C O N F I D E N T I A L ABU DHABI 005341
STATE FOR NEA/FO, NEA/RA, NEA/ARP, NEA/NGA, AND NEA/PPD
SECDEF FOR OSD COMPTROLLER AND OASD/PA
USCINCCENT FOR POLAD
PARIS FOR ZEYA
LONDON FOR GOLDRICH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/16/13
TAGS: PREL, KPAO, IZ, TC
SUBJECT: SHAYKH MOHAMMED BIN ZAYED ON AL ARABIYA
Ref: A) Abu Dhabi 3994
, B) Abu Dhabi 3945
(U) Classified by Ambassador Marcelle M. Wahba, for
reasons 1.5 (B) and (D).
(U) This is an action request ee paragraph 7.
(C) Summary: The UAE's leadership have raised
objections with the management of Al Arabiya Arabic
Satellite News Channel about the station's
controversial broadcasts and have suggested that we
also speak with the Saudis and Kuwaitis as they are
the primary investors/owners of the News Channel.
requested that the USG provide information and
specific evidence to them that they can use when
speaking to Al Arabiya. End summary.
(C) After Al Arabiya broadcast footage on Aug. 28
of hooded men threatening to kill Iraqi Governing
Council members (refs A and B), as well as other
inciteful material, UAE Information Minister Shaykh
Abdullah bin Zayed told us that he had at least one,
and possibly two, serious discussion(s) with Al
(C) In late November, when Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld made his remarks on Al Arabiya, Shaykh
Abdullah called the Ambassador (while she was in
Sydney) to ask for more details of the allegations
so he could further press Al Arabiya.
(C) Air Force Secretary Roche raised the issue of
Al Arabiya's broadcasts with Deputy Crown Prince of
Abu Dhabi and Armed Forces Chief of Staff LTG Shaykh
Mohammed bin Zayed on December 10 during the Dubai
Airshow. Shaykh Mohammed said that the UAEG had
already spoken quite severely with Al Arabiya a
number of times asking them to practice
"responsible" journalism and to be more balanced in
their reporting. He added that the UAEG is willing
to intervene, but pointed out that Al Arabiya is not
owned or controlled by the UAEG. Al Arabiya is
located in the Dubai Media Free Zone where all the
other media giants are, such as CNN and Reuters.
These stations are there because the UAEG and Dubai
allow them to broadcast without censorship.
(C) Shaykh Mohammed told Secretary Roche that the
USG needed to talk to the Saudis and to the
Kuwaitis. Al Arabiya, as we have noted in ref B,
is owned principally by wealthy Saudi businessman
Waleed bin Ibrahim Al Ibrahim, a principal
shareowner of Middle East Broadcasting Corporation
(MBC), Al Arabiya's parent company, and whose sister
Jawhara bint Ibrahim Al Ibrahim is a wife of King
Fahd. Other Al Arabiya investors reportedly include
Kuwaiti businessmen and a Kuwaiti royal family
member, Ahmed Al Fahed Al Sabah.
(C) Comment/Action request: We don't think the
Emiratis can do more than use their influence to
affect the way Al Arabiya's Dubai-based management
conducts itself. The UAE leadership cannot shut
down the station or cancel residency visa permits
without destroying Dubai's free-zone reputation something they will
not/not consider, and cannot do.
Post would appreciate any new information or
specific evidence that we could pass on to the
Emiratis to help them press Al Arabiya further. The
fact that the Emiratis have proactively sought such
information at the Shaykh level tells us that they
are serious about using their influence and are not
shying away from dealing with this problem.