Cablegate: Political and Security Situation in Helmand:

DE RUEHBUL #3030/01 3271009
O 221009Z NOV 08

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003030



EO 12958 DECL: 11/21/2018
Classified By: Ambassador William B. Wood, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) President Karzai is willing to consider a combined ISAF-ANA (with key roles for the U.S. and UK) security plan to improve stability in Helmand, but is convinced reinstating Sher Mohammad Akhunzada (SMA) as governor is the best way to achieve stability (and bring out votes in next year,s election). There is no known decision or timeline for replacing Governor Mangal with SMA. Spenzada welcomed international collaboration with Mangal to increase aid projects in Alizai areas to bolster Mangal,s tenuous position.

2. (SBU) The subject of Helmand security, Sher Mohammad Akhunzada and the role of PRTs came up in two recent meetings: an 11/18 meeting between FM Spanta and the Ambassador and an 11/17 meeting between Deputy NSA Ibrahim Spenzada and Polcouns.

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London visit: Karzai challenges UK for a Helmand security plan
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3. (C) FM Spanta confirmed that Helmand security was the top issue of Karzai,s London discussions. The exchange centered on the best means to bring Taliban-controlled areas under government control (according to the NDS, five of Helmand,s 13 districts are undr Taliban control). The UK and Afghanistan discussed a combined ISAF-ANA approach (with implicit understanding of lead roles for the U.S. and UK) and an Afghan-led solution.

4. (C) Deputy NSA Spenzada put it in starker terms -- Karzai told the British that he wanted to see their Helmand security plan. If the UK didn,t have one, he would take a &tribal solution.8 Spenzada confirmed &tribal solution8 meant reinstating Sher Mohammad Akhunzada (SMA) as Helmand governor.

5. (C) UK General Richards told Spanta the UK was prepared to offer to send 2000 additional soldiers to Helmand once Karzai requested it officially. Spanta said the London visit helped reduce misunderstandings, but he expressed disappointment in the British, contending they were not ready to fight as actively as American soldiers.

Karzai,s view on SMA and the Alizai

6. (C) Spenzada said there was no decision or timeline for reinstating SMA as Helmand Governor. He explained that Karzai sees control of the Alizai as key to improving stability in the province, and he was convinced only SMA could bring control t the Alizai. The Alizai are the majority and hold control in the troubled districts of Kajaki, Musa Qala and Sangin. Karzai believes the Alizai dominate the Barakzai, Poplazai, Ishakzai and other Helmand tribes. In Karzai,s calculation, control of the Alizai translates into control over all the weaker tribes, too.

7. (C) At a 10/31 meeting with the Ambassador, Governor Mangal disputed SMA,s monolithic control of the Alizai. Mangal pointed to his recentsuccess in installing an Alizai ally as chiefof Kajaki district. Despite SMA,s continuingefforts to undermine him, Mangal appeared upbeat about winning more Alizais to his side.

8. (C) Spenzada agreed the Alizai were split ontheir support for SMA, and that the non-Aliza tribes strongly opposed SMA,s return. Spenzada described SMA as of the problem8 and recognized that unrestcould return if Karzai reinstated him. Spenzda said he and other Karzai advisors have failed to change Karzai,s mind on reinstating SMA.

9. (C) Although unsaid by Spenzada, a key underlying factor i Karzai,s calculation is his belief that SMA can deliver Alizai votes in next year,s election. Karzai,s Helmand vote accounted for six percent of his total support in 2004.

10. (C) Spenzada characterized Governor Mangal as a good official and a good person. He encouraged the United States to continue to work through Mangal to increase aid projects
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in Alizai areas, to bolster Mangal,s political position.

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Musa Qala: Perceptions of unfulfilled promises
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11. (C) Musa Qala District sub-governor Mullah Salam has complained that the international community has failed to deliver on reconstruction pledges to Musa Qala. Spenzada also suggested the United States do better. He suggested we bear in mind the promise/deliver problems from Musa Qala as we examine our plans for assistance to the Alizai.

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Karzai comments on PRTs undermining local governance
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12. (SBU) On November 16, Karzai stated at a press conference that PRTs were weakening the government by controlling resources, implementing projects and making arrests. Spenzada explained that Karzai believed the local people were going directly to PRTs for resource requests, and undermining the authority of local officials. Polcouns informed Spenzada that PRTs make an extra effort to redirect requests to local authorities, collaborate confidentially on those requests, and then turn to local authorities to inform the public on those decisions. Spenzada promised to pass along this information to Karzai.

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