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Cablegate: Iraq Ambassadors' Forum - April 30, 2007

VZCZCXRO9507
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHC #2354/01 1290335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 082053Z MAY 07
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0261-0262
INFO IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 062354

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - SENSITIVE CAPTION

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IR IZ MOPS PREL EAID SY
SUBJECT: IRAQ AMBASSADORS' FORUM - APRIL 30, 2007

REF: NONE

STATE 00062354 001.2 OF 002


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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Political Military Bureau hosted an
Iraq Ambassadors' Forum on April 30. Ambassador David
Satterfield, the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and
Coordinator for Iraq, briefed on the challenges faced by Iraq
in advance of the launch of the International Compact with
Iraq (ICI) and Expanded Neighbors Ministerial Conference in
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. He also discussed key tasks ahead
for the Iraqi government, regional engagement, and
expectations for the two conferences. END SUMMARY.

-------------------
SECURITY BACKGROUND
-------------------
2. (SBU) The Political Military Bureau hosted an Iraq
Ambassadors' Forum on April 30. Ambassadors and DCMs from 60
countries, including all contributing coalition nations,
NATO, G-5, and neighbors were invited with 55 representatives
attending.

3. (SBU) Ambassador Satterfield began with a brief synopsis
of the security situation as Operation Fardh al-Qanoon
progresses: sectarian killings have dropped to Spring 2006
levels; forced expulsions from greater Baghdad neighborhoods
appear to be lower; and there is limited anecdotal evidence
that some expelled families have begun returning to their
homes. These successes are attributed to a persistent and
meaningful presence of U.S. and competent Iraqi forces.
Unfortunately, some violence has now shifted out of Baghdad
into areas like Ba'qubah in Diyala Province and other
surrounding towns. However, Ambassador Satterfield noted,
the purpose of the surge is not to achieve lasting and
permanent security but rather to provide space for the
Government of Iraq to get at the roots of the conflict
through national reconciliation.

-----------------------------------------
EXPECTATIONS OF GOVERNMENT OF IRAQ ACTION
-----------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Emphasizing that "much more needs to be done and at
a much more rapid pace," Ambassador Satterfield identified
five actions that the GOI must complete as soon as possible:
--The various pieces of the draft hydrocarbons law package
need to be approved by the Council of Representatives.

--The right de-Ba'athification reform legislation needs to be
implemented.

--A program for disarmament, demobilization, and
reintegration should be approved in conjunction with an
amnesty.

--Appropriate constitutional reform must be approved.

--Provincial elections need to take place before the end of
the year (ideally with an open list system).

However, even if all of these actions are taken, full
national reconciliation is not guaranteed. Iraqis need to
begin thinking of national interests and unity rather than
individual, partisan, or confessional interests. The role of
the Coalition is to provide the security setting in which
this reconciliation effort can succeed.

5. (SBU) On the economic front, Ambassador Satterfield noted
that the Administration has requested four billion dollars
from Congress despite the GOI's having 12.5 billion dollars
remaining from its 2006 budget. The USG money is needed
because Iraq lacks the capacity to disburse funds for
critical needs quickly. Ambassador Satterfield noted that
this is the last year that the Congress will likely be
willing to consider providing this kind of assistance to
Iraq. In the future, the Congress will reasonably expect
Iraq to be able to execute its own budget. Iraq's progress
on budget execution so far this year has given Ambassador
Satterfield confidence that, by the end of this year, Iraq
will be able to move its own monies.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
REGIONAL DIPLOMACY AND THE SHARM EL-SHEIKH CONFERENCES

STATE 00062354 002.2 OF 002


--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (SBU) Regarding regional diplomacy in the wake of his
recent visit throughout the Middle East and in advance of the
May 3-4 Sharm-el-Sheikh meetings, Ambassador Satterfield
noted a "sense of skepticism" regarding Iraq. One
contributing factor to this skepticism is that real progress
on the ground is not being adequately reported. Recent
visits by Prime Minister Maliki throughout the region were
crucial in enabling Middle Eastern leaders to witness
first-hand Prime Minister Maliki's own commitment to
reconciliation and reform. Egypt and Kuwait, in particular,
exhibited supportive attitudes towards Iraq. Saudi Arabia,
on the other hand, did not host a visit from Prime Minister
Maliki.

7. (SBU) In concluding, Ambassador Satterfield discussed
expectations and background for the two Sharm el-Sheikh
conferences which are intended to create a more supportive
dialogue between Iraq, its neighbors, and the international
community. Success or failure in Iraq will have meaningful
consequences for all of these parties. The ICI document is a
credit to the hard work by representatives of Iraq, the UN,
the World Bank, and others and merits support. It represents
a significant step forward. Saudi Arabia, despite its
differences with the GOI, has offered 80 percent forgiveness
of Iraqi debt. As for the Expanded Neighbors Ministerial, it
should help to dispel distortions and confusions,
legitimizing the concept of a democratic, post-Saddam Iraq.
It should also send a message to Iraq's Sunni insurgents that
violent acts are not supported by their Sunni brothers
throughout the region. The draft of the Neighbors'
communique is good and headed in an extremely promising
direction for which the Government of Egypt deserves thanks
for its efforts. However, it is critical that the neighbors
move beyond rhetorical support, backing it up with action.
There must be a concerted effort to disuade further violence.


8. (SBU) Noting the speculation about possible meetings
between the U.S. and Iran or Syria, Ambassador Satterfield
stated, "We are professionals, and fully committed to working
on Iraq." If Iran or Syria want to discuss Iraq with us,
then those discussions will be handled professionally.

-----
Q & A
-----

9. (SBU) Following Ambassador Satterfield's remarks, Iraqi
Ambassador Samir al-Sumaidaie thanked Ambassador Satterfield
for "covering the field remarkably well," adding that he
looked forward to the meetings in Sharm el-Sheikh. A German
embassy representative inquired about the status of the three
working groups announced at the Neighbors prepcon in Baghdad.
Ambassador Satterfield responded that working groups on
refugees, fuel and electricity, and border security had been
announced on March 10 to be formally launched at the
ministerial. The GOI also gave general approval of
participation of non-neighbors in an advisory capacity at the
March 10 meeting. The venue and timing of the initial
working group meetings are still under discussion.
RICE

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