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Cablegate: Uk Relents On Basrah Governor; Outlines Future

VZCZCXRO4834
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3383/01 2821847
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 091847Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHBC/REO BASRAH PRIORITY 2275
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3799
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 1765
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH PRIORITY 2218
RUEHKUK/REO KIRKUK PRIORITY 2213
RUEHDIR/IRAN RPO DUBAI PRIORITY 0045
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003383

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2017
TAGS: EINV MOPS PGOV PINR PTER UK IZ
SUBJECT: UK RELENTS ON BASRAH GOVERNOR; OUTLINES FUTURE
TROOP DEPLOYMENT


BAGHDAD 00003383 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

Summary
-------

1. (S) UK Ambassador Prentice told Ambassador Crocker October
8 that the UK would stop boycotting Basrah Governor Wa,eli
following the decision of the local administrative court that
Wa,eli could not be removed from office by the Provincial
Council. Prentice had informed PM Maliki, who was reportedly
not pleased. Prentice previewed the comments PM Gordon Brown
would make to Parliament later that day regarding British
forces in southeastern Iraq -- 4,500 troops till the end of
March 2008, a subsequent reduction to 2,500, subject to
conditions on the ground. He also outlined the terms and
conditions for the immigration of Iraqi locally engaged staff
that PM Brown would mention. The two Ambassadors also
touched on Iran as well as British plans to support economic
development in Basrah. End Summary.

We will have contact with Wa,eli
--------------------------------

2. (S) UK Ambassador Christopher Prentice called on
Ambassador Crocker to preview the presentation to Parliament
regarding British forces in Iraq that British PM Gordon Brown
was scheduled to deliver today, October 8. During the course
of the conversation, he revealed that HMG was ending its
boycott of contact with Basrah Governor Wa,eli. He noted
that as the judicial process had confirmed Wa,eli in office,
it made no sense to treat him as illegitimate. He had
informed PM Maliki of the decision; Maliki was not pleased
but indicated he could live with the British decision and
even with Wa,eli,s continuation as Governor as long as
security remained out of Wa,eli,s hands.

3. (S) Welcoming the UK decision, Ambassador Crocker observed
that security would remain under the operations center so
Wa,eli would not control it. He observed that moving
forward with Wa,eli was the practical thing to do, noting
that Vice President Adil Abdel Mehdi had said it was time to
move on. In response to Ambassador Crocker,s question about
next steps by the Provincial Council, Prentice replied that
the British Consul General in Basrah had indicated the
parties were seeking to arrange deals on who would acquire
subordinate positions under Wa,eli -- they appear resigned
to his continuous in office.

Brown,s Speech and the numbers
------------------------------

4. (S) At the time of the meeting, the text of Gordon
Brown,s statement was not yet final -- Prentice promised to
share it with Ambassador Crocker and General Petraeus as soon
as possible. The UK military presence in southern Iraq would
be 4,500 troops through the end of March 2008. There will be
an additional 500 in the region -- PM Brown will not be
specific, but these 500 will be in Kuwait. Subsequently, the
UK presence will reduce over time to about 2,500 in southern
Iraq, subject to conditions. The rationale for this
reduction is that the focus for UK troops in MND-SE is
training and mentoring of Iraqi forces.

5. (S) Responding to Ambassador Crocker,s questions,
Prentice said that the 4,500 UK troops for southern Iraq
excluded staff or special operations troops in Baghdad or
other parts of Iraq. He noted that the draft text alluded to
the possibility of a further reduction of 500 in the
pre-March 2008 period, but that he and the UK military
foresee 4,500 British troops in MND-SE through March 2008.
They will be based at the Basrah Air Station -- discussion on
that issue was now closed.

6. (S) Prentice reported that he had informed PM Maliki, who
referred to the drawdown as a timetable. Prentice corrected
him, reminding him that the size of the UK presence was
subject to conditions on the ground. Maliki acknowledged
that the reduction in UK troops was a natural process and did
not express anxiety about it.

Immigration Terms and Conditions
--------------------------------


BAGHDAD 00003383 002.2 OF 002


7. (C) Prentice also previewed PM Brown,s statement
regarding terms and conditions for Iraqis who had worked for
the British to gain admission to the UK or be compensated.
He made clear that this package was only for those who would
be made redundant by the UK drawdown or had been threatened.
The details were still to be worked out. Brown would make
clear that this not a precedent for a long-service
immigration benefit but a limited benefit for Iraqi locally
engaged staff (LES). Prentice closed on this topic by noting
that Maliki was concerned that if Brown mentioned this
special immigration program publicly, it would undermine
confidence in the Iraqi government. Prentice said he told
Maliki it had to be in the public statement to Parliament as
British media had attacked HMG for its failure to provide for
its Iraqi LES.

Basrah Development Forum
------------------------

8. (S) Prentice wrapped up comments on Brown,s statement
with a discussion of economic development initiatives, which
he said enjoyed the strong support of PM Brown. As well as
announcing significant funding for an investment fund, Brown
pushed hard for the creation of an investment council to
coordinate the different strands of economic development in
Basrah. He added that a highly prominent British businessman
would be a key member of the council -- PM Brown is
determined that this investment council will succeed. Later,
Prentice asked for a briefing on the success of the Erbil
fund. Noting that a review was due later this month,
Ambassador Crocker promised to share lessons learned with
Prentice and to mention the investment council plans to
Deputy Prime Minister Barhan later that evening.

British Hostages
----------------

9. (S) Prentice indicated the UK had received credible
proof-of-life of the five UK hostages. Ambassador Crocker
expressed pleasure with the news, calling it a very hopeful
sign and noting that proof-of-life usually indicates the
hostage takers, willingness to ultimately negotiate the
release of their hostages.

Comment
-------

10. (S) The UK decision to stop boycotting Wa,eli is
welcome. Though corrupt, Wa,eli is not an ideologue and can
serve to advance the movement towards Iraqis running their
own affairs in Basrah. PM Brown,s commitment to investment
and economic development in Basrah is also welcome and
likewise bodes well for moving Iraq forward.
CROCKER

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