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03KATHMANDU2340 2003-12-01 09:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kathmandu
Cable title:  

NEPAL: OTHER DONORS KEEPING A DISTANCE FROM US?

Tags:   PREL EAID PTER NP UK 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 KATHMANDU 002340 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA/INS
STATE PLEASE ALSO PASS USAID - ANE/SA
LONDON FOR POL - GURNEY

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/30/2013
TAGS: PREL EAID PTER NP UK
SUBJECT: NEPAL: OTHER DONORS KEEPING A DISTANCE FROM US?

REF: A. KATHMANDU 2163 (NOTAL)

B. KATHMANDU 2246 (NOTAL)

C. KATHMANDU 2266 (NOTAL)

D. KATHMANDU 2129 (NOTAL)

Classified By: AMB. MICHAEL E. MALINOWSKI. REASON: 1.5 (B,D).


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SUMMARY
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1. (C) Summary: Following the delivery of increased USG
security assistance last year, Maoist insurgents embarked on
an anti-American propaganda campaign intended, in part, to
isolate the U.S. diplomatically, discourage other donors from
collaborating with us, and to incite Chinese and Indian
concerns at U.S. "activism" in the region. Unfortunately,
some Western donors in Nepal appear to be falling for the
insurgents' propaganda by repeating some of it as factual
elements of U.S. policy. In addition, some donor missions
appear purposely to be excluding the U.S. from signing on to
several recent joint statements espousing a peaceful
resolution to the conflict and respect for human rights. Our
notable absence from the list of signatories to such
statements makes it appear that we, as the Maoists allege, do
not uphold those principles. At the same time, Maoist
rhetoric singling out our aid programs for "non-cooperation"
increase other donors' reluctance to work with us and risk
being similarly targeted. The Embassy plans to counter the
misrepresentations about our policy and positions with a more
aggressive public relations campaign and increased
information exchanges with other donor missions. End summary.



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MAOISTS MALIGNING US . . .


--------------------------





2. (U) Since the USG began increasing its security
assistance to the Government of Nepal (GON) last year, Maoist
insurgents have steadily escalated anti-American propaganda
in their public statements, on their websites and,
apparently, in their communications to their cadres in the
field. Among the most common charges are that the U.S. is
frustrating the revolutionary aspirations of the Nepalis by
propping up a feudalistic royal regime; that USG security
assistance to the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) has militarized a
formerly peaceful Nepali society and demonstrates our purusit
of a military solution to the insurgency; and that our
involvement in Nepal is a thinly veiled pretext for more
ambitious plans in the region, including the establishment of
miliatary bases and the destabilization of India and China.
A broadsheet that appeared on the Maoists' English website on
November 27, for example, alleged that "US imperialism is
using the civil war to sell weapons and earn money" and
accused the USG of hypocrisy in echoing the position of "some
European countries" urging a negotiated settlement to the
conflict while supplying the RNA with weapons and designating
the Maoists as terrorists. "This is the extreme reactionary
nature of imperialism that talks peace in words but performs
acts of terror," the statement charged.



3. (U) Recent Maoist rhetoric has unfavorably compared a
purportedly bellicose U.S. stance with a more reasonable,
accommodataive approach the insurgents portray other
multilateral and bilateral donors--most notably, the UN and
EU--as adopting. The EU in particular comes in for frequent
praise from the Maoists for its friendlier, more tolerant
attitude toward the insurgents, in contrast to the allegedly
"hostile" demeanor of the U.S. In practical terms, this has
translated into the Maoists' singling out U.S.-sponsored aid
programs for "non-cooperation" (Ref A). This message has
reportedly filtered down to cadres at the grass-roots level
(Ref C), with its most serious manifestation the November 17
threat against Peace Corps trainees in Rupandehi District
(Ref B). (American tourists, a ready source of cash for
Maoist extortionists, are apparently still welcome.)


