|08DOHA572||2008-08-12 05:41:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Doha|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 000572
1. (C) SUMMARY: Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England
visited Doha August 5-6 for meetings with the Amir, Sheikh
Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, and the Chief of Staff of the
Qatar Armed Forces, MG Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyeh. Al-Attiyeh
also hosted England and his party for dinner the evening of
his arrival, and for lunch with other Qatari military and
security chiefs the following day. Discussions focused on
the U.S.-Qatar military partnership, and developments in Iraq
and Iran. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Looking tired but tanned and accompanied by his
daughter (and office director) Sheikha Hind, the Amir
received England for a full hour August 6 at his private
residence in Wajba Palace. Mr. England was joined by Special
Assistants Robert Earl and Hesham Islam, and by DCM.
3. (C) England began by thanking the Amir for his leadership,
singling out Qatari assistance to victims of Hurricane
Katrina and the Qatari role in brokering an agreement between
rival parties in Lebanon. The Amir expressed relief that the
Lebanon negotiations were over, but added that the issue of
Shebaa Farms remains to be resolved ) an issue that he
believes should be handled by the UN. When that is resolved,
he said, peace between Israel and Lebanon would be possible.
4. (C) Turning to Iraq, England said the situation there is
clearly settling down and the long-term prospects are good.
He said he will be visiting Iraq after Qatar in order to meet
the business people who are so important for economic
development there. England explained that as Iraq has become
more secure, it would be very helpful if Qatar strengthened
its diplomatic ties with Baghdad. There have been dramatic
changes in the past 6-8 months, the situation is looking
hopeful, and stronger ties with Qatar would be helpful.
5. (C) The Amir did not respond directly to the issue of
diplomatic relations, only commenting that the Iraqis are
difficult people and "you can't trust them." It's clear that
the U.S. can't leave Iraq right away, he said, but the
challenge is finding a strong leader who can control the
country. Jalal Talibani, he added, is not a strong leader.
England said the challenge is to develop a strong central
government capable of running the country. The Amir agreed,
adding that it would be chaos if the U.S. left too soon.
But, he added, he thinks Iraq may become chaos anyway.
6. (C) The Amir went on to say that the key to stability in
Iraq is its relationship with Iran. Iran, in fact, is the
key to the whole region and incentives now being offered to
Iran will hopefully encourage their leadership to be more
reasonable. The Amir added that he's sure Iran wants
cooperation with the U.S., but managing the nuclear issue
remains a challenge. He expressed hope that Iran will
understand that there is a peaceful way forward, but
regretted that the whole region is now worried about the
Straits of Hormuz.
7. (C) England said an Iran with nuclear weapons would be
very destabilizing for the whole region; on the other hand,
Iran should realize that it could be a part of all the
economic development currently under way in the region. The
Amir agreed, remarking that with Iran's hydrocarbons and
Western technology, they could develop those resources.
Iran, he said, will not give up its nuclear ambitions easily,
lamenting that so many countries in the region are now
pursuing nuclear weapons. England responded that until now,
no country with nuclear weapons has ever expressed a desire
to actually use them. That might change if Iran develops
these weapons. The Amir responded that he doesn't think Iran
would use such weapons "except to defend itself."
8. (C) The Amir turned to education, noting that he regards
this as fundamental to the future of Qatar. England agreed,
and congratulated the Amir on his leadership in this area.
The Amir said the thanks should go to the U.S. universities
for agreeing to establish branch campuses in Qatar. England
said this took far-sighted leadership, and that universities
that bring students together from so many different countries
are the best way to build vitally important relationships.
9. (C) England noted that although there will be a new U.S.
administration in January, the strategic relationship with
Qatar will continue. He explained that many of the most
senior U.S. military officers, including the Chairman of the
DOHA 00000572 002 OF 002
Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force
will continue in those positions for several more years.
10. (C) England closed by noting that the Palestinian
Authority is in dire financial straits and needs help. The
Palestinians need an alternative to Hamas. The Amir said
Israel needs to talk to Hamas. They "talk" to Hezbollah; now
it is time to talk to Hamas.
11. (C) In an earlier meeting at the Qatar Armed Forces
headquarters, England met with Qatar Armed Forces Chief of
Staff Major General Hamad al-Attiyeh. England thanked
al-Attiyeh for Qatar's hospitality and support for U.S.
forces. He said he was delighted by Qatar's decision to
purchase C-17 and C-130 aircraft.
12. (C) Al-Attiyeh said he was pleased that the contracts
were signed. Qatar had studied its requirements very
carefully and decided to pursue a capacity to undertake
humanitarian operations, such as those they have done in
Lebanon and Pakistan. They also want to transport their
personnel to exercises, such as an upcoming one in Mongolia.
13. (C) England mentioned plans to build a second runway at
Al-Udeid. Al-Attiyeh said after the B-1 incident, they saw
clearly the need for a second runway. In addition, Qatar's
Air Force will move to Al-Udeid when the new Doha
International Airport is completed, and so more space will be
needed. Al-Attiyeh said he hopes to "finish this proposal"
soon and send it to the Heir Apparent. (Note: this suggests
a final decision to move ahead with ) and pay for ) the
second runway has not been made.)