Cablegate: Eucom Briefs Donors and Ecowas On Assistance

Published: Tue 19 Jun 2001 11:18 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) Summary. On June 12, EUCOM POLAD Ambassador Peter
Chaveas addressed a meeting of Diplomatic Missions in Abuja
interested in assisting ECOWAS in its peace-keeping and
conflict resolution activities. Ambassador Chaveas briefed
the representatives on EUCOM's three pillars for ECOWAS
engagement; civilian control and defense reform, regional
capacity building, and military professionalism.
Representatives of the EU and other missions present spoke
briefly on their own current or planned programs with ECOWAS.
A general consensus emerged that ECOWAS, although
institutionally weak, had the political will to pursue its
peace-keeping and conflict resolution goals, and should be
supported with carefully targeted and mutually reinforcing
efforts by donor nations, especially efforts to strengthen
ECOWAS' accountability, functional scope and institutional
2. (SBU) Chaveas also briefed ECOWAS Executive Secretary
Lansana Kouyate on June 13th on its three pillars of support.
Kouyate briefed in reply on the status of its initial steps
to erect the Mechanism on Conflict Prevention and Security,
including its four observation stations, central operations
center, Council of Elders, and stand-by units, all to be
financed by a 0.5% ECOWAS levy on imports from outside the
community. Kouyate said a careful consideration of the
various EUCOM programs would bring a comprehensive response
by August. He also agreed to a visit by the EUCOM DCINC the
same month. End Summary.
3. (SBU) On June 12, in a meeting hosted by Ambassador
Jeter, EUCOM POLAD Ambassador Peter Chaveas and EUCOM staff
briefed diplomatic missions interested in assisting ECOWAS on
the EUCOM outline of engagement with the ECOWAS Secretariat
in Abuja. In attendance were the French DCM Gerard Gerold,
the Canadian Counselor, John McNeish, the German Ambassador
Armin Hiller and his DCM, Karlfried Bergner, The EU
Ambassador Veli Ollikainen, the Japanese Second Secretary
Matsumoto Koichiro, and the Dutch DCM, Michel Deelen.
4. (SBU) Chaveas began by cautioning the assembled diplomats
that, although EUCOM envisaged an ultimately broad engagement
with ECOWAS, for the moment EUCOM's relationship with ECOWAS
was "very embryonic." EUCOM saw ECOWAS as the most promising
of regional organizations in regard to security issues, and
the proper initial forum for EUCOM's desired sub-regional
engagement, a break from EUCOM's conventional focus on
bilateral endeavors. An initial "get-acquainted" meeting
between ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansana Kouyate and EUCOM
DCINC General Fulford last October in Abuja was followed up
by a meeting with ECOWAS Chairman, President Oumar Konare of
Mali, in Bamako in February. The meeting with Kouyate this
time, said Chaveas, would be the first real opportunity to
brief ECOWAS on existing program opportunities.
5. (SBU) Chaveas and EUCOM J-5 Division Chief Captain
Stephen Ewell then gave the assembled diplomats a rundown on
what EUCOM possibly could provide to ECOWAS, presented in the
form of three main themes of engagement: civilian control and
defense reform, regional capacity building, and military
professionalism. Regarding civilian control and defense
reform, Chaveas and Ewell outlined the activities of the
Africa Center for Strategic Studies, and the various security
assistance programs available, FMS/FMF, EDA, and IMET.
Regional capacity building, Chaveas explained, could be
enhanced by participation in ACRI, Humanitarian Civic
Assistance, the Excess Property program, and other non-lethal
forms of assistance such as de-mining training, and
"Communications and Consequence Management". Ewell briefly
described Operation Focus Relief's training of individual
battalions for service in UNAMSIL operations in Sierra Leone.
Finally, Ewell briefed the diplomats on activities geared
toward military professionalism, including JCETs, ship
visits, FLINTLOCK and MEDFLAG exercises, and the prospective
African Regional Exercise Program, meant to integrate ACRI
and Focus Relief training into combined exercises for
regional entities.
6. (SBU) Canadian Counsellor John McNeish replied first,
noting that his government had plans underway to establish a
Child Protection Unit within ECOWAS, and to assist with the
establishment of a NGO network within the ECOWAS community to
feed information to its four "listening posts". He cautioned
that ECOWAS could easily be overwhelmed by "too much support"
that was not carefully targeted. German DCM Bergner stated
that the German Government was in a "fact-finding mode," as
the ECOWAS Secretariat was considered short-staffed and
disorganized, and "scrambling" to absorb many different
offers of assistance. With only two military officers on its
staff, for example, ECOWAS headquarters had difficulty
planning for security contingencies as well as planning
actual deployments. Institutional capacity-building appeared
an essential first step, said Bergner. Some sort of aid for
an internal accounting system could be useful, he noted.
