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Cablegate: Goa Reply to Demarche On Way Forward with Iraq

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBY #1231/01 3400756
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 050756Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY CANBERRA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0626
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD IMMEDIATE 0322
RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST IMMEDIATE 0293
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 1932
RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR IMMEDIATE 0223
RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN IMMEDIATE 0043

S E C R E T CANBERRA 001231

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/ANP,NEA/I,S/I

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR MOPS IZ ES RO AS EN
SUBJECT: GOA REPLY TO DEMARCHE ON WAY FORWARD WITH IRAQ

REF: A. BAGHDAD 03794
B. STATE 126109
C. STATE 128040

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR JAMES F. COLE FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND
D

Summary:
--------
1. (S) The Australian government, while pessimistic about
achieving a legally binding SOFA with Iraq, is actively
exploring options for the continued employment of imbedded
Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel serving in MNF-I,
particularly those whose missions keep them within the
confines of coalition bases. The Government of Australia
(GOA) is constrained by Iraq's Prime Minister's fatigue with
the legislative process and by the GOA's own insistence that
any agreement have treaty status. Furthermore, PM Maliki's
negotiating team is being overwhelmed by similar requests
from five of the nations of the coalition. End Summary

2. (S) Poloff and DATT delivered the demarche of December 4
on the way forward for the GOA's negotiations with the
Government of Iraq (GOI) (ref C) to Department of Foreign
Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and Department of Defence
counterparts. They reported the GOA's negotiating team in
Baghdad, led by Australian Department of Defence (ADOD) First
Assistant Secretary for International Policy Simeon Gilding,
is actively looking for alternative ways to forge an
agreement with the Iraqis. They are presently crafting a
proposal around Article 16 of a 1979 Iraqi law on treaties.
The Iraqis have questioned the sufficiency of this law to
provide the level of protection that the Australians require.
Australia's legal specialists in Baghdad are actively
consulting their American and British counterparts in
addition to Iraqi experts.

3. (S) The Australians want a treaty-level agreement with the
Iraqis in order to insure that their troops are provided the
same legal protection as their American colleagues. Contacts
in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), ADOD
and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have
told emboffs that PM Maliki pushed back on the GOA request
for an agreement with treaty status, asking the Australians
why they didn't jointly negotiate an agreement with the
Americans. They also have concluded that the Iraqi Prime
Minister does not have the stomach to present any further
bilateral agreements to the Council of Representatives this
year.

4. (S) The Australians expressed to us their concern that
attempting to reach an agreement with Iraq is hampered by the
limited manpower and logistics of the Iraqi negotiating team
headed by Dr. Fadhel, Prime Minister Malaki's chief legal
advisor. These constrain his ability to conduct simultaneous
negotiations with Australians, British, Romanian, El
Salvadoran, and Estonian delegations. This problem will be
difficult to overcome regardless of whether the desired
result would be a treaty or an MOU. There is, therefore, a
need to craft a way forward that can be used in every case or
there will probably not be any progress. However, see below
concerning the special situation that the UK faces.

5. (S) DFAT Iraqi Director Lloyd Brodrick told us the
National Security Committee of Cabinet will take up this
issue by Tuesday, December 9 (Monday, December 8, Washington
time.)

6. (S) Australian Brigadier Andrew Nikolic at the Department
of Defense, told the DATT that Admiral Mullen, Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in communication with the
Qthe Joint Chiefs of Staff, is in communication with the
Australians on this issue.

7. (S) The DATT also learned from the British military
attach in Canberra that the Australian Chief of the Defense
Force (CDF), Angus Houston, has ongoing discussions with the
British Chief of the Defense Staff (CDS), Sir Jock Stirrup.

8. (S) Separately, Embassy Pol/Officer has delivered the
general points of the U.S. Government's Strategic Framework
Agreement with Iraq as well as the Security Agreement that
were approved by the Iraqi parliament on Nov 27 to the
Government of Australia (GOA) (ref B).

Comment:
-------
9. (S) It would be relatively easier for the GOA to redeploy
its forces from Iraq at short notice because of their limited
number, compared with the British, whose force levels would
make quick movement unwieldy. Therefore, the British
negotiators will be feeling far more urgency to finalize an
agreement, however inadequate, than will the Australians. A
British solution to the dilemma may not be acceptable to the
Australians, however, because the UK appears willing to
accept a lower level of protections for its forces, according
to the GOA. End Comment
MCCALLUM

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