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. . . AND SOME DONORS CHIMING IN


--------------------------





4. (SBU) While the Maoists' reasons for hoping to isolate
the U.S. diplomatically and undermine our aid programs are
obvious, some of our donor colleagues are, wittingly or
unwittingly, playing into the insurgents' strategy. Recent
press reports in both the international and local English
press quote high-minded but nonetheless anonymous "Western
donors" or "international officials" depicting USG policy
toward Nepal in terms startlingly similar to Maoist claptrap.
An article by an Australian journalist in Time Asia magazine
in September exaggerated the size and scope of U.S. military
training to the RNA--a topic briefed only to UK Embassy staff
in Kathmandu--and quoted an unnamed European diplomat as
desribing U.S. policy as "overextended" in Nepal and possibly
backing the "losing side" against the Maoists. On October 16
the UK's Guardian published another story by an anonymous
author described as "an official working with an
international development agency in Nepal," claiming that the
U.S. had adopted a more antagonistic policy against the
Maoists than the UK and suggesting that the UK was therefore
uncomfortable with being identified as our development
partner.



5. (C) On November 17 the local Kathmandu Post published an
interview with EU Charge Rudiger Wenk in which he was quoted
as characterizing U.S. policy as "more or less belligerent."
Wenk denied ever describing the U.S. in those terms and wrote
a letter to the editor the same day to clarify. He
acknowledged, however, speaking out against military support
to either side, a position he claims was endorsed by the EU
Parliament. (Comment: The EU resolution he sent to
substantiate this, however, contained no such statement. We
understand that the EU as an entity has never provided
military assistance to any country, making Wenk's contention
about the EU not providing security assistance to "either
side" more than a bit disingenuous. End comment.) Wenk has
attracted the criticism of politically conscious Nepalis and
some European embassies here for his haste in opening a
dialogue with the Maoists without clearance from either his
EU colleagues or his ambassador in New Delhi. Wenk is a
prominent exponent of the view in some European circles that
talks with the Maoists are useful even in the absence of any
evidence that the Maoists are serious about a negotiated
peace or the re-institution of multi-party democracy. While
proponents of this view do not deny the brutality of Maoist
tactics, they nonetheless regard the US designation of the
Maoists as terrorists as somehow confrontational. Corollary
views are that the Maoists are a force to be accommodated, an
understandable symptom of failings in Nepali society and
politics, a modernizing purgative, or the inevitable wave of
the future.



6. (SBU) On November 21 the English-language Nepali Times
printed an article on pressure exerted by "donor governments
led by Europeans" on the GON to restore democracy and move
toward a negotiated settlement to the conflict. The article
correctly reported the U.S.position--that military assistance
may help bring the Maoists back to negotiations but that the
conflict must ultimately be resolved politically--but said
that "other Kathmandu-based donor groups" report a different
perception of our policy. The article quoted an anonymous
donor official as saying, "The Americans think an Iraq
approach will work here. It hasn't worked in Iraq, and it
won't work here." Also on November 21 the International
Crisis Group (ICG), an NGO based in Belgium, submitted
testimony to the House Human Rights Caucus that quoted
anonymous "international officials in contact with ICG" as
asserting that the "U.S. Embassy appears to have offered at
least tacit support" for a controversial GON proposal to set
up village militias--an assertion made without attempting to
verify with us its accuracy. (In fact, we have not been
briefed by the GON on this proposal, which we believe remains
very much in the conceptual--even hypothetical--phase.
Though we are suspending judgment until we have more
information, our first inclination is to discourage such a
program at this time.) The Nepali Times parroted a condensed
version of the testimony in the local press on November 28.



--------------------------


LEFT OUT OF JOINT MISSIONS, STATEMENTS


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Besides incorrectly depicting us in their
statements as isolated from the mainstream, some donors seem,
unfortunately, to be attempting to isolate us in fact as
well. The head of a U.S.-based NGO has reported reluctance
on the part of other donors and aid agencies to cooperate
with his organization in outlying areas. Another U.S.-based
aid organization was blocked by other human rights NGOs from
participating in a fact-finding mission formed to investigate
the killings of four students at a school in Doti District
(Ref D) because of its U.S. affiliation. An effort by our
Public Diplomacy section to produce programs on U.S. aid
success stories has encountered difficulty in finding NGOs
that receive U.S. funding that are willing to be publicly
identified with the USG.



