Cablegate: Guidance: Remarks for Quarterly Mnf-I Brief To
DE RUEHC #0975 3191434
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141423Z NOV 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 0000
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD IMMEDIATE 0000
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE 0000
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 120975
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL UNSC MARR IZ
SUBJECT: GUIDANCE: REMARKS FOR QUARTERLY MNF-I BRIEF TO
USUN should draw from the following remarks in briefing
the UNSC on behalf of the MNF-I, November 14, 2008:
1. Begin Text: I am pleased to report to the Security Council
on behalf of the Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF-I). I would
like to begin by thanking Special Representative de Mistura
for his briefing on the important work undertaken by the
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). UNAMI's
work is critical to cementing the gains we have seen in Iraq
and I wish to extend our appreciation for their hard work and
sacrifices. We remain committed to ensuring that the United
Nations receives the support necessary for it to sustain and
expand its presence in Iraq.
This has been a year of significant achievement for which
the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people, and the
international community can take pride. Yet work remains
to be done. Progress in Iraq is fragile and reversible.
It is critical that Iraq receive the continued support and
encouragement of the international community as it faces
the next set of challenges in rebuilding its country:
legitimate and peaceful provincial, district, and national
elections in 2009; restoring essential services for its
people; humanitarian efforts to support the return of 4
million refugees and internally displaced persons;
peaceful resolution on the status of disputed internal
boundaries, most notably Kirkuk; and constitutional
Today, I would like to update you on several points of key
progress that have been achieved.
First, let me address the ongoing improvement in the
overall security situation in Iraq.
The security situation has significantly improved since
June 2007. The number of overall attacks has decreased
by 86 percent, civilian deaths due to violence have
decreased by 80 percent, Iraqi Security Force (ISF) deaths
have decreased 84 percent, U.S. military deaths in Iraq
have decreased 87 percent, coalition military deaths in
Iraq have decreased by 88 percent, and Ethno-sectarian
deaths have decreased by 95 percent. Coalition and Iraqi
Security Forces have degraded al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and
militia groups' capabilities as evidenced by the 81 percent
decrease in Improvised Explosive Device explosions and
the 72 percent decrease in suicide explosions.
A reduction in violence across northern Iraq can be
attributed in part to the removal and displacement of key
AQI leaders as a result of Iraqi-led security operations.
But some political and factional tensions still remain
that have affected the delivery of services. The
Government of Iraq, with Coalition assistance, has begun
addressing the complex underlying ethnic and religious
tensions that lead to violence by ensuring adherence to
the rule of law and by establishing reconstruction
operation centers to bring much-needed essential services
and economic investment.
Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces have maintained these
security gains even with the reduction of Coalition forces
to pre-surge levels. Joint operations, in concert with
the Awakening movement, have improved the security
situation such that, even as a number of Coalition
countries depart theater, the United States has announced
the early withdrawal of the Second Brigade of the 101st
Airborne Division from Baghdad -- bringing the number of
Brigade Combat Teams to below pre-surge levels.
On-going security operations have produced encouraging
results, with arrests of significant AQI targets in Diyala,
Mosul, and Baghdad, as well as leaders of other armed groups
in Baghdad, Basrah, Maysan, and Wasit. The Iraqi people's
increasing trust of the Iraqi Security Forces has also led to
a number of record-breaking seizures of weapons caches,
several hundred IEDs in the Mada'in area and two tons of
explosives in Ninewa.
Primarily as a result of successful operations against AQI
facilitation and support networks inside of Iraq, we are also
beginning to see a decrease in the number of foreign fighters
crossing into Iraq -roughly a fifty percent decrease compared
-- Nevertheless, we remain concerned by the flow of foreign
fighters and lethal aid into Iraq. Syria remains the primary
gateway for foreign terrorists moving into Iraq and has taken
insufficient action to combat the terrorist facilitation
networks based in Syria. Additional efforts are needed.
For all this progress, al Qaeda in Iraq remains a
significant threat, as do Iranian surrogate militants and
JAM. All retain the intent and capability of carrying out
lethal attacks against the Iraqi people, such as the
multiple bombings that occurred this week. AQI's use of
person-borne improvised explosive devices and increasing
shift toward female suicide bombers remain a particular
challenge. More broadly, Iranian efforts to interfere in the
Iraqi political process continue to frustrate reconciliation
efforts and political developments inside of Iraq. We are
uncertain that Iran is committed to a peaceful and stable
neighbor in Iraq, but more interested in exercising a veto on
the future of the Iraqi people.
In countering the continued extremist threat, the
increased capability of the Iraqi Security Forces has
substantially improved the overall security environment.
More than 601,000 personnel now serve in the ISF -- an
increase of over 21,000 personnel since our last report to
you in August.
