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Cablegate: Ambassador and General Ward Meet with Malian

VZCZCXRO4337
OO RUEHPA
DE RUEHBP #0776/01 3351639
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 011639Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAMAKO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0930
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 0698
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY PRIORITY 0341
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 0296
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0526
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BAMAKO 000776

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2019
TAGS: ASEC ML PGOV PINR PREL PTER
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND GENERAL WARD MEET WITH MALIAN
PRESIDENT AMADOU TOUMANI TOURE

REF: A. A. BAMAKO 754
B. B. 2008 BAMAKO 217

Classified By: Ambassador Gillian Milovanovic, Embassy Bamako, for reas
ons 1.4 (b) (d).

SUMMARY

1. (S) On November 27 the Ambassador and Commander of the
U.S. Africa Command, General William E. ("Kip") Ward, met
with Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT) to discuss
security in Northern Mali. ATT reiterated his commitment to
take action against Al Q'Aida in the Lands of the Islamic
Maghreb, now possibly in January. General Ward encouraged
the President to follow through with convening the Bamako
Summit. ATT indicated he plans to travel to Algiers to meet
with Algerian President Bouteflika to set the date ,
demonstrate his commitment and gain his support. ATT and
General Ward agreed that, with or without regional
cooperation, Mali has no choice but to move forward in
confronting terrorist and criminal elements in the North.

THANKS FOR SUPPORT WITH HARD LANDING

2. (S) On November 27 the Ambassador and U.S. Africa
Command General William E. ("Kip") Ward met with Malian
President Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT). The Ambassador and
General Ward were accompanied by Foreign Policy Advisor Dr.
Raymond L. Brown and AFRICOM Public Affairs Director Colonel
Frank Childress. ATT was accompanied by Minister of Defense
Natie Pleah, Secretary General to the PresidencyDiango
Cissoko, and Chief of Defense Poudiougou. General Ward
thanked the President for Mali's support in the recent hard
landing of a plane carrying U.S. military personnel
approximately 65 miles outside of Bamako. ATT reiterated ref
A comments that it was only natural Mali should help, since
after all he knew the United States was coming to help Mali.

PROGRESS AND CONCERNS IN NORTHERN MALI
3. (S) ATT said that since General Ward's last visit (ref
B) the Tuareg rebellion had been brought to an end. Even the
head of the most recent rebellion has sent a message of
peace, and ten or so of the former rebels, "since they like
to fight so much" are being sent off to support the African
Union Mission in Somalia (see IIR 6 958 0021 10). ATT said
he had concerns about the Salafists, another term for Al
Q'Aida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). While the
Salafists have had difficulty getting their message across to
a generally reluctant population, they have had some success
in enlisting disaffected youth to their ranks. He said the
Malian Army is at a turning point, with the older generation
in the military giving way to a younger, less experienced
one. In this regard, he thanked General Ward for the
training the United States is providing to the recently
created Echelons Tactiques Inter-Arme (ETIAs).

NEED FOR MORE REGIONAL COOPERATION

4. (S) ATT lamented that regional cooperation appears to
be stalled. Mauritanian President Aziz is a soldier who
understands the situation. He has put the recent political
troubles behind him and is working well with Mali. Niger has
always been a good partner. Although the country has its own
Tuareg rebellion problem and is focused on a domestic
political crisis, Niger continues to work well together with
Mali. Military cooperation with Algeria is the problem. ATT
said the Algerians think we do not do anything, and they are
not totally wrong, but we need Algeria's help in terms of air
support. It is not just a matter of destroying a couple of
AQIM bases, we have to be able to hold the territory. The
longer the situation drags on, the stronger the Salafists
will get.

5. (S) ATT directly linked revenues from drug trafficking
to terrorism. He said the Boeing 727 which had been set fire
near Tarkint, in Northern Mali after it got stuck in the sand
on or about October 30 may have been carrying drugs. Mali
is cooperating with friendly countries to try to gain
information about the nature of the flight and has lodged
complaints about the violation of its air space with Interpol
and with the UN Office of Drugs and Crime. ATT said security
will be easier to achieve with three or four countries

BAMAKO 00000776 002 OF 003


working together rather than alone. If the other countries
cannot agree, then of course we have to do it ourselves, he
said.

