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07MADRID208 2007-02-07 14:38:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Madrid
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1. (C/NF) President Zapatero is highly unlikely to in the
near term reverse his statement that Spain will not augment
its troop presence in Afghanistan, thereby nixing the
possibility of staffing the ISAF XI HQ in Kabul (with some
120-150 personnel). This conclusion stems from Ambassador
Aguirre,s conversations over the past several days with
senior level Spanish officials, including Defense Minister
Alonso and National Security advisor-equivalent Carles
Casajuana. A response to a call to Foreign Minister
Moratinos is pending.

2. (C/NF) In several conversations with Ambassador Aguirre,
Defense Minister Alonso did not hide that he was despondent
and clearly crestfallen that Zapatero had made this
statement, which he made just one day after Alonso,s comment
in Afghanistan that the GOS was considering sending more
troops. Alonso said that Zapatero's statement, which caught
him completely by surprise, had been made it in such a way as
to box the government in on the issue with little or no
wiggle room, no political way to finesse a change of
position, even a nuanced one. Alonso said he had gone back
to Zapatero to try to get him to change his mind, but to no
avail. (The UK Ambassador to Spain had also pressed GOS, and
reported to the Ambassador that GOS had also expressed to him
that Alonso had pressed the issue with Zapatero but with no

3. (C/NF) Alonso told the Ambassador that the reason for
Zapatero's decision is based totally on domestic politics,
and had nothing to do with NATO per se. The Ambassador noted
that Spain was coming into an electoral season as
regional/local elections loom in May and later in March 2008.
Alonso acknowledged that we had a good understanding of the
political scene here. Alonso hoped that this should not
terminate the good defense relations between the US and
Spain. The Ambassador told Alonso that we are well versed
in the ups and downs of this relationship over the past
several years and that we expect our high points, and then
soon after, a low point. But this issue is critical to NATO
and to the Allies fighting in Afghanistan and calls into
question Spain's commitment to NATO. Alonso insisted Spain
remained committed to NATO; I said that failure to take the
HQ component it is very serious.

4. (C/NF) The Ambassador called Zapatero's national security
advisor Carles Casajuana to make clear Washington's and the
Embassy's disappointment about the Zapatero decision.
Casajuana said he had had a conversation with NSC European
Senior Director Judy Ansley a few days ago. Casajuana said
that Zapatero had made the decision mostly for domestic
political purposes and for some national security reasons.
He said the GOS had sold the Spanish public on military
participation in Afghanistan on the basis of its
humanitarian, reconstruction and stability mission, and much
less so as an aggressive military deployment. Casajuana said
that as the military situation has become more difficult,
this creates political problems in terms of public
perceptions in a very heated Spanish political environment.
An increase in the Spanish deployment - even to staff the
ISAF HQ in Kabul - would be blown out of proportion by the
opposition Popular Party, which has severely criticized the
Zapatero government for any troop deployments, charging that
Zapatero is hypocritical for having condemned Spanish
deployments under the Aznar government, only to do so himself
now that he is in power. At the same time, Casajuana said,
from the national security/military strategy perspective,
Spain fully supports the military imperative of NATO,s
current strategy, but is not willing to participate in an
augmentation of Spanish troops. He said the GOS will invest
in training Afghan security forces, which is very expensive,
and remains fully committed to the Spanish deployments in
Western Afghanistan.

5. (C/NF) Casajuana insisted that Spain wants a good
relationship with the US and to have an excellent bilateral
meeting between SecDef Gates and Defense Minister Alonso, and
hopes for a successful Ministerial. Ambassador Aguirre
repeated our concern and disappointment about the decision by
President Zapatero not to meet Spain's commitment to staff
the Kabul ISAF HQ. He further indicated that our public

MADRID 00000208 002.2 OF 002

position to this turn of events was still under review. In
the event that we underplay the seriousness of the situation
in the media, Casajuana needed to understand that a reasoned
reaction did not diminish our deep concern and

6. (C/NF) In a pending call to Foreign Minister Moratinos,
Ambassador Aguirre will make clear that Secretary Rice had
understood Moratinos to say during their Jan. 25 meeting in
Paris (on the margins of the Lebanon Donor's Conference) that
Spain would meet its commitments in Afghanistan, and that
Washington is very disappointed.

7. (C/NF) Embassy Comment: Zapatero,s comments caught his
entire team by surprise, including Alonso and Moratinos, the
new MOD SYG for Policy Luis Cuesta, and MFA Political
Director (number three-equivalent Dezcallar). Working with
A/S Fried and USNATO Ambassador Nuland, who have also been in
touch with senior Spanish officials, Embassy is examining
next steps with the Spanish government, including our public
stance. We want to avoid boxing Zapatero even more tightly
into the corner he has constructed for himself, hoping
against hope that at the NATO Defense Ministerial in Seville
(or SecDef's Bilateral meeting with Alonso) we find some
shred of hope that a way can be found for him to meet the
ISAF commitment without increasing troop presence, or other
formula to fix the problem or make up for it in a big way.
At the same time, we don't want to let Zapatero off the hook
on something so important to the Alliance and Spain's
commitment to it. Alonso, who has actively sought good
relations with the US and found ways to advance that
interest, will be receptive to SecDef's arguments on the
subject, but he has been undercut publicly by President
Zapatero despite their long friendship and close ties.