US embassy cable - 10DOHA71

SENATOR KERRY'S MEETING WITH QATAR'S PRIME MINISTER

Identifier: 10DOHA71
Wikileaks: View 10DOHA71 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Doha
Created: 2010-02-24 09:44:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL KWBG KPAL IR QA
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO1707
PP RUEHBC RUEHKUK RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDO #0071/01 0550944
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 240944Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY DOHA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9704
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 DOHA 000071 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2020 
TAGS: PREL, KWBG, KPAL, IR, QA 
SUBJECT: SENATOR KERRY'S MEETING WITH QATAR'S PRIME MINISTER 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Joseph E. LeBaron, for reasons 1.4 (b, d). 
 
-------------- 
(C) KEY POINTS 
-------------- 
 
--  Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani (HBJ) told 
Senator John Kerry February 13 that we will all lose us 4-6 
months of time in pursuing the recently announced "proximity 
talks" between the Israelis and Palestinians. 
 
--  HBJ underscored that it is a mistake to ignore Hamas in 
seeking a lasting agreement. 
 
--  From Qatar's perspective, there are differences in style 
and approaches between the two wings of Hamas, but in 
principle both are fundamentally aligned.  Hamas leaders in 
Damascus and Gaza can accept recognition of Israel, but must 
calibrate the timing very carefully because Hamas supporters 
are not ready for this change. 
 
--  According to HBJ, Egypt has a vested interest in dragging 
out Palestinian reconciliation talks for as long as possible. 
 Egypt "has no end game; serving as broker of the talks is 
Egypt's only business interest with the U.S." 
 
--  The Prime Minister suggested that one or two GCC members, 
Morocco, and Syria form the core membership of an Arab League 
committee to address Palestinian-Israeli concerns.  Giving 
Syria a role would create jealousy among the Arabs, which HBJ 
said would help the U.S. move talks forward. 
 
--  HBJ said putting economic pressure on Iran by targeting 
its oil revenues is the best way to get Tehran to rethink its 
quest for nuclear weapons.  For the sanctions to work, it 
would be vital that Russia and other countries bordering Iran 
implement them fully. 
 
End Key Points. 
 
1. (C)  The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee (SFRC), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), accompanied by 
Ambassador, P/E Chief and SFRC staff Frank Lowenstein and 
Fatema Sumar, met February 13 with Prime Minister (and 
Foreign Minister) of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani 
(HBJ).  HBJ opened the meeting by observing that President 
Obama's presidency had brought a lot of optimism to the 
region.  Senator Kerry agreed, adding that now we "need to 
deliver." 
 
--------------------------- 
PROXIMITY TALKS NOT HELPFUL 
--------------------------- 
 
2. (C) HBJ expressed dissatisfaction that "everyone in the 
region" seems to have a separate plan for moving ahead on the 
Israeli-Palestinian dispute when only one plan was needed -- 
a plan that both the Israelis and Palestinians would accept 
and finalize.  More disconcerting to Qatar, he said, was the 
announcement by Special Envoy Mitchell that both parties 
would now engage in "proximity talks."  Such talks "will lose 
us 4-6 months of time," stated HBJ. 
 
3. (C) Senator Kerry responded that we "are where we are." 
He assessed that the Goldstone Report and dissatisfaction in 
Fatah's ranks in the West Bank made it difficult for Abu 
Mazen to "give something to Israel" that would allow direct 
negotiations to begin between the parties.  Add in Abu 
Mazen's previous statements on the need for a full settlement 
freeze, and the ingredients for the Palestinian people to 
accept direct talks simply are not there. 
 
4. (C) Abu Mazen is out on a limb, responded HBJ.  "He 
climbed a tree (drawing a line in the sand on settlements) 
and can't get down."  HBJ suggested that President Obama's 
address to the UN General Assembly at the opening of its 
current session could serve as a "roadmap" forward:  two 
states (Israel and Palestine) remain the goal, and the 
establishment of settlements must stop while negotiations 
take place.  HBJ stressed again that the "proximity talks" 
will cause a "lot of problems." 
 
