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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BAGHDAD2930 2007-09-01 13:12:00 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

MALIKI PREDICTS IMPROVED SECURITY CONDITIONS

Tags:   MARR MOPS MCAP PGOV PTER PINS PNAT IZ 
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VZCZCXRO6433
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2930/01 2441312
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 011312Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3138
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002930 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2017
TAGS: MARR MOPS MCAP PGOV PTER PINS PNAT IZ
SUBJECT: MALIKI PREDICTS IMPROVED SECURITY CONDITIONS


Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (S) SUMMARY: An optimistic Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
predicted improved security conditions in Iraq due to Moqtada
al-Sadr,s pledge to stand down his Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM)
militia and to very positive signals from his trips to Iran
and Syria where he claimed to secure agreements to stop
insurgent infiltration and weapons smuggling. Both he and
General Petraeus described the most recent Karbala violence
as a difficult test for the new Iraqi Security Forces (ISF),
but one which was successfully passed. Maliki also lamented
the continued delays in getting Kuwaiti diesel fuel moving
towards Iraqi electric generators. END SUMMARY.



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


Reasons for Optimism


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





2. (S) At their weekly security meeting on August 30, an
optimistic Prime Minister Maliki told MNF-I Commanding
General Petraeus and Deputy Chief of Mission Patricia Butenis
that following the assassinations in the past two weeks of
the provincial governors in Diwaniyah and Muthanna, the
security situation has actually become more promising for
several important reasons: Moqtada al-Sadr has pledged a
six-month cease-fire by his JAM militias, Saudi Arabia plans
to re-establish their Baghdad embassy, Iran is willing to
change direction regarding security, and Syria has also
reached out to improve their bilateral security relationship.
He added that &this is all because we are projecting
strength.8



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


Al-Sadr,s Pledge to Stand Down Militia


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





3. (S) Maliki told General Petraeus he really was convinced
about the sincerity of Moqtada al-Sadr,s pledge to stand
down his JAM militia. He was further encouraged by meetings
in Karbala with Sadr-trained provincial council members who
denounced the rogue militia members that started the violence
as &gangsters and criminals.8 When General Petraeus asked
him about al-Sadr,s six-month cease-fire, Maliki called it
almost irrelevant since he believed the JAM militias would
disappear and JAM as an organization would be substantially
different by then. For this reason, he urged General Petraeus
to &calm things down with JAM8 and to give the cease-fire
time to take hold. Maliki said he wanted to take advantage of
this new development and bring JAM members back into the
political process. General Petraeus cautioned that rogue
militia members who committed criminal acts should still be
vigorously pursued.



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


New Iranian and Syrian Promises


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





4. (S) When General Petraeus pressed him about Iranian
support for JAM, Maliki said he had already secured a
commitment from the Supreme Leader Khamenei himself to halt
Qods Force actions in Iraq. Maliki said Khamenei had issued
what was, in effect, a &fatwa8 that prohibited attacks
against Coalition Forces (CF). When General Petraeus
expressed concern about the increasing number of attacks
involving Iranian weapons -- particularly explosively formed
projectiles (EFPs) -- Maliki said he believed these attacks
would significantly decrease very soon based on these
commitments.



5. (S) Turning to Syria, General Petraeus described
disturbing intelligence reports about militia training camps
there and insurgent infiltration into Iraq. Maliki responded
that he was aware of this intelligence. He related that
during his most recent visit to Damascus, he directly
confronted President Bashar Assad with details about these
camps and infiltration routes, including specific names and
places. He told Assad that he was sick and tired of
interference in Iraqi internal affairs by Assef Shawkat,
deputy director of Syrian intelligence (Note: Shawkat is
Assad,s brother-in-law. End note). Maliki said Assad
assured him those days were over because MOI Chief of the
Political Security Branch Muhammad Mansurah would now manage
their bilateral affairs. Maliki told General Petraeus this
was a very good sign because he has known Mansurah for over
25 years when he worked with the Iraqi Dawa and he trusted
him.



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


Continuing the Al-Qaeda Fight

BAGHDAD 00002930 002 OF 002




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





6. (S) Although National Security Advisor Mowafaq Rubaie was
also encouraged by these positive new developments, he told
General Petraeus he was worried that Al-Qaeda (AQI) could
still act as a spoiler with a spectacular attack on either
Shia citizens or shrines, potentially unraveling Sadr,s
cease-fire pledge. He said the Iraqi government intended to
develop contingency plans in order to respond effectively to
a high-profile attack. General Petraeus agreed, saying AQI
was on the run but still very dangerous. Using a current
operations chart, General Petraeus described in detail the
numerous engagements between CF and AQI during the last few
days, showing a continuous series of AQI set-backs and
defeats. He assured Maliki this fight would continue.



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


Karbala Violence: a Difficult Test


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





7. (S) General Petraeus complimented PM Maliki,s leadership
during operations to suppress the violence at the Shia
Shrines in Karbala on August 28 and 29 saying that Maliki had
turned a potential defeat into a success. Maliki thanked
General Petraeus for the use of a CF helicopter which flew
him back from Karbala. (Note: Maliki had driven to Karbala
in a heavily-armed 52-vehicle convoy. End note) The Prime
Minister described a chaotic scene on the ground caused by
weak leadership of the local government and security forces.
PM Maliki said that upon arriving in Karbala, he quickly
re-established control and ordered a battalion-sized, quick
reaction force into action against 25 separate targets in the
very difficult neighborhoods around the shrines. NSA Rubaie
recalled a brief hesitation by these troops to deploy into a
particularly tough area, but after PM Maliki -- who was
carrying a rifle and had a pistol strapped to his waist --
volunteered to lead them, they quickly moved out under their
own commander. Within a few minutes of the arrival of the
quick reaction force in the area, most of the armed
resistance melted away. PM Maliki expressed pride in these
troops and said they taught him an important lesson about the
great effectiveness of even a small number of well-trained
soldiers.



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



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


Continued Delays in Getting Kuwaiti Diesel Fuel Moving


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



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





8. (S) PM Maliki lamented continuing bureaucratic roadblocks
in getting Kuwaiti diesel fuel to Iraqi electric generation
plants. For example, some Iraqi Ministry of Oil personnel
feared that money paid to Kuwait would somehow find its way
back to Sunni militias in Iraq. An exasperated Maliki told
General Petraeus that he personally called ministry
officials, reminding them that Kuwait was very rich and -- if
it chose to do so -- could fund these groups with or without
Iraqi money. Reluctantly, these officials had moved forward
with the order. Maliki also reported new transportation
issues, such as a problem with permits or placards, were now
reportedly delaying moving the fuel across the border.
General Petraeus said that he would look into any problems
that could be holding up the transport of the fuel. (Comment:
General Petraeus confirmed later that there are no roadblocks
from the MNF-I side.)



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


Saudis Recognize Problems with Charities


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





9. (S) PM Maliki came back to the problem of militia funding.
He told General Petraeus that the Saudis finally seemed to
recognize that some of their many charities actually
supported extremist militias and were run by criminals.
Ironically, he said, there might even be some Wahabis in JAM.
He said he had secured a commitment from Saudi Arabia to
discontinue support for these extremist charities.

CROCKER