INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Codel Marshall Meets with Malian President

Published: Thu 17 Sep 2009 08:45 AM
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DEPT PASS TO LTC FRANK SOBCHAK, USSOCOM
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SUBJECT: CODEL MARSHALL MEETS WITH MALIAN PRESIDENT
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1.(SBU) SUMMARY: On August 27 the Ambassador and a six member
delegation led by Congressman Jim Marshall met with Malian President
Amadou Toumani Toure. The President said Mali had the human
resources to confront Al Q'Aida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM) but needed resources and regional cooperation to be
successful. Congressman Earl Pomeroy congratulated President Toure
for his commitment to democracy, calling him Mali's George
Washington. The President expressed confidence that President Obama
and Secretary of State Clinton would place Mali on the itinerary for
their next visit to Africa. End summary.
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FOR STABILITY AND DEVELOPMENT
2.(SBU) On August 27 the Ambassador and a Congressional delegation
led by Congressman Jim Marshall and including Congressmen Earl
Pomeroy, Frank LoBiondo, David Wu, Bill Shuster, and Timothy Walz
met with Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT). House Armed
Services Committee staff members Mark Lewis and Lynn Williams also
were present.
3.(SBU) Marshall thanked the President for receiving the
delegation. He noted that Democrats and Republicans are united in
support for Mali's stability, particularly with respect to the
regional fight against Al Q'Aida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb
(AQIM), and the nation's economic development. ATT thanked the
United States for the training it has offered many of its military
officers as well as the dropping of supplies when Malian troops were
surrounded in September 2007 by Tuareg rebels in Tinzaouatene, near
the border with Algeria. He asked for additional training such as
the biannual regional Flintlock exercises and the Joint Combined
Exchange Training.
AQIM PROBLEM IN NEED OF A REGIONAL RESPONSE
4.(SBU) The President said that AQIM was originally an Algerian
phenomenon, but that the problem had turned regional, and that AQIM
fighters, trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan, were well-equipped,
mobile, and very dangerous. He said that AQIM is funded chiefly by
trafficking of arms, narcotics, and people, as well as
hostage-taking for ransom. Most of their recruiting takes place in
Mauritania, and most recruits are not driven by ideology, but are
simply mercenaries.
5.(SBU) Until recently, countries of the region had chosen to
pursue AQIM individually, rather than as a group. When pressure
increased in one country, AQIM was able to move somewhere else. The
President described his efforts to get foreign ministers of the
region together to discuss a joint action plan, a draft communique,
and a draft declaration. The countries of the region decided to
wait until the end of Ramadan, to organize a heads of state meeting
in Bamako, which he expects will take place in October or November.
The President described the distraction of the Tuareg rebellion as
behind him, with Tuareg rebels integrated in the army and weapons
surrendered.
6.(SBU) The President asked for a variety of materiel, including
customs equipment, vehicles for the gendarmerie and police,
communications equipment, helmets, and bullet proof vests. He spoke
of the need to refurbish a former NATO air base at Tessalit so that
two to three regiments could be stationed there so as to prevent
AQIM from gaining a foothold in Mali.
IRREGULAR FORCES
7.(SBU) Marshall said he heard the President's message. He noted
that if AQIM were to embed in Northern Mali, it would be very bad
for the country, and he hoped that the Malian people understood the
importance of the fight, as the President did. He said that
irregular forces who knew the terrain could be successful in
confronting a threat like what the President is experiencing in the
North of Mali, and cited the example of Ramadi, Iraq, which in
December 2006 was under serious threat from Al Q'Aida forces. By
repairing cell phone towers so Sunnis opposed to Al Q'Aida could
communicate with the Iraqi government and by providing vehicles and
rifles to Sunni irregulars fighting Al Q'Aida, the situation
stabilized to the point that U.S. personnel could walk safely on the
streets of Ramadi by summer 2007.
8.(SBU) The President said each faction in the North is willing to
offer 50 of their youth to be trained and integrated into the
military to fight against AQIM. He said they know the region, they
know the people, and if the Government of Mali does not take them,
the Salafists (AQIM) or criminal elements will do so. He described
Malian government dialogue with the Salafists in which the latter
claimed they are engaged in a war against the United States and the
West, not Mali. Malian government representatives replied that Mali
shares Western values and questioned what the Salafists were doing
uninvited on Malian territory. He mentioned recent firefights with
AQIM, noting that they were good fighters equipped with advanced
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equipment such as night vision goggles which allowed them to attack
and kill 29 Malian troops recently in a surprise, nighttime attack.
DEMOCRACY AND DEVELOPMENT
9.(SBU) Pomeroy said that Mali faces a number of serious problems
requiring a leader of courage and character like the President.
Pomeroy said President Toure's military background is helpful in the
fight against AQIM. He called the President the George Washington
of Mali, a military leader who respects democracy and is willing to
step aside and let others rule out of respect for the constitution.
He characterized Mali's fifth democratic election as extremely
important for the future of the nation. Turning to Mali's
Millennium Challenge Account, Pomeroy said he was determined to make
it a success and point of honor for Mali as well as for the United
States, noting that the program would continue to be followed
closely by Congress. Pomeroy said that former Malian Ambassador to
the United States Diop was a great asset.
10.(SBU) The President thanked Pomeroy for his efforts to get the
Millennium Challenge compact signed, calling him the godfather of
Mali's MCC program. He noted that if he were ever to have the
opportunity to tell President Obama what priorities to continue to
support, he would cite the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis
and Malaria, the extremely effective President's Malaria Initiative,
literacy and education programs, and the innovative Millennium
Challenge Corporation. He said Malians are not jealous that the
President and Secretary of State bypassed Mali on their first visits
to the African continent, and they are confident the nation will be
on the itinerary for the next visit.
11.(SBU) Congressman Marshall did not have the opportunity to clear
this message before departing.
MILOVANOVIC
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