----------------------------------- 
NEED FOR PALESTINIAN RECONCILIATION 
----------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) HBJ told Chairman Kerry he had met recently in Doha 
with an Israeli delegation and had encouraged them to work 
with Palestinians of all stripes in the pursuit of peace. 
HBJ underscored that it is a mistake to work with just one 
partner, Fatah, and ignore Hamas.  Saying this does not mean 
 
DOHA 00000071  002 OF 004 
 
 
that Qatar expresses a preference for Hamas.  HBJ pointed out 
that Abu Mazen had taught in Qatar for 30 years and remains a 
friend of Qatar.  Qatar has no differences with him or those 
around him, but the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot sign 
off on an agreement on behalf of the Palestinians where open 
divisions exist. 
 
6. (C) HBJ noted that in conversations Qatar has held with 
Hamas' leadership, it is clear that Hamas is ready to accept 
Israel's right to exist.  But the acceptance must come about 
gradually, not in one day.  Senator Kerry said he had heard 
this elsewhere, but in his own conversations in Damascus -- 
where a many leaders of Hamas reside -- he did not get the 
sense that Hamas was ready to accept Israel's existence. 
 
7. (C) Qatar's PM observed that the biggest obstacle on the 
Palestinian side to an eventual agreement with Israel is the 
reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah.  HBJ maintained that it 
would have happened during the previous U.S. administration, 
but President Bush told Abu Mazen not to sign off on it. 
Now, said HBJ, progress is slow, and bringing the two parties 
together in the spirit of reconciliation is hampered by Arab 
politics.  Reconciliation can happen, HBJ asserted, but only 
"if bigger countries in the region allow it." 
 
8, (C) Senator Kerry, noting that he had seen Yasser Arafat 
make the transition from PLO fighter to signer of an 
agreement on the White House lawn, observed that people can 
come around and change their position.  But was that the case 
here?  The Senator asked HBJ if the differences at play 
between Hamas' leaders in Damascus and Gaza were too wide to 
bridge. 
 
9. (C) From HBJ's perspective, there are differences in style 
and approaches between the two wings of Hamas, but in 
principle both are fundamentally aligned.  They can accept 
recognition of Israel, but have to calibrate the timing very 
carefully because Hamas knows that its supporters in the 
Palestinian territories are not ready for this change.  HBJ 
said Hamas leaders in Damascus and Gaza are aligned on 
wanting to open the border crossing at Rafah, for example, 
but differ on tactics in reaching this goal.  The leaderships 
in Syria and Gaza consult each other, and no one leader in 
Hamas can take a decision alone, reported HBJ. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
EGYPT INTERESTED IN THE PROCESS, NOT RESULTS 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Chairman Kerry asked HBJ if Hamas is feeling 
political pressure from Gazans over their current living 
conditions.  HBJ responded that anytime people do not have 
housing, schools or public utilities, their political leaders 
feel pressure.  Hamas, however, has a greater sense of 
urgency in reconciling with Fatah, observed HBJ, than does 
the broker of the talks between the Palestinian parties. 
 
11. (C) According to HBJ, Egypt -- the broker -- has a vested 
interest in dragging out the talks for as long as possible. 
Egypt "has no end game; serving as broker of the talks is 
Egypt's only business interest with the U.S."  HBJ likened 
the situation to a physician who has only one patient to 
treat in the hospital.  If that is your only business, "the 
physician is going to keep the patient alive but in the 
hospital for as long as possible."  HBJ emphasized that 
Qatar, on the other hand, is interested only in bringing 
about peace in the region -- and as quickly as possible. 
 
12. (C) Short term, HBJ said Hamas wants to form with Fatah a 
unity government and rebuild the Israeli-inflicted damage in 
Gaza.  Senator Kerry, steering the conversation toward Hamas' 
long-term aims, acknowledged that Qatar's leaders speak 
frequently with Hamas.  The Chairman asked HBJ to explain why 
Hamas does not seem "to move when we need Hamas to move." 
 
13. (C) Simply put, answered HBJ, "Hamas does not trust Egypt 
and the Quartet enterprise."  HBJ noted that since its 
inception the Quartet has been anti-Hamas and aligned with 
the interests of Abu Mazen, Egypt and Jordan.  These partners 
of the Quartet, observed HBJ, are the very partners who have 
not delivered a Palestinian-Israeli agreement. 
 
