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09DOHA343 2009-05-26 09:32:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Doha
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1. (C) Ambassador raised May 24 with Qatar's Prime Minister,
Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, the situation in Somalia,
encouraging Qatar's support for the government of Shaykh
Sherif Ahmed and Qatar's enlisting the support of other
regional governments for this same objective. HBJ reaffirmed
what Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed Al-Mahmoud
had said previously (reftel): Qatar supports Shaykh Sherif.
HBJ also reaffirmed that Qatar is not involved in mediation
in Somalia and has no plans to become involved there.

2. (C) Asked if the GOQ maintains contact with Al-Shabaab or
other groups opposed to the current government headed by
Shaykh Sherif Ahmed, the PM responded: "I would like to think
we are smart enough not to do that." He then underscored
Qatar's support for Shaykh Sherif.

3. (C) The Prime Minister noted that a few years back the
U.S. barraged the GOQ with messages arguing that Qatar's
support for Shaykh Sherif put it on the wrong side of the
fence. The PM said much obviously has changed, since now
Shaykh Sherif and the U.S. are on the same side.

4. (C) Open support from the U.S. for Shaykh Sherif, said the
PM, poses a problem because it underscores that Shaykh Sherif
is "your guy," which serves to undermine him by playing into
the hands of those who oppose him. The PM joked that the
U.S. could best support Shaykh Sherif by "making an
announcement against him; he'll be in better shape."