Cablegate: Italian Advisor to Iraq Sees the Glass As Half

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. ROME 4696
B. ROME 4130

1. (SBU) Summary. Acting DCM and PolOff attended a 22
October seminar on "Iraq -- Six Months After" with Italian
Ambassador Pietro Cordone, who recently left his position as
Advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Culture. Cordone was
extremely positive in his assessment of US efforts in Iraq,
but believes the US needs to step up its public diplomacy
efforts to make sure that news of the good work being done
gets out. One of Berlusconi's closest advisors, who recently
returned from a trip to Baghdad, echoed the need to promote
the CPA's achievements. Separately, Italian officials are
indicating they would welcome, and respond positively to,
offers to fill other senior positions in the CPA. End

2. (U) The seminar, subtitled "The return of civilian life --
the recovery of archeological heritage," focused on Cordone's
experiences during his tenure as Iraqi Minister of Culture
under the CPA and subsequently Senior Advisor to the Iraqi
Minister of Culture. Cordone's presentation was extremely
complimentary towards Ambassador Bremer and US efforts in
Baghdad. However, he warned that the general population was
not aware of what the CPA was accomplishing and that more
public diplomacy officers are needed to overcome this
"information vacuum."

3. (U) Cordone cited the fact that Iraq's Ministers are now
Iraqis (with the former coalition partner "Ministers"
relegated to the position of Senior Advisors) as evidence
that Iraqis are beginning to take control of their own
country. The US, he stressed, should promote the visibility
of the IGC to overcome the perception of the CPA as an
occupational authority. It was in this vein that Cordone
himself refused the request of the Iraqi Minister of Culture
to sit next to him at a recent press conference, which would
have given the impression of foreign interference in national

4. (U) Cordone cited the attendance of 1,200 people --
despite the inherent security risks of such a mass public
gathering -- at an Iraqi national symphony concert as a
symbol of the beginning of normalization of civilian life in
Baghdad (Comment. The Iraqi National Symphony has been
invited to perform at the Kennedy Center on December 9. End
Comment). However, he warned that the situation was more
difficult outside of Baghdad and strongly urged the US to
increase its public diplomacy efforts outside of the capital.

5. (SBU) Gen. Cecchi, Head of Italy's Joint Staff for
military operations, who also attended the seminar, said that
most Italians are not aware that Italy, with over 2,500
troops participating in Operation Antica Babilonia, has the
third largest military component in Iraq. (Comment. Italian
Special Envoy to Iraq Armellini told Econ M/C and econ and
pol officers that Italy also has the third largest civilian
component (septel). Italy will have to keep its eye on the
size of the Poles' contingent, however, if it wants to keep
the bronze medal for military contributions. End comment.)
DefMin Martino's Senior Diplomatic Advisor Trupiano told
Pol-Mil Counselor on 24 October that Martino would like Italy
to have a senior advisor on Amb. Bremer's staff. Trupiano
said his government is not pushing any particular candidate
("the person could be military or civilian"), or even eyeing
a specific position for now, but that Italy would like to
have a "greater role" in the CPA.

6. (SBU) In a recent visit to southern Iraq to visit Italian
troops and witness the local community's first steps toward
democracy, the Defense Committees leaders of the Italian
Senate and Chamber stressed Italy's determination to support
the Iraqi reconstruction effort. Citing the inaugural
session of Nasirya's provincial as "a first, fundamental step
towards achieving a peaceful and democratic society," Chamber
Defense Committee President Ramponi said, "We hope to succeed
in brining peace and calm to your people with your efforts,

7. (SBU) Comment. Cordone's positive remarks towards the US
and the situation in Baghdad are particularly surprising
given his brush with violence on 18 September, two weeks
before his scheduled departure, when US soldiers mistakenly

fired upon his vehicle, killing his interpreter and grazing
the Ambassador (Ref A). Indeed, Cordone never mentioned the
incident during the two-hour seminar, instead praising the
teamwork, expertise, and strong work ethic of his American

8. (SBU) PolOff also spoke with one of PM Berlusconi's
Diplomatic Advisors, Paolo Dionisi, about his recent trip to
Baghdad (Ref B). Dionisi was less optimistic, although he
admitted that he did not have the benefit of seeing the
progress made during the six months of the CPA. Dionisi said
there is an underlying tension in the air that makes it easy
for minor events, such as a traffic incident or security
search, to turn violent. Dionisi also, however, stressed the
need for the US to spread the news of the positive
developments in the capital out into the provinces, but noted
that the security situation complicates these efforts.

Minimize considered.

2003ROME04904 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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