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Cablegate: Status of Coalition Partners in Iraq; Recommended Demarche for Australia

VZCZCXRO7603
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3794/01 3381547
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 031547Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC// IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0674
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST IMMEDIATE 0038
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 0072
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR IMMEDIATE 0018
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN IMMEDIATE 0012

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003794

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS IZ ES RO AS EN
SUBJECT: STATUS OF COALITION PARTNERS IN IRAQ; RECOMMENDED DEMARCHE FOR AUSTRALIA

Classified By: Pol-Mil Minister-Counselor Michael H. Corbin for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (S) This is an action request, see paragraph 11.

2. (S) Summary: As the GOI moves beyond the process of
gaining agreement for the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, it is
focusing on the terms for the continued presence of four
Coalition partners (Australia, Romania, El Salvador and
Estonia) beyond December 31. (The British are engaging with
the GOI at the highest level and have made significant
progress on a mechanism to permit them to stay in Iraq.)
Regarding the other four, the GOI made clear its conditions
for agreement: 1) that the Government will not present any
more security agreements to the Council of Representatives
(COR) and 2) that the forces of the four must conduct
non-combat missions. The GOI is pressing for the simplest
exchange of letters or diplomatic notes or signed MOUs to
permit continued operations.

3. (S) Summary Continued: An Estonian parliamentary
delegation recently visited Iraq and an MOD official remained
behind to continue discussions with us and the GOI. The
Salvadoran Defense Minister and team will be in Iraq December
5. The Australians have a high-level team in Baghdad and are
working with the GOI but to date remain convinced that they
need an agreement ratified by the COR. Given the importance
of the 42 Australian staff officers to MNF-I operations in
Iraq, we request the Department consider sending an urgent
demarche to Canberra pressing the GOA to look for a mechanism
short of COR ratification to allow the continued presence of
its military officers. Additionally, NATO is proceeding to
formalize the GOI's strong interest in the continuation of
NATO Training Mission Iraq (NTM-I) and will renew an exchange
of letters with the GOI, citing the U.S. Security Agreement
in lieu of the UNSCR. End Summary.

4. (S) Following the adoption by the COR of the U.S. Security
Agreement, the GOI has clearly stated its conditions for the
continued presence of the remaining four Coalition partners
(Australia, Romania, El Salvador and Estonia). The PM has
made it absolutely clear in discussions with the Ambassador
and MNF-I CG Odierno that it will not support any further
agreements which require COR ratification. The GOI has also
reiterated that the continued presence of these Coalition
forces will be in a "non-combat" assistance capacity. The
British are conducting high-level discussions with the GOI to
provide protection and conduct specific combat missions.

5. (S) Instead of engaging in another campaign with the
various political factions in the COR, PM Nouri al-Maliki has
said he strongly prefers an exchange of diplomatic notes or a
memorandum of understanding (MOU) referencing provisions in
the U.S. Security Agreement.

6. (S) Post has met repeatedly and at various levels with the
Australians concerning a suitable agreement. The GOA remains
convinced that in order for any such agreement to be binding,
it must be ratified by the COR. The Australians have 42
staff officers embedded within the Multi-National Forces Iraq
(MNF-I) in key positions. Additionally, the Australians
participate in TF158 operating in Iraqi waters to protect
Iraq's oil installations. The Australians understand the
complexity of including combat forces (TF158) in their
Qcomplexity of including combat forces (TF158) in their
agreement and may be willing to drop this in order to focus
on the non-combat embedded officers.

7. (S) Given the clear position of PM al-Maliki and the
importance of the Australians to MNF-I, we recommend the
Department consider sending an urgent demarche to Canberra
recommending that the GOA consider an exchange of diplomatic
notes with the GOI, referencing provisions in the U.S.
Security Agreement. We also recommend that Australia agree
to limit its agreement to the 42 embedded staff officers
currently serving with MNF-I (See proposed points in
paragraph 11).

8. (S) Mati Raidma, Chairman of the National Defense Council of the Estonian Parliament, led a visit by Estonian Parliament Members to Baghdad last week, accompanied by MOD officials, to participate in discussions with the GOI on Estonia's continued presence in Iraq. One MOD official remained behind to follow up on these talks. Post met with the Estonian delegation and advised they pursue an exchange of diplomatic notes with the GOI, also reiterating that Estonia's continued presence would be in a non-combat assistance capacity. The Estonian Members were clear on this matter and in a meeting with the Iraqi Minister of Defense on November 27, did not raise the issue of Estonian forces conducting combat operations. We linked the Estonians with the Australians to facilitate their understanding of the negotiating process, while focusing on an exchange of diplomatic notes rather than COR ratification. The Salvadoran MOD will visit Iraq on December 5, at which time Post will advise the same course of action.

9. (S) As for Romania, its Embassy is engaged on this matter
and we are supporting their efforts. Post has advised
Romania to consider a similar approach to Estonia through an
exchange of diplomatic notes, referencing provisions in the
U.S. Security Agreement.

10. (S) NTM-I was invited by PM al-Maliki on January 29 to
remain in Iraq until the end of 2009. NTM-I's current legal
status is derived from an exchange of letters between NATO
and the GOI, referencing the UNSCR. NATO has approved a
draft exchange of letters and NATO Assistant Secretary
General for Operations Martin Howard will travel to Baghdad
next week to negotiate the exchange of letters.

---------------
ACTION REQUEST
---------------

11. (S) Post recommends that the Department consider
instructing our Embassy in Canberra to urgently demarche the
GOA to suggest strongly that the GOA consider an exchange of
diplomatic notes or other legal mechanism that does not
require action by the COR, referencing provisions in the U.S.
security agreement. Post suggests that the demarche be based
on the following points:

- Now that the U.S. has concluded its complex negotiations
with the GOI for a bilateral security agreement, the GOI is
focused on negotiating Coalition security agreements.

- The U.S. strongly supports the presence of Australian staff
officers in MNF-I beyond January 1, 2009 and Australia's
other significant contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

- The GOI has made it clear that Australia's continued
presence will be in a non-combat assistance capacity.

- PM al-Maliki has stated that he will not present any other
bilateral security agreements to the COR.

- Canberra should strongly consider an exchange of diplomatic
notes or a MOU with the GOI, referencing provisions in the
U.S. Security Agreement with Iraq in order to establish a
basis for the continued presence of Australian officers in
Iraq.

AS APPROPRIATE IF THIS REMAINS AN ISSUE: We understand that
the GOA wishes to include its combat forces in TF158 in its
bilateral agreement. We recommend that this be addressed
separately given PM al-Maliki's position against combat
forces and that the GOA focus on a security agreement
covering the Australian staff officers embedded with MNF-I
only.

CROCKER

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