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Cablegate: Germany: Visit of Kunar and Wardak Governors Helps

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DE RUEHRL #1690/01 3541332
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TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2888
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 0479
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0599
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDRUSAREUR HEIDELBERG GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFE RAMSTEIN AB GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 001690

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR NATO EUN GM AF TU

SUBJECT: GERMANY: VISIT OF KUNAR AND WARDAK GOVERNORS HELPS
ADVANCE OUR AFGHANISTAN AGENDA

Classified By: POLITICAL M...


183990
2008-12-19
08BERLIN1690
Embassy Berlin

CONFIDENTIAL

C O N F I D E N T I A L BERLIN 00169

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2018

TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR NATO EUN GM AF TU

SUBJECT: GERMANY: VISIT OF KUNAR AND WARDAK GOVERNORS HELPS

ADVANCE OUR AFGHANISTAN AGENDA

Classified By: POLITICAL MINISTER COUNSELOR JEFF RATHKE.

REASONS:

1.4 (B) AND (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY. During a December 18 visit to Berlin, the
governors of Kunar and Wardak provinces pressed for greater
German assistance with the training and equipping of the
Afghan Border Police (ABP) and the Afghan National Police
(ANP). In a surprise announcement, the Interior Ministry
revealed that Germany planned to establish a new training
academy for the ABP in Kabul that will train up to 500 border
police officers at a time. While acknowledging ongoing
security challenges, both governors strongly disputed claims
that a majority of the country is controlled by the Taliban.
They argued that security trends are actually positive, and
welcomed additional international troops to help prepare the
ground for further advancements on development and
governance. The governors also emphasized the need for the
international community to focus its efforts at the district
level and to eliminate discrepancies in development aid among
provinces. The governors invited journalists during a press
conference to come to Kunar and Wardak to see for themselves
that the comprehensive approach is working. If Embassy Kabul
were willing, and funding for a visit by a group of ten to
twelve German journalists could be arranged, we would
advocate taking them up on the offer. END SUMMARY.

THE PROGRAM

2. (SBU) Kunar Governor Sayed Fazlullah Wahidi and Wardak
Governor Halim Fedai visited Berlin December 18, courtesy of
a PA program jointly sponsored by Embassy Kabul and USNATO,
which took them first to Brussels and then to Paris. The two
governors, together with their Embassy Kabul escorts, flew on
to Munich after their stay in Berlin for a further two days
of meetings and events before departing back to Afghanistan
(Munich program to be reported septel). The governors had a
full program in Berlin, which included a roundtable with more
than a dozen German parliamentarians and separate meetings
with the state secretaries at the Ministry of Interior (MOI)
and Foreign Office (MFA). The governors also participated in
a press conference featuring leading journalists from print
and electronic media, whose questions focused on security,
corruption and the state of development in Kunar and Wardak.
Coverage so far in print media has been skeptical, but
overall positive. At the end of the day, the governors came
to the Embassy for a wrap-up session with the Charge.

CONTROLLING THE BORDER WITH PAKISTAN

3. (C) In all the meetings, Kunar Governor Wahidi emphasized
Kunar's geographic position as an eastern province with a
240-kilometer border with Pakistan. He complained that his
province only had 600 of the 3,000 Afghan Border Police (ABP)
needed to properly control this border and he appealed to his
German interlocutors to provide greater assistance with the
training and equipping of the ABP. MOI State Secretary
August Hanning agreed that having a fully functioning and
effective border police force was decisive in achieving
success in Afghanistan, and in a surprise announcement,
revealed that Germany was planning to establish a ABP
training academy in Kabul, in an old Russian building right
next to the existing German-run Afghan National Police (ANP)
academy.

4. (C) On the margins of the meeting, MOI officials indicated
that the academy would focus its work on training
higher-level police officers in the ABP and that the plan was
to accommodate up to 500 students at time. They were not
sure how long the course of instruction would last,
indicating that this was still under consideration. They
invited us to return in January to get a fuller picture of
their plans for the academy.

5. (C) During the meeting with parliamentarians, Elke Hoff of
the Free Democratic Party (FDP), who is a regular visitor to
Afghanistan, said that while Pakistan was ready to work with
Afghanistan in reinforcing and controlling their common
border, Afghanistan's reluctance to accept the Durand Line
seemed to be hindering cooperation. Wahidi rejected the need
for Afghanistan to formally recognize the Durand Line
(something he claimed that Afghanistan was simply not in a
position to deal with at the current time) in order to enable
effective control of the border with Pakistan. He argued
that since many tribes straddle both sides of the border,
border control could not, in any event, consist of erecting
barriers and checkpoints that limited the legitimate travel
of tribal members back and forth between Pakistan and
Afghanistan. Instead, he called for an increased and
permanent presence of ABP on the border to deter, prevent and
respond to the entry of insurgents from Pakistan.

EQUIPPING THE POLICE

6. (C) Wardak Governor Fedai also focused on the police in
his remarks, stressing that the challenges went far beyond
training. He noted that the Afghan National Police (ANP)
lacked the necessary communication equipment to talk to each
other, relying solely on personal cell phones, which
frequently did not work at night. He said the Afghanistan
National Development Strategy (ANDS) called for the
construction of nine police stations in Wardak, but these
remained unfunded. He complained that the police throughout
Afghanistan lack uniforms, vehicles, fuel, accommodations,
explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) equipment and the tools
necessary to do forensic investigations. He agreed with
German parliamentarians who thought that police salaries had
to be increased significantly to discourage corruption. But
while he argued for a salary of $300 to 500 per month, Wahidi
was more cautious, noting that police salaries were already
on par with that of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

DISPUTING CLAIMS REGARDING SECURITY SITUATION

7. (C) Both governors disputed recent studies and reports
that have concluded that more than 70 percent of the country
is controlled by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
They claimed that all of the districts in their respective
provinces were in the hands of the government, although
Wahidi acknowledged that parts of the mountainous border
region of Kunar were not always under full control due to
the lack of sufficient border police. He also made the point
that the frequency of attacks alone do not indicate that the
Taliban is strong -- in fact, suicide bombings are clearly a
tactic of the weak.

