WikiLeaks: Saudi Arabia fear ‘Shia triangle’ of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan
America is often portrayed as the big dog in Pakistan’s yard: a swaggering power that makes rules, barks orders and throws its weight around. But the WikiLeaks cables highlight the understated yet insistent influence of another country with ideas about Pakistan’s future: Saudi Arabia.
In recent years Saudi rulers have played favourites with Pakistani politicians, wielded their massive financial clout to political effect and even advocated a return to military rule.
“We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants,” the Saudi ambassador to the US, Adel al-Jubeir, boasted in 2007. A senior US official later bemoaned as “negative” the Saudi influence.
As home to Islam’s holiest sites, Saudi Arabia has longstanding ties with Pakistan. In the 1980s Saudi intelligence, along with the CIA, funded the anti-Soviet “jihad” in Afghanistan; since then the Saudis have given billions in financial aid and cut-price oil.
Read related article “WikiLeaks cables: Saudi Arabia wants military rule in Pakistan” in the Guardian here.
Document 1: Saudis fear ‘Shia triangle’ of Iran, Iraq and Pakistan.
Thursday, 09 April 2009, 04:22
S E C R E T STATE 034688
EO 12958 DECL: 04/07/2019
TAGS OVIP”>OVIP (CLINTON, HILLARY), UAE
SUBJECT: (U) Secretary Clinton’s April 7, 2009 meeting
with UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed
1.(U) Classified by Bureau Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman. Reasons: 1.4 (b) and (d)
2. (U) April 7, 2009; 1:30 p.m.; Washington, DC.
3. (U) Participants:
The Secretary Acting Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman Jake Sullivan, S staff Barbara Masilko, NEA Notetaker
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed (AbZ) Ambassador Yousef al Otaiba Abdullah al Saboosi, UAE Notetaker
4. (S) SUMMARY. The Secretary reviewed the status of the US-UAE 123 agreement and additional action the UAE can take to encourage a positive Congressional review. The UAE request for participation in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) is under serious consideration. The Secretary expressed her interest in participating in a GCC plus three meeting in Baghdad in the near future. The UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed (AbZ) also suggested a GCC plus 3 and P5 plus 1 joint meeting to discuss Iran. AbZ confirmed his intention to participate in the Pakistan Donors conference in Tokyo and expressed concerns about Saudi back peddling. The Secretary thanked the UAE for the positive support for both the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Palestinian Authority. AbZ noted that Qatar wants the Arab League to request a meeting with the Quartet focused on settlements and East Jerusalem. END SUMMARY.
Nuclear Cooperation and Export Control
5. (S) The Secretary expressed the Administration’s commitment to the U.S.-UAE Agreement for Cooperation on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (aka 123 Agreement). She emphasized that our goal is to get the agreement completed as smoothly as possible. AbZ said that he is delighted with the progress on the agreement. He added that the UAE’s goal is to create a gold standard for a nuclear power program. Then, because of the strong commitments the UAE has made, it will be impossible to have improper use of its nuclear facilities.
6. (S) Turning to the need to be prepared to respond to Congress, the Secretary committed to form a State Department committee including H, NEA and ISN to work on the notification. The Secretary noted the importance of implementing the UAE export control law and continued UAE efforts against illicit Iranian trade and Iranian front companies. The Secretary encouraged action on nonproliferation treaty commitments as especially helpful actions the UAE could take to support our efforts. AbZ noted that the UAE would formally join the additional protocol on April 8.
7. (S) AbZ agreed that the August 2007 export control law had some “loopholes” and said that the UAE Cabinet “revisited” the issue last week. Otaiba said that AbZ had personally intervened to ensure timely action. Otaiba elaborated that the committee charged with implementing the export control law will have its first meeting later this month to begin operations.
8. (S) Otaiba noted that, even in the absence of a formal implementation committee, the UAE is taking action – citing a recent case involving German-made Siemens computers and a Chinese ship bound for Iran interdicted in port in the UAE.
Major Economies Forum
9. (S) The Secretary noted UAE interest in the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF). While noting that the UAE does not technically meet the criteria for the meeting, based on size of the economy alone, the Secretary said there are many criteria that make it important for the UAE to attend, adding she will make a recommendation for UAE participation as an observer. AbZ said the UAE bid to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) headquarters would be very difficult to achieve if the UAE is locked out of the MEF preparatory meeting in Washington and promised “we will remember your help.”
10. (S) The Secretary said the U.S. is looking to see if Iran can be engaged in any productive manner and noted that Special Advisor Ross would travel to the region soon for consultations. AbZ told the Secretary that UAE feels threatened by Iran today, even though Iran does not yet have a nuclear capability. AbZ asserted that the UAE is even more worried about Iranian intentions than is Israel. AbZ encouraged the U.S. to consider a GCC plus 3 and P5 plus 1 joint meeting.
Iraqi GCC plus 3
11. (S) The Secretary expressed interest in the Iraqi invitations for a GCC plus 3 meeting in Baghdad, at a date to be determined. She noted the value of the GCC plus 3 mechanism not only for furthering Arab engagement with the Iraqi government during a time of transition, but as a way to send a message to Iran that Iraq has broad support in the Arab world.
12. (S) The Secretary told AbZ that the U.S. needs help to stem the flow of funds from the Gulf to the Taliban. She noted that one area of potential action is reviving training related to bulk cash smuggling.
13. (S) Thanking the UAE for hosting the Friends of Pakistan preparatory meeting, the Secretary said she hopes AbZ would attend the April donors conference in Tokyo. AbZ confirmed that he plans to attend and said that the UAE will make a “strong” pledge, but no decision has been made on an exact dollar figure.
14. (S) AbZ express concern over Saudi Arabia’s decision not to make a pledge at the Tokyo conference. AbZ said that the Saudis have never liked the Pakistan Peoples Party, and support Nawaz Sharif. In addition, AbZ posited that Saudi Arabia suspects that Zardari is Shia, thus creating Saudi concern of a Shia triangle in the region between Iran, the Maliki government in Iraq, and Pakistan under Zardari. Feltman noted a pattern of Saudi behavior of withholding financial assistance – not supporting March 14 in Lebanon, not sending funds to the PA, and not planning a pledge for Pakistan. Otaiba added that Saudi Arabia also failed make a commitment at the G20 meeting.
15. (S) The Secretary noted the need to support Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the run up to the elections with concrete displays of support. Feltman added that the UAE had been particularly helpful already by funding the delivery of the first ten refurbished tanks for the LAF. AbZ noted that he would meet with visiting Lebanese Minister of Defense Murr later on April 7. AbZ said the UAE will purchase additional munitions for LAF helicopters, donated by the UAE to LAF last year, but is waiting for France to provide a price estimate.
Middle East Peace Process
16. (S) The Secretary thanked the UAE for its strong financial support for the Palestinian Authority (PA). The Secretary asked if AbZ had an update on the status of Palestinian unity talks. Acknowledging that Hamas and Fatah are not coming to an agreement, AbZ replied with a smile that things are “going well.”
