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Cablegate: Global Repositioning: Baku-Based Iran Watcher

VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKB #0520 1171346
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271346Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2914

UNCLAS BAKU 000520

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR U/S BURNS AND U/S FORE FROM AMBASSADOR DERSE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMGT PREL CVIS IR AJ
SUBJECT: GLOBAL REPOSITIONING: BAKU-BASED IRAN WATCHER

REF: STATE 49458

1. As requested reftel, I offer Embassy Baku's views on the
Baku-based Iran Watcher position, 67700005. Our responses
are keyed to reftel questions.

A. The new Iran Watcher position has increased our ability
to report on Iranian activities in Azerbaijan, including
Iranian efforts to influence Azerbaijani foreign policy as
well as the activities of the Iranian diaspora community.
The position also has enabled us to increase reporting on
internal Iranian developments, particularly among Iran's
sizable ethnic Azerbaijani minority.

B. As in any start-up position, a significant amount of time
was needed to establish the administrative details for this
regional position, as well as the contact base necessary for
Iran-focused reporting. During the incumbent's first nine
months on the job, we have increased our reporting on
Iran-related issues. By the end of the current fiscal year,
we hope to produce several in-depth analytical pieces on the
overall Iranian presence in Azerbaijan.

C. The position has not been used for any other purposes,
although the incumbent has volunteered to serve on the Board
of our Employee Association and the Eligible Family Member
hiring committee. We are grateful for his service to the
community.

D. Our ability to reach out to the Iranian diaspora
community in Baku is limited by the lack of Iranian visa
processing in Baku. We believe that adding Iranian visa
processing (once we have the space to do so in a New Embassy
Compound) would increase our ability to develop new Iranian
contacts and hence increase the quantity and quality of our
reporting. Separately, thanks to IIP's Iranian Outreach
Program, we are exploring PD programs that will include
Iranian audiences. If these programs are successful, we
believe that additional Iranian-focused PD programming also
could increase our ability to reach out to the Iranian
community and hence improve our reporting. Finally, we note
that we currently are using EUR-funded LES staff to support
this NEA position (including interpretation and translation
services, as well as assistance in scheduling meetings). The
diversion of EUR-funded LES to support this new Iran Watcher
position has reduced our ability to promote equally important
transformational diplomacy goals in Azerbaijan, particularly
in the area of democratic reform. We strongly urge the
Department to consider providing funding for a new,
NEA-funded LES position to support the Iran Watcher.
DERSE

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