8. (C) The governors also criticized the media for giving the
perception that the security situation in Wardak and other
RC-East provinces continued to worsen over the past year.
Fedai argued that while it was true that security had
deteriorated in Wardak in 2006 and 2007, things had turned
around in 2008. He noted that while four of Wardak's nine
districts had temporarily fallen under Taliban control in
2007, this had not happened at all in 2008. There were no
permanent bases for insurgents in Wardak. He also
criticized the media for failing to distinguish between
insurgent and criminal activities, claiming that some 70
percent of the security incidents in Wardak were criminally
motivated and not ideological attacks against the government.

WHY MORE TROOPS ARE NEEDED

9. (SBU) At the press conference, the governors were asked
why they were asking for the deployment of additional foreign
troops if, in fact, the Taliban were getting weaker and the
security situation was improving. The governors pointed out
that the additional foreign troops were necessary to fill
continuing security gaps until sufficient numbers of the ANA,
ANP, ABP and other Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF)
were trained and equipped to do the job themselves. In
response to a question about President-Elect Obama deciding
to send additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, Wahidi
responded: He didn't decide to send them -- we asked for
them! Wahidi noted that these troops would help prepare
the ground to enable further advances on development and
governance.

10. (C) In the wrap-up session with the Charge, Afghan
Ambassador to Germany Zulfacar reported that new Afghan
Interior Minister Atmar had made the same point to his German
counterpart the previous week during an introductory visit to
Berlin. Atmar had emphasized that there are currently not
enough security forces to hold territory after it has been
cleared, thereby allowing the Taliban to come back in and
negate the beneficial effect of the military operations.

DISCREPANCIES IN DEVELOPMENT AID

11. (C) The governors highlighted the wide discrepancy in the
distribution of development aid by PRT lead nations, as
exemplified in their own two provinces. Wahidi noted that
the U.S. had spent some $82 million for a wide variety of
projects in Kunar in the past year. Fedai said that the
Turkish PRT in Wardak, by comparison, had only spent a total
of $15 million on projects in the province over the past
three years, out of a total of $100 million for the whole
country. He said that other international actors like the
EU were needed to provide supplementary resources in
provinces where the PRT was led by a relatively poorer
country, like Turkey. MFA State Secretary Reinhard
Silberberg said more should be done to get rich Islamic
countries like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, which are
natural partners for Afghanistan, more involved in supporting
the development effort. He noted that while Germany had
pledged some $420 million over the next three years at the
Paris Conference this past summer, Saudi Arabia had committed
just $20 million.

EMPHASIS ON DISTRICT LEVEL

12. (C) Both governors emphasized the need for the
international community to focus its efforts at the district
level in Afghanistan, noting that most Afghans do not live in
Kabul or a provincial capital, but rather in small rural
villages across the country. They praised CSTC-A's Focused
District Development (FDD) police training and mentoring as
an example of a program that correctly takes account of this
reality. Both MFA State Secretary Silberberg and MOI State
Secretary Hanning confirmed that they found the case for the
FDD program to be compelling, which was why Germany planned
to participate in FDD on a bilateral basis in selected
northern districts beginning in January.
13. (C) Silberberg also conceded that the EU Police Mission
(EUPOL) -- which up until now has focused its work on the
Afghan Ministry of Interior in Kabul and on giving strategic
advice on how to set up the ANP and other Afghan police
forces -- should be reoriented to focus more attention on
police training. He indicated that Germany was pressing
EUPOL in this direction. Green Party Defense Spokesman
Winfried Nachtwei told us after the parliamentary meeting
with the governors that his judgment about the irrelevance of
EUPOL had been confirmed by the fact that neither Wahidi nor
Fedai knew anything about it and talked only about the
success of FDD.

TAKING THE GOVERNORS UP ON THEIR INVITATION?

14. (SBU) The governors invited journalists during the press
conference to come to Kunar and Wardak to see for themselves
that the comprehensive approach is working. This presents
obvious logistical challenges, but if Embassy Kabul were
willing, and funding for a visit by a group of ten to twelve
German journalists could be arranged, we would advocate
taking them up on the offer. While bringing Afghan officials
to Brussels on a USNATO tour is certainly beneficial, we have
found there is no replacement for sending German journalists
to Afghanistan. It is relatively easy for journalists to
visit Mazar and Kunduz through trips sponsored by the German
military, but we have seen the most effective coverage in
German media when reporters visit multiple provinces and PRTs
outside the north.

SIDE BENEFIT: MENTORING OUR AFGHAN COLLEAGUES

15. (C) This is the third time within the past year that we
have had Afghan governors stop in Berlin as part of a
USNATO/Embassy Kabul-sponsored tour to Brussels. In addition
to giving us an excellent opportunity to advance our
Afghanistan agenda, both in private meetings with
high-ranking German officials and through public diplomacy,
these visits have also facilitated growing cooperation
between Mission Germany and the Afghan Embassy here in
Berlin. With each succeeding visit, the Afghans take on more
and more responsibility for planning the program and
scheduling the appointments. We have successfully used these
visits to mentor our Afghan counterparts on organizing VIP
visits and making contacts in the German government and
Bundestag.
Koenig

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