What Happened Between Washington, Riyadh & Abu Dhabi Hours Before Saudi Forces Entered Bahrain?
2016-05-14 - 11:32 م
Bahrain Mirror: The New York Times revealed that "on the morning of March 13, 2011, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, Jeffrey D. Feltman, wrote an urgent email to more than two dozen colleagues informing them that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were sending troops into Bahrain to put down anti government protests there."
The paper included a number of pictures of an email from former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton including ‘foreign government information'.
The NY Times further noted that "Feltman's email prompted a string of 10 replies and forwards over the next 24 hours, including to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as the Obama administration debated what was happening and how to respond."
"The chain contained information now declared classified, including portions of messages written by Mr. Feltman; the former ambassador in Kuwait, Deborah K. Jones; and the current director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John O. Brennan," it added.
In his email, Feltman said: "UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed just confirmed to me that the UAE and Saudi Arabia are sending troops into Bahrain, which he says was requested by the Bahraini government today. (I also have requested Saudi Ambassador Adel Jubeir to get back to me with the Saudi explanation.) He confirmed that troops are on the causeway to Bahrain and will enter Bahrain," adding that he asked what he expected to accomplish and the basic answer was "that the UAE is responding to the call to restore order."
"I raised the human rights concerns and my sense that Saudi and Emirati troops would provoke the hardline Shia into further action and undermine the moderate Shia, who will have no choice but to react in the same way as the hardliners," He further stressed, noting that the "UAE does not have a history of street protests," so he expressed concern about "the ability to avoid violence."
Feltman added that Bin Zayed said "the UAE wasn't entering to kill people," and also said that "the King of Bahrain had extended his hand "too long" and that the other GCC countries would not stand by and watch others take Bahrain hostage."
"I asked about other GCC participation; he implied others might join, but he was non-committal. I said that, if there was violence, there could be a crisis with us; he said he understood, but that this was an internal GCC matter. I warned him that we would have to say something publicly. AbZ didn't say this explicitly, but it sure sounded, from everything that he said, that the GCC countries have had it with the demonstrations in Manama. (Ops, I wasn't taking notes, but I think this captures his major points, yes?)," Feltman further stated.
Feltman also pointed out that Bin Zayed advised him "not to go to Bahrain tomorrow as planned. (I leave here in a few hours.) He added that he didn't expect big problems tomorrow. (Bahraini FM Sheikh Khalid also told the Embassy in Manama earlier that I should not travel; now we know why.)"
The email prompted a chain of responses, including former US Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, Deborah K. Jones, who stated in her response: "Just got off the phone with Dr Mohamed, who is en route to istanbul. While having external forces enter Bahrain was not Kuwait's preferred route, they had not objected to the saudi proposal as it appeared that the opposition was determined to take things to a new level, ie take the fight to the Sunni areas. And here Dr Mohamed said ‘what was that thomas Jefferson quote about the tree of liberty needing to be watered with the blood of martyrs and patriots? Well it seems they've chosen to do this.'," referring to the Bahrainis.
Feltman replied in another email, saying that "Saudi Ambassador Adel Jubeir called back. He said that the forces used will be Saudi National Guard, and he expects others from the GCC to participate. He did not know the numbers. He said that he believes that the purpose is moral support as much as anything. We had the same sort of conversation I had with AbZ - discussion about the human rights/violence aspects and the fact that moderate Shia will be politically undermined by this. I cautioned him that violence could cause a U.S.-Saudi crisis. He distinguished the troops going in "today" from what is now on the causeway. He said that there were Bahraini demonstrators trying to close the causeway and that Saudi police have been there 6-7 hours as a result of the demonstrators."
Feltman also revealed that "Adel said that Prince Saud, Saudi FM, is trying to reach Secretary Clinton to discuss this," noting that "I was traveling to Bahrain, and he did not react."
In another reply in this chain of emails, Feltman said: "I do not believe that we will be able to dissuade the GCC from sending troops, which are apparently being sent in under a GCC security agreement. The GCC heads of state obviously see what is happening in Bahrain as an existential threat, and the increasingly provocative demonstrations and counter-demonstrations just reinforce for the GCC that the situation in Bahrain has become intolerable."
"But even if we can't dissuade the GCC from going in, I hope that people at the White House and OSD can use their contacts to reinforce the points I am trying to make - that violence against peaceful protestors will cause a crisis in our relationship, that the GCC troops need to exercise restraint and care, and that we will be asked to comment publicly on this. (The GCC will insist that this is an internal GCC matter.) The content of our public comments will derive from the behavior of the GCC troops on the ground," he added.
The New York Times highlighted that "the top administration officials discussed the Bahrain situation on unclassified government computer networks, except for Mrs. Clinton, who used a private email server while serving as secretary of state."
"Whatever the disposition of the investigation, the discussion of troops to Bahrain reveals how routinely sensitive information is emailed on unclassified government servers, reflecting what many officials describe as diplomacy in the age of the Internet, especially in urgent, fast-developing situations," it further stressed.
It is noteworthy that the Clinton's "server is now the subject of an F.B.I. investigation, which is likely to conclude in the next month, about whether classified information was mishandled.
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