wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
2008-02-21 13:14:00
Embassy Paris
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable
DE RUEHFR #0304/01 0521314
O 211314Z FEB 08
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 PARIS 000304 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2018

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt for reaso
ns 1.4. (b), (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 PARIS 000304



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/19/2018

Classified By: Political Minister Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt for reaso
ns 1.4. (b), (d).

1. (C) Summary: S/I Satterfield discussed Iraq at the
French Presidency and the MFA February 14 and 15. The French
provided their formal response to the paper Satterfield had
presented at the end of December. In addition to briefing
the French on our view of the situation in Iraq, Satterfield
asked for confirmation of the French decision not to host the
next meeting on the Iraq Compact. Diplomatic adviser to the
French president Levitte said the GOF had decided not to host
the Compact meeting because of the press of other commitments
(notably the Afghan donors conference and an expected
announcement of French reinforcements in Afghanistan) and
concern that hosting the Compact could heighten hitherto
minimal domestic criticism of French foreign policy. French
FM Kouchner's adviser for conflict and crises, Eric
Chevallier, on February 15 offered to raise the issue one
more time with Kouchner, but he was not optimistic the GOF
would change its mind. (Chevallier later reported back that
Kouchner was not prepared to re-open the question.) In
addition to encouraging France to use its upcoming EU
presidency to engage with Iraq's neighbors, Satterfield
presented our view that the French proposal to host a
national reconciliation conference was less pressing given
recent progress among Iraqi leaders to work together on key
legislation. The conversations underscored French concerns
about Iran's role in Iraq and a continuing negative view
within the Quai of the worth of international efforts to
promote Iraqi reconstruction. End summary

2. (C) S/I Satterfield met with French Presidency
Diplomatic adviser Jean-David Levitte and MFA officials
February 14 and 15, primarily to discuss the situation in
Iraq and the USG's desire that France play a more active role
in Iraq's reconstruction
. In all his meetings, Satterfield
made the following core points:

--Our overall message is a positive one.

--There has been tremendous progress on nearly all the
security fronts, and al-Qa'ida in Iraq increasingly
constrained in terms of where it can operate and the tactics
it can employ. It cannot, for example, operate as
effectively in Baghdad and has been largely pushed northward
into Kurdish areas. Using women to carry out suicide bomb
operations has underscored al-Qa'ida's desperation.

--Similarly, the threat posed by the Jaysh al-Mahdi has eased
partly because of splits within the movement. Some followers
have moved toward the GOI and us while others have become
more radical and moved closer to the IRGC and Iran.

--The Awakening Councils are a transitional force that the
GOI must deal with via a combination of absorbing a portion
into Iraqi security forces and finding jobs for their
members. The USG expects this to happen this year.

--We have pushed hard to improve the dynamic between PM
Maliki and the governing council as the best mechanism to
achieve national reconciliation. We have stressed the need
for a common agenda and a determination to work together in a
cohesive manner.

--Major change has occurred in recent weeks. The recently
passed laws on amnesty, de-Ba'thification, and provincial
governance required major deal-making among Iraqi leaders,
took a long time, and was extremely difficult.

--A major problem still exists in passing a new hydrocarbon
law. This is aggravated by mistrust between Kurds and Arabs,
and we have told Mas'ud Barzani that he is going down the
wrong road by concluding unilateral contracts with oil
companies. Pending agreement on a national law, there must
be a moratorium on such contracts. This is not the only
complication, however, as the Iraqi government refuses to
abandon the model of rigid central control over hydrocarbon
extraction, refining, and distribution. This has dissuaded
many foreign firms from investing to make up for decades of
neglect of infrastructure.

--On provincial elections, a rapid movement forward would
mark a dramatic advance in terms of achieving basic national

--The economic situation is improving, although the main
barrier to reconstruction and other progress is Iraq's
inability to apply its growing oil revenues to specific
development projects.

--The critical U.S. goal in 2008 will be to replace the

PARIS 00000304 002 OF 006

Chapter VII UN mandate for the multinational force with a
bilateral status of forces agreement.

