US embassy cable - 06KUWAIT397

GCC STRATEGY ON IRAN: "HOPING FOR A MIRACLE"

Identifier: 06KUWAIT397
Wikileaks: View 06KUWAIT397 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kuwait
Created: 2006-02-05 14:20:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PARM PREL SENV IR KU KUWAIT
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO6382
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHKU #0397/01 0361420
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051420Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2866
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 000397 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI - BRUDER AND BERNS, NSC FOR RAMCHAND, 
LONDON FOR TSOU, PARIS FOR ZEYA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2016 
TAGS: PARM, PREL, SENV, IR, KU, KUWAIT-IRAN RELATIONS 
SUBJECT: GCC STRATEGY ON IRAN: "HOPING FOR A MIRACLE" 
 
REF: A. KUWAIT 306 
     B. KUWAIT 86 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard LeBaron for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1.  (C) Summary and comment:  Former Gulf Cooperation Council 
(GCC) Secretary General Ambassador Abdullah Bishara told 
Poloff in a February 1 meeting that while the GCC "has no 
other option than to comply with any UNSC resolution," it 
would not publicly support such a step.  GCC countries had 
expressed their concerns about the potential economic, 
environmental, and security ramifications of Iran's nuclear 
program directly to the Iranian government (GOI), but Iran 
would "not listen to reason," Bishara claimed.  Although 
Bishara said he believed Iran would "inevitably" develop 
nuclear weapons, an objective Iranian officials had 
insinuated during a meeting Bishara participated in, he said 
the GCC "hoped for a miracle."  GCC countries had no plans 
for dealing with the repercussions of any international 
military action against Iran, and "had not even talked about" 
the policy implications of a nuclear-armed Iran.  "The GCC 
will adopt whatever the international community adopts," 
Bishara said. 
 
2.  (C) Questioning the overall efficacy of sanctions, 
Bishara argued that Iran had "a big arsenal of mischief" to 
"cause problems" in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian 
territories, and the Gulf.  Although intimately involved in 
GCC politics and still an influential voice, Bishara does not 
formally speak for either the Kuwaiti government (GOK) or the 
GCC.  In a separate meeting, Chairman of Parliament's 
Environmental Affairs Committee Ali Al-Dokbasi told Poloff he 
was unaware of any studies conducted on the potential 
environmental impact of an accident at Iran's Bushehr nuclear 
facility, which GOK officials have repeatedly cited as their 
greatest concern with Iran's nuclear program.  End summary 
and comment. 
 
GCC Concerned, But Iran Undeterred 
---------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) In a February 1 meeting with Poloff, Ambassador 
Abdullah Bishara, formerly Kuwait's Permanent Representative 
to the UN (1971-1981) and GCC Secretary General (1981-1992), 
and currently one of Kuwait's five members on the GCC 
Advisory Committee, said the GCC was concerned about the 
economic, environmental, and security implications of Iran's 
nuclear program.  In particular, Bishara said Gulf countries 
feared decreased foreign investment and the possibility of an 
accident at the Bushehr nuclear facility.  If Iran succeeded 
in developing nuclear weapons, which Bishara said was 
"inevitable," it "would upset the entire balance of power in 
the region." 
 
4.  (C) Bishara said GCC countries had expressed their 
concerns to Iran bilaterally and collectively, citing the 
negative economic and environmental effects, and arguing that 
a nuclear program would further isolate Iran and would "push 
the region to conflict and division."  Iranian officials, 
whom Bishara characterized repeatedly as "paranoid, fearful, 
suffering from psychological disorientation, and believing in 
nightmares and ghosts behind their borders," were dismissive 
of these arguments.  Bishara said his nephew, Majid 
Al-Thufiri, Kuwait's Ambassador to Iran, "always tells 
Iranian officials they have no reason to fear, because Iran 
is big and not easily threatened," but the Iranians "will not 
listen to reason." 
 
5.  (C) Bishara said he was part of a Kuwaiti delegation that 
met with "five Iranian officials one year ago when the 
nuclear rumors were just beginning."  In the meetings, the 
Iranians said they were "threatened by the U.S., Israel, 
Russia, and India," and insisted on their "right" to have a 
"deterrent" capability for "protection and as a guarantor of 
peace and security."  The Iranians had not/not mentioned 
"nuclear weapons" specifically, but this was directly implied 
from their arguments, he said.  Bishara argued that "Iran 
would never believe security guarantees," and was very 
pessimistic about the possibility of the international 
community to deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear program.  He 
believed Iran had carefully calculated the "pros and cons" of 
a nuclear program and devised a clear strategy on how to 
obtain it.  In his opinion, there was "no doubt" Iran was 
pursuing nuclear weapons. 
 
6.  (C) The Iranian regime actually "enjoyed confrontation" 
with the international community, particularly the "Great 
Satan" (the United States) and the "Little Satan" (Israel), 
Bishara explained.  The Iranian government had made the 
nuclear issue into a "national frenzy"; international 
 
KUWAIT 00000397  002 OF 003 
 
 
condemnation would likely cause Iranians to rally around the 
regime, Bishara claimed. 
 
The GCC's Ostrich-Like Approach to Iran 
--------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) GCC countries had "no other option, but to comply 
with UNSC resolutions" on Iran, Bishara said.  He added, 
however, that the GCC, represented by Qatar on the UNSC, 
would not publicly support a UNSC resolution to impose 
sanctions on Iran, but would not oppose it either. 
Explaining why, he said the GCC would never confront Iran 
directly, but would follow the international community, 
giving the GCC the welcome cover of international legitimacy 
for any actions against Iran.  "For Kuwaitis, international 
resolutions provide an anchor of legitimacy," Bishara 
explained. 
 
