had
hoped, believing it would become the de-facto government in a
new Iraq.


9. (C) EYE ON AMERICA: Dr. Mohammed said one critical concern
within the Arab world, including the Gulf states, is that
America will overreach in its strategy toward Iraq. He said
many people in the region are drawing parallels between the
United States now and the old European imperialist powers.
They fear that America sees its role as carrying a "White
Man's Burden," marching into the region "to civilize the
savages and teach the lesser breeds the virtues of
self-rule." Many see in the USG's policy toward Iraq an
intention of molding the region in America's own image. More
conservative elements are characterizing this development as
a clash with Islam, and the Western press is only serving to
fuel the debate.


10. (C) Ambassador Wisner assured Dr. Mohammed that the USG
is not on an imperialistic crusade but rather on a mission to
bring lasting peace and stability to Iraq and the region. He
added that there is wide debate in the United States over the
shape of a new Iraq, which is being driven by the
practicalities of bringing about this change. When Dr.
Mohammed suggested that the next step in this process must
include a review of US-Iran relations, Ambassador Wisner
agreed that this was both advisable and necessary. He added
that the US is working on finding the best way to talk to the
Iranians, which is never an easy task. (NOTE: Dr. Mohammed
was proud to convey that Kuwait's Foreign Minister Shaykh
Sabah Al-Ahmad was that day visiting Iran, after Iraq's
Foreign Minister had been refused in Tehran. Local press
reported January 14 that Kuwait and Iran issued a joint
communique on their intention to strengthen ties in several
areas, including security, defense, and economic cooperation
(septel). END NOTE.)


11. (C) ARAB OPPORTUNITIES: Ambassador Wisner stressed that
now more than ever it is vital for Washington and the West to
hear from Kuwait and other Arab states about their vision for
a new Iraq. He said now is the moment of opportunity for
Arab leaders to be heard, and it is important for President
Bush to receive candid views from friends of the United
States, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf
states. Dr. Mohammed took a long time to reflect after
Ambassador Wisner commented that "he who is on the side of
the US now is a friend; he who is against the US will be long
remembered; and he who is on the side of the US with clear
advice to offer will be respected."


12. (C) In response to Dr. Mohammed's comment that there can
be no lasting stability in the region without resolution to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Henry Siegman said that if
this was the consensus among Arab leaders then Washington was
not hearing this message with the kind of conviction and
urgency it merits. He added that Arab leaders now have a
prime opportunity to bring their concerns to the attention of
President Bush. Ambassador Wisner said it was not his
impression that there was deep dialogue between US and Arab
leaders on these issues. He added that it would be unwise
for Arab leaders to sit on their hands while a new Iraq was
being constructed around them.
JONES