C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MUSCAT 001208
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARPI AND PM
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/27/2015
TAGS: PREL MARR XF MU
SUBJECT: OMAN SEEKS MORE INFORMATION ON NATO
REF: A. USNATO 471
Â¶B. USNATO 211
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III.
Reason: 1.4 (b, d).
Â¶1. (U) This is an action request - see para 7.
Â¶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.
Off On The Wrong Foot
Â¶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.
Â¶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 Dutch Assessment
Â¶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
Â¶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
Â¶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.