Cablegate: Iraq Ambassadors' Forum - May 17, 2007

DE RUEHC #2784/01 1452113
R 252105Z MAY 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The Political Military Bureau hosted an
Iraq Ambassadors' Forum on May 17. Ambassador David
Satterfield, the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and
Coordinator for Iraq, briefed on the successful launching
event of the International Compact with Iraq (ICI) and the
subsequent Expanded Neighbors Ministerial Conference held in
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on May 3-4. He also discussed the
responsibilities of the Government of Iraq and its neighbors
(including Syria and Iran) in ensuring progress in Iraq. END

2. (SBU) The Political Military (PM) Bureau hosted an Iraq
Ambassadors' Forum on May 17 to discuss the outcome of the
recent conferences in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Ambassadors
from all contributing coalition nations, NATO, G-5, Iraq, and
its neighbors were invited, with 40 representatives attending.

3. (SBU) After a brief introduction by PM Deputy Assistant
Secretary Michael Coulter, Ambassador Satterfield noted that

the ICI and Expanded Neighbors Ministerial are two sides of
the same coin: an effort to foster a more substantive
dialogue between Iraq and its neigbhors as well as the entire
region and international community. It is important for
everyone to have an accurate sense of what the Government of
Iraq (GOI) is doing as it seeks to address the major
political, economic, and security issues it faces.
Ambassador Satterfield stressed that Iraq needs the support
of its neighbors and the international community, politically
and economically.

4. (SBU) The ministerial launch of the ICI is a product of
more than a year of hard work by Iraq, its neighbors, and the
international community. It is an exceptional document,
laying out a road map of changes that will make Iraq an
economically liberal state based on free trade. Ultimately,
these changes depend on the political and security situations
as well. The ICI is a contract between the Iraqi government
and its people, who need and expect the support of Iraq's
neighbors and international partners.

5. (SBU) Ambassador Satterfield noted that significant
pledges had been made at the ICI launch, including $686
million in grants and loans. On a particularly positive
note, Saudi Arabia offered forgiveness on 80% of Iraq's debt
to Saudi Arabia ($15.4 billion), meeting Paris Club levels.
This pledge, a product of negotiations with Saudi
counterparts, will be finalized in the coming months. It is
essential that Iraq receive such public displays of support.
The ability of the GOI to provide jobs to its people is a
consequence of economic development that such support will


6. (SBU) While the GOI must bear primary responsibility for
its own budget execution, it does need help. Ambassador
Satterfield reminded his audience of the oft-cited World Bank
estimate that approximately 100 billion dollars were needed
for Iraq's reconstruction. Iraq needs technical expertise
from its international partners as well. Key to progress is
the approval of a comprehensive package of hydrocarbon
reforms. This will provide for all Iraqis, whoever and
wherever they may be, both now and in the future because 90%
of Iraq's current income is in the petroleum sector.
Agriculture is a promising area for future development,
however. Ambassador Satterfield noted that many had heard
the refrain that the hydrocarbons package was imminent. The
legislation should have been passed in March but work is
still needed and the United States is working with the
central government and Kurdish leaders to ensure that a good
law is passed. All of the more than 60 members present at
the ministerial launch of the ICI were very positive in their
remarks towards Iraq. There were no dissenters to the belief
that a stable, economically prosperous Iraq is in the best
interest of everyone.

STATE 00072784 002 OF 003

7. (SBU) The Neighbors Ministerial represents the other
side of the coin. Very positive statements were made by all
parties at the conference except one: Iran chose to focus on
what it termed "the occupation" as the source of all evil in
Iraq. Ambassador Satterfield noted that everyone must
recognize that the GOI faces increasing skepticism about the
ability of the Prime Minister and the government to move the
nation forward in a non-sectarian fashion. Everyone must see
some movement on both the economic and political fronts.
Only this can overcome the deep, over-abiding reserve on the
part of all Iraq's neighbors about the GOI's ability to unite
its people and move forward. The Ministerial presented an
excellent opportunity for Prime Minister Maliki to speak to
this skepticism, and he did admirably well. However, we and
the neighbors are well beyond the point for rhetoric alone.
Action is needed now.