Engaging the Elysee

3. (C) Levitte on February 14 indicated that the French
embassy in Baghdad was sending in similar analyses of the
positively evolving situation. He said that the French --
and specifically President Sarkozy -- appreciate that this
change was a direct result of the military successes stemming
from the surge of U.S. forces. Levitte cited a recent
high-level GOF strategy meeting on Afghanistan in which FM
Kouchner opined that a solution would only be possible based
on fostering political reconciliation among Afghan factions
-- and not on a stronger military push. President Sarkozy
took issue with the viewpoint, citing the success in Iraq
that was directly attributable to military and security
efforts. Levitte added that Sarkozy contended that NATO's
failure to improve the military situation would risk overall
failure and the population turning against NATO's presence.

4. (C) Levitte acknowledged that while the GOF's engagement
with Iraq has been limited it remains ready to help.
Unfortunately, this would not include readiness to host a
meeting of the Iraq Compact for the time being. Satterfield
noted our strong hope that France would agree to host the
next meeting and asked whether that was the final position.
Levitte replied that it was and explained that the GOF judged
that taking on the Iraq Compact would risk an overload of
French international commitments that could have an adverse
political impact domestically. France will host a major
donors conference on Afghanistan and will announce its
intention to reinforce its military presence there. This
will coincide with France moving forward on NATO along with a
new commitment to ESDP. The Elysee anticipates these
decisions will prompt debate about NATO and Afghanistan where
there has been none before. Adding Iraq to the mix could tip
the balance for a French public that has been largely
quiescent on foreign policy.

5. (C) Satterfield expressed disappointment with the GOF's
decision but appreciated Levitte's explanation of the overall
context. He noted that we had heard from the MFA that its
preference to host a meeting on national reconciliation was
one of the main reasons for not agreeing to host the Compact
meeting. Levitte demurred, stressing that while France had
expressed its willingness to host such a conference, it had
not made it a precondition to other engagement on Iraq. He
repeated that the Compact is seen primarily as a U.S.
initiative, and the GOF had no desire to see the debate in
France turn in the wrong direction. Sarkozy continues to
want to help with Iraq but hopes another European country
would be willing to host the Compact meeting this time.

6. (C) Turning to other areas in which we hope France can
help, Satterfield called on France to do more with Iraq's
neighbors and to help with respect to humanitarian relief,
improving Iraq's health care system, and with internally
displaced persons. He provided Levitte an update of the
paper he had left in late December on ideas about how France
could play a significant role in Iraq. Satterfield pointed
out, for example, that the rules governing the International
Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI) have changed to
allow donor countries to earmark their funds to accomplish
specific goals. This could allow France to contribute for
internally displaced persons, if that was what it would
prefer to do. Satterfield referred to French and EU training
in the legal and judicial fields to say we hope that France
would seek to undertake more such activities in Iraq itself.
The GOI would prefer this, and we could come up with creative
proposals to make it happen. Returning to the need for
greater regional support, Satterfield referred to President
Bush's campaign to get Iraq's Sunni neighbors more involved
and engaged with the GOI. French help with Iraq's neighbors
would be greatly appreciated.

7. (C) Levitte mentioned that the French and U.S.
presidents were in the Gulf region at the same time last
month. None of the Gulf leaders with whom Sarkozy met wanted
to discuss Iraq at length. Saudi King Abdallah did not raise
Iraq or Iran and preferred to focus on Lebanon. Satterfield
responded that we hope France will lend its important voice
to promote closer engagement by Iraq's neighbors as France
assumes the EU presidency, and he said we would welcome
French assistance in the run up to the next neighbors
ministerial in Kuwait in April.

