Viewing cable 04MUSCAT2189

04MUSCAT21892004-12-16 18:10:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Muscat
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 MUSCAT 002189 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/17/2014 
REF: A. SECSTATE 264697 
     ¶B. MANAMA 1885 
     ¶C. MUSCAT 2177 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III. 
Reason: 1.4 (b, d). 
¶1. (C) Visiting NEA DAS Dibble reviewed themes in the 
Secretary's oral message with Omani Foreign Minister Bin 
Alawi.  Concerning Iran's behavior, the Minister recommended 
finding ways to address Tehran's security concerns and 
feelings of isolation as an effective means of reducing its 
possible nuclear ambitions.  Encouraging Iranian WTO 
accession could also produce reform momentum.  Bin Alawi 
reiterated Oman's full support for Iraq and readiness to 
receive any visiting officials, but he gave no firm 
indication of when its reconstruction pledge might be 
fulfilled.  The Minister hailed BMENA as contributing to 
regional reform despite some lingering differences among the 
various states.  He underscored Oman's desire for a Free 
Trade Agreement as an essential ingredient in expanding the 
Sultanate's economy.  End summary. 
¶2. (SBU) On December 12, visiting NEA DAS Philo Dibble, 
accompanied by the Ambassador and Pol/E Chief (notetaker), 
reviewed the substance of ref A oral message from the 
Secretary with Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf 
bin Alawi (YBA).  Discussion of Oman's support for the 
Palestinian Authority and Middle East peace was reported in 
ref C. 
¶3. (C) DAS Dibble reviewed U.S. policy views and concerns 
about Iran.  Echoing his December 5 remarks to DNSA Hadley in 
Manama (ref B), YBA observed that it was difficult to talk to 
Iran about its nuclear ambitions because Tehran flatly 
refuses to acknowledge any.  But he feels the political and 
military pressures on Iran, particularly as it is now 
virtually surrounded by U.S. forces and abuts nuclear-armed 
Pakistan, drives its desire for due respect from the 
international community.  Noting that Iran's nuclear power 
industry traces its roots to the Shah's regime, the Minister 
argued that Tehran's isolation forces it to resort to dealing 
with nations like Russia and North Korea.  Easing the 
international pressure and finding a way to reassure Tehran 
of its security, he believes, would reduce any incentive 
Tehran might have to pursue nuclear weapons. 
¶4. (C) The Minister believes the USG needs to make a choice 
on the end-game for Iran and how to bring it about. 
Washington can rely on either pressure or "process."  Given 
recent and ongoing conflicts in the region, YBA was adamant 
in saying further military strife is not welcome.  The only 
real choice therefore is resorting to process, i.e. the 
peaceful transformation of Iran's government.  With 65 
percent of Iran's population comprised of young people hungry 
for change, promoting Iran's accession to WTO could be just 
the device to harness their support and undermine the 
foundations of the conservative ruling class.  Such an 
indirect tactic is particularly apt given the certainty of a 
political conservative winning the presidential election in 
¶5. (C) YBA reiterated Oman's policy of giving Iraq "all 
possible support," saying that he stands ready to receive any 
visiting Iraqi officials, be it FM Zebari, President Yawwar, 
or others.  On the question of disbursing Oman's USD 5 
million pledge to Iraq's reconstruction, Bin Alawi excused 
Muscat's inaction thus far by complaining that it receives 
numerous ad hoc requests from various Iraqi ministers.  Oman 
wants to keep any contributions "above board," and seeks 
reassurance that any donation will be properly coordinated. 
¶6. (C) DAS Dibble underscored the USG's concern over 
Al-Jazeera's out-moded and unhelpful coverage of the conflict 
in Iraq.  YBA expressed confidence that the problem will be 
settled as Iraq becomes increasingly stable.  He agreed that 
Al-Jazeera has "crossed red lines" in its reporting, and that 
the phenomenon has spread to numerous other satellite 
channels.  He cautioned the U.S. to be tactful in how it 
addresses its concerns to Qatar, which he believes will be 
willing to engage in discussion but will not respond 
productively to outright accusations.  Should talks fail to 
resolve the matter, YBA conspiratorially suggested using 
technical means to interfere with Al-Jazeera's satellite 
Political and Economic Reform 
¶7. (C) Reiterating his preference for the word 
"modernization" over "reform," the Minister hailed the BMENA 
initiative as worthy progress, despite some differences of 
view within the region.  Even within the GCC, he noted, there 
is a considerable divergence in states' willingness to 
embrace change.  The USG's commitment not to impose reform 
from abroad has not sunk in with everyone, but YBA was 
optimistic that the ultimate goals were widely shared despite 
differences in pace. 
¶8. (C) On linking reform to Middle East peace, YBA shrewdly 
noted that the Arab "man in the street" is far more concerned 
with local bread and butter issues than Palestine, but that 
the political elites will resort to linkage because, unlike 
the choice to pursue real change, they cannot be held 
accountable for what happens in the peace negotiations.  The 
governments choosing that crass ploy made themselves clear in 
Rabat.  YBA opined that Saudi FM Saud al-Faisal does not 
personally believe in the statements he was forced to deliver 
in Rabat, but that his speech was reflective of the fact that 
Saudi society perhaps is still not yet ready to undertake the 
needed reforms. 
¶9. (C) As for the Forum for the Future, YBA thought the first 
meeting in New York made it obvious that the business 
community had clear notions for a course of action, but that 
the civil society groups were far more vague.  He feels that 
addressing political issues will nevertheless make it easier 
to progress in the other areas.  Looking at Oman, the 
Minister said the country is open and has accorded women full 
rights.  The economy needs considerably more development, 
however, particularly in order to create more jobs for both 
sexes.  Oman's enthusiasm for Free Trade Agreement 
negotiations with the U.S. is driven by that need to develop 
further the macro-economy.  YBA was adamant that Saudi 
opposition to the Bahrain-U.S. FTA would not dissuade any of 
the five other GCC members from going forward with the 
accords on a bilateral basis. 
¶10.  DAS Dibble did not clear this cable.