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WikiLeaks: 09BAGHDAD2441, PM MALIKI, CODEL LEVIN DISCUSS FOREIGN

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Reference IDCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BAGHDAD24412009-09-10 06:25CONFIDENTIALEmbassy Baghdad
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #2441/01 2530625
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 100625Z SEP 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002441 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/09/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER MARR UN KIRF IR IZ SY
SUBJECT: PM MALIKI, CODEL LEVIN DISCUSS FOREIGN 
INTERFERENCE IN IRAQ, AUGUST 19 BOMBINGS 
 
BAGHDAD 00002441  001.2 OF 002 
 
 


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Robert S. Ford for reasons 1.5 (b) and 
 (d) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: PM Maliki told CODEL Levin Iraq faces 
interference from neighboring countries intent on fomenting 
sectarian discord, and Syria-based Iraqi Ba'athists and 
al-Qaeda in Iraq elements conspired to perpetrate the August 
19 bombings.  He expressed confidence in Iraqi Security 
Forces' (ISF) ability to maintain internal security after 
U.S. forces depart, but asked the Senators to facilitate the 
transfer of equipment and weapons from departing U.S. forces 
to the ISF.  Maliki believed joint Iraqi Army-Peshmerga-U.S. 
checkpoints and patrols would alleviate tensions in Ninewa 
and contribute to more credible elections there.  On the 
Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), he stressed that its members must 
leave Iraq to eliminate a pretext for Iranian intervention. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) U.S. participants: Sens. Carl Levin, Jack Reed and 
Edward Kaufman; Ambassador Hill; Poloff notetaker.  Iraqi 
participants: PM Nuri al-Maliki; Secretary to the PM Gatah 
al-Rekabi; Director of the International Center Ali Mussawi. 
 
IRAN, SYRIA INTERFERING IN IRAQI AFFAIRS 
 
3. (C) During a September 4 meeting with visiting CODEL 
Levin, Prime Minister Maliki expressed appreciation for U.S. 
support and hope for the long-term relationship envisioned in 
the Strategic Framework Agreement.  Responding to Sen. 
Levin's question about whether Syria and Iran interfered in 
Iraq's internal affairs, Maliki argued forcefully that Iran, 
Syria and "other states" supplied weapons to Iraqi insurgents 
and facilitated the flow of foreign fighters and suicide 
bombers.  Iran, Syria and Turkey, among others, also 
intervened politically, which was particularly dangerous in 
light of Iraq's upcoming national election.  "Foreign 
elements seek to destroy all that we've built and Iraq faces 
a sectarian destabilization campaign supported by our Sunni 
neighbors and Iran," Maliki said.  He expressed confidence 
that Iraqis would ultimately support a nationalist approach 
and reject sectarianism supported by foreign actors. 
 
4. (C) Noting that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) enjoyed 
considerable foreign support, he argued it was impossible to 
maintain stability in Iraq without neighboring states' 
support.  Despite assurances from Iran and Syria, neither had 
demonstrated "real willingness" to prevent the flow of 
foreign fighter and weapons into Iraq.  Responding to Sen. 
Levin's question about efforts to prevent flows of weapons 
from Iran to Iraq to be used against Coalition Forces, Maliki 
said that while fewer weapons were coming in, they were of 
higher quality.  Referring to the recent discovery of a large 
cache of "technical weapons" at a warehouse in southern Iraq, 
Maliki said the biggest threat was that Iranian and Syrian 
elements were training Iraqis to manufacture weapons. 
 
5. (C) Asked by Sen. Levin how Iran responded to such 
charges, Maliki said Iranian officials claimed they were 
committed to implementing security understandings between the 
two sides, and claimed Iranian-manufactured weapons the GOI 
discovered dated to the Saddam era.  Acknowledging 
difficulties in identifying the provenance of confiscated 
materiel, Maliki nonetheless emphasized that much of it had 
clearly entered Iraq from Iran. 
 
6. (C) Responding to Sen. Reed's question about efforts to 
build a cross-sectarian, nationalist coalition, Maliki 
stressed that if Iraq returned to the "old sectarian way of 
doing things," it would not surmount the most dangerous 
Qdoing things," it would not surmount the most dangerous 
challenges it faces.  Saying his State of Law list was 
currently meeting with representatives of different religious 
and ethnic groups, he argued that Iraq's problems were bigger 
than any one confessional group.  He conceded that forging a 
national, cross-sectarian coalition was difficult: "We face 
challenges from the east (Iran) and the west (Syria)." 
 