8. (C) Levitte asked for U.S. views on Iran in the context
of Iraq. Satterfield replied that this was a timely question
in light of the last-minute cancellation of

PARIS 00000304 003 OF 006

U.S./Iraqi/Iranian talks. We do not know what Tehran's
calculation is, but Iran might be waiting for President
Ahmadi-Nejad's upcoming visit to Iraq before proceeding with
talks. Perhaps there is significant internal disagreement.
Right now, it seems the Iranians are continuing the dialogue
as a tactic but are refusing any real engagement. Levitted
offered to ask the French embassy in Tehran for its analysis
of Iranian motives. He added that France believes the
Iranians see themselves as currently the dominant regional
power and want to keep Iraq weak and to see U.S. forces in
Iraq suffering. The French argue that real democracy taking
root in Iraq would pose a threat to Iran's interests.

9. (U) As the meeting finished, Levitte provided a copy of
the official French response to Satterfield's earlier paper.
Embassy has transmitted a scanned copy of the text to the
Department via e-mail.

Meetings at the MFA

10. (C) Satterfield, accompanied by visiting France deskoff
Cervetti and poloff, met February 15 with acting NEA
A/S-equivalent Gilles Bonnaud, French inter-ministerial
coordinator for Iraq reconstruction Xavier Roze, and French
MFA Iraq desk officer Olivier Masseret. In addition to
covering the core points in para 2, Satterfield praised UN
special representative de Mistura's efforts to help defuse
tension in the Kurdish areas. He also briefed the French on
our interactions with Turkey over Turkish military operations
against the PKK.

11. (C) Satterfield handed over a copy of the revised paper
referred to in para 6 and noted that we had received a
response to the earlier version. In response to
Satterfield's observation that the GOF is not currently
interested in hosting the next Iraq Compact meeting Bonnaud
emphasized that France is not against the Compact but would
prefer to see a more positive evolution of the political
situation first. France is concerned that the Compact is too
focused on economic and commercial elements. Iraq is not a
poor country, and France did not want to risk having some
Iraqi leaders manipulate international economic assistance
for their personal enrichment. Bonnaud reiterated FM
Kouchner's readiness to organize a national reconciliation
conference along the lines of the Selle-Saint-Cloud
conference of Lebanese leaders.

12. (C) Satterfield rejoined that neither the Iraqis nor we
see hosting a national reconciliation conference as a
priority. Of greater importance is support for Iraq's
economy and diplomatic engagement with Iraq's neighbors. He
repeated USG hopes that France would use its upcoming EU
presidency to engage with Iraq's neighbors. Bonnaud
responded that FM Kouchner is prepared to attend the
neighbors conference set to occur in Kuwait this April. He
offered France's analysis that Iran had interfered positively
to cause Muqtada al-Sadr to show restraint but expressed
concern that Iranian FM Mottaki's attendance at recently
slain Hizballah leader 'Imad Mughniya's funeral in Beirut as
a worrisome sign. Satterfield replied by offering our
analysis that al-Sadr and other Jaysh al-Mahdi leaders had
opted for a cease-fire in prudent acknowledgment that the GOI
would stand up to it in future confrontation. Fissures
within the movement were also a factor tending toward further
restraint. Iran's motivations, however, were more difficult
to read. According to Satterfield, Iran currently feels
overconfident and is perhaps less interested than it had been
in dialing back the activities of armed Iraqi groups over
which it has influence.

13. (C) French inter-ministerial coordinator for Iraq
reconstruction Roze asked about economic conditions in Iraq.
The French analysis is that there are some signs of
macroeconomic progress, but the provision of basic services
and the economic wellbeing of individual Iraqis have not
changed enough. Satterfield responded that food is plentiful
but basic services have not kept pace. Electricity
generation is up, but the demand is outstripping supply. The
real challenge, Satterfield continued, is to ensure the
security of power lines and to upgrade the transmission
system and the infrastructure for delivering electricity to
homes and businesses. For this, the Iraqis again have the
money but need outside technical help. Satterfield linked
these difficulties to the overall ill state of the
hydrocarbon industry and infrastructure to refine and
distribute fuels domestically.