There are now 165 Iraqi Army combat battalions conducting
operations, an increase of 4 Iraqi Army combat battalions
since our last report. Nearly 70 percent or 115 of these
Army combat battalions are assessed to be "in the lead"
The expansion of the Air Force and the Navy lags behind
that of the Army. There's nothing surprising about this
given the technical platforms that the Air Force must
acquire and learn to sustain. While the Air Force and the
Navy possess limited capabilities, comprehensive force
development strategies are being implemented.
The Air Force is now flying around 350 sorties a week and
playing an increasingly active counterinsurgency role,
flying surveillance and reconnaissance missions in support
of the Iraqi Security Forces, and providing important
logistics support with their mobility aircraft. Next
year, we expect the first precision air-to-ground attack
capability to be fielded with Cessna 208 Caravans fitted
with Hellfire missiles. The Iraqi Air Force recently
graduated its first initial entry pilots who are now
flying, and there are many more to follow.
The Navy is conducting three times as many patrols as it
did last year, with increasing amounts of boarding and
searching of vessels coming into Iraqi territorial waters
in the Northern Arabian Gulf. The Navy has just taken
delivery of the first six of 26 modern patrol craft and is
expecting the delivery of four large patrol ships from
Italy in 2009.
The recent announcement by the Government of Iraq to
purchase C-130 transport aircraft and armed reconnaissance
helicopters also marks a significant step toward
The National Police also continue to increase their
effectiveness and are now staffed at over 41,000
personnel. The police continue to stress better
ethno-sectarian balance within the force both through
recruiting and assignments.
Next, I would like to provide an update on the Coalition
In September, on the margins of the UN General Assembly,
President Talabani noted with thanks the role of those
countries that have contributed to the Coalition and NATO
Training Mission - Iraq. Currently, Coalition members
other than the United States contribute over 6,000 forces
to the Multi-National Force and some 300 personnel to
UNAMI. Since our last briefing, approximately 3,000
Coalition personnel departed theater and others will
return home soon. At the same time, continued political
and economic support by the Coalition and the
international community will remain critical to the
success of Iraqi efforts to build a stable and secure
MNF-I is continuing to progressively transfer
responsibility for security to the Government of Iraq.
This process of transitioning security responsibilities to
the ISF is increasingly being led by Iraqi officials.
Thirteen out of 18 provinces are now under provincial
Iraqi control. Anbar Province -- once a stronghold of AQI
-- transitioned on September 1st, Babil Province
transitioned on October 23rd, and Wasit Province
transitioned on October 29th. A joint coalition - Iraqi
effort is anticipated to assess conditions in and
facilitate transition of the remaining provinces: Salah
ad Din, Ta'mim, Diyala, and Ninewa within the next several
months, culminating with the planned transfer of security
authority for Baghdad in June 2009.
The improvement in security has helped to foster political
reconciliation. Since our last report, the Iraqi Council
of Representatives unanimously passed a Provincial
Elections Law that will provide for local elections in 14
of Iraq's 18 provinces early next year. The provincial
elections are a major step toward political stabilization.
Sunnis who boycotted the 2005 provincial elections will
compete for political power in the provinces that once
were the heartland of the insurgency.
UNAMI also remains deeply engaged in elections preparation.
Indeed, UNAMI's work with the Iraqi government proved critical
in achieving this Elections Law. We commend UNAMI's plans to
expand its footprint in Iraq and will dedicate ourselves to
providing assistance as necessary so that UNAMI can continue
to assist the Iraqi government with other critical issues,
such as the relocation and reintegration of Iraqi refugees and
the internally displaced. We strongly support the
construction of the proposed UN compound in Baghdad and
commend the Government of Iraq on its initial pledge of 25
million dollars so that planning for this facility may
UNAMI is heavily involved in negotiating the disputed internal
boundaries between the KRG and the Government of Iraq. It
issued a first set of recommendations in June and its next
recommendation will set the state for a resolution of Kirkuk
and the other disputed territories, a key step in creating
stability for all of Iraq.
Iraq has made significant diplomatic gains, with most of
the countries in the region normalizing their diplomatic
presence in Baghdad. Since our last report, Syria and the
Arab League have joined Iraq's other neighbors in naming
ambassadors to Iraq -- and many of these ambassadors are
now on the ground in Baghdad. Other neighbors, including
the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, have sent
high-level delegations to Baghdad. We encourage others in
the region to follow their example.
Finally, I want to highlight that negotiations continue
between the United States and the Iraqi government on our
transitioning relationship, with a goal of a strong and
strategic relationship with Iraq, which respects both
countries' sovereignty and serves both countries'
Mr. President, the report of the Secretary-General, which
is before the Security Council today, highlights the
sustainable progress that has been achieved by the Iraqi
Government, with the assistance of the United Nations and
the support of the MNF-I and Iraqi Security Forces. The
international community supports a free, democratic,
pluralistic, federal, and unified Iraq, and I call upon
all parties to renew their commitment to assist the
Government of Iraq in continuing the hard work to overcome
the many challenges that remain.
Thank you Mr. President.