17. (S) AbZ said that in addition to financial support for the PA it is important that the new Israeli government reach out to President Abbas. AbZ said that the Secretary should expect the Qatari Prime Minister to request an Arab League meeting with the Quartet focused on settlements and East Jerusalem. AbZ said the Quartet will need to use the same standards for the new Israel government as already applied to the Palestinians regarding respecting previous agreements. The Secretary agreed. AbZ said that it is important to create a road map of Israeli and Palestinian actions towards an end game. The Secretary agreed on the importance of simultaneous reinforcing actions in support of negotiations. AbZ said that the UAE candidacy to host IRENA could yield political benefits, if successful. Israel is already a signatory to the agreement, so it would have a representative IRENA mission in Abu Dhabi should the UAE be chosen to host headquarters.
Document 2: Turkey seen as answer to Saudis’ influence in Pakistan.
Sunday, 24 May 2009, 06:23
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ISLAMABAD 001118
EO 12958 DECL: 05/23/2019
TAGS PGOV, PREF, EAID, MOPS, PHUM, MARR, PREL, PK, TU
SUBJECT: TURKISH AMBASSADOR: THEIR TRILATERALS, FRIENDS,
NATO, IDP AID, AND NAWAZ
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b), (d).
1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador, accompanied by EmbOffs, met May 20 with Turkish Ambassador Soysal and other Turkish counterparts. The Turkish Embassy, which has taken on a coordinating role for NATO in Pakistan, advocated greater cooperation with the U.S. vis-a-vis Pakistan. Soysal described Turkey’s own trilateral meetings with Afghanistan and Pakistan. He thought the Af-Pak relationship had improved since the February 2008 elections and credited Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in particular for this “geographic sensitivity.” While Turkey hoped their trilaterals would result in cooperative programs, the real objective was increased trust and transparency between the two neighbors. The trilaterals had matured past joint statements; decisions on specific projects needed to be implemented for the meetings to be worthwhile, Soysal said. Encouragingly, the three countries had already conducted a number of joint training on a range of subjects. Soysal agreed that the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” initiative should not morph into a donors forum, despite the GOP predilection. He believed a strong secretariat, along the lines of a task force model, was needed to ensure the initiative’s policy success. NATO could also contribute to Pakistan’s development, sponsoring education initiatives and professional exchanges.
2. (C) Summary continued: Turkish President Gul would call President Zardari May 22 to offer an aid package for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Soysal focused on the July/August timeframe, which this year includes Ramadan, suggesting Turkish aid may be more post-emergency. So far, Turkey was the only Muslim country to contribute to this humanitarian crisis, though Soysal hoped next week’s Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) would take action. He was frustrated the GOP had no timeline for the offensive in Swat and thought the Army was moving too slowly to initiate operations in the Waziristans before next year. He was not certain Pakistani politics would be so patient and encouraged international missions to push for a non-partisan climate for as long as possible. Most of the responsibility for this, however, rested with Zardari, who needed to employ confidence building measures within his own party and with other parties, especially leading opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). End summary.
3. (S) Turkish Embassy Participants: Ambassador Engin Soysal, DCM Semih Luffu Turgut, Army/Air Attache Colonel Nuri Gayir, Naval Attache Erhan Sensoy, and Second Secretary Ilker Kucukkurt. US Mission Participants: Ambassador Anne Patterson, DCM Jerry Feierstein, RAO Chief John Bennett, Army Attache Scott Taylor, and PolOff Terry Steers-Gonzalez (notetaker).
– – – – – – – – –
4. (C) Soysal described the trilateral meetings by Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, dating back to April 2007. Those three meetings had been kept relatively “small and focused,” he said; each had its own theme — (1) dialogue, (2) development, and (3) security and intelligence. The next trilateral meeting, date to be determined, will focus on education. Though Soysal admitted the three countries’ education systems were quite different, the exchange was meant to build trust and transparency. He emphasized the meeting would be formatted as parallel bilateral discussions rather than true trilats.
5. (C) The GOT had witnessed first-hand a deterioration in the relationship between the Karzai-Musharraf administrations over the first three trilaterals, Soysal revealed. Since Zardari’s presidency, he had observed much improved relations, relatively, between the two countries. While President Asif Zardari deserved some recognition for this positive turn, Soysal credited principally Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. They both exhibited “geographic sensitivity,” he added, playing up their moderate Sufi credentials and raising universal and/or conciliatory themes.
6. (C) Soysal was proud the Turkish-sponsored trilaterals had
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matured beyond joint statements; now, the three countries needed to implement their decisions. There had already been trilateral training opportunities, he added, including on crisis response, counter-narcotics, and public affairs topics. He also mentioned a number of proposals he hoped would materialize soon, including a “joint” community center in Peshawar and a development center in Ankara. He thought the latter would welcome the visits of American experts. Turkey was additionally proposing a trilateral military exercise or war game.
7. (S) Ambassador Patterson briefed Soysal on our own recent trilateral summit. The U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan meetings complemented Turkey’s process begun years before. President Zardari had performed well in a high-stakes situation. The Ambassador thought President Obama’s focus on counter-insurgency, good governance, and overall support had been received well by the Pakistanis. The RAO Chief noted that Turkey’s trilateral on Af-Pak intelligence cooperation may have gone better than our own trilateral consultations. The Ambassador highlighted the transit trade agreement and the commitment to increased border controls and cross-border training. Our next trilateral would likely come in October, the Ambassador mentioned.
8. (C) Turkey was receptive to Zardari’s suggestion for a regional summit, not just trilateral, to include all of Afghanistan’s neighbors, said Soysal. He confirmed the Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan summit set for May 19 had been postponed to May 24. He recommended Pakistan reach out to even more international partners and suggested Pakistani parliamentarians, not just GOP officials, travel abroad to push Pakistan’s case. Zardari would address NATO members at a special session in June. Of course, Soysal added, Zardari might demur depending on how the Army offensive was going in Swat.
Friends of Pakistan
– – – – – – – – – –
9. (C) Speaking of the calendar, Soysal turned to the “Friends of Democratic Pakistan” initiative, informing the Ambassador that the GOP aimed for a July ministerial in Istanbul. (Comment: We have conveyed to the Turks our own concerns that there is not sufficient time to prepare for a ministerial in mid-July. We will continue to discuss.) The British would likely propose a Friends summit on the margins of the usual September UN General Assembly session of heads of government, Soysal relayed. U.N. Assistant Secretary General Jean Arnault would arrive in Pakistan on May 21; he had attended the Friends/Donors meeting hosted by Japan in late April. Soysal hoped he, as well as the Ambassador, would encourage the GOP to stand-up a secretariat for “Friends.” While the assignment of Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit as GOP POC was positive, Soysal really advocated a taskforce.
10. (C) The DCM stressed that Friends not morph in to a donors forum, which was the GOP’s inclination. Also, membership in the group had expanded and may now be too broad to work as a coherent group, he added. Lastly, it would be up to the GOP to provide the initiative its “strategic vision.” The DCM encouraged the Turkish Ambassador to convey similar messages to the GOP. Soysal concurred: “They have to hear from us.”
Initiatives for NATO
– – – – – – – – – – –
11. (C) The Turkish Embassy in Islamabad has taken on the task of NATO coordinator, at least on political issues, among members’ missions and with the GOP. In that informal role, Soysal recommended a number of joint initiatives and exchanges. He thought members’ respective ambassadors to NATO should jointly visit Pakistan soon. He also noted Pakistani journalists and academics were being sent on study tours (similar to our International Visitors Program) to NATO headquarters in Brussels. Soysal welcomed U.S. suggestions on suitable Pakistani candidates for the trips. Lastly, he had recently learned that a number of Pakistani universities conducted model U.N. competitions; he felt his and other NATO members’ missions could sponsor such events.
