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Cablegate: Editorial Urges End to Mongolian Support in Iraq

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RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHUM #0367/01 1730919
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220919Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1237
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2800
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 5625
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2528
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0049
RUEHWR/AMEMBASSY WARSAW 0047
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ULAANBAATAR 000367

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/CM, EAP/PA, EAP/PD
HQ PACOM FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR (J007)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR PREL OPRC KMDR MG IZ
SUBJECT: Editorial Urges End to Mongolian Support in Iraq

Ref: Ulaanbaatar 0358

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1.(U) SUMMARY: Major daily "Onooder" published a front page
editorial (text at para 5) urging the Mongolian government not to
send another deployment of Mongolian peacekeepers to Iraq. This
editorial appears timed to influence Mongolia's National Security
Council (President, Prime Minister, and Speaker) and Cabinet, which
are poised to make a decision soon as to whether Mongolia should
send its 8th rotation to Iraq. To date, Onooder is alone among
Mongolia's media in taking a position on Mongolia's Iraq rotation.
The previous week, Onooder offered factual, accurate reporting of
visiting EAP Assistant Secretary Hill's expression of thanks to
Mongolia for its support in Iraq (reftel). END SUMMARY.

COMMENT: Onooder the First to Oppose Iraq Rotation
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) Comment: Immediately under the editorial's opening
paragraph printed on the front page, there was an article about a US
Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) grant to EZnis Airways, a
Mongolian company. It was accompanied by a photograph of Ambassador
Minton signing the grant with US and Mongolian flags in the
background. While delivering an editorial critical of sending
Mongolian troops to Iraq, the paper still highlighted American
support for the Mongolian economy. To date, Onooder is alone among
Mongolia's media in taking a position on Mongolia's Iraq rotation.
Earlier this week, Onooder headlined Assistant Secretary Hill's
remarks encouraging foreign investment in Mongolia. The newspaper
has consistently acknowledged the importance of US economic support
in Mongolia, despite the strong language against continued support
in Iraq.

3. (SBU) However, today's editorial questions American motivations
for providing MCC funding and clearly ties MCC support to Mongolia's
troops in Iraq: "It would not be an exaggeration to say that the
over 200 million US Dollars that we were so keen to obtain from the
Millennium Challenge Corporation is the money we are going to get
thanks to those ordinary soldiers. Without them, just by
considering the corruption and the abuse of one's official positions
in our country, not a cent would have been given to us by the
Americans." The previous week, Onooder offered factual, accurate
reporting of visiting EAP Assistant Secretary Hill's expression of
thanks to Mongolia for its support in Iraq (reftel). End comment.

Onooder's Owner and Background
------------------------------

4.(SBU) Onooder is widely viewed as a reliable, independent daily.
Its circulation exceeds 10,000, which is high for Mongolia. Onooder
is owned by media magnate and businessman Ts. Baldorj, who also owns
the English language newspaper "UB Post," TV "Channel 25," a
countryside resort, an agency that sends Mongolian laborers to
Korea, and majority shares of the Ulaanbaatar Hotel in the city
center. According to rumors, the late Sh. Otgonbileg, who was
General Director of Erdenet Copper, provided Baldorj the money to
establish Onooder and buy its printing facilities in 1996. Baldorj
is also a close friend of former President Bagabandi. These three
men were originally from Zavkhan province, and were perceived as one
of the most powerful factions in the late 1990s. When Bagabandi was
President, Onooder was very supportive of his policies.

5. (U) June 22, 2007 Onooder Editorial:

BEGIN TEXT:
Please Don't Send Troops for an 8th Rotation to Iraq
By D. Zayabat

These days, when the US presidential election marathon is winding up
more and more, the candidates do not spare each other, but the
majority of them have an identical stand on the issue of bringing
back the troops and ending the war in Iraq, which took the lives of
several tens of thousands of American soldiers and of hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi citizens. The esteemed candidates claim in
unison that they will stop the war and withdraw the troops from
Iraq. Thousands of people paid with their lives for the "fireworks,"
initiated by G. Bush. With father G. Bush, who started the war in
the Persian Gulf, seemingly they belong to a family of warriors.
The Americans have had enough of the war and call it a Second

ULAANBAATA 00000367 002 OF 003


Vietnam.

