2007-01-08 18:02:00
Embassy Baghdad
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DE RUEHGB #0075/01 0081802
O 081802Z JAN 07
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 000075 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2017

REF: 2006 BAGHDAD 4718

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).




E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2017

REF: 2006 BAGHDAD 4718

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S) SUMMARY: On January 7, the Ministerial Committee on
National Security (MCNS) discussed the recent detention and
subsequent release of Iranian "diplomats" involved in
anti-Coalition and anti-GOI activity, agreeing that steps
needed to be taken to discourage Tehran from engaging in
further activities that undermine Iraqi sovereignty. The
MCNS was updated on revisions to the Baghdad Security Plan,
with Minister of Defense Abdul Qadir Jasim and MNF-I
Commanding General Casey stressing the need to appoint a
commander for Baghdad. PM Maliki and FM Zebari expressed
frustration with the public discussion of the "secret" plan,
resulting in an order from Maliki that the MoD spokesman be
kept off of TV. On the subject of Provincial Iraqi Control
(PIC),PM Maliki was willing to end the Emergency Security
Committee in Al Amarah so that security responsibility for
Maysan could be transferred. Casey, however, said he was not
yet ready to approve the transfer because he believed that
the militias in the province were stronger than the police.
Transfer of the three Kurdish provinces remains on hold until
the Kurdish authorities agree to "decouple" PIC from
Peshmerga transformation; Maliki said he would talk to
Kurdish President Barzani about this issue. Maliki noted the
creation of a committee to examine disbanding the militias,
resulting in a discussion of how thoroughly disarmament
can/should be carried out. Interior Minister Bolani updated
participants on several issues in the MOI, including Facility
Protection Service (FPS) integration. He said he had found
40,000 non-existent workers on the FPS rolls. Bolani also
argued for merger of the Ports of Entry authority with his
Border Security unit and discussed progress in MOI Training
and Equipping issues. Maliki revived his concerns that both
the MOI and MOD are ill-equipped. When Finance Minister Jabr
complained that he had been forced to rush through funds to
the MOD that he did not think the MOD needed or was prepared

to spend, Abdul Qadir pushed back, arguing that he was
working to conclude contracts as quickly as possible. At the
same time, he made clear that he was going to take the time
to properly evaluate the quality and costs of equipment
before agreeing to buy it. END SUMMARY.

Discussion of Iranian "Diplomats"

2. (S) At the January 7 meeting of the Ministerial Committee
on National Security (MCNS),Foreign Minister Zebari thanked
the Ambassador and MNF-I Commanding General Casey for working
with him in a collegial and professional manner in order to
resolve the situation of the detained Iranian "diplomats."
He said that there had never been any doubt in his mind about
the reliability of Coalition intelligence on the Iranians.
He also said that the decision to release the Iranians had
not been an easy one, but had been made within a larger
political context in which the GOI had not wanted to face a
crisis with respect to its relations with Iran.
Nevertheless, he said that his discussions with the Iranian
Ambassador about the incident had been frank, stressing that
the GOI was not naive about Tehran's intentions and
emphasizing the need for the Iranians to respect Iraq's
sovereignty. He said that he told the Iranians that the MFA
should be their primary point of contact within the GOI.
Zebari said that in the aftermath of the incident, the MFA
intended to update the diplomatic list and take steps to
centralize how visas were issued. On this last point, PM
Maliki said that Zebari should consider stripping the Iraqi
Ambassador in Iran of his authority to issue visas. Zebari
expressed concern that during the crisis the PM's Office and
the Embassy had often interacted directly in a manner that
sometimes resulted in delays or confusion because the MFA was
not in the loop.

3. (S) Maliki said that it was unacceptable that a
delegation from another government had come to Iraq to "help
on security matters" in the way that the Iranians had,
circumventing the MFA. He said that if the Iranians had been
legitimate in their desire to help Iraq they would have
coordinated their trip via the MFA per standard diplomatic
protocol. He said that if a similar group is detained in the
future, he would not release them.