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12. (C) Turkish Ambassador Soysal noted President Obama’s recent trip to Turkey had been very positive and hoped for increased coordination between our two countries and embassies on a spectrum of issues and beyond traditional fora. He also noted his government’s recent hosting of other Special Representatives to this region.
The IDP Challenge
– – – – – – – – –
13. (C) The Turkish Ambassador complimented the U.S. on its May 19 announcement to provide $110 million in direct assistance to Pakistan’s internally displaced (IDPs). He revealed Turkish President Abdullah Gul would call Zardari May 22 to offer a support package as well. He hinted that Turkish aid may be geared to the post-emergency phase in August/September, which would also coincide this year with the holy month of Ramadan. Soysal noted that Turkey would be the first (and so far only) Muslim country to assist Pakistan with this humanitarian crisis; he was perplexed that Saudi Arabia had not ponied up yet. The GOT would encourage, at the least, a strong statement of support by the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit during the week of May 25 and was hoping other OIC members would kick in contributions, Soysal said.
14. (C) However, it appeared the GOP did not have a clear timeline for the offensive operations in Swat, Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), Soysal complained. He agreed with the Ambassador that the GOP also needed to identify competent civil administrators to enter recently cleared towns. Soysal was also concerned that the Pakistan Army was moving too slowly to clear militants from other districts and the Waziristan Agencies in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). GOP plans were still “broad brush” and may not realistically be implemented, if at all, until the new year, he analyzed. The Ambassador added that 2500 Waziri families had already reportedly fled their homes in anticipation of Army action, but yet, the GOP refused to give international aid organizations access to the nearest settled district of D.I. Khan, forcing families to move north to Peshawar or farther east into Punjab.
Thoughts on Nawaz
– – – – – – – – –
15. (C) Soysal met one-on-one with opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif in Lahore the week of May 11. Nawaz understood the seriousness of the situation in Swat, Soysal concluded. He reported that Nawaz stated the Taliban should be “eliminated.” Nawaz warned, however, that Pakistan’s democracy needed to deliver soon before the public looked again to alternatives; Soysal did not specify whether Nawaz implied the military or the militants as the likely alternates.
16. (C) While tit-for-tat politics would eventually return, Soysal thought the international community should encourage for as long as possible a non-partisan stance by Pakistan’s political parties. But Zardari held much of the responsibility for setting the tone, Soysal argued. He should bring all parties into major decision-making, host party leaders for a session of the next “Friends” meeting, and reconcile with factions inside his own Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
17. (C) Comment: This was the first meeting between the two embassies in this format, which parallels a similar dialogue we have with the U.K. High Commission. But with the Turks playing an increasingly high profile, constructive role in Pakistan, we will continue to develop our dialogue and find opportunities to work together in areas of mutual interest. As a moderate, progressive Muslim state featuring relatively stable, democratic governance, Turkey is well-positioned to be a much more positive role model for the Pakistanis and to neutralize somewhat the more negative influence on Pakistani politics and society exercised by Saudi Arabia. End comment.
Document 3: Saudi influence in Pakistan.
Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 16:17
S E C R E T RIYADH 002320
DEPT FOR NEA/ARP, SCA, AND P STAFF
EO 12958 DECL: 11/18/2017
TAGS PGOV, PHUM, PK, PREL, PTER, SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI ARABIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE US ON PAKISTANI
PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF’S VISIT TO SAUDI ARABIA
Classified By: CHARGE D’AFFAIRES MICHAEL GFOELLER FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) A ND (D)
1. (S) On November 20, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US Adel al-Jubeir invited the Charge d’Affaires and Executive Office Staff Assistant (note taker) to his residence for lunch. During the meal, Ambassador al-Jubeir said that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf arrived in Saudi Arabia, today, November 20, and will meet with King Abdullah, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and head of the General Intelligence Presidency Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz after he completes Umra in Mecca. He noted that Musharraf will meet with the Foreign Minister and Prince Muqrin first and thereafter see King Abdullah sometime in the evening. “The purpose of these meetings,” said al-Jubeir, “is to get a readout of the situation and present our point of view to him.”
2. (S) Al-Jubeir denied that Musharraf had come to the Kingdom to meet with exiled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, although he carefully avoided ruling out such a meeting. Instead, he boldly asserted that, “We in Saudi Arabia are not observers in Pakistan, we are participants.” He asserted that the Saudi government (SAG) had offered Sharif a pledge of protection and asylum in the Kingdom after his ouster by Musharraf in return for a promise that he would refrain from political activity for ten years. He added that Sharif had begun to attempt to test the limits of this promise five or six years in his exile. “Sharif broke his promise by conducting political activity while in the Kingdom,” al-Jubeir charged. He added that when the SAG had permitted Sharif to travel to London, he first promised the Saudis not to engage in political activity or return to Pakistan, but he then flew to Pakistan from London in a direct violation of his commitment.
3. (S) Al-Jubeir expressed considerable “disappointment” in Sharif’s broken pledges to the SAG. He stated very clearly that the SAG has worked directly with Musharraf to have Sharif arrested on his return to Pakistan and immediately deported to the Kingdom. “We told Musharraf that we would receive him back and then keep him here as an ‘honored guest’,” al-Jubeir said. He added that Prince Muqrin had been the SAG’s point man in restraining Sharif. Prince Muqrin was allowed to reveal the terms of Sharif’s asylum agreement, he noted. Al-Jubeir made it very clear that the SAG would seek to control Sharif’s movements in he future, even suggesting that he would be kept in a state only a little less severe than house arrest.
4. (S) Al-Jubeir added that he sees neither Sharif nor former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as a viable replacement for Musharraf. “With all his flaws,” he said of Musharraf, “he is the only person that you or we have to work with now.” He claimed that Sharif would be unable to control the Pushtun-dominated Islamic insurgency in the tribal region near Afghanistan, while Bhutto would prove to be too divisive a figure to rule the country, which he characterized as “very tribal, much like our own country.”
5. (S) Al-Jubeir added that for the SAG, stability in Pakistan is an essential strategic matter. Since Pakistan possesses both nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, from the Saudi point of view, the policy choice to be made there boils down to a drastic choice: “We can either support Musharraf and stability, or we can allow bin Laden to get the bomb, “he told the Charge’.
6. (S) Comment: As a senior royal advisor who has worked for King Abdullah for eight years now, al-Jubeir’s views generally track very closely with those of the King. It seems likely that King Abdullah, Prince Muqrin, and Prince Saud al-Faisal will offer Musharraf pledges of strong support in their meetings today. We note that the Saudis have an economic hold on Nawaz Sharif, sine he was reportedly the first non-Saudi to receive a special economic development loan from the SAG, with which to develop a business while here in exile. We will report further information on these meetings as it develops. End Comment.
Document 4: Saudi rulers’ contempt for Pakistan president Zardari.