MALIKI: BA'ATHISTS, AQI PERPETRATED AUG 19 BOMBINGS 
 
7. (C) Building on the foreign interference theme, Maliki 
flatly said Ba'athists and AQI conspired to execute the 
August 19 bombings in Baghdad.  Referring to separate 
televised confessions by an alleged August 19 conspirator and 
a Saudi national who claimed he was trained in Syria and sent 
to Iraq to carry out attacks, Maliki said Ba'athist and AQI 
elements in Syria were "coordinating against Iraq."  Results 
of the GOI's investigation, together with the unwillingness 
of Iraq's neighbors to prevent foreign fighter and weapons 
flows, had prompted the GOI to ask the UN to establish an 
international committee to investigate the August 19 attacks, 
Maliki said. 
 
BAGHDAD 00002441  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
REQUEST FOR MILITARY EQUIPMENT TRANSFER 
 
8. (C) Responding to Sen. Kaufman's question about whether 
Iraqi forces were capable of maintaining security after the 
bulk of U.S. forces depart, Maliki said he had the "highest 
confidence" in the ISF's abilities and noted there were still 
two years in which to further equip and train them.  External 
threats were a bigger challenge; Iraq needed greater 
defensive capability and an end to meddling by neighboring 
states.  Responding to Sen. Levin's question about whether 
the GOI might want some U.S. forces to remain after December 
2011, Maliki stressed that 1) departing U.S. forces should 
leave equipment and weapons behind for the ISF, and 2) the 
U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement allows the GOI to request that 
U.S. forces stay on if conditions warrant.  If Iraq obtained 
needed equipment, Maliki said, there was unlikely to be a 
need for significant U.S. forces beyond trainers and 
technicians.  Maliki asked for CODEL members' help in 
facilitating the transfer of equipment from departing U.S. 
forces to the ISF. 
 
JOINT PATROLS IN NINEWA KEY TO ELECTIONS 
 
9. (C) Responding to Sen. Reed's question about obstacles to 
resolving issues between the GOI and Kurdistan Regional 
Government (KRG), Maliki said such disputes must be resolved 
through constitutional processes.  Those required time and a 
political, vice military, solution.  On disputed internal 
boundaries (DIBs) in Ninewa, the GOI and KRG had agreed on 
joint Iraqi Army (IA)-Peshmerga-CF checkpoints (JCPs) and 
patrols.  Peshmerga forces would be incorporated into the IA 
and would be paid by the GOI until DIBs issues were resolved. 
 Maliki linked Peshmerga forces' denial of movement to IA and 
GOI elements in Ninewa to upcoming elections.  The JCPs would 
help ease tensions and facilitate more transparent elections 
in Ninewa and Kirkuk, where accusations by Kurds and Arabs 
that their movement had been restricted to prevent voting 
would otherwise taint polling. 
 
MEK: ANYWHERE BUT IRAQ 
 
10. (C) Responding to Sen. Reed's question about how the GOI 
would deal with the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), Maliki said, 
"We wish they would go in peace to any other state to 
eliminate the excuse for intervention that their presence 
here affords Iran."  He stressed that the GOI does not want 
to force MEK members to return to Iran; however, he 
emphasized the threat the group posed and claimed an 
individual involved in the August 19 bombing of the Ministry 
of Finance was a MEK member. 
 
CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ 
 
11. (C) Sen. Levin expressed appreciation for measures the 
GOI took to protect ethnic and religious minorities in the 
wake of recent attacks against churches in Iraq.  Maliki said 
he assured Pope Benedict XVI he would do all he could to keep 
Christians in Iraq and accord them the respect they deserved 
as "the original inhabitants of Iraq."  Expressing hope that 
Muslims in Europe would also be treated well, he said the 
presence of Christians in Iraq and Muslims in Europe was 
"good for the dialogue between civilizations."  Protection of 
ethnic and religious minorities should only extend to "true 
believers in the values of their faith," and not to 
terrorists who justify killing with religion. 
 
12. (U) The CODEL did not have the opportunity to clear this 
cable. 
FORD

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