Cablegate: Usdp Edelman Nov 7 Meeting with President Karzai:
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3800/01 3140600
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 100600Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1397
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4275
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3699
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 003800
STATE FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A, S/CRS, S/CT,
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR USDP EDELMAN AND DASD SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82, POLAD
EO 12958 DECL: 11/08/2017
TAGS PREL, MARR, SNAR, PGOV, AF
SUBJECT: USDP EDELMAN NOV 7 MEETING WITH PRESIDENT KARZAI:
IRAN, COUNTERNARCOTICS, MUSA QALA AND PAKISTAN
Classified By: Ambassador William Wood for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: In his November 7 office call on President Karzai, USDP Edelman expressed condolences for the victims of the November 6 bombing in Baghlan Province and highlighted the opportunity presented by this heinous act to reinforce Afghan national unity and action against the Taliban. Karzai welcomed FBI assistance in investigating the Baghlan bombing. Edelman urged that the IRoA act in concert with the U.S. to end Iranian lethal support to the Taliban before it reaches the same levels as in Iraq. Karzai agreed that Iran has to be confronted, adding without elaboration that we need to do so “effectively.” In response to Edelman noting intense Congressional interest in the counternarcotics situation, Karzai said Helmand Province (which produces 50 percent of Afghanistan’s opium) must be liberated before poppy production can be addressed, and he added that the people there are tired of Taliban control and want to be liberated. He did not dismiss the need for ISAF to use air power “at the risk of politically difficult civilian casualties” to get the job done. On Pakistan, Karzai expressed the hope that Musharraf,s extra-constitutional approach will work, but it was not clear to Karzai that Musharraf is ready to follow through in the short term on elections and a deal with Benizir Bhutto. Karzai welcomed the prospect of a visit by SecDef Gates before the end of the year. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) USDP Edelman, accompanied by Ambassador Wood, called on President Karzai on November 7. Karzai was accompanied by Defense Minister Wardak, National Security Advisor Rassoul, and two staff. Edelman and Wood were accompanied by DASD Shivers, Deputy Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan (CSTC-A) BG George, two OSD staffers and an Embassy notetaker.
Baghlan Bombing: FBI Assistance Welcomed
3. (C) Edelman opened by expressing his deepest condolences for the victims of the November 6 bomb attack in Baghlan Province that killed six parliamentarians and up to 40 other victims, including as many as 15 children. (NOTE: An authoritative assessment of casualties was not available at the time of the meeting.) Clearly shaken by the tragedy, Karzai described it as a terrible and sad event and noted that the basic facts of the attack were still under investigation. He recalled briefly the names and his personal association with most of the six murdered parliamentarians and expressed concern for the security of a parliamentarian still hospitalized. In response to Edelman,s question, Karzai affirmed his conviction that if initial reports that this was a suicide attack are confirmed, it was definitely the work of the Taliban, which had carried out many other such attacks, e.g., in Kandahar.
4. (C) Later in the conversation, Karzai said he wanted the U.S. to help out with the investigation, and he welcomed Ambassador Wood,s offer to request FBI assistance with the investigation of the bombing. Karzai offered to include U.S. personnel in the IRoA delegation being dispatched to investigate the attack site, led by Interior Minister Zarar and including Parliamentary security representatives and the National Directorate for Security (NDS).
An Opportunity for National Unity and Decisive Action
5. (C) Edelman observed that the Baghlan bombing also presented an opportunity to stress national unity and rejection of terrorism. Wood added that this is an opportunity to bring the Afghan people together not only to
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mourn the victims but also to affirm a confident outlook for the future. In spite of Karzai,s difficult relations with Parliamentary Speaker and political rival Qanooni, Wood pointed out that Qanooni is making unifying statements, e.g., supportive of IRoA security measures for the Parliamentary delegation visiting Baghlan; he is not using the occasion to seek to divide the nation for personal political gain. Karzai and Qanooni should join in bringing the nation together and use this as a basis for renewed, decisive action to counter the insurgency and take the hard decisions needed to advance good governance goals.
6. (C) In this regard, Edelman noted the military situation in Farah Province and asked Karzai whether there might be an Iranian hand behind recent Taliban attacks. Edelman recalled maps of the myriad smuggling routes from Iran into Afghanistan and reports of Taliban recruits training at sites in Iran, although there was no concrete evidence of direct Iranian involvement. He added that ISAF Commander GEN McNeill will want to respond, and he will be seeking to work with Karzai on an effective military strategy.
7. (C) Karzai agreed that Iran is “busy.” It is seeking to undermine the U.S. in Afghanistan, and it is trying to undermine development and reconstruction in western Afghanistan. Karzai asserted that Iran is bothered that Afghanistan is becoming an important transit hub for the region, and it wants to forestall Pakistani and Indian natural gas imports from Central Asia in order to protect its own market.