The war-protest civil movements are becoming more and more active
throughout the country. As we say, "The one caught with guilt will
kill." President G. Bush keeps the war running while searching for
a massive destruction weapon the existence of which is unknown. It
is highly doubtful that the religion, which survived centuries and
centuries, and the anti-American spirit, which has persisted for
several years, will be annihilated at once. Today the whole world is
criticizing America that by getting in war with Iraq, it stirred up
the entire Muslim world and triggered terrorism to a level unknown
before. Even the close partners of America started turning their
backs because of its aggressive foreign policy. The Mongolian
proverb says, "Don't call upon yourself the trouble you are not
involved in." That means that we don't wish to lose our soldiers as
victims of the policy of a big power like America. Lately, the mass
media bring us sufficient information on the escalation of severe
terrorist acts in Iraq unlike previous ones. Not only the soldiers
of the coalition die in those bomb-blasting but hundreds of citizens
as well. Soon it will be three years since Mongolia started sending
its troops to Iraq. Since then, Mongolia has sent seven troop
rotations or 1000 soldiers. Our soldiers are performing their
duties quite well. They stopped the attack of a suicide killer with
a truck loaded with almost 70 kg of explosives. If the truck had
exploded within the Charlie Base, it would have certainly caused the
death of several hundreds of soldiers and reduced the base to dust.
We cannot deny the importance of the participation of our soldiers
in the peace-keeping activities. It would not be an exaggeration to
say that the over 200 million US Dollars that we were so keen to
obtain from the Millennium Challenge Corporation is the money we are
going to get thanks to those ordinary soldiers. Without them, just
by considering the corruption and the abuse of one's official
positions in our country, not a cent would have been given to us by
the Americans. We should never forget that Mongolia gets this money
from the MCC thanks to our soldiers, peacekeepers in Iraq.

Our troops, working under the command of the Polish division were
moved from Al Hilla to El Divani. This city is under the control of
Al Sadra Maht army since long before. The American troops come
regularly to El Divani to clean it from the terrorists, and the
latter, well-informed, leave the city temporarily during the
operations of the Americans. When the American soldiers leave the
city, the terrorists come back to the city and renew their attacks
against the base. The entire Muslim world is supporting them.
There is news that Iran has sent over 50 sharpshooters to El Divani.
The terrorists use rockets against the base. In these attacks a
number of people died and logistical supply base equipment was
destroyed. In recent days the armed groups started shooting at the
airport with the rockets. A member of the Military Headquarters
said that it might be a tactic to cut off the Polish Division in El
Divani from its outside support. According to him, the attacks in
the city are escalating. If 30 percent of terrorists' rockets
landed on the territory of the base before, now from 70 to 80
percent of them reach their targets. Since the Mongolian troops did
all they could and there is nothing else they can do, isn't it time
to withdraw them from Iraq? The Americans started the war, let them
end it. We have helped them sufficiently. Don't you see that even
more powerful countries pull their troops out of Iraq? As we say,
"a crow wishing to be a goose got its legs frozen." Are we able to
rub shoulders with the Americans? At the request of President G.
Bush, our President extended the duration of stay for the 7th
rotation till next month. If anything disastrous happens to our
soldiers, who will take the responsibility? Shall we call the
leaders of the Maht Army to court? For a rich country, there is no
problem. They will provide the families of killed soldiers and the
war invalids with life-long support. Will Mongolia be able to do
so? Those military people are all the family bread-winners. If the
head of the family gets killed, who will feed his kids and wife?

Supposedly soon, the National Security Council is going to discuss
the dispatch of the 8th rotation of soldiers to Iraq. They started
preparing 130 men for the mission, and after the selection through
exams, a hundred men proven worthy to go will leave for Iraq.
According to the information, our authorities plan to send the
troops of the 8th rotation to Iraq. As some sources claim, Ts.
Nyamdorj, ex-Speaker of Parliament, was against sending the troops
on the 8th rotation to Iraq. What will be the position of the new
Speaker? Mr. President, please don't send our soldiers to Iraq!
Our troops have been working there for long enough. We have helped
the Americans. Isn't it enough? The situation in Iraq is getting

ULAANBAATA 00000367 003 OF 003


more and more complicated. Do we have enough men to lose them in a
war started by a big power? Behind every military man's life there
are lives of many other people who depend on him. Should a
Mongolian soldier die for the benefit of America?
END TEXT.

MINTON

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