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Cablegate: Iraq Allies Ambassadors' Meeting - September 18

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INFO IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 STATE 137352

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID IR IZ MOPS PREL SY
SUBJECT: IRAQ ALLIES AMBASSADORS' MEETING - SEPTEMBER 18


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SUMMARY
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On September 18, Ambassador David
Satterfield, the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State and
Coordinator for Iraq, briefed diplomats from
non-troop-contributing allies. Amb. Satterfield underscored
key themes from Amb. Crocker's congressional testimony the
previous week. If one assesses conditions in Iraq solely on
the basis of performance of the national government and the
18 congressionally mandated benchmarks, then a critical and
positive phenomenon is missed. The Government of Iraq's
minimal success to date in passing national legislation to
address a broad range of issues is offset by the pragmatic
and positive accomodations on the ground in the provinces
which effectively mirror the intent of national legislation.
The central government, while certainly responsible for its
own halting performance, is not the fundamental "problem" per
se - rather, fundamental changes in Iraqi society post-Saddam
and the absence of consensus on basic questions of Iraqi
identity underlie the difficulties in moving "benchmark"
issues to resolution. The sum of the positive developments
taking place on the ground from the "bottom up" do not yet
constitute "reconciliation," but are the incubator or
precursor of reconciliation and provide a reason for hope and
a reason to continue our support - support that, if
withdrawn, will unravel recent accomplishments and result in
greater violence and terror and attendant expansion of the
presence and influence of forces such as AQI (Al-Qaeda in
Iraq) and Iran. END SUMMARY.

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INTRODUCTION
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2. (SBU) NEA hosted a meeting of ambassadors and
representatives from non-troop contributing allies on
September 18 to complement a September 13 meeting of
ambassadors from 32 troop-contributing nations (plus EU
Commission) with NSC's General Lute following the testimonies
by Amb. Crocker and General Petraeus. Amb. Satterfield
welcomed this opportunity to discuss the recent assessments
and where things stand for the way ahead.

4. (SBU) On the national level, if success is measured by
progress on the 18 benchmarks (which were proposed by Iraqis
and endorsed by Congress), then we are all quite frustrated
since there has been very little progress:
--There is no national hydrocarbons law or revenue management
law yet.
--While de-Ba thification reform is in consideration, it has
not yet been enacted.
--Constitutional revision remains unfinished.
--We still await a provincial powers law and election law.


5. (SBU) Lack of progress on the benchmarks is not solely a
result of failure by the government or the prime minister.
Progress has not been made because there is no consensus
among Iraq's political leaders on key questions of Iraqi
identity:
--What is Iraq?
--What should the future of Iraq look like?
--What does it mean to be an Iraqi?

This is a conflict about power, authority, resources, and
territory. It has not yet worked its way through to a
regional consensus on the fundamental issues about the future
shape of the country. Therefore progress is slow on issues
like de-Ba thification and hydrocarbons - difficult matters
whose debate and resolution, or lack thereof - mirror the
state of the national leadership debate on the direction Iraq
should take.

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PROGRESS IN AL-ANBAR
--------------------

6. (SBU) As Ambassador Crocker noted, it is important to look
at "bottom up" progress taking place outside the narrow
context of the Baghdad leadership debate over the legislative
benchmarks. Real advances are being made in restoring
stability to challenged areas, most notably in Anbar Province
but also in other parts of Iraq, consisting of pragmatic
changes on the ground which are improving security and
allowing bridges to be built not just among local authorities
and populations, or between local figures and MNF-I, but with
Baghdad as well. Local Anbari elements (many of whom had

STATE 00137352 002 OF 004


been part of the violent insurgency) decided they had had
enough and moved against AQI. At one point last summer, we
had described Anbar as "lost." The change has been
revolutionary: mayors returned and the provincial council
which had been in exile in Baghdad for over a year returned.

7. (SBU) The first action the returning provincial council
took was to assess the province's needs, producing a bill for
$100 million. The Government of Iraq (GOI) is quite liquid
in resources but has been "illiquid" in its ability to move
those resources. As a consequence of positive steps we had
undertaken over the past year and more to build budget
execution capacity, the GOI was able to respond to the needs
of Anbar Province - including an additional $70 million which
Prime Minister Maliki approved on his visit to the region.
An additional $50 million was approved to compensate for AQI
terrorism. Thus, the GOI is providing a total of $220
million of which $170 million has already been allocated on
the ground.


-------------
THE WAY AHEAD
-------------
8. (SBU) Does all of this constitute "reconciliation?" We
would argue that genuine reconciliation is a further goal
yet. But practical accomodation on the ground provides the
precursor - or essential ground - for reconciliation. This
also has the ability to lead to reduced sectarian violence,
reestablishment of order, and reaching out in both directions
(local to central level and central to local level). This
facilitates the reintegration of violent elements into the
state, the army, and broader national life, making them now
participants in the life of the state.

9. (SBU) There is a real potential for stabilization of Iraq
in all such bottom-up progress, but we still see a need for
fundamental national legislation. While we continue to press
national political leaders to move forward, we are also
seeking to be as agile as possible in facilitating further
accomodations at the local, working level that, in many ways,
meet the goals of the still-lacking national action. For
example, while no de-Ba thification law currently exists,
former insurgents, many of them Ba thists, in Anbar Province
are now being paid as part of the national security forces.
General Petraeus calls this "local immunity." Another
example concerns the hydrocarbons law: even though no
national law has yet been approved, a Shi a central
government has allocated money - from hydrocarbon revenues -
for all the provinces, including $220 million for Anbar, a
Sunni province, achieving an equitable distribution based on
respective needs.

