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Cablegate: Salvadorans Withdrawing From Iraq

R 232217Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
NSC WASHINGTON DC
SECSTATE WASHDC 0502
SECDEF WASHDC
INFO AMEMBASSY TALLINN
AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
AMEMBASSY LONDON
USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 001402


E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2018
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL IZ ES
SUBJECT: SALVADORANS WITHDRAWING FROM IRAQ

REF: BAGHDAD 4019

Classified By: Ambassador Charles L. Glazer; Reasons 1.4 (b/d)

1. (U) President Saca announced mid-day December 23 that the Salvadoran deployment to Iraq would end on December 31, based on the fact that UN Security Council Resolution 1790 would expire on that same day. Legislative approval of Salvadoran military participation, he said, was pegged to the UNSC Resolution. Earlier in the day the Salvadoran Minister of Defense sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense saying that the GOES would be withdrawing from Iraq, essentially previewing President Saca's announcement.

2. (C) Ambassador and Defense Representatives had been in close touch with the GOES Presidency, Foreign and Defense Ministries over the past few days, urging them to wait for the Iraqi parliament to pass the legislation covering the presence of non-U.S. foreign troops. The GOES reaction to the draft of this legislation provided something of a preview of their decision to withdraw. They did not like that the text started with language saying when they had to leave, and could find nowhere in the text any statement of recognition or appreciation of the Salvadoran contribution or sacrifices to date, including five combat deaths.

3. (C) COMMENT: The Salvadoran public announcement went the high road and emphasized the accomplishment of concrete missions in their area of operations in Iraq. We interpret their decision as fitting into more of a political than an operational context: They earned considerable good will with the USG and with President Bush personally, and were not clear that there would be any carry-over to the next USG administration. In the local political context the deployment was never popular; announcing a withdrawal at Christmas-time will probably boost President Saca's personal popularity ratings. On the other hand, Embassy does not believe that there will be any benefit to the presidential candidate of the ruling (ARENA) party, in the sense that Iraq or foreign policy have not been significant issues in the campaign.

GLAZER

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