Friday, 12 February 2010, 12:15
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 RIYADH 000182
S/SRAP FOR AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE
DOHA FOR AMBASSADOR HOLBROOKE
EO 12958 DECL: 02/10/2020
TAGS PREL, PGOV, PTER, KTFN, SA, AF, PK
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE AMBASSADOR
HOLBROOKE’S FEBRUARY 15-16 VISIT TO RIYADH
REF: KABUL 500
RIYADH 00000182 001.2 OF 003
Classified By: Ambassador James B. Smith for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C) Ambassador Holbrooke, Embassy Riyadh warmly welcomes you to Saudi Arabia, which, by virtue of its historical and cultural ties to Central Asia; personal relationships between Saudi, Afghani and Pakistani leaders; financial power; and leadership of the Muslim world, can play a central role in implementing the President’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Your visit comes at a time of great potential but great uncertainty: the Saudi-Afghan relationship appears to be warming up, while the traditionally close Saudi-Pakistani relationship has grown increasingly strained. The Saudis are broadly supportive of our approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan, but occasionally express skepticism about our timing or our approach. Your visit provides an opportunity to mine the Saudis’ wealth of experience in dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and extremism, and further explore ways to translate our shared goals into action in the unique Saudi context. We have requested meetings with GIP Director Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, Assistant Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayif, and Prince Turki Al-Faisal during your visit.
2. (C) SAUDI-AFGHAN RELATIONS WARMING: President Karzai’s February 2-3 visit to the Kingdom, although richer in symbolism than substance, was a sign that lukewarm Saudi-Afghan relations may finally be warming up. In his official statement at the London Conference, FM Saud announced a $150 million pledge of additional financial support for Afghan reconstruction. He expressed broad Saudi support for reconciliation, adding that they would be willing to assist at the request of President Karzai– on the condition that the Taliban sever its relationship with Al-Qaeda and cease providing refuge to its leaders. While not as forward leaning as we may have liked, FM Saud’s statement put the Saudis on the record and created an opportunity to put reconciliation talks back in motion–eventually. Saudi participation at the Turkish-led regional conference on Afghanistan on January 26 was further evidence of the Saudi commitment to engagement. Karzai’s visit showed that the King was ready to deal with Karzai as a legitimate, Muslim head of state. However, the Saudis continue to have concerns about Afghan corruption and believe greater political incorporation of the Pashtun community is essential. Their apparent wish to downplay Karzai’s visit–as compared to the Afghans (reftel)–may also indicate the King’s desire to keep some distance and maintain his credibility as a potential reconciliation mediator.
3. (S/NF) BUT MEDIATION NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME: Privately, the Saudis tell us it’s still “too soon” to be publicly discussing technical and financial aspects of reintegration efforts. GIP Director Prince Muqrin has made clear that his marching orders are to work through intelligence channels only until progress becomes sustainable, at which point foreign ministries will be brought in. In a recent meeting with the Ambassador, Prince Muqrin hinted at but did not provide details about what appears to be significant movement on the Saudi mediation effort, with visits by high-level Taliban and Afghan officials, since the Hajj. We surmise that Muqrin is reluctant to share information because the talks remain delicate and he fears U.S. involvement could derail progress. He has also voiced concern about how to address UNSCR 1267 prohibitions on dealing with various Taliban members.
4. (C) ZARDARI STILL THE PROBLEM IN PAKISTAN: The Saudis generally agree that there is a need to deny terrorists safehavens in Pakistan, but question whether the methods we have outlined will be effective. Despite tense relations with the Zardari government, close military and intelligence cooperation continues between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Saudis believe opposition leader Nawaz Sharif can play a “great role” in working with tribal chiefs and that “money is better than bullets” in the fight against the Taliban. They have started to fulfill their pledge from the Tokyo donor,s conference (over half of the $700 million pledged has been disbursed) and have expressed a willingness to continue with financial support for a stable Pakistan. Saudi interlocutors stress the importance of remembering that Pakistan remains
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pre-occupied with issues on its Indian border, coloring its ability to deal with the Taliban.
5. (C) IN THE ARMY WE TRUST: The tumultuous democratic process in Pakistan makes the Saudis nervous, and they appear to be looking for “another Musharraf”: a strong, forceful leader they know they can trust. In his January meeting with General Jones, the King cited President Zardari as an impediment to denying terrorist safehavens, calling him an “obstacle” and “a rotten head” that was infecting the whole body. He maintained that the Pakistani Army was capable of being a strong partner for the U.S., and opined that U.S. development assistance would rebuild trust. He asserted that that the Army was staying out of Pakistani politics in deference to U.S. wishes, rather than doing what it “should.” FM Saud told General Jones that we must reach out to tribal leaders and separate “those we could work with” from “those we must fight.” He believed that using the military to fight extremists posed certain dangers, and that the credibility of the army must be maintained. The Saudis were pushing Pakistan’s civilian leaders to work together, but “compromise seemed alien to Pakistani politicians.”
6. (C) TURKI’S TAKE: During a recent meeting with Ambassador, former GIP Director Prince Turki Al-Faisal called Afghanistan a “puzzle,” where establishing trust with Afghan leaders, and recognizing the links between Pakistan and the Taliban, were keys to success. All financial aid to the Afghan government should be conditional: benchmarks must be set for the leadership, and aid must be withheld until these are met. Recent Saudi efforts to assist in Taliban mediation had failed, he said, when “both sides fell short.” He described the Taliban leadership as “fractured,” and suggested the U.S. and NATO needed to target criminal elements more vociferously and re-focus our attention on capturing Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. He suggested Saudi Arabia, the U.S., China, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan could join forces and share assets in order to capture or kill bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri. This would break the terrorists’ “aura of invincibility” and allow the U.S. to “declare victory” and move on.
7. (S/NF) TERRORISM FINANCE: Terrorist funding emanating from Saudi Arabia remains a serious concern. Over the last year, however, Saudi Arabia has made important progress in combating al-Qaida financing emanating from the country. Sensitive reporting indicates that al-Qaida’s ability to raise funds has deteriorated substantially, and that it is now in its weakest state since 9/11. The Kingdom is also cooperating more actively than at any previous point to respond to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States, and to investigate and detain financial facilitators of concern. Nonetheless, sustained engagement is required to maintain the current momentum, particularly in providing the Saudis with specific details and actionable information. Your visit provides another opportunity to welcome the progress Saudi Arabia has made, and reiterate the importance that President Obama and the USG place on curtailing fundraising activity by global terrorist groups in Saudi Arabia, particularly those that undermine the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
8. (S/NF) TERRORISM FINANCE, CONTINUED: While in the past the KSA stood reluctant to pursue Saudi donors who backed groups that did not directly threaten the Kingdom, the Saudi Ministry of Interior (MOI) has now demonstrated willingness to take action, and has begun to detain individuals involved in funding networks for groups such as Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), the Taliban, and in some cases even Hamas. Our TF cooperation with the MOI is of utmost strategic importance to U.S. national security as donors in Saudi Arabia continue to constitute a source of funding to Sunni extremist groups worldwide. Available intelligence reflects that the Kingdom remains an important fundraising locale-especially during the Hajj and Ramadan-for the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The MOI remains almost completely dependent on the CIA to provide analytic support and direction for its counterterrorism operations. As such, our success against terrorist financing in the Kingdom remains directly tied to our ability to provide actionable intelligence to our Saudi counterparts. In order to enhance the USG’s ability to influence and direct Saudi efforts to
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disrupt terrorist financing, in 2008 we stood up a Treasury attach office in Embassy Riyadh. This office actively contributes to the daily intelligence sharing process that is led by CIA.
