184668 12/23/2008 22:17 08SANSALVADOR1402 Embassy San Salvador CONFIDENTIAL 08BAGHDAD4019 R 232217Z DEC 08 FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR TO AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD NSC WASHINGTON DC SECSTATE WASHDC 0502 SECDEF WASHDC INFO AMEMBASSY TALLINN AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST AMEMBASSY CANBERRA AMEMBASSY LONDON USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 001402
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/23/2018 TAGS: MARR, PGOV, PREL, IZ, ES SUBJECT: SALVADORANS WITHDRAWING FROM IRAQ
REF: BAGHDAD 4019
Classified By: Ambassador Charles L. Glazer; Reasons 1.4 (b/d)
1. (U) President Saca announced mid-day December 23 that the Salvadoran deployment to Iraq would end on December 31, based on the fact that UN Security Council Resolution 1790 would expire on that same day. Legislative approval of Salvadoran military participation, he said, was pegged to the UNSC Resolution. Earlier in the day the Salvadoran Minister of Defense sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense saying that the GOES would be withdrawing from Iraq, essentially previewing President Saca's announcement.
2. (C) Ambassador and Defense Representatives had been in close touch with the GOES Presidency, Foreign and Defense Ministries over the past few days, urging them to wait for the Iraqi parliament to pass the legislation covering the presence of non-U.S. foreign troops. The GOES reaction to the draft of this legislation provided something of a preview of their decision to withdraw. They did not like that the text started with language saying when they had to leave, and could find nowhere in the text any statement of recognition or appreciation of the Salvadoran contribution or sacrifices to date, including five combat deaths.
3. (C) COMMENT: The Salvadoran public announcement went the high road and emphasized the accomplishment of concrete missions in their area of operations in Iraq. We interpret their decision as fitting into more of a political than an operational context: They earned considerable good will with the USG and with President Bush personally, and were not clear that there would be any carry-over to the next USG administration. In the local political context the deployment was never popular; announcing a withdrawal at Christmas-time will probably boost President Saca's personal popularity ratings. On the other hand, Embassy does not believe that there will be any benefit to the presidential candidate of the ruling (ARENA) party, in the sense that Iraq or foreign policy have not been significant issues in the campaign.