181216 12/3/2008 15:47 08BAGHDAD3794 Embassy Baghdad SECRET VZCZCXRO7603 OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK DE RUEHGB #3794/01 3381547 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 031547Z DEC 08 FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD TO RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC// IMMEDIATE RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0674 INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST IMMEDIATE 0038 RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 0072 RUEHSN/AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR IMMEDIATE 0018 RUEHTL/AMEMBASSY TALLINN IMMEDIATE 0012 S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003794
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2018 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MARR, MOPS, IZ, ES, RO, AS, EN SUBJECT: STATUS OF COALITION PARTNERS IN IRAQ; RECOMMENDED DEMARCHE FOR AUSTRALIA
Classified By: Pol-Mil Minister-Counselor Michael H. Corbin for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
1. (S) This is an action request, see paragraph 11.
2. (S) Summary: As the GOI moves beyond the process of gaining agreement for the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, it is focusing on the terms for the continued presence of four Coalition partners (Australia, Romania, El Salvador and Estonia) beyond December 31. (The British are engaging with the GOI at the highest level and have made significant progress on a mechanism to permit them to stay in Iraq.) Regarding the other four, the GOI made clear its conditions for agreement: 1) that the Government will not present any more security agreements to the Council of Representatives (COR) and 2) that the forces of the four must conduct non-combat missions. The GOI is pressing for the simplest exchange of letters or diplomatic notes or signed MOUs to permit continued operations.
3. (S) Summary Continued: An Estonian parliamentary delegation recently visited Iraq and an MOD official remained behind to continue discussions with us and the GOI. The Salvadoran Defense Minister and team will be in Iraq December 5. The Australians have a high-level team in Baghdad and are working with the GOI but to date remain convinced that they need an agreement ratified by the COR. Given the importance of the 42 Australian staff officers to MNF-I operations in Iraq, we request the Department consider sending an urgent demarche to Canberra pressing the GOA to look for a mechanism short of COR ratification to allow the continued presence of its military officers. Additionally, NATO is proceeding to formalize the GOI's strong interest in the continuation of NATO Training Mission Iraq (NTM-I) and will renew an exchange of letters with the GOI, citing the U.S. Security Agreement in lieu of the UNSCR. End Summary.
4. (S) Following the adoption by the COR of the U.S. Security Agreement, the GOI has clearly stated its conditions for the continued presence of the remaining four Coalition partners (Australia, Romania, El Salvador and Estonia). The PM has made it absolutely clear in discussions with the Ambassador and MNF-I CG Odierno that it will not support any further agreements which require COR ratification. The GOI has also reiterated that the continued presence of these Coalition forces will be in a "non-combat" assistance capacity. The British are conducting high-level discussions with the GOI to provide protection and conduct specific combat missions.
5. (S) Instead of engaging in another campaign with the various political factions in the COR, PM Nouri al-Maliki has said he strongly prefers an exchange of diplomatic notes or a memorandum of understanding (MOU) referencing provisions in the U.S. Security Agreement.
6. (S) Post has met repeatedly and at various levels with the Australians concerning a suitable agreement. The GOA remains convinced that in order for any such agreement to be binding, it must be ratified by the COR. The Australians have 42 staff officers embedded within the Multi-National Forces Iraq (MNF-I) in key positions. Additionally, the Australians participate in TF158 operating in Iraqi waters to protect Iraq's oil installations. The Australians understand the complexity of including combat forces (TF158) in their Qcomplexity of including combat forces (TF158) in their agreement and may be willing to drop this in order to focus on the non-combat embedded officers.
7. (S) Given the clear position of PM al-Maliki and the importance of the Australians to MNF-I, we recommend the Department consider sending an urgent demarche to Canberra recommending that the GOA consider an exchange of diplomatic notes with the GOI, referencing provisions in the U.S. Security Agreement. We also recommend that Australia agree to limit its agreement to the 42 embedded staff officers currently serving with MNF-I (See proposed points in paragraph 11).
8. (S) Mati Raidma, Chairman of the National Defense Council of the Estonian Parliament, led a visit by Estonian Parliament Members to Baghdad last week, accompanied by MOD officials, to participate in discussions with the GOI on Estonia's continued presence in Iraq. One MOD official remained behind to follow up on these talks. Post met with the Estonian delegation and advised they pursue an exchange of diplomatic notes with the GOI, also reiterating that Estonia's continued presence would be in a non-combat
BAGHDAD 00003794 002 OF 002
assistance capacity. The Estonian Members were clear on this matter and in a meeting with the Iraqi Minister of Defense on November 27, did not raise the issue of Estonian forces conducting combat operations. We linked the Estonians with the Australians to facilitate their understanding of the negotiating process, while focusing on an exchange of diplomatic notes rather than COR ratification. The Salvadoran MOD will visit Iraq on December 5, at which time Post will advise the same course of action.
9. (S) As for Romania, its Embassy is engaged on this matter and we are supporting their efforts. Post has advised Romania to consider a similar approach to Estonia through an exchange of diplomatic notes, referencing provisions in the U.S. Security Agreement.
10. (S) NTM-I was invited by PM al-Maliki on January 29 to remain in Iraq until the end of 2009. NTM-I's current legal status is derived from an exchange of letters between NATO and the GOI, referencing the UNSCR. NATO has approved a draft exchange of letters and NATO Assistant Secretary General for Operations Martin Howard will travel to Baghdad next week to negotiate the exchange of letters.
11. (S) Post recommends that the Department consider instructing our Embassy in Canberra to urgently demarche the GOA to suggest strongly that the GOA consider an exchange of diplomatic notes or other legal mechanism that does not require action by the COR, referencing provisions in the U.S. security agreement. Post suggests that the demarche be based on the following points:
- Now that the U.S. has concluded its complex negotiations with the GOI for a bilateral security agreement, the GOI is focused on negotiating Coalition security agreements.
- The U.S. strongly supports the presence of Australian staff officers in MNF-I beyond January 1, 2009 and Australia's other significant contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- The GOI has made it clear that Australia's continued presence will be in a non-combat assistance capacity.
- PM al-Maliki has stated that he will not present any other bilateral security agreements to the COR.
- Canberra should strongly consider an exchange of diplomatic notes or a MOU with the GOI, referencing provisions in the U.S. Security Agreement with Iraq in order to establish a basis for the continued presence of Australian officers in Iraq.
AS APPROPRIATE IF THIS REMAINS AN ISSUE: We understand that the GOA wishes to include its combat forces in TF158 in its bilateral agreement. We recommend that this be addressed separately given PM al-Maliki's position against combat forces and that the GOA focus on a security agreement covering the Australian staff officers embedded with MNF-I only. CROCKER