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Cablegate: Iraq Study Group Report Guidance

DE RUEHC #6230/01 3410304
O 070256Z DEC 06




E.O. 12958: N/A


STATE 00196230 001.2 OF 004

1. This cable provides initial guidance for posts to use
in responding to inquiries about the report of the Iraq
Study Group, led by former Secretary of State James A.
Baker III and former Representative Lee Hamilton.

2. BACKGROUND: The Iraq Study Group (ISG) was created on
March 15, 2006 at the request of a bipartisan group of
members of Congress. The facilitating agency for the
group is the U.S. Institute of Peace (www.usip.org) with
the support of the Center for the Study of the Presidency
(www.thepresidency.org), the Center for Strategic and
International Studies (www.csis.org), and the James A.
Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University
(www.bakerinstitute.org). More background information is
available on its USIP website. The ISG first briefed its
report to President Bush, then members of Congress, and
then posted the 140-plus page report to the websites of

its four supporting organizations. USIP invited
Ambassadors from Coalition members, NATO allies, plus
Syria, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to a briefing and
reception with Baker and Hamilton at 5:00 pm EST on
December 6. Reftel provides information on a recent
briefing that senior Department and CENTCOM officials
provided to Washington's diplomatic corps on the review
processes underway and the current situation in Iraq, and
may be used to complement information provided here. The
President's comments can be found at

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3. The Administration is not bound by the
recommendations of the commission, although it is
considering them seriously in the context of a wider USG
policy review. END BACKGROUND

4. Posts may draw on the following points in explaining
this non-governmental report to host governments:

-- The Iraq Study Group (ISG) led by former Secretary of
State James A. Baker III and former Representative Lee
Hamilton is a Congressionally appointed non-governmental

-- The ISG's findings and recommendations will be
reviewed by the Administration and considered as
important input into the administration's Iraq policy

-- Our goal is a careful, deliberate consideration of
all aspects of our strategy in order to chart a
successful way forward.

-- The Administration will discuss a new way ahead in
Iraq. While there are certain recommendations that we
might not ultimately support, there is much good in the

-- After briefing President Bush and members of Congress,
the ISG posted its findings on December 6 on the websites

of its four supporting organizations at 11 am EST on
December 6, 2006 (see background for organizations and

-- The President himself said on December 4th: "My
attitude is, I ought to absorb and listen to everything
that's being said because I'm not satisfied with the
progress being made in Iraq. And the good news is,
neither is the Iraqi leadership. And so I'm listening to
the Iraqis. I'm going to listen to members of Congress.
I want to listen to, obviously, Baker-Hamilton. More
importantly, when it comes to military matters, I want to
listen to the military to come up with a way of achieving
our objective quicker."

-- Upon the report's release on Dec 6th the President
noted: "I told the ISG members that this report, called
"The Way Forward," will be taken very seriously by the
administration. This report gives a very tough
assessment of the situation in Iraq. It is a report that
brings some really very interesting proposals. And we
will take every proposal seriously and we will act in a
timely fasion. The commission is headed up to Congress,
and I urge the members of Congress to take this report
seriously. While they won't agree with every proposal,
and we probably won't agree with every proposal, it

STATE 00196230 002.2 OF 004

nevertheless is an opportunity to come together and work
together on this important issue."

-- We look forward to continuing a dialogue with
addressee host countries as the review process proceeds,
and to consultations on how we can together further the
international community's common goals in Iraq.

5. For reference, the executive summary of this non-
governmental report is as follows:


Executive Summary

The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating. There
is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects
can be improved.

In this report, we make a number of recommendations for
actions to be taken in Iraq, the United States, and the
region. Our most important recommendations call for new
and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and
the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S.
forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to
begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly.
We believe that these two recommendations are equally
important and reinforce one another. If they are
effectively implemented, and if the Iraqi government
moves forward with national reconciliation, Iraqis will
have an opportunity for a better future, terrorism will
be dealt a blow, stability will be enhanced in an
important part of the world, and Amercia's credibility,
interests, and values will be protected.

The challenges in Iraq are complex. Violence is
increasing in scope and lethality. It is fed by a Sunni
Arab insurgency, Shiite militias and death squads, al
Qaeda, and widespread criminality. Sectarian conflict is
the principal challenge to stability. The Iraqi people
have a democratically elected government, yet it is not
adequately advancing national reconciliation, providing
basic security, or delivering essential services.
Pessimism is pervasive.

If the situation continues to deteriorate, the
consequences could be severe. A slide toward chaos could
trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a
humanitarian catastrophe. Neighboring countries could
intervene. Sunni-Shia clashes could spread. Al Qaeda
could win a propaganda victory and expand its base of
operations. The global standing of the United States
could be diminished. Americans could become more

During the past nine months we have considered a full
range of approaches for moving forward. All have flaws.
Our recommended course has shortcomings, but we firmly
believe that it includes the best strategies and tactics
to positively influence the outcome in Iraq and the

External Approach

The policies and actions of Iraq's neighbors greatly
affect its stability and prosperity. No country in the
region will benefit in the long term from a chaotic Iraq.
Yet Iraq's neighbors are not doing enough to help Iraq
achieve stability. Some are undercutting stability.