8. (SBU) Virtually none of Iraq's neighbors have any
representation in Iraq itself (aside from the Iranians who
have too much). Typically in a conflict arena, there would
be extensive ties. Iraq's neighbors, especially Sunnis, have
no eyes and ears in Iraq right now. The information these
countries receive comes almost exclusively through the eyes
and ears of self-interested Sunnis, often in opposition to
the political process and anxious to undermine the GOI. We
must acknowledge this hill, if not mountain, that must be
climbed. Iraq must show a national consensus to move
forward. The GOI has failed to demonstrate to its own
people, much less neighbors, that the national consensus and
will is there.

9. (SBU) We all can help and encourage the GOI, neighbors
included. Progress on constitutional reform, hydrocarbons
laws, a provincial election law, and de-Ba'athification
reform will demonstrate the GOI's commitment to working for
all its citizens, regardless of sect or affiliation. This is
an enormous challenge and Iraq needs all the help it can get.

10. (SBU) Iraq needs a clear, unequivocal message from its
Sunni neighbors that they accept the reality of a
post-Saddam, democratic, Iraqi government. The second
message to Sunnis both inside and outside Iraq who engage in
violence is that this method is unacceptable. This violence
is literally destroying the life of the Sunni Arab community
and terrorist elements pose a threat to their way of life in
all respects. Neither message has been sent in a sufficient
manner. Our senior government leaders have clearly stated
this message to our friends in the region, asking them to
address these issues directly.

11. (SBU) Our message to the GOI has been clear. Most
members of the Senate and many in the House of
Representatives have visited Iraq on multiple occasions,
communicating directly what the President has called the
"diminishing patience" of the American people. Their
commitment to stay on this path depends on proving that there
is a partner in Iraq with whom to move forward - not just the
Prime Minister but other political leaders as well. Now,
progress is needed and not just rhetoric.

12. (SBU) As we consider how best to move forward, there are
two neighbors to whom we have not previously spoken: Iran
and Syria. Our meetings at the Neighbors Ministerial focused
entirely on Iraq. There was no discussion or mention of
anything other than Iraq. We noted to the Syrians that the
flow of terrorists and Takfiris through Syria continues
unabated. Virtually all suicide bombers cross into Iraq
through Syria. They have killed thousands of innocent Iraqis
and continue to kill hundreds each week. Syria is concerned
about this, they have taken some measures but more can
definitely be done to prevent it. It will be difficult to
pursue sectarian reconciliation in an environment where
Shiites are killed by these Sunni bombers. Others do not -
and should not have to - discern between sectarian and other
violence. They see only a violent nation. There must be
changes on the ground if the dialogue with Syria is to
continue. Syria would like to see a higher level of
representation from the USG, although this was not discussed

STATE 00072784 003 OF 003


13. (SBU) There was no substantive discussion with Iran,
just procedural and technical arrangements to establish
channels for talks only on Iraq. There are, of course, other
fora for discussing the nuclear issue. As the Iranians
recently mentioned in the press, there will be talks in
Baghdad with Ambassador Crocker as the U.S. representative.
We do not yet know the identity of the Iranian counterpart.
All this is a challenge to the GOI to move forward in the
best interests of its people.

Q & A
14. (SBU) Following his remarks, Ambassador Satterfield was
asked by Italian Embassy Counselor Perrone about feedback
from Vice-President Cheney's trip to the region. Ambassador
Satterfield responded that the Vice-President had presented
exactly the same message as was given today and the response
he got did not change that significantly. His theme was the
need to move forward and be clear that violence has no
support from Sunni Arab regions outside Iraq.

15. (SBU) Canadian PolCouns Brown asked about the status of
the three working groups announced at the previous Neighbors
Conference in Baghdad. Ambassador Satterfield replied that
while all three (focusing on fuel and electricity, border
security, and refugee isssues) had been agreed upon with
non-neighbors in an advisory capacity, their substantive
agenda would have to proceed as Iraq and its neighbors
decide. There has not yet been a definitive decision on the
subject although it is something the USG wants to see
transpire in keeping with the plenary nature of the Neighbors

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