PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #0119/01 0291435
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 291435Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0332
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0070
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 000119
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2018
SUBJECT: NATO SECGEN WELL RECEIVED IN ABU DHABI
Classified by Charge d'Affaires Martin Quinn, reasons 1.4 (B)
1. (SBU) Summary: In a brief visit to Abu Dhabi January 24,
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer gave a lecture
on the goals of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI),
met senior UAEG officials to discuss potential areas or
cooperation, and gave an upbeat briefing to NATO Ambassadors
prior to his departure. This first official visit of a NATO
SecGen was well received in the UAE. End summary.
2. (SBU) In a January 24 lecture at the Emirates Center for
Strategic Studies and Research, the NATO SecGen gave an
enthusiastic overview of ICI goals and his sense of UAEG
interest in closer cooperation with NATO. He characterized
four GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE) as
currently engaged in ICI, which was initiated in 2004, with
two (Saudi Arabia and Oman) hopefully showing interest in the
future. (He was most optimistic about Saudi Arabia signing
up.) The audience of about 200, including a large uniformed
contingent from the UAE military, seemed receptive to the
SecGen's message that the globalization of threats (he cited
nuclear threats and Iran) required new and novel approaches
to security cooperation.
3. (SBU) Stating that the NATO Defense College in Rome had a
dedicated faculty to assist ICI participants, the SecGen
cited training of Afghan and Iraqi security forces, disaster
relief, peacekeeping, and military education in general as
sources of expertise that NATO could share with GCC states,
which send a "growing number of participants to conferences
and seminars." He hoped ICI partners would appoint liaison
officers (not necessarily resident at NATO) to solidify
coordination -- and said the conclusion of Information
Sharing Agreements was urgently needed to regularize data
sharing. The benefits of closer cooperation are mutual, he
concluded, citing his desire for a tailored package of
engagement activities with each ICI country.
4. (SBU) Subsequent to his lecture, the SecGen had
high-profile meetings with UAE Minister of Defense (also Vice
President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai) Mohammed bin
Rashid, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme
Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ).
Both meetings got prominent play in local media, with the
semi-official Arabic daily al-Ittihad putting a very positive
spin on the visit (albeit with few substantive details as to
potential areas of cooperation).
5. (C) The SecGen made a reference in his lecture to the UAE
military presence in Afghanistan, and in a private session
with NATO Ambassadors he noted that they were "teamed up with
Canada in Kandahar," but did not specify the nature of their
combat mission or the size of their deployment. Press
coverage limited those references to "humanitarian"
operations. De Hoop Scheffer told NATO Ambassadors that MbZ
had "not ruled out doing more" in Afghanistan, in addition to
lamenting that there were not more Muslim participants in
ISAF combating al-Qaeda, which had "hi-jacked" Islam. He
said MbZ feels "a bit lonely" as a moderate Arab actively
engaged in Afghanistan -- and thus somewhat "shy" to promote
the UAE role there. MbZ had not committed to visit NATO
headquarters, although the SecGen had told him that his voice
should be heard within the alliance and that the UAE should
be "recognized more formally as an ISAF participant." MbZ
had also been "extremely worried" about Iran, which had
"dominated" the conversation.
6. (C) De Hoop Schaffer also noted to gathered Ambassadors
just prior to his departure (in an airport VIP lounge) that
his Emirati interlocutors had shown "keen interest in
strengthening cooperation with NATO" in a 26 1 format (and
through a formalized Individual Cooperation Program, or ICP).
NATO is increasingly an "accepted phenomenon" in GCC
discourse, he stated, and he left with the "strong impression
that I was very welcome." That said, he called for increased
efforts to expand awareness of NATO in the Arab world. Asked
by ADCM to highlight NATO's particular "value added" in a
very busy engagement calendar with the UAE (many NATO
countries, including the U.S., having extensive and well
developed engagement programs that often tax the limited
personnel resources of this Gulf nation), de Hoop Schaffer
cited the following as key priorities: interoperability,
peacekeeping, counter-insurgency (as practiced in
Afghanistan), the civil-military interface, and consequence
management / disaster response.
7. (C) Comment: The SecGen's first ever official visit to
the UAE was timely and well received. Measures of how
ABU DHABI 00000119 002 OF 002
effectively ICI engagement develops into a more concrete
relationship will include just how specifically a menu of
engagement activities can be tailored to address gaps not
already covered by bilateral programs, how quickly the UAE
concludes an Information Sharing Agreement, public
acknowledgment by the UAE of its ISAF role in Afghanistan,
and UAE enthusiasm for setting up formal liaison channels.
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