The United States should immediately launch a new
diplomatic offensive to build an international consensus
for stability in Iraq and the region. This diplomatic
effort should include every country that has an interest
in avoiding a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's
neighbors. Iraq's neighbors and key states in and
outside the region should form a support group to
reinforce security and national reconciliation within
Iraq, neither of which Iraq can achieve on its own.

Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events
within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq,
the United States should try to engage them
constructively. In seeking to influence the behavior of
both counties, the United States has disincentives and
incentives available. Iran should stem the flow of arms
and training to Iraq, respect Iraq's sovereignty and
territorial integrity, and use its influence over Iraqi
Shia groups to encourage national reconciliation. The
issue of Iran's nuclear programs should continue to be
dealt with by the five permanent members of the United
Nations Security Council plus Germany. Syria should

STATE 00196230 003.2 OF 004

control its border with Iraq to stem the flow of funding,
insurgents, and terrorists in and out of Iraq.

The United States cannot achieve its goals in the Middle
East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israeli
conflict and regional instability. There must be a
renewed and sustained commitment by the United States to
a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace on all fronts:
Lebanon, Syria, and President Bush's June 2002 commitment
to a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. This
commitment must include direct talks with, by, and
between Israel, Lebanon, Palestinians (those who accept
Israel's right to exist), and Syria.

As the United States develops its approach toward Iraq
and the Middle East, the United States should provide
additional political, economic, and military support for
Afghanistan, including resources that might become
available as combat forces are moved out of Iraq.

Internal Approach

The most important questions about Iraq's future are now
the responsibility of Iraqis. The United States must
adjust its role in Iraq to encourage the Iraqi people to
take control of their own destiny.

The Iraqi government should accelerate assuming
responsibility for Iraqi security by increasing the
number and quality of Iraqi Army brigades. While this
process is under way, and to facilitate it, the United
States should significantly increase the number of U.S.
military personnel, including combat troops, imbedded
(sic)in and supporting Iraqi Army units. As these
actions proceed, U.S. combat forces could begin to move
out of Iraq.

The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve
to one of supporting the Iraqi army, which would take
over primary responsibility for combat operations. By
the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected
developments in the security situation on the ground, all
combat brigades not necessary for force protection could
be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq

could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi
forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams,
and in training, equipping, advising force protection,
and search and rescue. Intelligence and support efforts
would continue. A vital mission of those rapid reaction
and special operations forces would be to undertake
strikes against al Qaeda in Iraq.

It is clear that the Iraqi government will need
assistance from the United States for some time to come,
especially in carrying out security responsibilities.
Yet the United States must make it clear to the Iraqi
government that the United States could carry out its
plans, including planned redeployments, even if the Iraqi
government did not implement their planned changes. The
United States must not make an open-ended commitment to
keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq.

As redeployment proceeds, military leaders should
emphasize training and education of forces that have
returned to the United States in order to restore the
force to full combat capability. As equipment returns to
the United States, Congress should appropriate sufficient
funds to restore the equipment over the next five years.

The United States should work closely with Iraq's leaders
to support the achievement of specific objectives--or
milestones--on national reconciliation, security and
governance. Miracles cannot be expected, but the people
of Iraq have the right to expect action and progress. The
Iraqi government needs to show its own citizens--and
citizens of the United States and other countries--that it
deserves continued support.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, in consultation with the
United States, has put forward a set of milestones
critical for Iraq. His list is a good start, but it must
be expanded to include milestones that can strengthen the
government and benefit the Iraqi people. President Bush
and his national security team should remain in close and
frequent contact with the Iraqi leadership to convey a

clear message: there must be prompt action by the Iraqi
government to make substantial progress toward the
achievement of these milestones.

If the Iraqi government demonstrates political will and

STATE 00196230 004.2 OF 004

makes substantial progress toward the achievement of
milestones on national reconciliation, security, and
governance, the United States should make clear its
willingness to continue training, assistance, and support
for Iraq's security forces and to continue political,
military, and economic support. If the Iraqi government
does not make substantial progress toward the achievement
of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and
governance, the United States should reduce its political,
military, or economic support for the Iraqi government.

Our report makes recommendations in several other areas.
They include improvements to the Iraqi criminal justice
system, the Iraqi oil sector, the U.S. reconstruction
efforts in Iraq, the U.S. budget process, the training of
U.S. government personnel, and U.S. intelligence


It is the unanimous view of the Iraq Study Group that
these recommendations offer a new way forward for the
United States in Iraq and the region. They are
comprehensive and need to be implemented in a coordinated
fashion. They should not be separated or carried out in
isolation. The dynamics of the region are as important to
Iraq as events within Iraq.

The challenges are daunting. There will be difficult days
ahead. But by pursuing this new way forward, Iraq, the
region, and the United States of America can emerge


6. Minimize considered.

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