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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07DOHA577
2007-06-01 10:05:00
SECRET
Embassy Doha
Cable title:  

SCENESETTER FOR AMBASSADOR GREGORY SCHULTE'S VISIT

Tags:   PREL  KNNP  UN  IR  QA 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXYZ0011
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDO #0577/01 1521005
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 011005Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA PRIORITY 0020
INFO RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 0019
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1313
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6693
						S E C R E T DOHA 000577 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR AMBASSADOR SCHULTE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/30/2017
TAGS: PREL KNNP UN IR QA
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR AMBASSADOR GREGORY SCHULTE'S VISIT
TO DOHA JUNE 3-5

Derived from: DSCG 05-1, B,D.



1. (C) Embassy Doha is pleased to welcome you to Qatar. This
visit - your second - will mean a lot to the Qatari
leadership. It will strengthen our cooperation on UN Security
Council issues and help in our efforts to move Doha to take
stronger positions on Iran and its nuclear activities, about
which they have serious concerns. Qatar's relations with Iran
are outwardly cordial but like other Arab Gulf states, Qatar
is seriously concerned about the activities and intentions of
its large neighbor across the waters. As you know, the
Government of Qatar remains a key ally of the U.S. in the war
on terror and has supported a significant U.S. military
presence in the country since the beginning of Operations
Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. With Qatar's economy
growing at a record pace thanks to both oil and gas
production, the Amir is spearheading a program of political
reform and economic development. Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser
Al-Misnad, his consort, is making equally important strides
in leading social cha
nge. End Summary.



--------------------------


REGIONAL FOREIGN POLICY


--------------------------





2. (C) Qatar has adopted an increasingly assertive foreign
policy not always in line with our own regional efforts and
those of our other allies. Qatar's mediation between Fatah
and Hamas on a Palestinian unity government, its continued
relationship with Syrian president Bashar al-Asad, Hamas
leader (and PA Prime Minister) Ismail Haniyah, and others, as
well as Qatar's efforts to involve itself in the August 2006
cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon, has annoyed many
regional governments and often the U.S. Its relationship with
Saudi Arabia is strained by anti-Saudi programming on Al
Jazeera, a history of border issues, and Qatar's desire to
emerge from the Kingdom's sphere of influence in the Gulf and
be viewed as a progressive, outward-looking alternative to
what they regard as Saudi Arabia's backwardness and
provincialism. The result is a set of policies that
antagonize Riyadh.



--------------------------


Iran


--------------------------





3. (C) At the bilateral Gulf Security Dialogue (GSD) May 24,
which was led on our side by Acting A/S Stephen Mull and on
the Qatari side by Assistant Minister Mohamed al-Rumaihi, we
raised the issue of Qatar's recent declaration that it would
not serve as the base for any military operation against
Iran. While acknowledging that the U.S. has no intention of
launching military action against Iran at this time, we noted
the tactical value of maintaining ambiguity around the
question as a disincentive to Iran's aggressive posture in

the region. Rumaihi accepted the point and said he would aim
to steer his government away from similar declarations in the
future.



4. (C) Also at the GSD, we provided a detailed intelligence
brief on Iran, including a threat assessment and an analysis
of Iran's strategic vision. Rumaihi speculated upon three
possible Iranian courses of action if cornered: First, Iran
will try to stop oil and gas exports from the Gulf "in
reaction to any measures," he said. "Iran has the upper hand
in military, paramilitary, and terrorist actions against
ships." Second, Iran will subject the region to political
pressure for minority rights. "The region is sensitive to
this," Rumaihi said, referring to local Shia populations.
Third, Iran is trying to shape policy in the region, most
visibly in Lebanon and Iraq. The Iranians seek regional
power, recognition, and a role. Rumaihi said Iran's target
was to affirm its influence by establishing a dialogue with
the U.S. "Then they will have achieved their target."



5. (C) Rumaihi said that Qatar aims to use consultation (such
as the GSD) and diplomacy to prevent Iran from achieving a
heightened regional role. "If they have relations with the
superpower, they will have a free hand in the Gulf region,"
he asserted. On the Iran nuclear issue, Rumaihi said the U.S.
"may have to use dissuasion" (i.e., military action). But he
advised consulting with "regional powers" Turkey, Pakistan,
and India to help "stabilize" Iran and its nuclear program.
Acting A/S Mull replied, "We've sensed that Iran wants to use
talks (on May 28) to become a regional player."


