Cablegate: (C) Syria: Gok to Host Bashar After Ramadhan

Published: Tue 14 Oct 2003 12:19 PM
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 KUWAIT 004681
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2013
Classified By: AMB. RICHARD H. JONES; REASON 1.5 (B,D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOK is concerned that Bashar al-Asad
lacks the power to remove his late father's old guard and
adapt to the new regional reality. It expects him to visit
after Ramadhan, and would be happy to pass on any messages.
2. (C) NEA PDAS Larocco called on Shaykh Sabah al-Khalid
al-Hamad al-Sabah, Chairman of Kuwait's National Security
Bureau, October 13, during a brief visit to Kuwait. This
message reports what Shaykh Sabah al-Khalid (protect
throughout) had to say about Syria (other topics septels).
3. (C) According to Shaykh Sabah al-Khalid, the GOK was
livid at Syria's behavior in the lead-up to the aborted UNSCR
on Iraq last spring. After the collapse of the Saddam regime
in April, (then de-facto) Prime Minister Shaykh Sabah
al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah went to Damascus and met with
President Bashar al-Asad. With Syrian FM Farouq al-Shara
present, Sabah al-Ahmed pointed at Shara and said "he is the
architect of all your mistakes. Now it is in Syria's own
hands to determine its future. Act swiftly before the window
closes." Sabah al-Ahmed added that he had stood with
Bashar's father as an ardent pan-Arabist, but those days were
now gone, never to return. There was a new reality in the
region, and Syria needed to recognize that, for its own
interests. Bashar replied that Syria had made great mistakes
before the invasion of Iraq, but was now under new pressures,
with US troops on the border, conflict with Israel still
plaguing it, and Turkey causing problems. He felt hemmed in.
Sabah al-Ahmed agreed, but advised him not to look to others
for solutions; Bashar could solve his problems by his own
actions. The Kuwaiti came away unconvinced that Bashar had
4. (C) On the eve of (now de-jure) Prime Minister Sabah
al-Ahmed's September trip to Washington, Shara had come to
Kuwait for a couple of hours. He had whined on and on about
Syria's problems, saying the US misunderstood: the Syrians
were cooperating, but the US was asking too much. The PM
retorted that Shara did not understand reality: he (Shara)
was the problem, and had no hope of a solution. He needed to
change his approach completely, because time was running out.
5. (C) Sabah al-Khalid remarked to PDAS Larocco that the
Kuwaiti leadership had held great hope that Bashar's Cabinet
reshuffle last month would get rid of Shara. The fact that
he remained in the Cabinet indicated to the Kuwaitis that
Bashar was too weak to make the needed changes. He needed to
remove the old guard, but apparently could not. The Kuwaitis
were very concerned about Syria's future actions. Right
after the Israeli air strike in Syria last week, the GOK had
sent Bashar a message: be careful, do nothing rash. The
Kuwaitis intended to remain engaged with Damascus, out of
necessity. It was a sad commentary that Shara had felt the
need to come to a small, weak country like Kuwait the way he
had: that showed how weak the Syrian leadership had become.
Bashar had accepted Kuwait's invitation to make a full
two-day visit after Ramadhan. The GOK would be happy to pass
on any messages.
6. (U) Ambassador Larocco was the source of this message,
but did not have time to clear the cable itself.
7. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.
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