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Cablegate: Compromise Afghan Motion Sets End Date in 2011

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OO RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHQU RUEHVC RUEHYG
DE RUEHOT #0270/01 0522038
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 212038Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7346
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0167
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0880
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000270

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS AF CA
SUBJECT: COMPROMISE AFGHAN MOTION SETS END DATE IN 2011

REF: Ottawa 0221

1. (SBU) Summary: In a new compromise motion, PM Harper acceded to
the Liberals' call for a firm end date to the Afghan mission of
Canadian Forces in Kandahar, with pull-outs beginning in July 2011
and ending by December 2011. The new language apparently draws
heavily from the Liberals' amendments to the government's original
motion (reftel), and may placate the opposition into supporting the
motion or letting it pass when it comes to a vote in March. End
Summary.

Olive branch to the Liberals
---------------------------------


2. (U) In a well publicized speech to Canadian Conference of
Defence Associations Institute on February 21 (with CENTCOM
Commander Admiral Fallon in attendance), Prime Minister Stephen
Harper described a revised motion that the government would
introduce later that day in the House of Commons on the future of
the Canadian Forces in Kandahar province of Afghanistan. He
emphasized that the government's move sought to achieve a
"bi-partisan consensus," building on the recommendations of the
Manley Panel, and highlighted "fundamental common ground between the
Government and the Official Opposition, particularly agreement that
the mission should continue until 2011 and that operational
decisions should be left to Canadian commanders on the ground in
Afghanistan." He explicitly admitted that the new motion
incorporated "large elements" of the Liberals' amendments. He
insisted that NATO partners must nonetheless still find 1,000 more
troops to support Canadian Forces in Kandahar, but made no reference
to helicopters, UAVs, or other requirements.

3. (U) PM Harper explained that Canada now planned to notify NATO
that in July 2011 its military deployments will begin to leave
Kandahar, with the final pull-outs by December 2011. He insisted
that a firm end date for the mission was neither a Liberal nor
Conservative but rather a "Canadian" position. He confirmed that
the government intends to hold a vote in the Commons on this motion
before the NATO summit in April. PM Harper argued that Canada is
making a "real and positive difference" in Afghanistan and
emphasized an "unbreakable link" among security, development, and
aid.

4. (U) PM Harper emphasized that, with its role in Afghanistan,
Canada was honoring its tradition as a reliable and resolute ally in
the quest for global security. Highlighting Canadian contributions
in World Wars I and II, Korea as well as numerous peacekeeping
operations, he emphasized that "the reality of our world" was the
need for "peace enforcement missions" under UN Security Council
Chapter VII authorizations, such as in Afghanistan. He noted that
"all Canadians" were proud of Canada as a force for "positive
change" in the world, and insisted that Canada would always be ready
to take up arms to defend its interests and values. He lamented
that Canada had not always maintained the capacity to meet such
security challenges, but described how his government had undertaken
a major program to "build a first class modern military and keep it
that way," which he said was "a duty we owe to our troops." Saying
that Canada should be a world leader, not a follower, he asserted
that Canada needs a credible military to be a "serious player" in
the world. He laid out the government's commitment to raise the
Qthe world. He laid out the government's commitment to raise the
automatic annual increase in defense spending from 1.5 per cent to 2
per cent, beginning in 2011-12.

Debate to begin on February 25
-------------------------------------

5. (U) The government will table the text of the revised motion
later on February 21 (although Parliament remains on recess) and
will begin debate in the Commons when it resumes on February 25.
Journalists who have seen the revised text said it followed the
wording of the Liberals' amendment almost verbatim. With debates and
votes on the budget coming first in early March, and an expected
spring recess March 15-30, the next likely date for a vote on this
motion is March 31.

Comment
------------

6. (SBU) The Conservatives have moved significantly toward the
Liberals' position, particularly on the question of a fixed end date
for the Afghan mission. It will be all but impossible for the
Liberals to refuse to support the motion, despite the slightly
longer timeframe (the Liberals had wanted the pull-out to begin in

OTTAWA 00000270 002 OF 002


February 2011 and to finish by July 2011) and failure to resolve
differences in how to handle Afghan detainees in light of
allegations of torture by Afghan authorities. The Conservatives
likely still have a few surprises up their sleeves to sweeten the
deal, probably an announcement before the vote on success in
procuring helicopters and UAVs, and -- the government very much
hopes -- on new commitments by NATO partners on additional troops.

WILKINS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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