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Cablegate: Elections, Kandahar and Karzai

VZCZCXRO0895
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0672/01 0541305
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 231305Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5817
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KABUL 000672

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM, INR/B
STATE PASS USAID FOR ASIA/SCAA
USFOR-A FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2020
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KCOR PREL MOPS CAN AF PK
SUBJECT: ELECTIONS, KANDAHAR AND KARZAI

Classified By: Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d)

1. (C) Begin Summary. In a frank discussion, Canadian
Ambassador Crosbie explained to Ambassador Eikenberry that
getting the electoral process right is a bottom-line position
for Canada, and said we must be prepared for confrontation
with Karzai on this issue, or risk losing credibility among
our own population if we go along with a rigged election.
While accepting the need to seek electoral reform Ambassador
Eikenberry cautioned that despite private statements, Afghans
will not support a dominant international role, and that if
we dig ourselves deeper into Afghan politics, we'll entrench
ourselves deeper into the country with fewer options. They
also agreed that it would make sense to restructure the
reporting relationship of the Kandahar PRT to have it report
directly to Regional Command-South rather than the
Canadian-led Task Force Kandahar to ensure coherence and
integration of all civilians in Kandahar. They agreed that
the jury is still out on whether current coalition efforts in
the South will work, but if Karzai becomes more confident and
the government has the space to focus on sustainable national
governance, there will be progress. End Summary.

Electoral Reform
----------------

2. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry and Canadian Ambassador Bill
Crosbie shared a frank exchange of views during a breakfast
meeting at the U.S. Embassy on February 20. Ambassador
Crosbie said that Canada is very concerned about the
electoral reform process. He said they had not seen the copy
of the final decree submitted to the Parliament on electoral
reforms. Ambassador Eikenberry explained the key issues:
conflicting Constitutional process issues (no action allowed
the year of an election but requirement to act on emergency
decrees within 30 days); the lack of a specific mention of an
ISAF or coalition role in the vetting process; and the
proposed formula of two of five ECC members being
internationals appointed by UNAMA (either South African
judge, Bangladeshi expert or Palestinian expert are the
likely choices).

3. (C) Ambassador Crosbie told the Ambassador that getting
this right is a bottom line issue for the Canadians. He was
emotional, saying the issue makes my blood boil, as he
described the Canadian view that the international community
must stand up for the silent majority or be blamed for
letting Karzai and his family establish across the country
the system of patronage and control that exists in Kandahar.
We must be prepared for confrontation with Karzai on this
issue, he said, or risk losing credibility among our own
population if we go along with a rigged election. He argued
that a new generation of Afghans is working to run for
Parliament and they are watching to see if the electoral
changes will happen. We can't be seen to collude with it,
he said. He argued that we need to give the Afghans looking
to make a difference space to speak out and be able to turn
the course of their country.

4. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry questioned Canada's assessment,
noting that Afghans will not stand up publicly to support a
dominant international role in their election process,
regardless of what might be said privately. The reality, he
said, is that leaders like Abdullah and Mirwais Yasini are
not interested in reform but rather their own political
interests and alliances in Parliament. He cautioned that if
we dig ourselves deeper into Afghan politics, we'll entrench
ourselves deeper into the country with fewer options. We
need to focus on what is good enough while still supporting
key institutions.

5. (C) Crosbie conceded these points, but said we cannot go
backwards in terms of the last election. Ambassador
Eikenberry agreed, noting that having less
Coalition/international ownership of the election is also a
measure of progress. We need to focus, he said, on strategic
options rather than being mired in Afghan politics. For
example, increasing the competence and level of the ANA and
ANP are clear priorities, and we must avoid losing the coming
spring and summer mired in election reform issues.
Ambassador Crosbie did not dispute this, but said that for
Canada a red-line has to be ensuring improvements over the
last election.

Kandahar
--------

6. (C) Crosbie said we need to have a discussion in Kabul to
complement work in Kandahar by the Canadians, the NATO ISAF

KABUL 00000672 002 OF 003


RC-South Commander, and the Senior Civilian Representative
for the South. He said we need to get discussion organized
for addressing power brokers (Note: A discussion was started
during a meeting held at the Canadian Embassy two weeks ago
attended by Ambassador Wayne, the UK, Netherlands, Australia,
and the NATO ISAF IJC. End Note.). The strategy, he said,
must address how we manage malign actors and improve the
management of contracts.