8. (C) Edelman asked how best to deal with Iran. The explosively-formed projectile weapons (EFPs) intercepted by British troops are worrying; even small numbers, if effectively employed against a small Ally such as the Dutch, could have a strategic effect. EFPs have been a major cause of U.S. casualties in Iraq. Reports of MANPADS coming out of Iran are also of concern. Recalling his conversation with Karzai in March on Iran, Edelman said Iranian meddling is getting increasingly lethal. He appreciated this was a complicated issue and that Afghanistan wants to avoid a two-front war, but Iranian actions, if not checked, will result in a two-front war in any event. We need to work together to put the Iranians back on their heels, adding that the USG is implementing new financial sanctions on the IRCG Quds Force. Iranian lethal assistance to the Taliban must be stopped before it reaches the levels of similar assistance to insurgents in Iraq; Edelman underscored that we need to make clear that Iranian support for the Taliban is equally dangerous to Tehran and Afghanistan.
9. (C) Karzai agreed that Iran has to be confronted, adding without elaboration that we need to do so “effectively.” They are supporting those who are killing Afghan and U.S. personnel, so we cannot keep quiet, he said. Edelman agreed that pressure is what the Iranians understand. The British and French are with us; we need to bring the Germans along. Without going into detail, Karzai said he discussed Iran with Chancellor Merkel when she visited Afghanistan last week.
Governance and Counternarcotics
10. (C) Edelman said the perception in Washington is that Afghan and ISAF forces have had tactical successes in disrupting the Taliban, and Congress has appropriated significant new funding to sustain the train-and-equip programs for the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. He noted that Congressional committees plan to hold hearings in the near future on Afghanistan and will be asking
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what the IRoA and USG are doing to take advantage of the tactical successes to advance police training and reform, extend governance to the provincial and local levels, create economic opportunity and counter the narcotics trade. Interest in counternarcotics action will become particularly acute in the wake of the UN report on record poppy crops during the last growing season.
Musa Qala and Airpower
11. (C) Karzai responded by highlighting public frustration in parts of Helmand Province with Taliban control. He recounted a recent phone call he received from a tribal chief in Helmand urging that Afghan and ISAF forces launch an attack on the Musa Qala District center. Karzai said there are 300 shops that sell opium paste and 65 heroin labs in Musa Qala. He added that the people are sick and tired of the situation and want to be liberated. Karzai said that Helmand must be liberated in order to stop poppy production. In response to Edleman,s observations about recent polling results showing significant public opinion against poppy cultivation and trafficking, Karzai said the Afghan people want a better, honest government, and they support the international community,s presence in Afghanistan. The point, he added, is to use this opportunity properly. The more we can bring security to the people and force the Taliban out, the better.
12. (C) Wood noted that GEN McNeill is developing a plan for Musa Qala, but it will likely require air power, which in the past has created political issues due to unintended civilian casualties. Karzai agreed that the plan would have to be discussed, but he reiterated that the people in Musa Qala are fed up, and we need to act.
13. (C) Karzai emphasized that the issue of Taliban sanctuary in Pakistan has to be solved, noting with dismay that the Taliban flag has been raised in three districts in the FATA. He observed that while Afghanistan has a national identity and a weak state, Pakistan has a strong state with no coherent national identity. Noting that he had discussed Pakistan in his November 7 telephone call with President Bush, Karzai expressed the hope that Musharraf’s imposition of extra-constitutional rule will work; Musharraf must be sincere because he has no further room for “more games.”
14. (C) Edelman noted that U.S.-Pakistan Defense Consultative Group (DCG) talks were postponed to underscore U.S. dissatisfaction with the imposition of the Provisional Constitution Order; it was also not clear that our Pakistani interlocutors would be able to focus on the DCG agenda, given the current political turmoil. The USG and Afghanistan share an interest in Pakistani authorities moving against terrorist sanctuaries and the Taliban,s Quetta Shura; arresting lawyers will not help in this regard. We are urging Musharraf to focus on keeping to the election schedule, completing the deal with Bhutto, and taking off his uniform. Although there are special interests that are seeking to extend the period for martial law, it must be kept short. If not, Musharraf’s interests and those of the Pakistani Army may begin to diverge. Karzai agreed the situation is complicated. Musharraf recognizes that if/when Bhutto takes power, he will be out, and he may not be ready yet to take that step.
Possible Gates Visit
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15. (C) Edelman conveyed the warm regards of SecDef Gates and said the SecDef hopes to visit Afghanistan before the end of the year. Karzai welcomed the prospect of his visit. WOOD