9. (S/NF) TERRORISM FINANCE, CONTINUED: Saudi Arabia has taken increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qaida’s access to funding from Saudi sources. An example of recent progress by the KSA is the conviction of over 300 people for involvement in terrorism, including some for providing financial support. News reports suggest that appeals may be opened to the media in order to enhance the deterrent effects of such prosecutions. In addition, Assistant Interior Minister for Security Affairs Mohammed bin Nayif stated that the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) deliberately timed its August 19, 2009 press release regarding the arrest of 44 terrorist supporters to deter potential donors from giving money to suspected terrorist groups during Ramadan. Although a great deal of work remains to be done, Mohammed bin Nayif has given his commitment to work with the United States on Taliban finance, and has said that the MOI will arrest individuals involved in Saudi-based Taliban fundraising activities – even if involved in the reconciliation process – when provided with actionable intelligence.
10. (S/NF) IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES: The Saudis have expressed broad support for the President’s strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, but often balk when asked to designate an SRAP to coordinate policy with the USG and others. In part, this reflects the centralized Saudi decision-making process and the reality that issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan policy are not delegated, but rather dealt with directly by the King and members of the intelligence community. While the Saudis are hesitant to delegate authority and tend to make only broad-based commitments to high-profile, multilateral initiatives, they appear ready, willing and eager to share their experiences with us and identify greater opportunities for cooperation on a bilateral basis. Your visit provides an opportunity to further explore how we can best translate our shared goals into action in the unique Saudi context.
Document 5: Saudi royals believe army rule better for Pakistan.
Sunday, 17 May 2009, 16:06
C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 000670
EO 12958 DECL: 05/17/2019
TAGS PREL, PTER, AF, PK, SA, YM
SUBJECT: SPECIAL ADVISOR HOLBROOKE’S MEETING WITH SAUDI
ASSISTANT INTERIOR MINISTER PRINCE MOHAMMED BIN NAYEF
Classified By: CDA DAVID RUNDELL, 1.4(b),(d)
1. KEY POINTS:
— (C) Ambassador Richard Holbrooke met in Riyadh May 16 with HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN), Saudi Assistant Minister of the Interior.
— (C) Holbrooke emphasized that Afghanistan and Pakistan should be treated as a closely inter-related problem. He stressed U.S. desire for stronger cooperation and a common U.S./Saudi approach to Pakistan based on economic assistance, encouraging cooperation between Pakistani political factions, and transforming the Pakistani army to fight a counterinsurgency war.
— (C) MbN noted the Saudis viewed the Pakistan army as the strongest element for stability in the country. In reply Holbrooke emphasized U.S. support for Pakistan’s democracy and said the U.S. opposed a military coup. MbN said he agreed.
— (C) MbN described Yemen as a dangerous failed state and a growing threat to Saudi Arabia because it attracts Al-Qaeda (AQ), said Yemeni President Saleh is losing control, and outlined a Saudi strategy of co-opting Yemeni tribes with assistance projects.
— (C) MbN strongly supported President Obama’s decision to oppose release of photographs of U.S. detainee interrogations, saying release would provide a boon to AQ, and would be “the favor of their life.”
PAKISTAN MUST NOT FAIL
2. (C) Holbrooke thanked the Prince for Saudi Arabia’s $700 million pledge at the April 17 Pakistan donors’ conference in Japan. He said he had not come to make demands or requests but simply to begin a consultative process. The fact that three U.S. special envoys (Senator Mitchell, Dennis Ross, and now Holbrooke) have visited Saudi Arabia demonstrates the importance President Obama places on U.S./Saudi relations and the Saudi role in the region. Afghanistan and Pakistan were a major problem the new U.S. administration had inherited.
3. (C) Success in Afghanistan was essential for U.S. security as well as security in Europe and the Middle East, Holbrooke continued. The U.S. might be able to live with some degree of instability in Afghanistan, but not with an unstable Pakistan, because of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, fragile politics, and relationship with India. He asked if Saudi Arabia shared this conclusion. MbN said “Absolutely,” a comment echoed precisely in Holbrooke’s subsequent meetings with King Abdullah and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (septels). It’s clear that Saudi Arabia has a “unique” relationship with Pakistan, Holbrooke said. He noted that over 800,000 Pakistanis live and work in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was especially important to Nawaz Sharif, the most popular politician in Pakistan. These were reasons why what happened in Pakistan was of direct concern to both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
4. (C) Holbrooke said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia shared a common purpose on Pakistan but not yet a “common collaboration.” The purpose of his visit was thus to begin a dialogue on Pakistan and seek a common policy. Neither the U.S. nor Saudi Arabia could afford to let Pakistan fall apart. There were three important issues to address:
— Pakistan desperately needs economic assistance;
— Even though the Saudis preferred Nawaz Sharif, Sharif and Zardari need to be persuaded to work together;
— The Pakistan army needs to restructure itself to fight today’s war against the Taliban rather than yesterday’s war against India.
If Pakistan fell apart, Holbrooke said, the consequences for Saudi Arabia would be “unimaginable,” especially if Pakistan’s nuclear weapons fell into unfriendly hands. (“God forbid!” interjected the Prince.) “Under your leadership,” Holbrooke told the Prince “Saudi Arabia has defeated terror, but if Pakistan falls apart, the result would be catastrophe.”
5. (C) Holbrooke said the U.S. wanted to expand the U.S./Saudi relationship concerning Pakistan. Saudi Arabia could do a lot for Pakistan, he added, noting that economic
and social conditions in Pakistan created fertile ground for extremism. Zardari had many faults but he was democratically elected, so the U.S. tries to get him and Sharif to work together. Meanwhile, Holbrooke said, money for the Taliban flows in from the region.
6. (C) MbN said a vacuum in Islamabad would be dangerous. He described Pakistan army Chief of Staff General Kayani as a “decent man” who wanted to restore dignity to the army, and sought consensus support of all the civilian factions. The army was the Saudis’ “winning horse,” MbN said, but it needed to prepare to fight the current war against terror. Pakistani soldiers needed to be proud of their service, and not hide their identity as soldiers when they were off duty, MbN said. He had told Kayani that Pakistani troops needed to feel they were fighting for Pakistan and not the U.S. The Pakistani army had a “golden opportunity” because now Pakistan faced an external enemy. MbN emphasized that the army was Pakistan’s “best bet” for stability. There were 800,000 Pakistanis and over one million Indians living in Saudi Arabia, MbN said, and millions more visited the Kingdom to make the Hajj pilgrimage, so anything that happened in Pakistan, or between Pakistan and India, was a threat to stability in Saudi Arabia.
7. (C) Holbrooke said he knew Kayani, with the Director of Pakistan’s intelligence service (ISI), and General Pasha, and also Musharraf. He recalled the U.S. and Saudi Arabia had decided to support Musharraf in the aftermath of 9/11. This had been the right decision at the time but Musharraf had been a disappointment. The U.S. supported democracy in Pakistan, not any individual leader. Holbrooke repeated that the U.S. supported Zardari because he was elected, and emphasized that the U.S. was “100 percent opposed” to a military coup in Pakistan. MbN assured that Saudi Arabia would not support a coup either.
8. (C) He noted the U.S. agreed that corruption in Pakistan was an issue, but the U.S. had decided it was more important to help Pakistan. Attaching onerous conditions to assistance was a mistake, Holbrooke said. Since the U.S. and Saudi Arabia agreed on Pakistan’s importance, the question was how to start working together. MbN answered that U.S./Saudi security cooperation should stay as it is, since it had “never been better” despite past tensions. Each side knew its own business best, and the focus should be on obtaining results. MbN characterized Saudi cooperation with U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies as “one team.”