6. (C) In private, Qatari officials express concern about the
role of Iran in the region and its pursuit of nuclear weapons
(which they believe is unstoppable). They agree with our
analysis of Iran's revolutionary motivations and goals and
note Iran's active support for subversive elements in
Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, eastern Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Qatar
had no objection to the stationing here of B1 bombers and
Patriot missile batteries and they signed onto the
Proliferation Security Initiative principles.



7. (C) Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim
Al Thani (HBJ) has stated that Qatar will not participate in
any attack on Iran - a formulation that appears to be
purposely ambiguous. At no time, however, have the Amir or
Sheikh Tamim explicitly warned the U.S. against using Al
Udeid in any direct conflict with Iran. But Qatar is likely
to continue trying to balance its U.S. military cooperation
its ultimate strategic defense with diplomatic efforts that
seek to avoid antagonizing Iran. Thus, despite its wariness
of Iran, Qatar has sought to keep lines of communication
open. Qatar is uncomfortable with having to say or do
anything publicly that might be seen as antagonizing Iran.
The two countries share the largest non-associated gas field
in the world and the source of much of Qatar's future
prosperity.



--------------------------


IRAQ


--------------------------





8. (S) Qatar has been a pillar of support for our efforts in
Iraq and Afghanistan. We continue to fly unimpeded combat
missions out of Al Udeid Air Base. The Amir shares our view
that restoration of order and a successful democratic
transition are of paramount importance not only to Iraq but
to the region. However, there is some feeling that Qatar's
efforts over the past three years are not fully appreciated
in Washington, and this may drive Qatar's resistance to
follow through on some of our priorities for Iraq, including
comprehensive debt forgiveness. While HBJ has expressed
concerns about civil war in Iraq, he has also stated publicly
that the coalition needs to stay in the country to establish
wider security. The GOQ also points to the importance of
establishing a power structure in Baghdad that is fully
inclusive of the Sunni bloc. The GOQ is not prepared to open
an embassy in Baghdad until the security situation improves
dramatically.



--------------------------


UN SECURITY COUNCIL


--------------------------





9. (C) The Qataris have not always behaved responsibly on the
UN Security Council. Under HBJ, Qatar has staked out an
independent path on Iran and Syria, which has had troublesome
consequences on the Council. (They, like the U.S., look
forward to the end of their term this December.) Qatar sees
itself as holding the Arab "seat," and it sometimes gives
interests of this region a priority over global security
issues. On Iran's nuclear program, this approach resulted in
a 14 to 1 consensus-breaking UN Security Council vote on
Resolution 1696 in July. However, since then, Qatar has been
part of two unanimous votes, UNSCR 1736 and UNSCR 1747, to
impose sanctions on Iran's nuclear program. On several
occasions, Qatar has voted against our wishes (and often
against the broad international consensus) on issues such as
Sudan and Burma.



--------------------------


Hariri Tribunal


--------------------------





10. (C) The GOQ found itself in the spotlight on the Hariri
Tribunal vote in the UN Security Council. It abstained May
30, arguing that Lebanese groups needed to agree internally
first. At the GSD, Rumaihi said his government was concerned
that enacting such a resolution would be destabilizing within
Lebanon. While this position appears to be based on
principle, Qatar's public ties with the Syrian leadership and
its desire to counter Saudi diplomacy (which supports the
Tribunal) were also major factors in Qatari decision-making.



--------------------------


AL JAZEERA


--------------------------





11. (C) Though their coverage of Qatar itself is minimal, Al
Jazeera is by far Qatar's - and the region's - most prominent
media outlet and the bane of many governments in the region.
With an Arabic-speaking audience of around 50 million
viewers, Al Jazeera is now ten years old. In November it
launched an English-language edition with a potential
audience of 70 million and ambitions to compete with the
major U.S. and British satellite networks worldwide.



12. (U) Since early last year, the USG has seen a bumpy
downward trend in inflammatory anti-Western bias and
inaccuracy in Al Jazeera's content. Al Jazeera has increased
its use of U.S. government sources, limited its use of
inflammatory terminology, and devoted more time to stories of
interest in the region other than the U.S. role in Iraq.
However, Al Jazeera's track record remains far from
acceptable. Unprofessional, biased, and inaccurate propaganda
continues to appear on its newscasts, talk shows, and
website. The USG objected to Al Jazeera's practice of airing
terrorist-provided video tapes, though the terrorists
increasingly prefer to use the internet to release these
videos.



13. (C) DIA began monitoring the channel's compliance with
U.S.-promoted journalistic standards in March 2005. Never
higher than 20% (October 2005), these ratings have dropped to
the low single-digits during the last quarter, and in DIA's
most recent report (January 2007), Al Jazeera's "hostile"
coverage was pegged at 1 percent.