4. (S) National Security Advisor Rubaie reinforced Zebari's
point about the need to look closely at visas issued to
Iranians and to have the MFA as the primary point of contact

BAGHDAD 00000075 002 OF 004

for Iranian government officials. He also said that a
problem existed in that agencies from one government often
talk to their counterpart in another government, but that
Iraq had no counterpart to Iran's Quds Force. When Finance
Minister Jabr joked that JAM was the Quds Force counterpart,
he got a hearty laugh from the group. More seriously, Rubaie
suggested that a high-level GOI delegation should travel to
Tehran to tell them to stop their support for EFP and other
attacks against the Coalition, adding that such attacks could
easily escalate into a direct confrontation between Iran and
the coalition on Iraqi soil -- a situation that would clearly
be against Iraqi national interest. He asked that this
comment be made a part of the permanent minutes of the

5. (S) Jabr revealed that he had been about to travel to
Tehran on official business when the detentions happened. He
said he had considered canceling, but Maliki had asked him to
continue with his travel out of concerns that a cancellation
might only further escalate the situation. Jabr said that he
had taken a private message from the PM to the Iranians that
he was working the issue, but would need time -- ten days --
for the Iranians to be released. Maliki interjected,
pointing out that the ten days had been based on what General
Casey had told him he thought he would need to carry out his
investigations. Jabr said that the Iranians had asked him to
participate in a joint press conference about the issue, but
he had declined.

6. (S) When Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Armed Forces General
Babbikir noted that the Iranians were still holding an Iraqi
interpreter from an earlier incident along the Iranian
border, several people said that they wished they had been
made aware of this information in order to have tried to use
the negotiations over the diplomats to obtain his release.

7. (S) General Casey emphasized that the Iranians were
intelligence officers engaged in activities to attack the
Coalition and destabilize Iraq. The Ambassador said that
while it was natural that some Iraqi politicians had had
contact with foreign intelligence agencies during their time
in exile, now that they were a part of a sovereign Iraqi
government such contact should be done state-to-state. He
said he thought it was inappropriate that the Quds Force was
the primary Iranian organ for dealing with Iraq. He
suggested that a set of guidelines be drawn up to govern how,
by what means, and through what channels, Iraqi officials
could have contact with Tehran.

Baghdad Security Plan Update

8. (S) Minister of Defense Abdul Qadir Jasim updated MCNS
members on revisions to the Baghdad Security Plan (BSP),
stressing that it was almost ready for implementation. He
said the most urgent issue to be resolved was who will be the
commander of the Baghdad headquarters. General Casey agreed
that the commander for Baghdad should be named quickly,
adding that if it was not done within the next day or so a
committee composed of the MOI and MOD should be convened to
move certain issues forward.

9. (S) Maliki asked that an assessment be done of the Iraqi
Security Forces (ISF) units to be involved in the BSP to
verify that they were properly equipped and prepared for
action. He said that after several years of fighting, Iraqi
soldiers were tired and needed to be evaluated, physically
and mentally.

10. (S) Emphasizing the importance of the BSP, Minister of
State for National Security Waeli said that the security
situation in the city was getting to the point where even the
International Zone (IZ) was not secure. In support of this
assertion, he pointed to a recent incident on Haifa Street in
downtown Baghdad just "meters away" from the IZ. Maliki
agreed, noting that major parts of the city -- such as Karkh
-- were "out of control."

11. (S) Zebari said that there was a serious problem with
people -- including parliamentarians -- talking in the media
about a plan which was supposed to be secret. Maliki agreed,
focusing particular anger at the indiscreet remarks by the
MOD and MOI spokesmen. Maliki instructed Abdul Qadir to tell
his spokesman he was not allowed on TV anymore. Abdul Qadir
responded that he had already changed the job from
"spokesman" to "media advisor."

BAGHDAD 00000075 003 OF 004

12. (S) Arguing that "the new plan is like the old plan,"
Deputy Prime Minister al-Zubai said that the latest revision
of the BSP would not be useful. He said that MCNS members
should admit that all that had been achieved in the past did
not bring peace for the people of Baghdad. He said that a
new strategy should be adopted "at the level of the American
administration." He also said that the MCNS should be
serious enough about the issue to agree to meet every day,
adding that "otherwise the world won't respect us."

