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 SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 001523
DEPT FOR G, G/TIP, INL, DRL, PRM, NEA/RA, AND NEA/ARPI
STATE ALSO PASS TO USTR
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/04/2010
SUBJECT: UAE MINISTER OF CABINET AFFAIRS ON CAMEL JOCKEYS,
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Saeed
Al Ghaith told Ambassador April 5 that he expects federal
cabinet approval of a new law banning underage camel jockeys
at its next meeting on Monday, April 11. Although formal
approval is pending, the UAEG has implemented it effective
March 31, meaning those who employ camel jockeys now have two
months to repatriate the children. Source country embassies
are already processing some of the children. On the
possibility of representative government, Al Ghaith indicated
that the UAE was receptive to political change because the
UAE has an "adaptable" society. He also reiterated UAEG
support for the Iraqi people, and said he believes that the
UAE has been spared from violent terrorist attacks because
its leadership has addressed its people's needs, while also
addressing security vulnerabilities. End Summary.
Camel Jockey Law
2. (C) The Ambassador and Pol Chief met with Minister of
State for Cabinet Affairs Saeed Al Ghaith on April 5.
Ambassador took the opportunity to share an April 3 New York
Times article about the underage camel jockey problem in the
UAE, and to urge UAEG to end the use of trafficked underage
camel jockeys. She said it had become a "painful issue" that
has brought "negative attention" to the bilateral
relationship. Al Ghaith nodded in agreement. "The law will
come. It's not going to be a problem," he replied as he
glanced at the article. Ambassador emphasized the importance
of acting swiftly. She also encouraged the UAEG to work with
the International Organization for Migration on repatriation
issues. Al Ghaith assured Ambassador that the law was in its
"final stages" and the Cabinet would approve it on April 11.
3. (SBU) According to a Ministry of Interior source, the UAEG
has clearly communicated its intent to enforce the law on
March 31 per the public announcements by Deputy Prime
Minister and de facto Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamdan bin
Zayed. Regardless of the actual approval date by the
Cabinet, the two-month grace period for those who employ
underage camel jockeys to repatriate the children began on
March 31. Meanwhile, we have reports from source country
embassies (Pakistan and Bangladesh in particular) that former
camel jockeys are being processed for repatriation --
developments to be covered septel.
4. (C) Al Ghaith was sanguine about the possibilities of
opening up the UAE's political space. He said that Emiratis
have always been an "adaptable" people who were not hostile
to the idea of political representation. He credited the
ruler of Sharjah emirate, Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi, for
"opening ways for people to communicate" through the creation
of municipal councils. However, he said that each of the
emirates must approach political reform in a measured,
orderly fashion, with ample civic education. Ambassador
described some of our MEPI and International Visitor programs
and encouraged participation as a way to expose UAE nationals
to the role of civil society, models of good governance, and
the role of an independent media.
Regional Politics: Iraq, Qatar
5. (C) Al Ghaith and Ambassador reviewed the situation in
Iraq, and exchanged views on Gulf security in the aftermath
of the attack in Qatar in March. Al Ghaith (a 1965
University of Baghdad graduate) acknowledged that there were
"desperate people" in Iraq who were prepared to sacrifice
their lives in suicide operations. He blamed extremists for
desensitizing their followers of any sense of danger and
responsibility. He also contrasted the suffering and
oppression under Saddam with the freedom Iraqis now enjoy.
Ambassador used the opportunity to thank the UAEG for its
behind-the-scenes support for the Iraqi people and
transitional government. Commenting on Qatar's recent
experience with terrorism, Al Ghaith said that wealthy
countries cannot ignore their security vulnerabilities, and
they must do a better job of addressing the economic needs of
their people. The UAE has been tolerant of others people and
made strides with educational reforms, but it cannot afford
to let its guard down, he said.
6. (U) Saeed Khalfan Al Ghaith has served as Minister of
State for Cabinet Affairs since 1985. Born in 1946 in Dubai,
he graduated from the University of Baghdad in 1965, and
studied English in London. He worked previously in the
political department of the Foreign Ministry. In addition to
his ministry portfolio, Al Ghaith also heads the federal
Civil Service Council, and the Institute of Administrative
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