7. (C) They also discussed the proposals to realign the
reporting structures of the Canadian-led PRT in Kandahar.
Crosbie said that Canada is willing to be integrated into a
new organization and won't stand on form. He agreed with the
objective to bring coherence and integration of all civilians
in Kandahar. While he has not talked yet to Ottawa about
these issues, he believes that the following changes will be
acceptable: 1) Canada will continue to lead the PRT, with the
U.S. serving in the Deputy role (co-leads don't work, he
said); 2) the PRT will report to RC-South as opposed to Task
Force Kandahar; 3) civilians will report up the civilian
chain, which they view at the RC-South level as the U.S.
Senior Civilian Representative Frank Ruggiero -- he proposed
dual-hatting Ruggiero to be both a U.S. and ISAF SCR; 4) the
Representative of Canada in Kandahar (RoCK) and the PRT head
should be me
Ambassador to Argentina will be the next senior Canadian and
will be based at the PRT; and 5) Canada will place more
civilians at the PRT to enhance integration, but he
understands that the U.S. will lead the effort in certain
areas/districts where U.S. resources are focused.

8. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry said he too was flexible on how
to reorganize and believed that we have reasonable structures
in the South and East. He also strongly endorsed the concept
of RC-West and RC-North adopting the same model. While we're
putting a lot of resources in the South and East, he said,
the system needs to work regardless of whether there is an
American flag. It's a mistake for NATO to see the Afghan
issues only through the prism of the military; the SCR
structures need to be enhanced. Ideally, the Spanish and
Italians would create a regional SCR in the West, and the
Scandinavians and Germans would create one in the North. He
also encouraged Crosbie to consider placing Canadian
civilians at Regional Platform-South. SCR Ruggiero would mix
them into his staff, he said, which would ensure greater
coordination. Crosbie promised to review this and thought it
probably made sense. He also noted that additional Canadians
will go to Kandahar in March to support the civ-mil planning
activity underway for governance and development in the wake
of the upcoming military operations in Kandahar.

Strategy in the South and Impact on Overall Effort
--------------------------------------------- -----

9. (C) Crosbie said that Canada is comfortable with the
overall strategy in Kandahar, which envisions additional
pressure and activity in Kandahar in April-May. He said the
police mentoring by U.S. Army Military Police and Canadian
police, who live and work with the ANP in their district
police stations, has proved effective. This effort is
contributing to the sense of Afghan authority expanding in
the city, he said, although he noted that it is proving
difficult in Dand district where there are continued IEDs and
security issues. Still, there's a sense we're on the right
path, he said.

10. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry noted that the efforts in
Helmand and the troop surge generally are intended to reverse
the malaise and enhance the confidence of the Afghan leaders.
He recounted a recent meeting with Abdullah Abdullah in
which he described his perceptions of better security from a
year ago. The operation in Helmand, Abdullah said, is not
yet getting the national effects but it could when the ANA
and ANP officers return to their homes and share accounts of
their operations. Similarly, Abdullah said that the
security in Kunduz is much better than six months ago. The
jury is still out on whether current coalition efforts will
work, but if Karzai becomes more confident and the government
has the space to focus on sustainable national governance,
there will be progress. A key problem, though, is the
limited human capacity in most ministries and at the
provincial and district level, Ambassador Eikenberry said.
He noted the Embassy is working on a cable to better outline
the limits of Afghan (and even U.S.) capacity to accomplish
the strategies we have laid out. For example, the Minister
of Agriculture is really only about one-two staff deep and he
relies heavily on foreign advisors.

11. (C) Crosbie agreed, citing the example of ANP literacy.

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We're never going to make them literate but can make them
literate enough. He cited two examples of progress: 1) in
Kandahar, some police are starting to at least be able to
read license plates when investigating cases; and 2) in a
recent customs officer training, the officers at least
acknowledged corruption exists and that it's wrong, which he
said is not the case in many third world countries. Crosbie
said that we'll win when the Afghans have confidence they can
run this country, but we can't get too dug into supporting
Karzai; it's critical we build support for others. Crosbie
said he has a sinking feeling whether Karzai is actually in
control, or whether it's his brothers and other advisers who
are running him.

12. (C) Ambassador Eikenberry agreed and said that while we
support efforts to press him to be a more visible Commander
and Chief and push him to get outside of the Palace, we need
to avoid self-delusion that he is really stepping up to lead
the country and embrace mutual strategic goals until he
clearly does so of his own volition. As the meeting ended,
Crosbie mentioned the former ANA senior command and former
Kandahar Governor General Raufi (Note: He served as Governor
from August 2008 - December 2008 before being sacked
reportedly for taking on Karzai's half brother and Kandahar
powerbroker Ahmed Wali Karzai (AWK)) and noted that he would
be a good person to use in a position of interest.
Ambassador Eikenberry said he knew him and agreed he could
contribute in a positive way.
RICCIARDONE

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