9. (C) Holbrooke reiterated that terrorists in Pakistan were not under enough pressure and pressed the point that U.S./Saudi cooperation on Pakistan needed to rise to a higher level. MbN replied that he had asked King Abdullah for permission to maintain a “security channel” with the U.S. to remain open at all times to facilitate information exchange regardless of other issues in bilateral relations. The Prince added that the King despised the corruption he saw in Pakistan and this colored his views toward that country.
“WE HAVE A PROBLEM CALLED YEMEN”
10. (C) Moving to a new subject, the Prince said “We have a problem called Yemen.” AQ has found fertile ground there, he said. The geography was similar to Afghanistan, and many Yemenis were more sympathetic to AQ’s goals than were the Afghans. Yemen is also closer to AQ targets and recruiting grounds in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis had detected a pattern of individuals coming to the Kingdom for Hajj or Umrah and then traveling south to Yemen (“it’s only 400 miles,” he noted) for training before returning to their home countries. Saudi forces have arrested Egyptians and Algerians, among others, who were attempting to do this.
11. (C) MbN described Yemen as a failed state that is “very, very, extremely dangerous,” and required focus. The Huthi tribes were Takfiri and Shi’a “like Hizballah South,” he said. This was a threat forming around Saudi Arabia that required action now. The Saudis would like Saleh to be a strong leader, MbN said, but “his vision of Yemen has shrunk to Sana’a,” and he was losing control over the rest of the country. Saleh’s old advisors were gone and now he relied on his son and other younger men who did not have good connections with the Yemeni tribes. In contrast, Saudi Arabia had good connections with the tribes, MbN said.
12. (C) MbN said the Saudis had established a bilateral council with Yemen that met twice a year to consider assistance projects. The Saudi representatives were the
Crown prince and the oil minister (Note: Crown Prince Sultan has been incapacitated by illness for at least he past year; it is not clear whether the bilateral council has continued to meet in his absence.) Saudi assistance to Yemen was not in the form of cash payments, MbN said, since cash tended to end up in Swiss banks. Instead the Saudis backed projects in the tribal areas of Yemen where AQ was hiding. The idea was that when Yemenis saw the concrete benefits of these projects they would push their leaders to eject the extremists. Saudi Arabia was counting on this strategy, MbN said, to persuade Yemenis to see extremists as criminals rather than heroes. Holbrooke replied that the U.S. understood Saudi concerns about Yemen, and would work with the Saudis to address the problem there.
TERRORISTS STOLE OUR FAITH
13. (C) Turning to another issue, MbN recalled that the day following President Obama’s inauguration, White House counterterrorism advisor Brennan had telephoned to assure him the new president was committed to continuing the war on terror. “Terrorists stole the most valuable things we have,” said the Prince. “They took our faith and our children and used them to attack us.” It had not been easy to see Saudi involvement in 9/11 and other terrorist incidents, he said. AQ was smart in wanting to hit both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. AQ’s strategic goal was to hurt the U.S. and to take control of the Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina.
14. (C) MbN claimed that in 2003 radicals were present in “90 percent” of Saudi mosques. The current Saudi leadership had decided it needed to be on the front lines of the struggle against terrorism, that the task could not be left to the next generation, since AQ gained momentum every time it succeeded. The Saudis realized they could not fight back without public support, he said, and developed a strategy of working with families of suicide bombers and other extremists who had been killed. This approach involved providing support to the families and telling them their sons had been “victims” and not “criminals.” This gave the families “a way out” and provided a public relations advantage to the government. “If you stop five but create fifty” new radicals, “that’s dumb.” MbN said. The Saudis measure their success against extremism by looking at levels of terrorist recruitment the number of successful operations, and they see a growing rejection of extremist violence. The Prince related an anecdote about an anti-terrorist operation in which the officer commanding Interior Ministry forces had discovered his cousin was the leader of the terrorists inside a surrounded building. MbN said he had offered to relieve the officer, but the latter had refused, and had insisted on leading the attack. The officer succeeded in defeating the terrorists while capturing his cousin alive.
15. (C) Saudi Arabia was not yet free of terrorism, MbN said. Thus it remained important to defeat the terrorists on the ground, in the media, and ideologically. The Saudis wanted to do this in cooperation with the U.S., the Prince said. Time was the key, and it was “not in our favor,” he added, so “we need to work fast.”
16. (C) On terrorist financing, MbN said “We are trying to do our best.” Saudi Arabia has millions of visitors, especially during Hajj. The Saudis are making arrests, but are not making this public. Instead, the Saudi goal is to make the public aware that donations could go to the wrong places. MbN said that “if money wants to go” to terrorist causes, “it will go,” and that terrorist attacks were inexpensive, “but let’s make it harder.” Holbrooke asked what the Saudis would do with Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia who financed terrorism. The Prince replied the suspects would be tried in Shari’a courts with Wahhabi judges so that the results of the judicial process could be used to condemn extremist ideology.
A BIG FAVOR TO AL-QAEDA
17. (C) Holbrooke explained that President Obama had decided to oppose release of 2000 photographs of U.S. interrogations of terrorist suspects on grounds of national security, and asked what the Saudi public reaction would be to publication of these photos. MbN responded “You bet!” it would be bad for security, and noted that following publication of the first Abu Ghraib photos, Saudi authorities had arrested 250 individuals trying to leave Saudi Arabia to join extremist groups in Afghanistan. Release of more pictures would give AQ “the favor of their life,” said the
Prince. Saudi Arabia had fought very hard to defeat AQ on the Internet, but he couldn,t see how to fight 2000 new photos.
18. (U) Meeting participants
Special Advisor Ambassador Richard Holbrooke Barnett Rubin, Senior Advisor David Rundell, Charge d’Affaires Andrew Roth, Embassy Riyadh Edwin Brown, Embassy Riyadh (notetaker) Jeff Smith, Embassy Riyadh
HRH Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Assistant Minister of the Interior
Major General Dr. Sa’ad al-Jabri, Senior Advisor, Ministry of the Interior
Major General Khalid al-Humaydan (“Abu Ali”), Counterterrorism Advisor, Ministry of the Interior
Brigadier General Ahmed al-Issa, U.S. Liaison, Ministry of the Interior
19. (U) Amb. Holbrooke cleared this telegram.
Document 6: Pakistani relations with Saudis ‘strained’.
Thursday, 16 October 2008, 10:16
C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 001541
EO 12958 DECL: 10/15/2018
TAGS PREL, PTER, SA, PK
SUBJECT: PAKISTANI RELATIONS WITH SAUDIS “STRAINED”
REF: A. (A) ISLAMABAD 3249 B. (B) RIYADH 1510 C. (C) RIYADH 1175 D. (D) ISLAMABAD 2405
Classified By: CDA David Rundell, reasons 1.4 b & d.
1. (C) SAUDIS UNHAPPY WITH ZARDARI: Echoing Pakistani interlocutors in Washington and Islamabad, in an introductory call with PolCouns, Pakistani DCM Sarfraz Khanzada (protect) characterized Saudi-Pakistani relations as “under strain.” This was due, he said, to a lack of Saudi confidence in the Zardari government. He cited a sharp reduction in Saudi financial assistance to Pakistan, and said that the Saudis had not provided “a single drop” of oil at the concessionary terms promised last year (refs c & d). Instead, during 2008, the Saudis had provided assistance in the form of a single $300 million check, considerably less than in previous years, but “beggars can’t be choosers,” he lamented. Khanzada opined that the Saudi government appeared to be “waiting for the Zardari government to fall.”