UNITED STATES COMMITTED TO HELP

6. (S) General Ward thanked the President for catching him
up on the situation. He said he is happy to hear of the
President's continued commitment to fighting terrorism. If
the government of Mali is unable to gain better control over
under-governed territory, it will continue to give free reign
to arms and drug traffickers and terrorists, frustrating
legitimate development efforts. General Ward said that, with
Ambassador Milovanovic, we are paying close attention to how
we can increase the capacity of the Malian Army to eliminate
the threat posed. The United States is looking to ensure a
continuum of training and maintenance capacity building.
Keeping trained units together and using the equipment
provided in a sustainable manner will help Mali achieve its
goals.

7. (S) General Ward said he shares ATT's analysis that the
bad guys do not respect borders and that Mali needs regional
cooperation. Having just come from Algeria, General Ward
said he had made the same point to Algerian President
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as well as to the Algerian Ministers of
Foreign Affairs and Defense, and to the Chief of Defense:
all agreed to the need for regional cooperation. General
Ward said he would be looking for signs of increased
cooperation on the ground.

8. (S) The USG supports the implementation and follow-on
to the meeting of Chiefs of Defense in Tamanrassett, Algeria
as well as the heads of state meeting in Bamako. General
Ward said he hopes the joint operations center discussed in
Tamanrassett will become a reality soon, and will be able to
support operations in the North of Mali. Once the operations
center becomes a reality, the USG stands ready to assist with
training and equipment if asked, as well as providing
transparent updates on U.S. security engagement with regional
partners. General Ward said he was very impressed by ATT's
statement that, whether or not the neighbors get involved in
a constructive manner, he would be taking responsibility for
security in the North. "When that step is taken, no one will
be able to say you have not done anything."

MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER

9. (S) The President said he shares General Ward's views.
He noted the frank and excellent working relationship he has
with Ambassador Milovanovic, noting wryly that he is
sometimes embarrassed by, but always appreciates, her
directness. Returning to security questions, he described
his childhood memory of "the dance of death" from the village
in which he grew up: If you dance too far ahead, you die; if
you dance too far behind, you die; if you do not dance at
all, you die. That is the way it is in the fight against the
Salafists, he said. We have no choice but to move ahead
together.

10. (S) Chief of Defense General Gabriel Poudiougou
mentioned that the Algerian Special Forces Commander had just
left Bamako November 26 after a two day visit in which he
worked with his Malian counterparts to establish a
transmission network and a better cooperative working
arrangement on the ground. Colonel Amadou Gueye, in charge
of military cooperation at the MOD, said that a mixed
committee for joint military cooperation has been set up, and
the fourth meeting is scheduled for December 15 in Tessalit,
Mali. It is to be attended by an Algerian General. ATT said
he is planning a trip to Algiers to ask Bouteflika for air
support, shortly after the Tessalit meeting.

ATT THOUGHTS ON ALGERIA

11. (S) ATT then asked the Ambassador and General Ward if
he could speak to them privately. In that meeting, he
mentioned that he had gone to see Libyan leader Muammar
al-Qadhafi and, contrary to the view of some, he is the most
interested of all in a head of state summit in Bamako. ATT
said that, after Tabaski (November 28), he will be going to
see President Bouteflika and sending Malian Foreign Minister

BAMAKO 00000776 003 OF 003


Moctar Ouane to the other countries to find a date for the
summit.

12. (S) ATT said he believes Bouteflika and the Algerian
leadership genuinely want to cooperate, although they have
real doubts about Mali's resolve. His visit is intended
inter alia to dispel these doubts. ATT said he thinks
Algeria's intelligence services and army are holding up
cooperation, and believes the Algerian army is infiltrated
with Salafists. He is nevertheless pleased with the improved
cooperation with Algeria, and said a lot is riding on
concrete outcomes of the December 15 meeting in Tessalit. He
wants the heads of state summit to take place first, and then
to be prepared to start operations within a week or so. This
implies that the cooperation already has to be working, in
advance of the summit.

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15. (S) General Ward said the United States will continue
to support Mali's efforts with training and equipment. He
pledged to follow up with the Algerians, telling them how
important the next delegation meeting is, and conveying ATT's
commitment.

16. (U) General Ward cleared this message.

MILOVANOVIC

MILOVANOVIC

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