US embassy cable - 03ABUDHABI2654

(S/NF) INFORMATION ON IRAQI SUNNI CLERIC AHMED AL-KUBAYSI (C-NE3-00474)

Identifier: 03ABUDHABI2654
Wikileaks: View 03ABUDHABI2654 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Abu Dhabi
Created: 2003-06-04 10:52:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Tags: KPRP PINR PGOV PINS PNAT PREL IZ TC
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
null
Diana T Fritz  03/21/2007 05:46:05 PM  From  DB/Inbox:  Search Results

Cable 
Text:                                                                      
                                                                           
      
SECRET

SIPDIS
TELEGRAM                                            June 04, 2003


To:       No Action Addressee                                    

Action:   Unknown                                                

From:     AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI (ABU DHABI 2654 - PRIORITY)        

TAGS:     PINR, PGOV, PINS, PNAT, PREL, KPRP                     

Captions: None                                                   

Subject:  (S/NF) INFORMATION ON IRAQI SUNNI CLERIC AHMED         
          AL-KUBAYSI (C-NE3-00474)                               

Ref:      None                                                   
_________________________________________________________________
S E C R E T        ABU DHABI 02654

SIPDIS
CXABU:
    ACTION: POL 
    INFO:   ECON RSO AMB DCM P/M 

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:MMWAHBA
DRAFTED: POL:STWILLIAMS
CLEARED: A/DCM:TEWILLIAMS

VZCZCADI361
PP RUEHC RUEKJCS RUCNRAQ RHEHNSC RUEAIIA RHEFDIA
RUCJACC
DE RUEHAD #2654/01 1551052
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 041052Z JUN 03
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0234
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//OSD/NESA// PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCJACC/USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//POLAD/CCJ2/CCJ5// PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 002654 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
 
STATE FOR INR/NESA, NEA/ARP AND NEA/NGA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: (1.6X1) 
TAGS: KPRP, PINR, PGOV, PINS, PNAT, PREL, IZ, TC 
SUBJECT:  (S/NF) INFORMATION ON IRAQI SUNNI 
CLERIC AHMED AL-KUBAYSI (C-NE3-00474) 
 
REF:  A) STATE 120019; B) ABU DHABI 2013 
 
1. (U) Classified by Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba 
for reasons 1.5 (B) and (D). 
 
2. (S/NF) Post provides the following information, 
gleaned from conversations with resident Iraqis and 
Emirati leaders and academics on Iraqi Sunni cleric 
Ahmed Al-Kubaysi.  It is by no means comprehensive 
and we attach the appropriate caveats given the 
fact that Al-Kubaysi has become somewhat of a 
divisive figure.  We note the different spellings 
of the subject's name that have appeared in e-mail 
traffic.  Those with direct knowledge of the 
subject assure us that Al-Kubaysi is the correct 
English spelling of the name and is derived from 
name of the subjects ancestral hometown:  Al- 
Kubaysah -- on the banks of the Euphrates river 
northwest of Baghdad.  Subject's last name should 
not/not be confused with the Al-Qubaisi tribe of 
the Gulf region.  Our answers are keyed to ref A 
questions: 
 
A.  (S) What are Al-Kubaysi's strengths and 
limitations?  Has he demonstrated an ability to 
learn, adapt. 
 
Sixty-eight year-old Ahmed Al-Kubaysi is a popular 
Sunni cleric who returned to Baghdad following the 
ouster of Saddam in April after five years in exile 
in the UAE.  Al-Kubaysi is an important Sunni 
religious figure who apparently also appeals to 
some Shi'a elements, according to expat Iraqis in 
the UAE as well as senior UAEG officials.  Given 
the extent of his apparent influence, Al-Kubaysi's 
message is critical.  Emirati leaders promoted Al- 
Kubaysi early on, hopeful that he would help curb 
Iranian influence and, conversely, serve as a 
unifying force for Iraqi Sunni and Shi'a. 
Following his strident April 18 sermon at the Abu 
Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad, and our expressions of 
concern, the Emiratis worked with Al-Kubaysi to 
encourage a more measured tone.  Following this 
Emirati engagement, we have noted a slight 
moderation.  For example, in a May 8 interview with 
the English language Dubai-based "Gulf News" Al- 
Kubaysi warned against forming an Islamic 
government in Iraq "at this time."  When asked 
about his call for a "jihad," Al-Kubaysi said "It 
would not be to the advantage of the Iraqis to 
fight the Americans at this time." 
 