2. (C) NAWAS FAVORED: Khanzada said the Pakistanis are convinced that Saudi King Abdallah would prefer to see Pakistan run by former PM Nawas Sharif, and were cutting back assistance to Pakistan to hasten this eventuality. Nawas “practically lives” in Saudi Arabia, Khanzada declared, claiming that Nawas had even been favored with reserved prayer space in the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina. Because Nawas’ daughter is married to a grandson of King Fahd, he has “become a member of the Saudi royal family.” (Comment: Embassy is not able to confirm whether this is true. End comment.)
3. (C) AFGHAN MEDIATION: Khanzada claimed that the Pakistani government was not directly informed about the Saudi Afghan mediation effort, though they suspected that Nawas had been present, since he was in Mecca at the same time. While the Pakistani government did not oppose such talks in principle, they believe they have little chance of succeeding without U.S. and Pakistani participation.
4. (C) COMMENT: Khanzada’s remarks track with reporting from Islamabad and Washington regarding Pakistani concerns about deteriorating relations with the Saudis. While our Saudi interlocutors tend to be less forthcoming, they’ve made no secret of their reservations regarding Asif Zardari. Nevertheless, officials continue to insist that Saudi Arabia supports efforts to stabilize Pakistan, and we expect that Saudi officials will participate in the next round of meetings of the Friends of Pakistan. End comment.
Document 7: Saudis distrust Pakistan’s Shia president Zardari.
Monday, 26 October 2009, 13:18
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 001415
EO 12958 DECL: 10/21/2019
TAGS SA, PK, AF, PREL, PGOV
SUBJECT: PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR ON MILITARY OPERATIONS IN
FATA; SAUDI RELATIONS
RIYADH 00001415 001.2 OF 002
Classified By: Ambassador James B. Smith for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)
1. (C) During an Oct. 20 courtesy call with the Ambassador, Pakistani Ambassador Umar Khan Alisherzai highlighted the success of recent military operations in Pakistan’s tribal areas; lamented strains on the Saudi-Pakistani bilateral relationship; discussed other regional issues affecting Pakistan; and offered his advice on countering extremism in rural tribal regions. End Summary.
WAZIRISTAN: “REASONABLE RESISTANCE, BUT NOT AS MUCH AS WE EXPECTED”
2. (C) Alisherzai described the Pakistani military operations in Waziristan as “progressing well,” adding that they had encountered “reasonable resistance, but not as much as we expected.” The army faced difficult terrain in the region, he continued, but had already killed over 100 militants. Alisherzai described the extremists as a group of “Chechens, Saudis, Uzbeks and others” who had come across the border from Afghanistan and sought refuge with the local population. Although tribal tradition required the Pakistanis to offer them shelter, he explained, “these people turned out to be monsters,” and the local population turned against them.
SWAT VALLEY: A SUCCESS STORY?
3. (C) Alisherzai pointed to the military’s advances against the Taliban in the Swat Valley as one example of success in the region. The cooperation of the local people was a decisive factor, as they provided the most effective intelligence to the military after realizing that “the militants were not interested in Islam at all.” In addition, the military and police in Swat provided weapons to local tribes. When pressed about conditions in Swat, Alisherzai admitted that the Pakistani military still faced challenges due to their limited resources. He said that 10,000 soldiers had been relocated from the Indian border to Swat and that 100,000 new soldiers were placed there as well. However, Alisherzai was quick to point out that the 100,000 new soldiers were inexperienced.
4. (C) While upbeat that Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders were “truly working in tandem for the first time,” Alisherzai was disappointed that action was not taken sooner. “All of this would have been easier if done under (former Pakistani President) Musharraf,” he concluded.
“WE NEED MORE ARMS, AMMO AND PLANES”
5. (C) In response to the Ambassador’s question about support from CentCom, Alisherzai replied that the U.S. “does a lot for Pakistan.” However, it was not enough to fight this problem. All of NATO was fighting the battle in Afghanistan, he complained, while Pakistan alone was standing up to the extremists within its borders. For this reason he insisted that Pakistan needed more material support from the U.S. in the form of “arms, ammo and planes.”
REBUILDING OLD RELATIONSHIPS
6. (C) When asked about the Saudi-Pakistani relationship, Alisherzai admitted that it had been strained since Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s election. Alisherzai blamed the problems on the Saudi perception that Zardari was pro-Iranian and pro-Shia, which made them apprehensive about working with him. “We have been punished by Saudi Arabia because our president talks to the Iranians,” Alisherzai lamented. He claimed that his access to Saudi leadership was good, but that he would have to continue to work hard to rebuild Pakistan,s relationship with the SAG. Alisherzai opined
RIYADH 00001415 002.2 OF 002
that the Saudis were more concerned with their own internal problems than with the problems of Pakistan.
7. (C) Alisherzai accused Russia of “fully supporting the Iranians’ nuclear program,” adding that all Shia communities in the region supported this program. He described Iranian nuclear ambitions as a move to consolidate domestic political power and stated multiple times, “they will not leave this subject.”
INDIA: “WE ARE NOT EXPECTING ANYTHING GOOD”
8. (C) Alisherzai blamed India for helping to train and fund extremist groups fighting against the Government of Pakistan. He said that India also helped support the Taliban in Pakistan, explaining “They (India) will never let a chance to harm Pakistan go.” Alisherzai summed up his feelings about India by saying, “We are not expecting anything good from them.”
THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
9. (C) Asked how to stop terrorism and extremism in Pakistan, Alisherzai said that the people living in the tribal areas “don’t know the value of life.” He blamed this on their lack of education and knowledge of the outside world, and said that they only know fighting and dying. In his view, investment in education and development was the only way to help the tribal areas, and said that years of “bad luck” had redirected development funds from the tribal areas to the urban population centers. He reiterated his support for military operations, but insisted that a program to educate young boys in the region must also be implemented. He noted that this program should be funded by NATO and added, “I am only here today because of my education. Perhaps I would have been Al-Qaeda too, if not for my education.”
10. (C) Alisherzai is from the Kurram Agency, one of the seven tribal agencies that make up the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) along the Afghanistan border. As such, he is able to offer an insider’s view of life along the Pakistani-Afghan border. His observation that intelligence and support provided by the local population has been essential to the success of Pakistani military operations is worth noting, as are his suggestions as to how we might counter the growth of extremism in the region. However, his insights about larger regional issues (ie: Iran, India, Saudi Arabia) appear to be much more limited. End comment.
11. (C) Alisherzai grew up in the FATA bordering the Afghanistan provinces of Khowst and Paktya. His father served in the British military and insisted that his son attend school. Alisherzai says that at the age of five he walked 8km to school everyday. He has six children, all living in the U.S. and all graduates of George Mason University.
Document 8: Saudis see Nawaz Sharif as ‘force for stability’ in Pakistan.
