Cablegate: Scenesetter for June 8-11 Visit to Spain Of
DE RUEHMD #0620/01 1561731
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041731Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
INFO RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4884
C O N F I D E N T I A L MADRID 000620
FOR GENERAL WARD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/04/2018
TAGS: PREL MARR AF SP
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR JUNE 8-11 VISIT TO SPAIN OF
COMMANDER, U.S. AFRICA COMMAND
Classified By: AMBASSADOR EDUARDO AGUIRRE, JR., REASONS 1.4(B),(D).
1. (SBU) Summary: We warmly welcome your visit. We are convinced there is much Spain can do to support the AFRICOM mission, so this will be a key opportunity. The challenge will be to engage them constructively on what the U.S. is trying to accomplish with this new and innovative command. We have a strong military to military relationship upon which to build and a number of common interests in Africa. Our Spanish interlocutors will be very interested in what you
have to say, and we strongly encourage you to solicit their views on Africa, particularly the Maghreb and Sahel, where they have significant experience. End summary.
2. (C) Spanish military cooperation is important to the USG. The bases of Rota and Moron are strategic hubs, midway between the U.S. and Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. planes and ships account for over 4,000 flights and 250 port calls a year in Spain. The Spanish military, particularly the Navy, is pro-U.S. and pro-NATO. The Navy employs the AEGIS system in its frigates, is eager to acquire Tomahawk, and is
interested in the Joint Strike Fighter. Spanish defense industry is a supplier to the U.S. Although the Zapatero government has imposed a ceiling of 3,000 on troop deployments, Spain has troops in Lebanon (1,100), Afghanistan (750), Kosovo (500), Bosnia (260), and a smattering of others in various UN & EU observer missions (including the Democratic Republic of the Congo). This month Spain approved
plans to send two cargo aircraft and 100 support personnel to
the EU mission in Chad.
3. (C) Last August, we raised with the GOS the possibility of basing at Rota an AFRICOM component (the Joint Intelligence Operations Center). FM Moratinos later told the Ambassador that both President Zapatero and then-Defense Minister Alonso had said Spain would enthusiastically like to be considered for the project. Both Moratinos and Alonso thought this could be a great opportunity for increased bilateral cooperation in Africa, a region of great long-term importance
to Spain and growing importance to the U.S. We also have been advised informally by OSD and JCS that Rota may be one of several locations under consideration for locating your headquarters. We think the Spanish will be receptive to whatever concrete proposal we make (although clearly hosting the headquarters presents more domestic political issues for Spain). The key will be making it clear AFRICOM wants to work closely with Spain and respects Spanish views on Africa,
hence the importance of your visit. We should discuss carefully the timing and content of any requests we make to the Spanish in this regard.
4. (C) Our U.S. Navy colleagues have discussed with us the
possibility of adding Tarragona and Las Palmas to the list of ports where we can take nuclear powered warships (presently the list is Cartagena, Palma de Mallorca, and Rota). We are very supportive of this effort, particularly in light of the potential benefit to AFRICOM of adding Las Palmas. However,the preliminary signals from the Spanish military have been that there will be resistance to this request at the political level. We need to proceed carefully. We will discuss this issue further with Admiral Fitzgerald during his June 4-6 visit and look forward to discussing it with you. Timing of the formal request will be critical.
Spanish Policy Towards Africa
5. (U) Because of history, proximity, immigration, terrorism, and the presence of Spanish enclaves in Ceuta and Melilla, North Africa is strategic for Spain. At the outset of his second term, President Zapatero said that in the Mediterranean, Spain would work to guarantee security, fight terrorism, and increase law enforcement cooperation. He reportedly recently tasked FM Moratinos with reinvigorating engagement with North Africa, particularly with regard to
immigration and security cooperation. The Ministers of Interior of Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, Malta, Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, and Tunisia agreed May 22 to strengthen counter-terrorism information exchange.