8.  (C) Overall, though, Bishara was pessimistic about the 
efficacy of sanctions.  First, he argued the first UNSC 
resolution would be weak, giving Iran three months to "show 
progress."  He predicted China would insist there had been 
progress and would block further resolutions.  Second, he 
argued that if Saddam Hussein could survive sanctions, Iran 
was even better prepared to do so, and noted Iran's numerous 
ports on the Persian Gulf.  Third, he said sanctions would 
only hurt the Iranian people, ultimately causing them to 
rally around the regime. 
 
9.  (C) While all GCC countries opposed Iran's nuclear 
program in principle, Bishara said Saudi Arabia and Oman were 
less concerned than the rest of the GCC.  According to 
Bishara, Saudi King Abdullah commented at the GCC Conference 
in Abu Dhabi that he found Iranian President Ahmadinejad 
"moderate" in a recent meeting. 
 
10.  (C) Dr. Yacoub Al-Hayati, a former MP and another of 
Kuwait's members on the GCC Advisory Council, expressed a 
similar view, explaining to Poloffs during a dinner January 
31 that the GCC was "playing politics" in avoiding public 
condemnation of Iran's nuclear program. 
 
And If Diplomacy Fails? 
----------------------- 
 
11.  (C) According to Bishara, "the GCC hasn't even talked 
about" next steps.  "We are hoping diplomacy will succeed, 
but we don't believe anything the Iranians say.  The GCC will 
adopt what the international community adopts," Bishara said. 
 He further noted that the GCC had not developed contingency 
plans to deal with the repercussions of any international 
military strike against Iran and had "not even thought about" 
how to deal with a nuclear-armed Iran.  Although stressing 
the importance of diplomacy, Bishara was very pessimistic 
about its efficacy.  He suggested China and India might slow 
Iran's nuclear program by putting more pressure on the GOI, 
but would ultimately be unable to stop it.  "No one can abort 
the Iranian scheme.  Some may be able to delay it, but Iran 
will eventually get what it wants and will have a nuclear 
program," he concluded. 
 
Iran's "Big Arsenal of Mischief" 
-------------------------------- 
 
12.  (C) Bishara claimed Iran had a "big arsenal of 
mischief," which included "Hezbollah, Hamas, and the spirit 
of martyrdom," and could "create problems throughout the 
region."  Specifically, Iran could "cause problems" in "Iraq, 
Syria, Lebanon, the Gulf, and with Hamas."  He dismissed the 
possibility that Iranian agents could cause "domestic unrest" 
in Kuwait, arguing that Kuwaiti society had historically 
always been unified.  Bahrain, he said, was more "fragile." 
He did "not rule out," however, the possibility of 
Iranian-backed terrorist attacks in Kuwait. 
 
Parliament's Role? 
------------------ 
 
13.  (C) Chairman of the National Assembly's Environmental 
Affairs Committee Ali Al-Dokbasi, an "independent," 
Government-leaning member of Parliament (MP), told Poloff he 
was not aware of any specific studies on the potential 
environmental impact on Kuwait of an accident at Iran's 
Bushehr nuclear facility, which GOK officials have repeatedly 
told Emboffs is their primary concern with Iran's nuclear 
program.  Dr. Sami Al-Faraj, the Director of the Kuwait 
Center for Strategic Studies, a private research institute 
that writes "sensitive" reports for the Government, alluded 
to such studies during a recent meeting with Poloff (ref B). 
(Comment: If such studies exist, it is not surprising that 
 
KUWAIT 00000397  003 OF 003 
 
 
they would not have been shared with members of Parliament. 
End comment.) 
 
14.  (C) Al-Dokbasi, who is also the Rapporteur of the 
Foreign Affairs Committee, said Parliament supported the 
GOK's approach to Iran "100%," though he did not seem to know 
exactly what the GOK's policy was.  Emphasizing his comments 
reflected his personal view, he said Kuwait opposed "all 
nuclear activity in the region," including "Israel's nuclear 
program," which he said should be addressed at the same time 
as Iran's.  He said Kuwait's concerns with Iran were 
expressed "openly" and were shared by all GCC countries. 
Al-Dokbasi stressed the need for "international solidarity" 
when dealing with Iran.  (Comment: Al-Dokbasi seemed unaware 
of the specifics of the GOK's policy towards Iran, a likely 
indication of how little Parliament is involved in the 
shaping of this policy.  End comment.) 
 
Bio Note 
-------- 
 
15.  (SBU) Ambassador Abdullah Bishara has had an illustrious 
career in public service, serving both as Kuwait's Permanent 
Representative to the UN (1971-1981) and as GCC Secretary 
General (1981-1994).  Currently, he is an advisor in the Gulf 
Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; one of 
Kuwait's five GCC Advisory Committee members; President of 
the Diplomatic Studies Center; and Chairman of the Board for 
the United Real Estate Company, a large real estate holding 
company.  Bishara has written several books, including ones 
on his experience at the UN and as GCC Secretary General. 
 
16.  (C) Bishara was born on November 6, 1936.  He received a 
B.A. from Cairo University (1955-1959).  He also studied 
diplomacy and international law at Balliol College at Oxford 
University, and received a M.A. in political science from St. 
John's University in New York.  Bishara is the nephew of 
former National Assembly Speaker and current MP Ahmed 
Al-Saadoun.  Kuwait's current Ambassador to Iran, Majid 
Al-Thufiri, is Bishara's nephew.  While intimately involved 
in GCC politics, Bishara does not formerly speak for the 
Kuwaiti government or the GCC. 
 
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LeBaron 

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