--------------------------


U.S.-QATARI MILITARY RELATIONS


--------------------------





14. (C) At the strategic level, bilateral military relations
between the U.S. and Qatar are excellent and the GOQ
continues to demonstrate strong support for U.S. military
operations. However, our mil-mil relationship has been
plagued in recent months by problems on customs and
immigration issues. The GOQ has imposed customs procedures
not used in the past that have caused severe degradation in
CENTCOM's operational readiness.



15. (S) Currently Qatar hosts approximately 9,000 U.S. forces
based at Camp As-Sayliyah and Al-Udeid Air Base. Some 100
U.S. and Coalition fighter and support aircraft operate from
Al Udeid Air Base, making the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing
the largest in the USCENTCOM AOR. In addition to the
USCENTCOM Forward Headquarters at Camp As-Sayliyah, Qatar
also hosts the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air
Base for theater-wide command and control. Al Udeid Air Base
itself continues to undergo a surge of both GOQ and U.S.
funded construction to support U.S. operational and
logistical requirements.



--------------------------


POLITICAL REFORM


--------------------------





16. (U) Qatar's own program of reform, launched by the Amir
after he assumed power in 1995, could take a significant step
forward when the government eventually holds first-time
elections for its national legislature. Qatar has gone slow,
seeking to establish an institution that reflects local
social and political norms. The current sticking points are
who will be able to vote (likely a fraction of Qatar's
186,000 citizens) and who may stand for office. Qatari women
have had the right to vote since the first election took
place in the country in 1999, for the Central Municipal
Council. Elections for the country's third municipal council
took place April 1, and a woman was elected with the highest
number of votes in any district.



--------------------------


ECONOMY


--------------------------





17. (U) At USD 61,540, Qatar's per capita income is ranked
fifth in the world (and ahead of the U.S.). The country's
vast wealth is a result of the successful development of its
natural gas resources: Qatar is now the world's largest
exporter of LNG. The country has plans for even greater
expansion over the next five years, during which time exports
will more than double. Qatar Petroleum is maximizing use of
Qatar's natural resources to diversify the economy and
provide business and employment opportunities to Qataris.
Qatar is friendly to U.S. energy companies: Since 1999, there
has been USD 60 billion in foreign investment in Qatar's
energy sector with the majority about USD 40 billion coming
from the U.S. firms, including Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips,
Chevron, Anadarko, and Occidental. Qatar plans to invest USD
70 billion in the natural gas sector over the next seven
years, with LNG exports to the U.S. beginning in 2009 and
amounting to one-third of our LNG needs.



18. (U) The GOQ estimates Qatar's oil reserves at 27 billion
barrels. Qatar's daily average production is currently
estimated to be 806,000 barrels per day; at current
production rates, oil reserves are expected to last 20 to 60
years, depending on estimates. Qatar's goal is to increase
overall production capacity to over one million bpd by 2006.
Occidental and Anadarko are the two U.S. companies operating
in this sector.



--------------------------


TRADE AND INVESTMENT


--------------------------





19. (U) Qatar signed a Trade and Investment Framework
agreement with the U.S. in March 2004, but progress toward a
Free Trade Agreement has stalled, and the TIFA Council has
not met since its inception. Achieving a FTA will require
Qatar to remove such obstacles as mandatory majority Qatari
ownership of most businesses, the government telecom
monopoly, restrictions on foreign investment in the financial
services sector, labor issues, and transparency in government
procurement.



--------------------------


EDUCATION


--------------------------





20. (U) Qatar's commitment to modernize its educational
system is exemplified by Education City, a 2500-acre campus
on the outskirts of Doha. Managed by Qatar Foundation, the
umbrella organization chaired by Sheikha Mozah, Education
City is home to five U.S. college branch campuses, with some
800 students currently enrolled. The majority (roughly 60%)
are Qatari; others come from around the region and some from
further beyond, including Bosnia and the U.S. About
two-thirds of the students are women, since the Education
City campuses allow them to live at home with their families.



21. (U) Five U.S. branch campuses are currently represented
at Education City: Virginia Commonwealth University (fashion
design, interior design, graphic design); Weill Cornell
Medical College (medicine); Carnegie-Mellon University
(business, computer science); Texas A&M University
(engineering); and Georgetown University's School of Foreign
Service. Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism is
expected to open in the fall. The National Defense University
is considering locating a branch of its Near East-South Asia
(NESA) Center in Doha. While far short of Sheikha Mozah's
wish for a branch of West Point, "NESA Forward" would
represent a step in the direction she wants Arab militaries
to go.
UNTERMEYER