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Cablegate: Letter From Afghanistan Minister of Defense Wardak

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UNCLAS USNATO 000313

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL NATO MOPS MARR AF
SUBJECT: LETTER FROM AFGHANISTAN MINISTER OF DEFENSE WARDAK

1. (SBU) On Sunday, August 30, 2008 the Afghan Minister of
Defense, General Rahim Wardak, circulated a letter to the
NATO Secretary General on the issue of civil casualties,
improving coordination between international and Afghan
security forces and the Government of Afghanistan's desire to
re-examine documents governing the status of international
forces. The Secretary General circulated this letter to
Allies on September 1.


2. (SBU) The Secretary General noted that these issues would
be among the items addressed by Minister Wardak during his
briefing to the North Atlantic Council in ISAF format on
September 4, 2008. The text of the Wardak letter follows:


3. (SBU) As you are aware, military operations which
repeatedly result in civilian casualties place at risk the
success of our joint mission and jeopardize the popular
support which is an undeniable requirement for our victory.

Over the past several years, the Afghan side has tried
repeatedly to negotiate ways and means of limiting the risk
and reducing the consequences of these unfortunate incidents.

Unfortunately, civilian fatalities during operations,
air-strikes in populated areas, the uncoordinated searching
of private homes and the detention of innocents have all
continued. This has had an adverse affect upon the support
of the Afghan people for their government and for
international forces. Afghans from across the country,
particularly from the East and South, have frequently come to
the president to strongly voice their grievances.

Once again the Foreign Minister and I have been directed by
the President and the cabinet (Presidential Decree no. 26
dated 25 August) with the expressed support of both houses of
the parliament to establish procedures to address these
grievances and to ensure closer cooperation and better
coordination between international forces and the security
forces of the sovereign government of Afghanistan.

The cabinet has announced the Government of Afghanistan's
desire to re-examine the documents governing the status of
international forces. I hope that we can develop a
comprehensive Status of Forces Agreement which better
reflects our current situation and mutual interests. The
existing agreements were negotiated before Afghanistan had an
elected government, and when our security institutions were
on the verge of their creation. Also we must review and
revise our procedures to affect operational coordination,
especially for air-strikes in populous areas, house searches
and detentions.

The involvement of the ANSF in all phases of operations, to
include planning, execution, and post-operational assessment
and exploitation is also essential. Finally, we must create
a standing combined investigative body to pursue incidents,
allegations of misconduct and to present a united face on the
information which the investigations reveal.

We strongly believe that with good cooperation and with some
adjustments, we can continue the pursuit of our mutual
objectives. Failure to address these serious concerns damages
our prospects for success.

I therefore ask for your prompt consideration of this request.

Signed

Abdul Rahim Wardak
Minister of National Defense


End Cable Text.
VOLKER

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