Viewing cable 05MUSCAT1208

05MUSCAT12082005-07-31 02:49:00 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 001208 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2015 
     ¶B. USNATO 211 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III. 
Reason: 1.4 (b, d). 
¶1. (U) This is an action request - see para 7. 
¶2. (C) Summary: A senior Omani diplomat says Oman's 
unwillingness to engage in NATO's Istanbul Cooperation 
Initiative (ICI) stems from the impression that NATO members 
lack a common conception of what ICI should be, and the fear 
that its aims are too aggressively political and/or military. 
 Although the Foreign Minister has reportedly decided against 
ICI participation, our contact hopes to reverse that decision 
using detailed information on what NATO could offer.  We urge 
the Department and USNATO to provide full details on the 
"Menu of Practical Activities" for forwarding to our contact. 
 End summary. 
Off On The Wrong Foot 
¶3. (U) In a July 27 meeting on a range of issues, MFA Chief 
of International Organizations Department (and Oman's 
representative to the March NATO-GCC ICI forum in Rome) 
Ambassador Talib Miran al-Raisi discussed with Pol Chief 
Oman's thinking on NATO's Istanbul Cooperation Initiative 
(ICI).  A top-ranking diplomat as well as former chief of the 
Royal Oman Air Force, Ambassador Talib was well aware of the 
fact that four GCC states had already signed on to the ICI, 
leaving only Oman and Saudi Arabia outside the program.  One 
reason for this, according to Ambassador Talib, is the 
Sultan's standing decree not to join any foreign military 
alliances (beyond the GCC).  Nevertheless, Minister 
Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi dispatched 
Ambassador Talib to the Rome forum to get a better assessment 
of NATO's intentions. 
¶4. (C) Ambassador Talib came away from Rome disturbed by the 
lack of a coherent, uniform NATO vision of what the ICI 
should become.  One NATO official at the forum (NFI) seemed 
to indicate that "spreading democracy" was a key component. 
The fervor of some of the GCC states was also disturbing, one 
of which openly stated that it was embracing ICI as a 
defensive bulwark against Iran, while another sought NATO's 
shield against Iraq.  Ambassador Talib noted that Oman, on 
the other hand, does not perceive itself as requiring any 
such NATO "protection," and in fact would worry about doing 
anything that would put its neighbors on edge.  According to 
Ambassador Talib, when Bin Alawi was informed of the NATO 
"democracy" agenda, he closed the door on Oman's inclusion in 
the ICI. 
The Dutch Assessment 
¶5. (C) Dutch Ambassador to Oman Annalies Boogaerdt described 
to Pol Chief on July 30 her government's efforts to engage 
Oman on NATO.  She noted that when ICI had been discussed on 
March 20 during the annual Dutch-Omani political 
consultations, the Omanis were "still digesting" what they 
had heard and could not offer a substantive response.  She 
had called on Ambassador Talib on May 16, when he told her 
about Oman's reluctance to engage with NATO, but asked for 
more detailed information on the ICI.  During the visit of a 
Dutch special envoy on July 24, the Dutch brought the subject 
up again with MFA Under Secretary Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi. 
Ambassador Boogaerdt was hopeful that the upcoming September 
26 NATO forum in Dubai would answer many of the Omanis' 
A Chance to Turn the Tide 
¶6. (C) Ambassador Talib expressed to Pol Chief that he still 
sees merit in the ICI.  If armed with better information 
about the various options for cooperative activities NATO 
might offer (such as the Menu of Practical Activities 
approved by NATO in March), he intends to write a briefing 
paper for Bin Alawi in the hopes of reversing his opposition 
to the ICI.  If given enough choices, he is confident Oman 
will find something of value; but without greater detail, he 
sees little likelihood the Sultanate will change its current 
Action Request 
¶7. (C) We request the Department and USNATO's assistance in 
providing us a detailed "menu" of information to share with 
Ambassador Talib.  He appears to be our best hope for winning 
Oman's engagement with NATO, and it is vital that he have 
options for Bin Alawi that will both address his concerns and 
demonstrate the value of ICI to Oman.