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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07KUWAIT576
2007-04-18 12:34:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

KUWAITI POLITICAL FIGURES EXPRESS CONCERN,

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  IR  IZ  KU 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO9313
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHKU #0576/01 1081234
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 181234Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8844
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000576 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/18/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV IR IZ KU
SUBJECT: KUWAITI POLITICAL FIGURES EXPRESS CONCERN,
CONFUSION ON IRAQ AND IRAN

Classified By: CDA Matthew H. Tueller for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C/NF) Summary: A broad cross section of prominent
Kuwaiti political figures expressed concern and uncertainty
regarding Iraq, Iran and regional strategic issues at an
Embassy-hosted diwaniyya (traditional evening gathering)
featuring visiting Army War College Professor Dr. W. Andrew
Terrill. Most criticized the U.S. approach to Iran, with
some accusing it of a double-standard on nuclear weapons
issues while others said that the lack of direct contacts
with Tehran was a serious blunder. The Kuwaitis were
engaged, though not completely reassured by Terrill's
assessment that an American attack on Iran was unlikely and
expressed concern that such an attack could have serious
consequences for regional U.S. allies like Kuwait. While a
number of prominent Kuwaitis have publicly called on the U.S.
to withdraw from Iraq, those assembled clearly found a U.S.
withdrawal worrisome because of the spillover effects on
Kuwait of an Iraqi "implosion." Several of the participants
made the familiar point that all U.S. efforts in the Middle
East are hampered by its unbalanced role in regard to the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict, even on issues such as Iraq and
Iran that are not directly related to the conflict. End
Summary.



2. (C/NF) PolChief hosted a diwaniyya April 15 for a
cross-section of influential Kuwaitis -- including liberals,
academics, Islamists, and influential military figures -- at
which Army War College Professor and member of the
Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group Dr. W. Andrew Terrill
stressed the importance of US-Kuwait relations in the context
of regional security threats. Terrill pointed out that
Kuwait's home-grown democracy and strong national unity made
it a bastion of stability with whom the United States should
strengthen its ties. He warned that Iraq could devolve into
a Lebanon-like civil war, in which case Kuwait would likely
be plagued with spillover terrorism and possibly refugees.
He also warned that Iran had a history of terrorism in Kuwait
and could cause trouble in the future. Terrill emphasized
the importance of Kuwait having a plan, coordinated with the
U.S., in case regional security significantly deteriorates.

Kuwaitis Urge Engagement with Iran


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





3. (C/NF) On Iran, the Kuwaitis emphasized direct
engagement. Abdulmuhsin Taqqi Al-Muzaffar, a prominent
liberal Shi'a, said the U.S. had exaggerated the threat of
Iran's nuclear program and should open up lines of
communication with Tehran and Damascus. Ahmad Bishara, one
of Kuwait's leading liberals and the head of a liberal
political association, found it strange that the U.S.
maintained relations with the USSR throughout the Cold War

but had not sent an envoy to Iran, especially since the USSR
was a much greater threat. He said talking had worked with
Libya and North Korea, so the U.S. should try it with Iran.
Bishara wondered whether Israel had "vetoed" such a dialogue.
Hamad Al-Matar, a leading Kuwaiti scientist and ICM (Islamic
Constitutional Movement - the political arm of the Muslim
Brotherhood) member expressed concern with the technical
abilities of the Iranians to maintain their nuclear
facilities safely. He also worried how Iran would respond in
case of a U.S. attack and how that might affect Kuwait.
Terrill argued that an attack was unlikely, emphasizing
especially the issues of timing and the U.S. commitment to
explore diplomatic alternatives first. He described Defense
Secretary Gates as a careful analyst who would give "good

SIPDIS
advice" to the President. Terrill concluded by saying that
the other GCC states were beginning to share the depth of
Kuwait's concerns about Iran's nuclear program.

Concerns about Effect of Iraq Deterioration on Kuwait


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



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





4. (C/NF) Kuwait University Political Science Professor and
head of the American Studies Department, Dr. Abdullah Shayji,
noted that the U.S. public seemed to be reaching a "breaking
point" with regard to U.S. involvement in Iraq. Though
Shayji frequently attacks U.S. strategy and tactics in his
newspaper columns, he clearly was worried about a hasty U.S.
retreat. Terrill predicted that the breaking point would
probably be November 2007; if major improvements had not
occurred by then, political pressure would build quickly for
some kind of pullout. Terrill suggested Kuwaitis ought to be
thinking now about how they will respond to worst-case
scenarios. Liberal Shi'a former Oil Minister Ali Al-Baghli
expressed concern about whether the Iraqis had truly accepted

KUWAIT 00000576 002 OF 002


the U.N.-demarcated border and whether the U.S. would stand
by Kuwait if Iraq once again attacked Kuwait. Ahmad Bishara
saw the conflicts within Iraq as intractable and recommended
dividing Iraq into three states. Kuwait University Computer
Scientist Ahmad Al-Munayyes pointed out that Kuwaiti politics
is driven more by identity than by issues, and that an
explosion in Iraq might lead to a deterioration in
Sunni-Shi'a relations in Kuwait.

Solve the Arab-Israeli Conflict


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





5. (C/NF) Several of the Kuwaitis noted that the
Israel-Palestine issue would continue to poison U.S. efforts
in the region until a just solution is reached. Retired
Major General Dr. Mohammed Razouki suggested that if Israel
made a commitment to returning the Golan to Syria, it would
open up room for talks. Terrill encouraged the Kuwaitis to
be realistic and to "out-reasonable" the Israelis by publicly
supporting peace talks in a way that would put the onus on
the Israelis to respond.

********************************************* *
For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/kuwait/?cable s

Visit Kuwait's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/kuwait/
********************************************* *
Tueller