|03KUWAIT5057||2003-11-04 08:31:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Kuwait|
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 005057
1. (C) INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY: Foreign Minister Sh. Dr.
Mohammed al-Sabah told the Ambassador Kuwait wants to
coordinate with Iraqis on its remaining half-billion dollar
pledge, to ensure the money helps rebuild ties between the
two peoples. He said the GOK is encouraging involvement by
the private sector, which is eager and full of ideas. The
Ambassador promised to use his upcoming TDY in Iraq to
strengthen private sector contacts. Dr. Mohammed was very
pleased with the outcome of the Damascus meeting of the
'regional group,' despite the Iraqi FM's decision to stay
away. He assessed President Asad as sincere in wanting to
support the IGC, whereas FM Shara had seemed "not displeased
to see instability continue in Iraq." Kuwait is due to host
the next meeting of the 'regional group' in about three
months' time. Other topic septel. END INTRODUCTION AND
2. (U) The Ambassador called on Foreign Minister Shaykh Dr.
Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah November 3, accompanied by
Pol Chief (Notetaker). MFA Americas Dept. Director Amb.
Khaled al-Babtain and his Deputy Ayham al-Omar sat in, along
with Raed al-Rifa'i of the Minister's staff.
3. (C) The Minister had just returned from the meeting in
Damascus of the 'regional group' (Iraq's neighbors and
Egypt). This was his first meeting with the Ambassador since
before his trip to Poland, Bulgaria and Spain, where he
represented Kuwait at the Madrid donors' conference on Iraq.
Dr. Mohammed said Kuwait's pledge in Madrid ($1.5 billion)
referred to the same amount that Prime Minister Shaykh Sabah
al-Ahmed had told President Bush the GOK had allocated to the
liberation of Iraq. Approximately $1 billion had already
been spent, he explained. Regarding the remaining
half-billion dollars, the GOK wanted to coordinate with the
Iraqis in order to ensure that these funds helped rebuild the
relationship between the two peoples. He stressed that as a
result of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait and the Saddam
regime's oppression of its own people, "the nature of our
involvement in Iraq is unique...The Iraqis are very
supportive. We want to develop projects that link the
economies and open Iraq to the GCC market," such as a
railroad from Basra that would connect to other Arabian rail
lines and ports all down the Gulf. "We cannot just do
housing projects in Baghdad."
4. (C) The Ambassador noted approvingly that this strategy
would create jobs far beyond those directly related to the
construction projects themselves. He praised Dr. Mohammed's
"dramatic gesture" in providing a special flight so that
Kuwaiti private-sector representatives could get to Madrid in
time for the parallel meeting October 23. Referring to his
own upcoming TDY in Iraq, he promised to try to energize the
Iraqi private sector and encourage ties between it and the
Gulf states' private sectors. Recalling Deputy Secretary of
Commerce Bodman's recent visit, he noted that USDOC would be
doing more with the American and local private sectors
throughout the region in support of reconstruction in Iraq.
He promised to make sure CPA representatives participated in
the Iraq trade show ("Rebuild Iraq 2004") to be held in
Kuwait January 19-23.
5. (C) The Minister remarked that the Committee for Iraqi
Reconstruction (of which he is a member), chaired by the
Finance Minister, would meet November 8, bringing together
leading private, public, and governmental figures. He said
"there is no shortage of ideas; people are excited." They
have two chief concerns about involvement in Iraq: lack of
legal structure, and security. To help overcome the former,
the GOK would offer political risk insurance for Kuwaitis
investing in Iraq.
6. (C) Dr. Mohammed expressed condolences for the heavy loss
of life in the November 2 shoot-down of a Chinook helicopter,
and asked about a rumor he had heard that it was brought down
by a U.S. Stinger shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile.
The Ambassador replied that he had no reason to believe it
was a Stinger; Iraq was awash in SA-7's; hundreds had been
found there. The Ambassador noted that in general, the
security problems are concentrated in the area west and north
of Baghdad, i.e. the heartland of the Sunni Arabs who have
lost the most with the fall of Saddam. They need to feel
they have a stake in the successful emergence of the new
Iraq. Security and development will be mutually reinforcing,
just as the absence of one hurts the other. The coalition is
accelerating the recruitment and training of Iraqis for the
various security forces, and increasing intelligence
collection. These efforts are paying off: informants are
coming forward daily, even in the most troubled areas.
(C) SYRIA AND IRAQ
7. (C) The Ambassador thanked Dr. Mohammed for his personal
efforts to get Iraqi FM Zebari invited to the November 1-2
Damascus meeting of the 'regional group' (Iraq's neighbors
plus Egypt -- see reftel). He noted that he had personally
spoken with CPA Administrator Bremer, and that CPA officials
had spoken with Zebari. In the end, the Ambassador said,
Zebari felt the Syrians were treating him badly and decided
not to honor Syria with his presence; nonetheless, the Iraqi
appreciated the efforts of Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and
Jordan. Dr. Mohammed said this was his impression also. He
was very pleased with the final communique, which he thought
could not have been much stronger if Iraq had been present:
it expressed strong support for the GC, condemned the
terrorist attacks in Iraq and invited the Iraqis to work with
neighboring states to address the security issue. Kuwait
would host the next meeting in about three months' time and
invite Iraq from the start.
8. (C) ASAD VS. SHARA: President Asad had come across as
"moderate," stating that Syria has no interest in prolonging
instability in Iraq, because such instability has a negative
effect on Iraq's neighbors. Asad had claimed that arms were
being smuggled into Syria from Iraq, not vice versa. The
border needed to be secured, and the President supported
Iraqis working with neighboring states -- if only because the
Americans sometimes misidentified Syrian positions near the
border and attacked them. He had asked his guests to help
convince the US of his sincerity. According to Dr. Mohammed,
Syrian FM Farouq al-Shara had taken the "diametrically
opposite" position, coming across as "not displeased to see
instability continue in Iraq," and portraying the IGC as
lackeys who should be disposed of as quickly as possible.
Dr. Mohammed added that the hotel where he had stayed had
been full of Saddam regime sympathizers who loudly criticized
Kuwait and demanded to present "an Iraqi view" in the
meeting, "but we said 'no way!'"
9. (C) The Minister asked about Syrian and Iranian
involvement in smuggling. The Ambassador had seen a report
of a Yemeni recently caught with a Syrian passport, but did
not know whether the passport was forged or genuine. He said
the big concern was jihadists from all over the region
infiltrating Iraq via Syria. A certain number of Ansar
al-Islam elements had fled from Iraq to Iran and then
returned, but this was quantitatively different from a steady
flow of militants. He reminded Dr. Mohammed that Palestinian
terrorist groups are known to have offices in Damascus, which
could be facilitating travel of Palestinian terrorists.
There were also some reports of Lebanese Hizballah
involvement in Iraq.
10. (C) COMMENT: The GOK remains fully committed to
supporting the emergence of the new Iraq. We agree that
private-sector engagement is crucial to energizing the Iraqi
economy and tying it into the regional economy; we will
continue to encourage the rebuilding of strong ties between
these once-close neighbors, at both the official and private
levels. Septel will detail the Ambassador's meeting later
the same day with one of the private-sector representatives
who went to Madrid.
11. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.