14. (C) When Roze raised French problems with IRFFI funds,
Satterfield referred to new rules that allow states to
earmark their funds. When Roze linked security conditions to

PARIS 00000304 004 OF 006

inefficiencies related to development projects, Satterfield
countered that security is less the issue than weak Iraqi
institutional capacity to spend its revenues and to build in
a way that meets Iraq's real needs. This is why there is
still a need for a transitional phase of international
support despite the mounting reserve of funds from which Iraq
can draw. Returning to the Compact, Satterfield argued that
its primary purposes -- forcing Iraq to abide by market
forces as it undertakes economic reform and attracting
foreign private sector and commercial investment -- were
fully consistent with Iraq's economic needs.

15. (C) Bonnaud mentioned that the French embassy's branch
office was operational. Satterfield said we will soon have a
larger regional office of our own in Irbil and hope we can
work together and provide any assistance the French operation
might need.

16. (C) Satterfield, accompanied by polmincouns and poloff,
met later the same day with FM Kouchner's special adviser for
crises and conflicts, Eric Chevallier, who offered to discuss
the French decision not to host the Compact once more with
Kouchner. Chevallier was not optimistic, given concern about
overload from all the other French-hosted meetings, but he
agreed that hosting the Compact would be consistent with
Kouchner's desire to help Iraq in some concrete way. (Note:
Chevallier reported to us later tha he had raised the Compact
again with Kouchner, who declined to reconsider the French
position.) In response to Satterfield's other points about
the inadvisability of a Selle-Saint-Cloud-type national
reconciliation conference, our preference that France engage
with Iraq's neighbors, and the new mechanism for earmarking
IRFFI contributions, Chevallier said they were all "clear
messages" that he would convey to Kouchner. He confirmed
that Kouchner would attend the expanded Neighbors Conference
to be held in Kuwait in April.


17. (C) In his Elysee and MFA meetings, Satterfield
informed his interlocutors that he would seek to get a
written response to France's request for any information we
had on the March 2003 disappearance of French video cameraman
Frederic Nerac near Basra. He stated, however, that the
answer was that we had no new information to supplement our
earlier investigation. Levitte and Bonnaud expressed
appreciation for this response and underscored the GOF's
desire to close this file as much as it can for Nerac's widow.

18. (U) Following is the text of the updated paper
Satterfield handed to the French:

Increasing French Involvement in Iraq
Updated from December 2007

Economic Assistance

--Host a ministerial meeting near May 4 to mark the one year
anniversary of the International Compact with Iraq (ICI).
The meeting is needed to focus high level international
attention on the progress that Iraq is making toward meeting
ICI goals and on the support that international donors are
providing, all toward building momentum for achieving the
Compact,s long-term goals for economic self sufficiency,
political reconciliation and peace and security. France
participated actively in the preparations for the Compact.
Although most of the specific goals laid out in the Compact
are economic, the benefits for Iraq are more far reaching,
including to develop government institutions and fight
corruption in order to address deeper social and political
issues. Hosting the event need not entail any additional
financial commitment.

--Contribute at least $10 million to one of the Iraq Trust
Funds of the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for
Iraq (IRFFI), thereby becoming a member of the IRFFI Donors
Committee. France,s contribution could be earmarked for
pressing humanitarian or medical needs, which deserve funding
even if reconciliation issues remain to be addressed. The
next formal meeting of the Donors Committee will be in June
in Baghdad. It will be preceded the day before by the first
meeting of the Iraq Consultative Group (ICG) ) the body that
represents the international community on matters related to
implementation of the Compact. We want France to bring its
leadership and support to efforts for international
cooperation on behalf of Iraq.

--Encourage Iraq's remaining creditors to reach bilateral
debt reduction agreements with the GOI: These countries
include China, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Poland, Brazil,

PARIS 00000304 005 OF 006

Algeria, Greece, Tunisia, Sudan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar. Russia recently joined Bulgaria
and the former-Yugoslavia countries in agreeing to reduce
Iraq,s Saddam-era debts on terms that meet or exceed those
of the Paris Club. France helped to bring this about and
could do the same with other countries.

