|04MANAMA518||2004-04-12 15:32:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Manama|
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 MANAMA 000518
1. (C) On April 9 a GOB official statement expressed
concern about the violence in Iraq and urged all parties to
exercise self-restraint. The statement also said that
Bahrain hopes to see the reconstruction of Iraq and the
restoration of stability. Privately, top GOB officials have
told the Charge (ref a and b) of their understanding and
strong support for Coalition forces to contain Muqtada
Al-Sadr and the Jaysh Al-Mahdi.
2. (U) Even though the GOB has publicly measured its words,
many Bahraini parliamentary and civil society leaders have
been very vocal about the escalating violence in Iraq. Press
coverage of the April 9 Shi'a Friday sermons called for the
US occupiers to stop the violence and get out of Iraq now.
Coverage of the Sunni Friday sermons echoed the need for the
US to leave and also pointed out that the violence has
unified Sunni and Shi'a Iraqis in the face of the American
enemy. Local Arabic and English columnists compared events in
Fallujah to the Jenin massacre of Palestine. Editorialist
Abdulla Al-Ayoobi asserted that the US has learned the
Zionist lessons of crime and cruelty to the people of the
region. What is happening in Iraq today is a duplicate image
of what happens in Palestine everyday, he added. Sunni
political society Al Minbar Islamiiya issued a press
statement condemning what they consider "criminal incidents"
that the American forces have committed against the Iraqis.
3. (C) Our private conversations with our Shi'a contacts
are no more supportive. Condemning the recent violence in
Fallujah and Najaf, some Embassy contacts label it as "US
generated." A reliable source told PolOff on April 10 that
main Shi'a opposition leader Al-Wifaq President Shaikh Ali
Salman does not agree with Al-Sadr's tactics, but credits
Al-Sadr for successfully uniting Iraq's Shi'a and the Sunni
against the United States. This makes the situation far more
dangerous for the Americans, Salman told our source. Salman
pointed out that in Fallujah Iraqi Shi'a are now giving blood
for the wounded Sunnis. Bahrain Women's Society President
Wajeeha Al Baharna told PolOff on April 10 that Al-Sadr's
taking of international hostages "crosses the line into
terrorism." She warned that since the US is unsuccessful in
combating terrorism, that America needs to get out now or be
responsible for the total loss of the country. With the
resignation of Iraqi Governing Council members, Council of
Representatives Mohammed Shaikh Al-Abass told PolOff on April
10 that the Americans should leave Iraq now or stay and pick
one Iraqi leader. Shura Council member Mohammed Hassan Radhi
offered PolOff his solution on April 11: the Grand Ayatollah
Ali Al-Sistani is the only leader that can quell the violence
and be able to back Muqtada Al-Sadr into a corner.
4. (SBU) COMMENT. Last week Post reported that the capture
of Muqtada Al-Sadr was unlikely to impact Bahraini Shi'a.
This week Bahraini Shi'a have started to voice their
unhappiness with the US after watching the week-long coverage
of the escalating violence in Iraq and its use of 'massive
firepower' (to quote a parliamentarian) to hunt Al-Sadr. It
is unclear whether continued US military actions in Iraq will
unify Bahraini Shi'a and Sunni against the US. Though there
has not been much change of opinion among our Sunni contacts,
two separate contacts told PolOff (on two individual
occasions) that if they had to pick between the US and
Muqtada Al-Sadr, they would pick Al-Sadr. END COMMENT.