Wednesday, 02 January 2008, 15:50
S E C R E T RIYADH 000007
EO 12958 DECL: 01/01/2018
TAGS CIA, KGCC, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, PK, PREL, PTER, SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI FOREIGN MINISTER ON THE SITUATION IN PAKISTAN
REF: SECSTATE 170928
Classified By: Ambassador Ford Fraker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (S) SUMMARY. The Ambassador delivered reftel demarche on the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal at a meeting at the Foreign Ministry January 2. Commenting on the current situation in Pakistan, Prince Saud voiced strong support for holding parliamentary elections. He added that a limited postponement of the elections until February is acceptable, taking into account the current situation. He advised that the Pakistanis should be allowed to resolve their internal political differences without overt, external interference. The Foreign Minister described former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as “a force for stability” and “a man who can speak across party lines even to religious extremists.” END SUMMARY.
2. (S) The Ambassador delivered the demarche contained in reftel regarding Benazir Bhutto’s assassination to Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on January 2. Responding to the demarche, Prince Saud characterized Pakistan’s current internal situation as “serious and tense,” and described the current political environment there as “poisonous.” He emphasized the need to maintain stability, noting that the key challenge for President Musharraf is to maintain the unity of the Pakistani armed forces. He voiced strong support for holding planned parliamentary elections, but also said that a limited postponement would be acceptable, given the current situation in the country. Postponing the elections could be “an opportunity for the Pakistanis to talk things out,” he said. Prince Saud cautioned that Pakistan must be allowed to resolve its current political crisis internally, without overt, external pressure.
3. (S) Commenting on the Bhutto assasination, Prince Saud observed that he had been afraid of just such an outcome ever since the former Prime Minister had decided to return to Pakistan. He then cautioned that the USG must not be seen publicly to be influencing Pakistan’s internal affairs, lest it inadvertently inflame matters by provoking Islamist extremists to further violence. “People talk about the extremists we have here, but I think they are much worse in Pakistan,” he commented.
4. (S) The Foreign Minister stated that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a force for stability, in his opinion. He called Sharif a leader who can speak across party lines, even to religious extremists who are not usually open to dialogue. In Prince Saud’s view, Sharif can play an important role in stabiizing Pakistan.
5. (S) These views stand in marked contrast to those of Saudi Ambassador to the US Adel al-Jubeir. In a December 31 conversation with the DCM, al-Jubeir was highly critical of Sharif, stating in particular that Sharif had violated a promise made to King Abdullah by publicly calling for President Musharraf to step down. Accrding to al-Jubeir, prior to his return to Pakistan, Sharif had promised the King to avoid questioning Musharraf’s recent political decisions in public. Jubeir also compared Pakistan’s current situation to Saudi Arabia in 2003, when the Kingdom witnessed a violent campaign by terrorists linked to a-Qaeda. He explained that the SAG was able to push back and eventually quell this extremism, in large part by convincing the Kingdom’s religious scholars to condemn terrorism strongly. Jubeir expresed the hope that a similar outcome is possible in Pakistan.
6. (S) COMMENT. The contrast between the views of the Foreign Minister and Ambassador al-Jubeir are worth noting, since they probably indicate that the senior levels of the Saudi government are still debating what the Kingdom’s Pakistan policy should be in the aftermath of the Bhutto asassination. It is likely that al-Jubeir’s views more closely reflect those of King Abdullah, his patron. END COMMENT.
Document 9: Saudis slow their oil aid to Pakistan.
Wednesday, 30 July 2008, 14:24
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 001175
STATE FOR D JNEGROPONTE
DEPT OF ENERGY PASS TO MWILLIAMSON, GPERSON, AND JHART
TREASURY PASS TO A/S CLOWERY
EO 12958 DECL: 07/30/2018
TAGS EPET, PREL, PK, SA
SUBJECT: SAUDI OIL ASSISTANCE TO PAKISTAN PROCEEDING SLOWLY
Classified By: CDA Michael Gfoeller for reasons 1.4 (b) (c) and (d).
1. (S) Recent conversations with the Assistant Minister of Petroleum, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, and the Pakistani Embassy point to one conclusion: the Saudi offer to assist Pakistan by deferring crude oil payments is proceeding slowly. With King Abdullah, Petroleum Minister Naimi, Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal, and Assistant Minister of Petroleum Prince Abdulaziz all out of the country on vacation, absent USG intervention, the proposal is unlikely to advance substantially until September.
MinPet Unaware of Any Progress
2. (S) In a July 30 phone call from London, Assistant Minister of Petroleum Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud was surprised to hear we were interested in discussing the Saudi proposal to defer payments for crude sales for Pakistan. He stated he had heard nothing about the proposal since the June 22 oil summit in Jeddah. Abdulaziz, who led the Jeddah summit and holds the international portfolio for the Ministry of Petroleum (MinPet), promised nonetheless to look into progress on the negotiations, and call us again tomorrow.
Deal At Least a Month Away? Saudis Reluctant with Crude Prices so High
3. (S) In a July 30 meeting with Pakistan Embassy Commercial Counselor Zia Shams, Shams told us, “The deal is not finalized, it is in negotiations.” He clarified that Pakistan did not expect to alter its regular schedule of crude oil deliveries from Saudi Arabia, but had requested a deferred payment scheme. He explained Pakistan could have turned to the IMF for assistance, but had hoped terms would be easier working with Saudi Arabia. Shams told us Pakistan had requested the assistance when oil was about $147/barrel, but negotiations still had not concluded. Shams fretted that, “Muslim brotherhood is not what it used to be, these deals have become very commercialized.” The Saudi government had explained they could not do a deal with oil prices so high, Shams noted. Saudi Arabia is concerned that if Pakistan were awarded payment concessions, other major developing nations such as India would make similar demands. Shams believes a deal might be concluded if crude prices continue to slide. At the conclusion of the meeting, Shams whispered that he thought a “deal was likely a month away.”
4. (S) Shams indicated any encouragement the USG might offer for the proposal would go a long way to see that it was implemented in time to avoid further chaos in Pakistan. Shams told us that the new Pakistani government had been forced to raise gasoline prices by 60 percent and diesel prices (key to the transport sector) by 100 percent since March. The price increases were pushing the population to the limit and fueling extremism, he said.
MFA Has No Knowledge of Deal
5. (S) On July 30, the Charge D’Affaires met with Ambassador Khalid Al Jindan, the third ranking diplomat at the MFA, and the Director of Western Affairs. Ambassador Al Jindan had no knowledge of the deal. Nonetheless, he said there was wide agreement within the Saudi government on the need to do everything possible to support Pakistan’s internal stability.
RIYADH 00001175 002 OF 002
Ministry of Finance: Deal Still with MinPet
6. (S) Hamad Najashi from the International Relations Office at the Ministry of Finance shed some light on the process for negotiating such oil relief packages. He verified MinPet was the lead negotiator for such programs. Once a relief package was agreed upon, it would be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance (MOF) for financial processing. After researching the issue with counterparts in the international assistance area, he told us the MOF has not seen the Pakistan proposal, because the agreement was not yet concluded.
7. (S) Prince Abdulaziz’s apparent ignorance of any recent developments on the Saudi offer to assist Pakistan suggests there has been no movement since the June 22 Jeddah summit. Prince Abdulaziz would be aware of, if not leading, any negotiations with Pakistan. Taken together with the comments from the MFA’s Ambassador Al Jindan, the Pakistani Counselor, and the MOF, it appears the Saudi offer has been shelved until a decline in oil prices make it more palatable for MinPet to implement. The Saudi royal family and senior officials are on vacation now, to be followed by the September Ramadan season. If we see rapid implementation of the offer as critically important to the Pakistan government’s stability, it will likely take USG intervention at the highest levels with senior Saudi officials now in Morocco to secure its rapid implementation.