Health Sector

--Assist the KRG Ministry of Health and the Central Ministry
of Health with regional health projects. This could include
instituting action plans and preventative measures to combat
the spread of cholera. Cholera remains endemic in the north
and, although, the spread of the bacteria has slowed due to
the cold weather, another outbreak is possible later this
year. Avian flu preparedness is also critical in the north
and public education campaigns that have proven helpful in
the past should be consistently repeated. The KRG Ministry
of Health has also been interested in Health and Wellbeing
Programs (quitting smoking, maternal-child healthcare, and
other preventive measures), as well as focusing on oncology

--Provide medical support to refugee camps and IDPs in
northern Iraq. The International Organization for Migration
(IOM) is reporting that conditions for many IDPs throughout
Iraq continue to be critical. Medical assistance to these
people is critical, as many do not have access to healthcare

Rule of Law

--Help train judges and upgrade court infrastructure. The
Iraqi legal system is Napoleonic, making French expertise
invaluable for capacity-building assistance. Such training
could address concerns over judicial corruption and increase
the speed and effectiveness of legal proceedings.

--Develop youth diversion programming and provide training to
Juvenile Police and Juvenile Court staff. The Iraqi juvenile
justice system lacks the capacity to handle its burgeoning
juvenile detainee population. Without system reform and
capacity enhancement, juvenile detainees might have to be
mixed with adult offenders.

--Sponsor a training program for the Iraqi security forces by
the Gendarmerie. The GOI has requested that any future
training occur inside Iraq. Training in northern Iraq could
be a viable option. Training in-country is more
cost-effective; increases the number of people who will
benefit; and does not remove ISF personnel too far from where
they might be needed. Concerns about militia infiltration of
the ISF would be addressed by putting in place a system of
vetting of those to be trained, as is the case for current
programs run by others.

--Provide civil code drafting experts and other professionals
to assist in the lawmaking process and help establish a
legislative tracking system. Because the Shura Council is
modeled after the Council of State in France and French
universities have been leaders in the field of drafting
legislation, the French would be well-positioned to provide
assistance in this area. This could include technical and
training assistance to the Shura Council and training
seminars in legislative theory and methodology, i.e.,
drafting and analysis. Training by subject experts in areas
such as taxation, oil and gas, revenue sharing,
constitutional law, and federalism would be particularly
helpful. We are conducting an assessment of Shura Council
needs and would be glad to share it once it is completed at
the end of March.

Diplomatic Engagement

--Use France's position as local EU Presidency in 2008 to
encourage a greater EU presence and involvement in Iraq (both
as the Commission and as individual Member States).

--Encourage French to support UNAMI,s efforts to carry out
its expanded mandate. This need not necessarily be through
the provision of specific funds, but could include the offer
of a French expert to the UNAMI staff and humanitarian
assistance with the upgrading of local emergency hospitals.

--Participate in upcoming meetings of the Expanded
Neighbors, Ministerial and Working Groups and encourage
regional states to make better use of the Neighbors
mechanism. The next working group meetings are expected to
take place in coming weeks. The next Ministerial meeting
will take place in Kuwait on April 22, 23 or 24. France
could attend Working Group meetings as an observer and use

PARIS 00000304 006 OF 006

this and its attendance at the Ministerial to encourage
regional states to make better use of the process.

--As EU Presidency, and in a national capacity, France could
urge Arab countries to open Embassies/Consulates in Baghdad
and elsewhere as a demonstration of their support for, and
commitment to, a stable and prosperous Iraq.

--Support GOI efforts to peacefully reintegrate returning
Iraqis and contribute to UN humanitarian appeals for Iraq.
--The displacement of two million Iraqis overseas and two
million internally has humanitarian, political, security, and
development implications, affecting regional and internal
stability and the eventual reconstruction of Iraq. Efficient
and peaceful integration of returning Iraqis will require the
GOI to finalize a national policy as well as create a
bottom-up strategy and put the infrastructure in place to
carry out both. International humanitarian organizations
have cautioned that conditions continue to be extremely harsh
for many displaced Iraqis. France could contribute to the UN
appeal for $265 million launched on February 12.

End text of paper

19. (U) S/I Satterfield did not clear this cable.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: fm