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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BAGHDAD3045 2008-09-22 12:58:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

DIPLOMATIC UPDATE: MOMENTUM ON ARAB AMBASSADORS,

Tags:   PGOV PREL IZ IR SY 
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VZCZCXRO8240
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3045/01 2661258
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 221258Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9536
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003045 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/17/2018
TAGS: PGOV PREL IZ IR SY
SUBJECT: DIPLOMATIC UPDATE: MOMENTUM ON ARAB AMBASSADORS,
REJECTION OF IRANIAN DIPLOMATS

REF: A. BAGHDAD 2366

B. BAGHDAD 2203

C. BAGHDAD 1838

Classified By: By Political Minister Counselor Robert S. Ford. Reasons
1.4(b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: According to a senior MFA official,
Syria's appointment of an ambassador to Iraq might set the
stage to enable the two countries to engage on security and
other issues. The official is hopeful that the Syrian
ambassador-designate's intelligence background will advance
Neighbors Process security efforts. He said the MFA expects
that ambassadors from Bahrain, the Arab League, and possibly
Kuwait will arrive after Ramadan. Three Jordanian diplomats
have arrived and the Jordanian ambassador is expected to join
them soon after renovations to their embassy site are
completed. However, Prime Minister's Office inaction
continues to stall MFA attempts to post ambassadors to key
Arab countries. The senior MFA official noted that both the
GOI and KRG have recently refused to approve an Iranian
request for accreditation of several diplomats the GOI knows
to be Revolutionary Guard members. End summary.



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


New Chapter in Iraqi-Syrian Relations


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





2. (C) Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi told Pol-Mil
Counselor September 18 that Syria's appointment of Nawaf
al-Fares as ambassador to Iraq may set the stage for a more
productive bilateral relationship, particularly on security
issues. Noting that the future ambassador was a high-ranking
member of the Ba'ath party who had come up through the ranks
of the Ministry of Interior to hold key security positions
(most recently as governor of strategically critical Quneitra
on the Golan Heights), Abbawi described al-Fares' appointment
as a very deliberate selection.



3. (C) Continuing, Abbawi said the arrival of a Syrian
ambassador to Iraq --relations had been frozen at the charge
level for over 24 years -- may allow the two countries to
directly engage on security and all aspects in a much more
meaningful way. Abbawi said he hoped to use al-Fares'
intelligence experience and connections to advance Neighbors
Process security efforts. He noted that al-Fares comes from
the town of Albou-Kamal in southeastern Syria near the Iraqi
border and thus has a regional perspective that will be
useful on border security issues. Abbawi said that he
expected al-Fares to arrive relatively soon and that the GOI
was in the process of approving its own envoy to Damascus.



4. (C) Pol-Mil Counselor asked whether the GOI expected
other positive gestures or tangible results following the
appointment of a Syrian ambassador or whether he thought the
Syrian would come to Baghdad absent the GOI sending an
Ambassador to Damascus. Abbawi responded that while Syria
has not fulfilled its border security commitments, there has
been some positive movement on the Iraq-Syria oil pipeline
and that having a Syrian ambassador in Baghdad may facilitate
further progress on this and other economic issues. (Note:
Abbawi was referring to an Iraq-Syria crude oil pipeline
which has been out-of-service since before 2003. Both
countries will need to collaborate on extensive repairs to
bring it back into operation. End note.) Abbawi did not know
if the SARG would send the Ambassador before Iraq
reciprocated.



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


Continuing Momentum on Arab Ambassadors


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





5. (C) Abbawi said the Jordanian Ambassador will be posted
to Baghdad as soon as renovations are completed at the
Jordanian mission in the Diplomatic Zone. (Note: Three
Jordanian diplomats and an engineer arrived on September 14
and are working out of the al-Rashid Hotel. End Note.) He
said he expected the Bahraini and Arab League ambassadors to
arrive after Eid al-Fitr (at the beginning of October). They
will be joined by UAE Ambassador Al-Shihi, who arrived on
September 4, but returned to the UAE for Ramadan. Abbawi
predicted that Egypt would soon appoint an ambassador, and
was hopeful that Kuwait's ambassador-designate would
accompany Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser during his planned
visit to Baghdad shortly after Ramadan.



6. (C) Abbawi lamented the vacuum in the MFA that has been
caused by Prime Minister Office's inaction on a list of over
40 ambassadorial nominees. He said the Prime Minister's
refusal to approve the list due to political horse trading
over party representation among the nominees has left Iraq
without ambassadorial representation in both Arab

BAGHDAD 00003045 002 OF 002


(particularly Cairo and the Gulf countries) and Western
countries (UK, Italy, Switzerland). Foreign Minister Zebari
several months ago asked the Prime Minister to approve six of
the 40 nominees who are career ambassadors slated to be
posted to fill critical vacancies in Arab countries
(reftels). Abbawi said there had been a long meeting the
previous week to try to break the logjam, but the Prime
Minister's Office did not budge. He said there would be a
follow-up meeting soon.



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


Iranian Infiltration


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





7. (C) Pol-mil Counselor asked about the status of Iranian
efforts to get the GOI to accept accreditation of Iranian
diplomats in Iraq that were not real diplomats. Abbawi noted
the MFA would continue to clear with the Embassy any names
the Iranians provided. He said Iran had recently requested
accreditation for a list of putatively diplomatic personnel
to be assigned to Iranian consular posts, including Erbil,
but that neither the GOI or the KRG had approved the list or
were likely to do so because the diplomats are in fact
Revolutionary Guard members and the names had been previously
submitted. Abbawi wryly noted that when Iran's Ambassador to
Baghdad inquired about the delay, he subtly suggested that
Tehran submit a different set of names.



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


Comment


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





8. (C) The Prime Minister Office's inaction on the MFA's
ambassadorial nomination list, particularly on the six career
ambassadors slated to be posted to Arab countries, has been a
point of contention between Foreign Minister Zebari and Prime
Minister Maliki for several months. We regularly press the
Iraqis to resolve this and get on with naming - and posting
ambassadors to these key countries, but have had no
indication that a resolution is near at hand. Whether the
protocol-conscious Syrians would be willing to post their new
ambassador without the reciprocal posting of an Iraqi
ambassador to Damascus is an open question.
CROCKER