7. (SBU) EU Ambassador Ollikainen echoed the comments of the
first two speakers, saying that ECOWAS was very weak
institutionally. The EU had a study underway of its various
capacities on political and economic issues, and was
considering some sort of budgetary support, although this was
a very preliminary idea, and the EU had considerable
misgivings about this. The EU was also assisting with the
set-up of the four monitoring posts, now just underway, he
added. Japanese Second Secretary Koichiro stated that the
Japanese Government had established a Japan-ECOWAS Trust Fund
with an initial one hundred thousand dollar contribution, to
be used for conflict prevention programs. Koichiro noted
that ECOWAS did not lack ideas, but there was a dearth of
concrete initiatives to fund. He also noted that the GOJ
preferred to deal through the UN, as funding restrictions
prevented the GOJ from working directly with ECOWAS on many
8. (SBU) Dutch DCM Deelen said that direct Dutch cooperation
with ECOWAS was "very preliminary." The Dutch Government had
donated trucks to UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone, indirectly
furthering ECOWAS endeavors, but direct assistance was not an
immediate prospect. The Dutch Government had asked ECOWAS
for an "action plan." Deelen commented that more funds for
assistance from the Dutch Government could be forthcoming,
but only if the capacity of ECOWAS to absorb it was clear.
French DCM Gerold also noted the institutional weakness of
ECOWAS, although the French Government was convinced of the
necessity to build cooperation with ECOWAS. He noted the
very slow institutional decision-making structure of ECOWAS:
"Look how long it took to hire the new Deputy Director of the
Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, General Diarra," he asked
rhetorically. (Comment: Filling this position has taken over
two years. End comment).
9. (SBU) Participants generally agreed on the importance of
assisting ECOWAS, despite its weak decision-making structure,
and its limited capacities on many levels. ECOWAS had the
political will to take on regional conflict and attempt to
solve it, participants agreed, and this had to be nurtured.
The French and Canadian representatives noted the potential
harm in sending "mixed messages" to ECOWAS, supporting its
efforts generally while expressing distrust in particular
cases, most especially the plan to send an inter-positional
force to the Liberia-Guinea border area. Both Ambassadors
Chaveas and Jeter strongly interjected that the great risks
of that plan, and the refusal of Guinea to allow deployment
on its soil, had far outweighed any slight to ECOWAS
sensibilities. "We did not want to set up ECOWAS for
failure," said Chaveas. As a final note, the diplomatic
representatives in attendance praised USG organization of
this first-ever donor meeting, and urged regular interactions
in the future.
10. (SBU) On June 13, Ambassador Chaveas and Ambassador
Jeter, and EUCOM and Mission staff, met with Executive
Secretary Kouyate, Deputy Executive Secretary Diarra and
other ECOWAS officials. Ambassador Chaveas noted at the
outset that EUCOM had "no great master proposal" for ECOWAS.
EUCOM and the USG wanted to hear fully from ECOWAS on its
needs and interests. "Let us tell you what we have, so you
can better tell us what you need." Ambassador Jeter
mentioned that ECOWAS was now fully certified to receive
direct U.S. assistance. Captain Ewell then briefed on the
three pillars of program support outlined in paragraph 5.
11. (SBU) At the end of the briefing, Kouyate expressed
great interest in using IMET training for EOCWAS stand-by
force officers. "The educational level of our troops in the
region is very low," he said. "This sort of program is very
essential." He also noted the complementarity of ACRI and
the French RECAMP programs, and said that ECOWAS wished the
stand-by units to ultimately train and exercise together,
with common airlift, logistics and command and control
mechanisms in place. Regional training exercises would also
take care of the Nigerian "ego" problem of insisting its
troops already possessed full knowledge of modern tactical
and strategic concepts and were fully trained for regional
deployment. Two regional depots, one coastal, one in the
interior, were envisaged to support joint deployments.
12. (SBU) Kouyate gave an overview of the ECOWAS Mechanism
for Conflict Prevention, Peace-Keeping and Security, noting
that three headquarters agreements had been already signed
for the four planned Observation Stations in Benin, Burkina
Faso, The Gambia and Liberia. The Observation and Monitoring
Center at the ECOWAS Secretariat would, he said, ideally be
equipped with the latest equipment to ensure confidential
communications and real time information on regional events.
He noted that the UN was helping with the establishment of a
"data base" for this operations center. He briefly described
the Council of Mediation and Security, and its sub-organs,
the Defense and Security Commission and the Council of
Elders. He noted an ECOWAS-wide customs levy of 0.5% had
been agreed upon to fund the Mechanism, but "more funds"
would be needed to fully meet the needs of the Secretariat.
13. (SBU) Kouyate then said that his staff would digest the
EUCOM presentation, and develop a response by August. He also
pledged his willingness to receive an August visit by the
EUCOM DCINC, and hoped his staff would have its response
ready by that time. Ambassador Chaveas replied that EUCOM
took a keen interest in enhanced ties with ECOWAS, and it
understood the heightened focus ECOWAS gave to early warning
systems with its Observation Stations and Observation Center.
He invited ECOWAS to send a representative to EUCOM
headquarters in Frankfurt to see how EUCOM manages its
operational responsibilities for 91 countries in Africa,
Europe and elsewhere. Kouyate accepted, and the meeting
14. (SBU) Comment. ECOWAS has just begun to bring the
Conflict Prevention and Security Mechanism to life. Focused
and complementary assistance to ECOWAS by donor governments,
which does not exceed the organization's capacity to receive
it, and which enhances its ability to respond in an organized
and early manner to crises, appears the proper path to
pursue. The universal judgement among interested diplomatic
missions in Abuja is that well-coordinated and targeted aid
will work best. Although there is some hesitation among
interested Missions in Abuja regarding an organizationally
weak and under-staffed Secretariat, there is general
agreement that there is no alternative to ECOWAS and its role
in conflict prevention, resolution, and peacekeeping. End
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