B. (S) Who is included in Al-Kubaysi's decision 
making?  What role do advisors and staff play?  How 
open is the leader to outside ideas? 
 
It is unclear to us the extent of Al-Kubaysi's 
organization.  According to the local press and 
expatriate Iraqis, Al-Kubaysi, following his return 
to Baghdad, established the Iraqi Muslim Scholars 
Association (comprising Sunni and Shi'a clerics) 
and a political party -- the Iraqi Unified National 
Movement (NFI).  Expat Iraqis in the UAE tell us 
that the clerics' "association" or committee is 
modeled after Rafsanjani's Expediency Council in 
Iran (NFI).  Al-Kubaysi is closely aligned with the 
UAE leadership in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.  The UAE 
leadership have repeatedly told us that they can 
influence his message and activities. The Emiratis, 
given their stake in his success, are working 
closely with Al-Kubaysi to sensitize him to U.S. 
policy objectives in Iraq. 
 
C.  (S) What are the equities of those involved? 
 
For the Emiratis, Iran poses an existential threat 
and anything that strengthens Iranian regional 
ambitions is of concern to the UAE.  The Emiratis 
are worried about the potential for an Iranian- 
influenced Shi'a theocracy in Iraq which in their 
view would encourage similar Shi'a movements 
elsewhere on the Arabian peninsula, resulting in 
further regional instability.  Thus, they view Al- 
Kubaysi as a possible counterweight to potential 
Iranian influence in Iraq.  Given the fact that the 
Sunni comprise between only 20-30% of Iraq's 
population, the Emiratis want to ensure that 
whatever Sunni religious leader emerges is 
moderate, open to outside ideas and, perhaps most 
importantly, has appeal among Sunnis and Shi'a. 
 
D. (S) What is the quality of information the 
leader relies upon to reach conclusions?  Does it 
vary from issue to issue?  To what degree is 
information reaching the leader politicized? 
 
Unclear.  The UAE has tried to sensitize Al-Kubaysi 
to U.S. foreign policy concerns and has urged 
moderation. 
 
E. Through J. (U) Post does not yet have the 
answers to these questions.  As we develop further 
information, we will forward it. 
 
K. (S) What is the leader's tribal affiliation, if 
any?  Are they religious? 
 
According to a reliable local Iraqi expat source, 
Al-Kubaysi does not have a prominent tribal 
affiliation.  Rather, his name comes from his 
family's hometown -- Al-Kubaysah -- on the banks of 
the Euphrates river.  Al-Kubaysi himself was born 
in Fallujah, another Sunni stronghold.  He is 
religious.  He is a Sunni from the Hanafi school 
and while in Dubai, was in charge of a weekly 
religious affairs program on Dubai TV.  He also 
helped draft the UAE's personal status law and 
served as an advisor to the court of Dubai Crown 
Prince Muhammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. 
 
L. (S) Where was leader educated? 
 
We have been told that he was educated at Al-Azhar 
and also studied in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (NFI). 
 
M. (S) What languages does the leader speak? 
 
Arabic.  His English is reportedly quite poor. 
 
N. (S) Describe the leader's professional 
background and family background? 
 
Before fleeing Iraq in 1998, Al-Kubaysi reportedly 
was one of Iraq's most prominent Sunni imams; he 
was also a professor of Islamic Studies at Baghdad 
University.  As we noted above, when he moved to 
the UAE, he was employed by Dubai TV and served as 
an advisor to the Dubai government.  The Al-Kubaysi 
family is apparently quite wealthy and is rumored 
to have made its money -- in the old days -- from 
smuggling. 
 
O. (S) Does the leader have ties to other 
countries? 
 
Al-Kubaysi has strong ties to the UAE, as noted 
above.  We have also heard that he has some ties to 
the Saudi ruling family (NFI). 
 
 
WAHBA 

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