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Cablegate: Ambassador Discusses Strategy Roll-Out With

VZCZCXRO9172
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #3910/01 3410924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070924Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3799
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003910

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES STRATEGY ROLL-OUT WITH
RELIGIOUS COUNCIL LEADERS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Ambassador Mussomeli met with Ulema
Council President Shinwari on December 3 to discuss
President Obama's December 1 speech and to address any
questions Shinwari might raise regarding the President's
policy. Shinwari said the President's speech was good and
the Ulema Council supported the President's strategy as
outlined in his speech. Shinwari also pled for U.S.
assistance to help resolve Afghan-Pakistan tensions and
encourage Taliban reconciliation. END SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Ulema Council - "We Support the U.S. Strategy Here"
--------------------------------------------- ------

2. (SBU) Ambassador Mussomeli met with Shinwari and four
other Ulema Council members in Shinwari's office to amplify
and respond to questions regarding the roll-out of our
strategy for Afghanistan. (NOTE: the ULEMA Council advises
President Karzai on Sunni religious matters and has 3,000
members nationwide. END NOTE). Shinwari warmly greeted the
Ambassador and, when the Ambassador mentioned
President Obama's speech, produced a Dari version.
Shinwari informed the Ambassador that he and his fellow
Council members had discussed the President's speech, and
agreed with his message and strategy. Shinwari noted that
the
Ulema Council's Sunni religious leaders scattered
across Afghanistan consistently resisted Taliban demands
that the Council declare Karzai's election illegitimate and
that they call the Afghan government a puppet of the United
States. This resistance had come at a cost, he noted,
sharing that 36 Council members have been killed by the
Taliban.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador expressed sympathy to Shinwari
over the deaths of his fellow Council members, deaths
caused for speaking the truth. He voiced appreciation for
their willingness to tolerate the presence of foreign
troops for so many years. Ambassador shared conversations he
had held with Cambodians while serving there, noting that the
one thing Cambodians have never forgiven us for was leaving
them
in 1975 which set the stage for the ensuing holocaust
engineered by
the Khmer Rouge. The Ambassador said that the United States
would
not make a similar mistake here. He added that we are aware
that
we had neglected Afghanistan after the Soviets departed and
that
it was unfortunate again when U.S. attention shifted away
from
Afghanistan to Iraq. Ambassador Mussomeli assured Shinwari
that we
were now committed to Afghanistan for the longterm.

--------------------------------------------- ---
"Help us Solve Our Corruption, Pakistan Problems"
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) Shinwari then shifted to the topic of
Afghan-Pakistan tensions, saying that without U.S. help,
the issue would never be resolved. He pointed to Pakistan's
ISI as
the principal architect of the problems between the two
countries.
The Ambassador pointed out that President Obama had promised
in his
speech to increase support to Pakistan and that the United
States would be firmer with Pakistan in the future.

5. (SBU) Turning to corruption, Shinwari told the
Ambassador that Afghans sought our help in fighting
corruption. He noted that corruption is a problem
involving both the Karzai administration and Americans and
that we should jointly confront all corrupt actors,
regardless of nationality. The Ambassador told Shinwari that
in the
United States approximately 600 U.S. government officials
are prosecuted for corrupt practices every year. "That's the
point", responded Shinwari, "We want to see the same here!"

--------------------------------------
"Taliban Reconciliation is Important"
--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Shinwari next emphasized the need for
reconciliation with the Taliban. He recounted his recent
trip to Kunar Province where he had asked local leaders who

KABUL 00003910 002 OF 002


was fighting for the insurgency in that area. He was told
that the fighters were Wahhabis (implying those engaged in
combat operations were foreign fighters and not Afghans)
paid by Pakistan's ISI. Ambassador acknowledged
that insurgents took up arms for a variety of reasons and
agreed reconciliation was possible with many in the
insurgency.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Ulema Council President Shinwari was
very receptive to our message in the meeting, repeating
several times that the Ulema Council agreed with Obama's
speech and supported our strategy. The Ulema Council's
role as arbiters of religious matters gives the Council an
important role in national discourse. Further, its network
of members throughout Afghanistan ensures that their
positions on issues are widely disseminated. We believe
that the warm reception Shinwari gave us will pay future
dividends as
we continue to roll out our message on the U.S. strategy to
decision
makers in Afghanistan.
RICCIARDONE

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