Cablegate: Gof Preparing Report Aimed at Increased Isaf


DE RUEHHE #0530/01 1921218
R 111218Z JUL 07




E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2011


B. 10 JUL 07

Classified By: Polchief Gregory Thome, Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOF is preparing a wide-ranging
proposal for increased participation in NATO/ISAF and for
increased assistance to Afghanistan. Details are
currently sketchy, but MFA officials expect the proposal
to include an increase in Finnish troops; increased
weapons and other materiel to support them; and possibly a
donation of non-lethal equipment to Afghan security
forces. The package is unlikely to include a donation of
lethal weapons (i.e., AK-47s), because that issue has
become very divisive and highly sensationalized, and the
GOF wants to avoid seeing its commitment in Afghanistan
derailed by hard political opposition to a lethal
donation. Even without the AK-47s, we welcome this new
initiative and believe it will lead to an increased
Finnish role in ISAF. END SUMMARY.

Finns Look to Do More in Afghanistan
2. (SBU) According to Finnish MFA security policy
contacts, Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva has directed that
a report be compiled recommending a broad increase in the
Finnish contribution to the NATO/ISAF Mission in
Afghanistan. The proposal is to be coordinated closely
between the MFA and the MOD, then submitted this fall for
cabinet consensus and eventual Parliamentary approval.
Precise details are still unknown, as the drafters have
only begun their work, but they tell us they expect the
proposal to call for an increased Finnish troop commitment
to ISAF; increased weapons and other materiel to support
those troops; and -- possibly -- a donation of non-lethal
equipment to the Afghan security forces.

Seeing is Believing
3. (SBU) The Finnish MOD had been contemplating for months
various scenarios under which it could do more in
Afghanistan. However, our contacts say, three recent
factors have influenced the ministerial level decision to
begin moving forward: (1) a change in Government; (2) FM
Kanerva's June 11 meeting with Secretary Rice, during
which she encouraged Finland to do more in Afghanistan;
and (3) perhaps most importantly, Defense Minister Jyri
Hakamies's late June trip to Afghanistan. Hakamies was
reportedly very impressed, both with the good work Finnish
troops are doing in provincial reconstruction teams (PRTs)
in Meymenah and Mazar-al-Sharif, as well as with the
tremendous amount of work yet to be done to stabilize and
rebuild Afghanistan.

No AK-47s Likely
4. (C) Hakamies has publicly stated that no form of
assistance is categorically "off the table," and our MFA
contacts confirm that their report is to include an
analysis of the pros and cons of making a donation of
lethal materiel to the Afghan National Police (ANP).
However, they caution, the "AK-47 issue" -- i.e., the
long-standing, joint US-Afghan request that Finland donate
some 100,000 excess Kalishnikovs to the ANP -- has become
an extremely divisive domestic political issue. The
previous government, led by then-FM Erkki Tuomioja and
President Tarja Halonen, had rejected the request. Since
then, both Halonen and Tuomioja -- from his new position
as a senior Parliamentary committee chairman -- have
remained vocally opposed to re-opening that decision.
Technically, the issue was decided by the previous
government and has never been re-opened. However, while
in Afghanistan MOD Hakamies did publicly allude to the
GOF's desire to do more. The press promptly seized on his
suggestion that "nothing is off the table" as an
indication that the divisive AK-47 issue had been re-
opened -- prompting harsh responses not only from
Tuomioja, but also from senior politicians in several
political parties, including members of the governing

Vanhanen seeks calm. . .but no weapons
5. (C) In seeking to calm the waters, PM Matti Vanhanen
told the press that the AK-47 issue had not been re-
opened, but went on to explain that the GOF was indeed
contemplating other forms of increased assistance in
Afghanistan. (Comment: Predictably, the press
sensationalized the PM's comments about the AK-47s, but
said little about the broader support proposal that is
being prepared.) Privately, MFA officials tell us they

are enthusiastic about the possibility of the Vanhanen
Government's winning broad-based parliamentary support for
a package that includes increased Finnish troop
commitments to ISAF and increased reconstruction and
development assistance. However, they say that the senior
political leadership is concerned that Tuomioja and others
might torpedo the entire package if a lethal donation is
included in the proposal.

6. (C) Even without the lethal donation, we welcome this
new initiative and believe it will lay the foundation for
an increased Finnish role in the ISAF Mission. Kanerva,
Hakamies (who personally may not be opposed to a lethal
donation) and Vanhanen (who probably is opposed) appear to
have hit upon a solid strategy -- i.e., excluding the AK-
47s in their broader proposal, so that they can win broad
based approval for a more robust Finnish commitment to
ISAF. We believe that if they force the issue of the AK-
47s, it could divide the cabinet (the Greens and the
Center Party will oppose, with the Conservatives and the
Swedish Peoples likely supporting), which in turn could
kill the entire proposal. However, if handled carefully
without a lethal component, the package is likely to win
Parliamentary approval, even among the outspoken skeptics,
and further improve the Finnish public's understanding
of the positive leadership role their country can play in
Afghanistan. Post will follow this issue closely and
encourage the GOF in its efforts to create a proposal
that leads to greater Finnish commitments. End Comment.

© Scoop Media

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