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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03KUWAIT138
2003-01-15 12:52:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

GETTING THEIR HANDS DIRTY; INFLUENTIAL KUWAITI

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PINR  KU  IZ 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000138 

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KU IZ
SUBJECT: GETTING THEIR HANDS DIRTY; INFLUENTIAL KUWAITI
BUSINESSMEN STEP UP TO THE POLITICAL PLATE

Classified By: Ambassador 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 000138

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2013
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR KU IZ
SUBJECT: GETTING THEIR HANDS DIRTY; INFLUENTIAL KUWAITI
BUSINESSMEN STEP UP TO THE POLITICAL PLATE

Classified By: Ambassador Richard H. Jones for reason 1.5 (d)


1. (U) This message contains biographical information.
Please see para. 8 for biographical information.


2. (C) Summary. Faced with ineffectual political leadership,
some of the large commercial families of Kuwait have stepped
into the political fray to derail the rising tide of Islamism
here, according to one of Kuwait's most successful
businessmen. During discussions with Poloff and Commercial
Chief, billionaire Fouad al-Ghanim detailed his political
activism in Kuwait, and shared his thoughts on a post-Saddam
Iraq, U.S. leadership and the Israel/Palestine conflict. End
Summary.


3. (C) During a January 12 dinner hosted by Kuwaiti
businessman Fouad al-Ghanim for a visiting delegation from
the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Poloff and Commercial
Chief discussed local politics with our host. Calling
Islamist MP Nasser al-Sane, the parliamentary leader of the
Islamic Constitutional Movement, "the worst hypocrite," he
said the Islamists "are taking the country down a black
hole." Al-Ghanim, himself a member of the CFR, who says he
does not mix business with politics, explained that he has
become more involved, as the ruling family has been incapable
and/or unwilling to speak out against the Islamists.


4. (C) Blaming the ruling family for not doing enough to
combat "the downward spiral of Kuwait" (i.e. the waxing of
Islamist power, as representative of the kind of thought
which stifles political and economic reform), he said he told
other merchant families they would have to get involved if
they were to reverse the trend. While criticizing the GOK,
al-Ghanim also praised Kuwait for its freedoms. "Do you know
of any other country in the region where one can sit in a
Diwaniya and criticize the government?" he asked. "Name one
Saudi official who can speak openly!"


5. (C) Al-Ghanim said he has personally and actively
supported liberal (non-Islamist) candidates in many electoral

districts throughout Kuwait. Responding to Poloff,s
question about how he influences voters to back his
candidates, al-Ghanim said he used his personal financial
resources to take care of their needs. During Ramadan, for
example, every household in Al-Sane's district received a 100
lb. bag of rice from al-Ghanim. In addition, he has sent
voters on the umra pilgrimage at his own expense; three times
chartering jets for this purpose, and one time sending his
own. Particularly in Bedouin districts, he said, "all (the
voters) want is someone to take care of them." Al-Ghanim has
encouraged other successful businessmen to take care of
voters, as well. Noting one example, he said that after
experiencing the largesse of one of his colleagues, 1200
voters paid their respects by attending his Diwaniya (The
average attendance in large Kuwaiti Diwaniyas would rarely
surpass 100 people). These types of efforts have cost
al-Ghanim alone over KD 500,000 (over USD $1,5 million). The
Islamists do not have the personal resources to do this, he
noted.

--------------
A stable Iraq necessitates a stable region
--------------


6. (C) Al-Ghanim is very familiar with Iraq, having been
raised and schooled there. While he is interested in
renewing his commercial ties in Iraq in the future, al-Ghanim
repeated a warning he said he had recently shared with
Secretary Powell and National Security Advisor Rice. "You

SIPDIS
have to look at this on a regional level," he said. "You
cannot have stability in Iraq until you solve the situation
in Palestine." He added that solving this problem would help
the U.S. in the region, by taking away the excuse Islamists
and other Arabs and Muslims use to support their
anti-Americanism. (Comment: During the Iran-Iraq war, he was
involved in the construction of major infrastructure
projects, such as power plants and bridges. End Comment)

--------------
Sow Peace, not Pride
--------------


7. (C) In addition to its actions in the Middle East,
al-Ghanim said the U.S. needs to watch itself at home. He
said Americans have allowed the authorities to go "too far"
in the U.S., creating the perception among many U.S. Muslims
and their brethren abroad that the U.S. war on terror is a
war on Islam. Criticizing the Administration, al-Ghanim said
there are too many high-level advisers who are "conceited"
about American power, and this is reflected in both domestic
and foreign policies. "You need to sow peace in the world,
not pride," he said.

--------------
Biographical Information
--------------

8. (U) Fouad M. T. Al-Ghanim, born 20 December, 1944, is a
1966 graduate of Iowa State University, where he earned a
B.SC in Sciences and Humanities. He is the Chairman of Fouad
Alghanim and Sons Group of Companies, which, according to
post files, is "a multi-operational body of companies
consisting of a number of fully and partly owned subsidiary
companies based in the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Middle
East. The group engages in...diverse commercial enterprises
which include direct representation of multi-national
commercial contractors, manufacturers, civil construction and
contracting, installation and manufacture of all forms of
mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment, investment
project management, hotel ownership, telecommunications
engineering and management, aviation projects, real estate
development, industrial production and general contracting in
both the local and international arenas." Mr. Al-Ghanim also
serves as Chairman or a Member of the Board of the following:

Chairman, Advanced Pathology Services, London
Chairman, Energy International Petroleum Products Co.
Director, Kuwait Medical Center
Director, United Bank of Kuwait, U.K.
Director, First International Merchant Bank, Ltd., Malta
Member, International Conference Board, San Francisco
Member, Council on Foreign Relations, New York
Member, Advisory Board, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., U.S.A.

Mr. Al-Ghanim represents many U.S. companies in Kuwait, and
is particularly active in the defense sector.
JONES