PIC Update

13. (S) Rubaie said that the Joint Committee for the
Transfer of Security Responsibility was on the verge of
recommending Maysan be transferred to Provincial Iraqi
Control, but that the existence of the Emergency Security
Committee (ESC) in Al Amarah was a major stumbling block.
Rubaie suggested to Maliki that the ESC be either ended or
transformed into a political committee. Maliki said he was
prepared to end the ESC. UK Ambassador Asquith said that he
thought the ESC was weak and ineffective anyway.

14. (S) General Casey said that he was not ready to agree to
transfer the committee, arguing that the militias in the
province were stronger than the police. When Rubaie pointed
out that the recommendation to transfer would be based on a
joint assessment which was conducted with the British forces
in MND-SE, Casey said he did not necessarily agree with that
assessment. He asked that decisions on this issue be delayed
a week in order that he could review the situation more fully.

15. (S) Rubaie explained that transfer of the three Kurdish
provinces were still being held up by Kurdish demands that
transfer be linked to Peshmerga transformation. Maliki said
that he would talk to KRG President Masoud Barzani about the

Militia Committee and Disarmament

16. (S) Maliki noted that a joint GOI-Coalition committee
was being formed to examine the issue of disbanding militias.
He said that when the committee had developed ideas on how
to move forward, the MCNS could discuss them. When DPM Zubai
said that people should be asked to turn in their weapons,
Jabr said that citizens could not be asked to disarm when the
government has proven itself unable to protect them. Abdul
Qadir pointed out that people would be allowed to keep a
personal weapon for self defense -- such as a pistol or rifle
-- but not heavier weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades
(RPGs) and mortars. Waeli agreed with this point, arguing
that the government should not take on a "mission impossible."

MOI Update: FPS, POE, Train and Equip

17. (S) Following up on the December 24, 2006, MCNS
discussion of the transfer of the Facility Protection Service
(FPS) into his ministry (reftel),Interior Minister Bolani
said that he had conducted an initial review of the
153,000 FPS employees. The review had discovered 40,000
"ghost" employees who did not actually exist. Finance
Minister Jabr said that he had taken steps to transfer the
budget for the FPS to MOI.

18. (S) Bolani urged the PM to agree to merge Ports of Entry
responsibility with the MOI's Border Security unit. He said
that it was important there be a single, independent budget
for the combined unit. He said he had already spoken to the
Finance Ministry, which had agreed the merger made budgetary

19. (S) Bolani said that efforts to train and equip the MOI,
including the National Police, were moving forward. He said
that the Finance Minister had helped provide necessary
funding for certain life support issues. Maliki, however,
expressed his frustration that "we hear a lot, but see
nothing" -- particularly when it comes to the fulfillment of
supply contracts. He said that the MOI never seems
well-equipped, pointing out that the police lack cars.

Budgets and Contracts Cause More Consternation
-------------- -

BAGHDAD 00000075 004.2 OF 004

20. (S) Jabr said that based on pressure from MNSTC-I he had
hastily arranged for funds to be transferred to an account
for MOD use, but that he had since learned no contracts were
ready to be let. As a result, he said he did not see why the
issue had been so urgent that he had had to rush through the
funds. He also warned that if at least 75 percent of the
funds were not spent within six months, the money would have
to be sent back to the central treasury. Maliki stressed the
need to equip the ISF, claiming that there was a desperate
need for weapons and that soldiers do not have proper
footwear. Abdul Qadir assured them that he was working to
agree contracts as quickly as possible and that he expected
to meet the 75 percent requirement. At the same time, he
argued that it was important that the GOI take its time to
outfit its security forces properly and in a cost-effective
manner. He said the army had weapons, but they were old and
inferior. He did not want to repeat this mistake. As an
example, he said that the MoD would conduct an assessment of
the U.S.-produced M-16 and M-4 rifles and compare them to
Soviet-style Kalishnikovs. He added that there was a
significant price difference between these weapons and that
that too would have to be taken into account before making
any decisions. Abdul Qadir argued that the contracting
committee and the public integrity committee were major
stumbling blocks to his ability to conclude contracts in a
timely fashion.