6. (C) In the case of Western Sahara, there are press reports indicating Zapatero plans to intensify efforts to promote a political solution. It is not yet clear how Spain proposes to do this. Spanish diplomats have told us Spain's primaryconcern is for regional stability through a negotiated solution that leads to a just, lasting outcome. While they
note an independent Western Sahara is not a realistic option, they are concerned that excessive pressure on the Polisario to accept Morocco's proposals for some form of autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty will lead to a total breakdown in the process.
7. (U) Sub-Saharan Africa has not traditionally been a Spanish priority, but that may be changing. In 2006 Spain launched Plan Africa (2006-2008) which provided for increased diplomatic and development assistance with sub-Saharan Africa. Zapatero, who promised at the beginning of his second term to make sub-Saharan Africa a top priority, has reportedly approved a new version for 2008-2012. Nigeria (which supplies 25% of Spain's oil) and South Africa are likely to be priorities within sub-Saharan Africa. Spain has been increasing its diplomatic presence with new embassies (Sudan, Mali, and Guinea Bissau are the latest) and new development offices (Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Kenya). There are reportedly plans afoot to open several more development offices. The Spanish equivalent of USAID has a budget of about 700 million euros for Africa. Spain also maintains political and economic interests in its former colony of Equatorial Guinea.
8. (C) You may hear about the April 20-26 incident in which a Spanish fishing vessel (the "Playa de Bakio") was taken by Somali pirates. In their May 19 meeting FM Moratinos thanked Secretary Rice for the intelligence and military support the U.S. provided during the incident. Moratinos stressed continued Spanish concern with pirates off Somalia given that Spain has dozens of vessels in the area and no way to protect them. He noted that Spain strongly supported U.S. efforts to
get an anti-piracy resolution adopted in the UNSC. Testifying before the Spanish Congress May 22, Moratinos said Spain would be willing to take its turn leading an anti-piracy force off Somalia if there was UN backing for the mission (he ducked questions about whether Spain had paid a ransom to free the Playa de Bakio crew).
Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics, and Illegal Immigration
9. (C) Spain is an al-Qaeda target and a critical player in U.S.-EU counter-terrorism efforts due to its proximity to the Maghreb and a population that includes more than one million Muslims, mostly immigrants. Al-Qaeda has called for attacks to recapture the medieval "Al Andalus." Ceuta and Melilla are a fixation for some extremists. In 2004 Madrid suffered bloody train bombings perpetrated by Islamic extremists. The Spanish Government considers the threat from Islamic
terrorism to be one of its top national security priorities and has identified numerous Islamic extremist groups operating within its borders. The Spanish are actively pursuing Islamic extremism terrorism-related investigations and have scores of suspects in jail. Public opinion polling shows nearly three quarters of Spaniards worried about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, more than in the U.S. or
Europe as a whole.
10. (C) Bilateral cooperation is strong. Spain pursues an aggressive agenda in law enforcement, judicial, and information-sharing efforts with us. One example is the HSPD-6 agreement we signed in 2007 to facilitate the sharing of information between our national counter-terrorism authorities. Spain participates in the Container Security
Initiative (in the ports of Algeciras, Barcelona, and Valencia) and the Megaports Initiative to detect radioactive cargo (in the port of Algeciras with anticipated expansion to Barcelona and Valencia in the upcoming year). Spain also participates in the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Stovepipes within the Spanish system and interagency rivalries are a continuing challenge both for them and us. In addition to the threat from Islamic extremists, Spain has been fighting the domestic terrorists of the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) for four decades.
11. (C) The Spanish Government ranks drug trafficking as one of its most important law enforcement concerns and maintains excellent relations with U.S. law enforcement. Spain remains the principal entry, transshipment, and consumption zone for the large quantities of South American cocaine and Moroccan cannabis destined for European consumer markets, and is also a major source and transit location for drug proceeds returning to South and Central America. There is mounting evidence that West Africa is beginning to play an increasingly important role in this trafficking. Spain also faces a sustained flow of hashish from its southern neighbors, Morocco and Algeria, which makes maritime smuggling across the Mediterranean a large-scale business. Seizures of multi-ton loads of Moroccan hashish are not
uncommon, some of it brought into Spain by illegal immigrants. Spanish authorities cooperate closely with the DEA Madrid Country Office. In May 2007, Spain hosted the International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) in Madrid, the first time IDEC had been held outside of the Western Hemisphere. Also in 2007, Spain and six other EU countries deepened their counter-narcotics cooperation by signing an international agreement creating the Maritime Analysis and Operations Center (MAOC), headquartered in Lisbon.