14. (C) Returning to his theme that "peace brokers" act in 
their own self-interest, HBJ observed that President Mubarak 
of Egypt is thinking about how his son can take his place and 
how to stave off the growing strength of the Muslim 
Brotherhood.  The Egyptian government, said HBJ, has jailed 
10,000 Muslim Brotherhood members without bringing court 
cases against them.  The Egyptian "people blame America" now 
for their plight.  The shift in mood on the ground is "mostly 
because of Mubarak and his close ties" to the United States. 
 
DOHA 00000071  003 OF 004 
 
 
His only utility to the U.S. is brokering peace between 
Palestinians and Israelis, so he has no interest in taking 
himself out of the one game he has, underscored HBJ.  "Tell 
your friends (in Egypt) they must help themselves." 
 
15. (C) As for Qatar, "We want to help Abu Mazen and the 
Palestinians," declared HBJ.  The short-term needs of 
Palestinians in Gaza are acute, said HBJ.  We need to broker 
a quick reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and move 
forward quickly on rebuilding Gaza.  Senator Kerry asserted 
that HBJ was preaching to the converted and told the PM he 
was "shocked by what I saw in Gaza." 
 
16. (C) Continuing to illustrate how Egypt had not delivered 
for the U.S. on Palestinian issues, HBJ said Qatar was told 
in late 2008 that Israel and the U.S. needed the Egyptians to 
deal with the crisis in Gaza.  Yet former Israeli PM Olmert 
later complained to Qatar that Egypt is a big country and not 
nimble; it could not move fast enough.  Senator Kerry pointed 
out he was in Cairo at the time Qatar was calling for an Arab 
League Summit in December 2008/January 2009 and asked HBJ for 
his perspective on the rift between Qatar and Egypt at that 
time. 
 
17. (C) HBJ told Senator Kerry that Mubarak refused to come 
to Doha for a meeting of Arab leaders, preferring that the 
meeting take place in Riyadh.  The request to move the 
meeting was relayed to Qatar by the Saudis, not the 
Egyptians.  Saudi Arabia, as a big country like Egypt, has a 
vested interest in keeping Egypt afloat, said HBJ.  The 
Saudis agreed to host the meeting in Riyadh not because they 
objected to traveling to Doha, but because the Egyptians did. 
 "So we argued over the meeting location" while the 
Palestinians suffered, and we in Qatar "called a meeting and 
said whoever comes, comes." 
 
18. (C) Qatar is worried, said HBJ, about Egypt and its 
people, who are increasingly impatient.  Mubarak, continued 
HBJ, says Al Jazeera is the source of Egypt's problems.  This 
is an excuse.  HBJ had told Mubarak "we would stop Al Jazeera 
for a year" if he agreed in that span of time to deliver a 
lasting settlement for the Palestinians. 
Mubarak said nothing in response, according to HBJ. 
 
19. (C) Asked his advice on bringing about an agreement 
between Israel and the Palestinians, HBJ said President 
Clinton recognized before leaving office that Egypt was a 
problem.  When President Clinton sought help at the end of 
his term in reaching a final deal, the Saudis and Egyptians 
did not encourage him, said HBJ.  "They told him to do what 
he thinks right."  Culturally, said HBJ, that is the way 
Arabs say "you are on your own."  And President Clinton was, 
said HBJ. 
 
20. (C) Now we are at a stage, said HBJ, where Egypt does not 
want Arab League involvement in brokering a reconciliation 
agreement among the Palestinians unless the talks bog down. 
HBJ said he had told Abbas that climbing down from his tree 
on no settlement activity so that talks can go forward will 
require Arab support.  But the Egyptians won't allow it. 
 
21. (C) Asked if tabling a more specific plan for peace 
between the Israelis and Palestinians would help, HBJ said it 
would be a mistake to table a plan that is too specific.  HBJ 
then reiterated that the problem is more with those carrying 
out the negotiations.  "The good cooks (Egypt) have not given 
good food to now." 
 