8. (SBU) Nor has the U.S. Mission been invited to sign on
to several recent joint statements issued by donors about the
conflict. On November 7 the local press carried a notice of
"Basic Operating Guidelines" for development and humanitarian
assistance signed by 10 bilateral donors (Germans, Swiss,
Canadians, British, Danes, EU, Japanese, Norwegians, Dutch,
and Finns)--every bilateral donor except the U.S. The 14
guidelines espoused such principles as respecting the dignity
of local religions, culture, and customs; promoting pro-poor,
non-partisan development; transparency; upholding human
rights and international humanitarian law; and a commitment
not to allow program equipment, supplies and facilities to be
misused, including by "armed or uniformed personnel."
British aid agency DFID officials here told us that they
intended to invite USAID to sign on to the November 7 joint
operating guidelines, but did not follow up an initial,
half-hearted attempt to contact the Mission Director (who was
out of the country at the time). Following the World Bank
Board approval of the Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC)
to Nepal, assorted donor missions and embassies in Kathmandu
issued a joint statement on November 19, calling for resumed
negotiations with the Maoists and respect for human rights,
and clarifying that their Executive Directors' approval
should not be misinterpreted as "an endorsement of the
current absence of representative democracy in Nepal." There
was no apparent effort to contact the U.S. Embassy before the
PRSC statement was issued.



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WHAT WE ARE DOING


--------------------------





9. (SBU) Since increasing our security and development
assistance to Nepal last year, we have maintained a regular
dialogue with the diplomatic and donor community here,
especially with the British, Indian, Japanese and (albeit on
a less frequent basis) Chinese, regarding our policy to
Nepal. Despite our best efforts, however, a number of
misperceptions about our policy clearly persist among other
donor agencies and the general public in Nepal. This is not
only a diplomatic liability but may also encourage the
Maoists to single out US assistance for intimidation. We
will counter these misperceptions publicly--through an
augmented PR campaign that reiterates and re-emphasizes our
leadership in supporting free and fair elections, multi-party
democracy, human rights, and a negotiated end to the
conflict. Privately, we will increase and regularize our
policy exchanges with counterparts in other embassies and
with multilateral and bilateral donors. On December 1 in a
meeting with UK Special Envoy Sir Jeffrey James, the
Ambassador made note of the failure of some of the donors,
including the UK's DFID, to seek the inclusion of the U.S. in
past statements. James responded that the exclusion was
"most unfortunate."


--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





10. (C) The Maoists have been able to conduct a nationwide
insurgency for nearly eight years in part because of their
continued success in pitting their multiple adversaries
against each other--and because of their adversaries' naivete
in falling for the ploy time and again--thereby preventing
the legal, constitutional forces from mounting a united,
well-coordinated opposition to Maoist violence. The Maoists
obviously are trying to apply this tried-and-true method to
split the international community's potential opposition to
their movement. Some of our colleagues in Kathmandu,
unfortunately, seem all too willing to be taken in. The
reasons for this may be several. Many of the foreign
missions here are strictly development agencies, rather than
full-fledged embassies, and are staffed by aid officials,
rather than seasoned diplomats, who see complex foreign
policy issues like the insurgency solely through a
development lens. For such missions, working out a modus
vivendi with the Maoists that will allow them to continue
their programs may be a greater imperative than attempting to
work out a long-term political solution to the conflict.
Other missions, or individuals within those missions, may be
venting their ire at U.S. policy in other parts of the world,
perhaps particularly on Iraq. Whatever their motivation,
these colleagues' willingness to accept the insurgents'
propaganda--and thereby isolate us further--is helping
perpetuate Maoist myths about our policy. By keeping us off
joint public statements espousing human rights and dialogue
and repeating Maoist untruths about our alleged support for a
military solution, some of these donors are helping to depict
us just as the Maoists are attempting to misrepresent us.



MALINOWSKI