10. (SBU) Are we confident the aforementioned improvements
will continue? No - Ambassador Crocker has been blunt on
this point. There are no guarantees, but there is reason for
hope. If these changes do not continue, however, the only
alternative is a reversion to chaos and terror - in which not
only the people of Iraq will suffer; forces such as AQI and
Iran will advance their interests at our expense and the
expense of the region and the international community. Thus,
the key mission of MNF-I is to bring down and keep down the
levels of sectarian violence and confront AQI. We believe
the surge has been successful in this - not just in reducing
militia activity but also AQI suicide attacks. The latter
have fallen 50% over the last four months, 80% since early
spring. AQI is still a very threatening force, but it is
feeling the press of our actions and those of the Iraqi
security forces. General Petraeus is confident enough in
what the surge and Iraqi forces have achieved on the ground
that he has recommended a drawdown of surge forces starting
in December - five months ahead of the "hard" drawdown
commencement date of next April. Marine surge forces begin
redeployment this month. Another assessment by Amb. Crocker
and General Petraeus is due in March 2008. All of us hope we
will see a continuation of current positive trends.

----------------
REGIONAL CONTEXT
----------------
11. (SBU) The core conflict in Iraq is an unresolved conflict
over the nature of the state. We believe the success of Iraq
in a practical sense - defined as progress toward greater
stability and security - will be a bulwark against
organizations of terror, such as AQI, and strategic state
sponsors of terror such as Iran and Syria. Iraq exists in a
region, not a vacuum, and Iran's approach to Iraq is a
strategic one, executed in Iraq as well as through radical
Palestinians, Hizballah,and in Iran's pursuit of nuclear
weapons. Iran uses Iraq as a forum to advance specific goals
in that country and also to protect its influence elsewhere

STATE 00137352 003 OF 004


in the region. If we succeed in stabilizing Iraq, we can
make the region as a whole more secure. Just as Iran acts on
a regional basis, so we are acting in a strategic manner on a
variety of regional fronts to advance security, stability,
and greater regional peace. We are working with Israel and
Palestinian President Abbas on plans for an international
event to be held in November to advance resolution of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have been working with the
Persian Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan (the Gulf Cooperation
Council plus two) since last September to help build a common
Gulf security architecture. We have worked to validate and
support those allies through a significant arms sales package
and through the Economic Support Fund and Foreign Military
Financing. The international community as a whole is now
engaged in a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear weapons
program. We are moving with our allies on multiple fronts to
deal with this threat to global peace and security. We are
working for a third Chapter 7 UN resolution; we are working
to mobilize further state-to-state pressure on Tehran, as
well as bringing additional pressure through financial
institutions to further impress on Iran the price that must
be paid for its behavior.

12. (SBU) Finally, Iraq needs support. There are two venues
coming up for Iraq's neighbors and the broader international
community to offer such aid and to hear the GOI express its
own assessment of progress. On Saturday, September 22, the
UN Secretary-General hosts a meeting in New York to discuss
UNSCR 1770 that expanded the mandate of the UN Assistance
Mission - Iraq (UNAMI) and the status of the International
Compact with Iraq. In early November, the Expanded Neighbors
Ministerial will take place in Istanbul to carry on the
dialogue begun in Sharm el-Sheikh - a useful and valuable
forum to discuss what is happening in Iraq and its importance
to the people of the region.

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CONCLUDING REMARKS
------------------
13. (SBU) Our allies are critical and strategic participants
and we ask them to continue with us. We will be working with
the Iraqi government in the months ahead in several areas:
--Securing an extension through 2008 of the authorities in
the existing UNSCR 1723;
--Discussing through the Strategic Partnership Dialogue the
long-term relationship between Iraq and the United States and
the long-term basis for U.S. force presence;
--We will also be in close contact with all those who have
troops in Iraq as these critical discussions move forward.
We look forward to our coming talks and continued
relationship with Iraq.

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Q & A
-----
14. (SBU) Canadian PolCouns Brown asked about the status of
the communique issued by the five Iraqi political leaders in
August. He also wanted to know Amb. Satterfield's thoughts
on Amb. Crocker's "mixed record" response when asked about
Syria's actions in the region.

Amb. Satterfield responded that we continue to be engaged
with Iraqi political leaders and this will not diminish, even
though there is no national consensus on the future of Iraq.
Our interest is in seeing greater security and stabilization,
and this must be pursued both through a bottom-up and
top-down approach. Regarding Syria, we have seen no
discernible change related to the flow of foreign fighters.
Nothing has come from Syria's hosting of the Border Security
Working Group. In addition, the GOI reports that nothing
resulted from recent meetings held during Prime Minister
Maliki's visit to Damascus. Syria is making the strategic
choice to continue to play a hand in Iraq through jihadists,
and we have made clear that this behavior must change.

15. (SBU) Dutch Ambassador Kroner asked if the benchmark
approach was an accurate measure in any way.

Amb. Satterfield responded that the benchmarks measure, in
one formal sense, the ability of the leaders of Iraq to come
to a consensus. The hydrocarbons legislation is important.
We want to see provincial elections, as do most Iraqis. Our
argument is that one cannot ignore the benchmarks but
something else is happening on the ground that is important
and that must be encouraged.

16. (SBU) European Commission Counselor Brender asked for
elaboration on the long-term security agreement.

Amb. Satterfield replied that the Iraqi leadership called on
the United States to work with the GOI on this subject. The

STATE 00137352 004 OF 004


United States contemplatees a continued significant presence
and needs agreed-upon state-to-state arrangements both for
Iraqi sovereignty reasons and for our own purposes. However,
our near-term goal is the extension of current UNSCR
authorities through the end of 2008. While it is clear that
we must move beyond CPA Order 17 and UNSCRs to a long-term
security arrangement, we are still contemplating different
models of security arrangements to determine the best way
forward.
RICE

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