22. (C) Senator Kerry noted that Special Envoy Mitchell had 
made a lot of requests of Arabs but with little success. 
Leaving Qatar aside, the Chairman asked HBJ for proposed next 
steps.  HBJ said he trusts the Saudis, but because they talk 
openly to Egypt and do not want to create more problems for 
Egypt than the Egyptian government already has, it is 
essential to bring in the small countries and start there. 
 
23. (C) HBJ suggested one or two GCC members, Morocco 
(although the King there is hesitant) and Syria as the core 
membership of an Arab League committee to address 
Palestinian-Israeli concerns.  HBJ told Senator Kerry the 
inclusion of Syria might surprise him, but having Syria play 
a role would create jealousy among the Arabs.  Some jealously 
and rivalry is just what the U.S. needs, opined HBJ, to get 
the process moving. 
 
---------------- 
IRAN AND LEBANON 
---------------- 
 
24. (C) Turning to Iran, Senator Kerry said he understood 
Qatar's need to find the right balance in dealing with bigger 
 
DOHA 00000071  004 OF 004 
 
 
neighbors, especially Iran given the natural gas field both 
share.  Due to the working relationship Qatar maintains with 
Iran, the Chairman asked HBJ for his advice as the 
international community becomes more serious about economic 
sanctions against Iran. 
 
25. (C) HBJ said Iran's president views the U.S. as a country 
that is overstretched and in difficulty as a result of too 
many commitments.  Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. economy 
are the three main problems President Ahmadinejad sees.  HBJ 
observed that a Western attack against Iran for Ahmadinejad 
would be good politics, because it would allow him to take 
out his opposition using the war as a pretext.  Senator Kerry 
asked clarification of whether Ahmadinejad had said these 
things, or if HBJ inferred them from conversation. 
 
26. (C) Qatar's PM said Ahmadinejad had told him, "We beat 
the Americans in Iraq; the final battle will be in Iran." 
 
27. (C) HBJ said putting economic pressure on Iran is the 
best way to get the leadership to rethink its quest for 
nuclear weapons.  To be successful, he told Senator Kerry, 
Russia would definitely have to be on board, as would the 
Central Asian countries bordering Iran that provide food and 
supplies. 
 
28. (C) Asked his perception of the state of play with the 
opposition, HBJ said the U.S. had done a good job of standing 
back and not becoming the symbol of the opposition.  Cracks 
in the regime are appearing.  It is highly significant that 
many demonstrators ignored Khamenei when he called on them to 
stop their protests.  The four key pillars of Iranian power 
-- the court, oil sector, imams, and Revolutionary Guards --- 
all must stick with him, stressed HBJ.  There are cracks in 
the system, but the downfall of the regime may not be in the 
cards. 
 
29. (C) Asked what the sanctions should target, HBJ said the 
money that Iran derives from oil.  Depriving Tehran of this 
revenue would force the regime to negotiate. 
 
30. (C) Senator Kerry observed that Ahmadinejad was making it 
easier by his actions.  There is wide consensus in the 
Executive and Legislative branches of Washington to press 
ahead.  Senator Kerry warned that Ahmadinejad "should not 
equate Afghanistan and Iraq with what he faces." 
 
31. (C) HBJ encouraged Chairman Kerry to bear in mind that 
Iran is clever and makes its opponents dizzy in the quest for 
deals.  They will keep you working on a deal and then start 
from scratch with a new interlocutor.  HBJ stressed that Iran 
will make no deal.  Iran wants nuclear weapons, and HBJ said 
he would not be surprised to see Iran test one to demonstrate 
to the world its achievement. 
 
32. (C) On Lebanon, Senator Kerry asked if Iran and Hizballah 
are ratcheting up their weapons stockpiles as part of Iran's 
war against Israel.  HBJ affirmed that is the case. 
 
---- 
IRAQ 
---- 
 
33. (C) On Iraq, HBJ told Senator Kerry that Prime Minister 
Al-Maliki wants a Shia state, even though the Sunnis (when 
you count Kurds and non-Kurds) have the majority. 
 
34. (U) CODEL Kerry has cleared this message. 
 
Lebaron 

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