12. (C) The premier Spanish law enforcement agencies are the National Police and the Civil Guard, both of which fall under the Ministry of Interior. Their jurisdictions overlap to a significant degree, although historically the Civil Guard has a stronger presence in rural areas and small towns. Both agencies have investigative jurisdiction over all types of crimes including alien smuggling, human trafficking,
terrorism and terrorist financing, and narcotics. The National Police also have jurisdiction over documentation for nationals and foreigners (passports, residence cards, and national identity documents). The Civil Guard's authorities include contraband and customs control. The Spanish Customs Service, under the Ministry of the Treasury, also carries a mandate to enforce anti-drug legislation at Spain's borders
and in Spanish waters. Spain's Organized Crime Intelligence Center (CICO) coordinates (with varying degrees of success) counter-narcotics operations among various government agencies, including the National Police, Civil Guard, and Customs Service. Although it does not have a domestic law enforcement function, the Spanish Navy acts on the high seas and also has assets operating in coastal waters. Protecting Spain from threats such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking,
and alien smuggling requires joint and multi-agency action, and it is strongly in the U.S. interest to deepen cooperation with both MOD and MOI on maritime threats.
13. (U) Historically Spain received few immigrants, but the rapidly increasing prosperity of recent decades has changed that. Immigrants now account for about ten percent of the population. There are over three million registered immigrants, many from Latin America and Romania. However, the single largest nationality is Moroccan (about 600,000). There is also a significant Pakistani community. The number
of sub-Saharan African immigrants in Spain is only about two percent of the total. In general, Spain has been welcoming to immigrants, but a souring economy may change that. Spain is also awakening to the danger illegal immigration represents in terms of terrorism and organized crime. Reports of illegal immigrants arriving from Africa via mother ships receive significant press play as do frequent arrivals
of boatloads of illegal immigrants in the Canaries. The Civil Guard has responsibility for policing as well as social and humanitarian functions with respect to illegal immigration. Of the three routes for illegal immigration (air, land, and maritime), the maritime flow has expanded
most significantly with the appearance of small boats (pateras or cayucos). During the Summer of 2006 these small boats carried over 30,000 illegal immigrants to the Canaries. The Civil Guard manages a coordination and communications center in Las Palmas. From this center, Spanish and EU air and sea operations are directed against maritime alien smuggling. The center's objectives are deterrence,
interdiction, and rescue. The center has brought about a significant reduction in illegal immigration to the Canary Islands. Members of the National Police and Civil Guard are also deployed in Africa (Morocco, Cape Verde, Senegal, and Mauritania) in Project Sea Horse. This includes liaison, equipment, and training. Numerous other projects are
underway to work in concert with other countries to stem the flow of illegal immigration (e.g., joint projects with Morocco related to Ceuta and Melilla, FRONTEX, and the Euro-Africa Conference).
Political and Economic Climate
14. (C) President Zapatero's center left Spanish Socialist Workers, Party (PSOE) was the victor in the March 9 general election. The principal opposition party remains the center right Popular Party (PP). The Spanish public is skeptical of U.S. foreign policy but supportive of good bilateral relations. Spain has enjoyed one of the fastest growing
economies in Europe, but growth is slowing significantly. A housing boom that had contributed greatly to growth for several years ended abruptly last year and prices are stagnating, construction slowing, and unemployment and inflation rising. The rapid increase in unemployment may make Spain a somewhat less welcoming destination for African
immigrants. U.S. investment has long been important to the economy (more so than bilateral trade), but the tables have turned. In 2007, Spain was the fourth largest foreign investor in the U.S., with particular emphasis in banking, construction, and renewable energy.
15. (C) Again, we are looking forward to your visit. We are firmly convinced AFRICOM's mission and Spain's strategic interests coincide in many important respects and that there is much the U.S. and Spain can do together. Aguirre