INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Baghdad Response to Ig Report Regional Embassy Offices In

Published: Mon 5 Oct 2009 08:05 AM
VZCZCXYZ0029
RR RUEHWEB
DE RUEHGB #2669/01 2780805
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 050805Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4944
UNCLAS BAGHDAD 002669
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASIG AMGT ABLDG ASEC IZ
SUBJECT: Baghdad Response to IG Report Regional Embassy Offices in
Iraq
REF: Geisel-Hill Letter 08/18/2009
(SBU) Sensitive but Unclassified. Protect Accordingly.
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. State IG Middle East Regional Office (MERO)
Review of the Roles, Staffing, and effectiveness of Regional Embassy
Offices in Iraq dated August 18, 2009 (Report Number MERO-IQO-09-09,
August 2009) made one recommendation about planning for the eventual
opening of U.S. Consulates in Iraq. That recommendation reads:
"Upon receiving policy direction from the Administration to proceed
forward in the normalization of relations with the Government of
Iraq, Embassy Baghdad should develop a detailed plan for
establishing consulates in Iraq. The plan should contain an
analysis of the security situation, life support, and other
logistical requirements at proposed sites." The Embassy agrees with
the recommendation and, although final policy direction from the
Administration as to the size and nature of the future U.S. presence
outside Baghdad has yet to be determined, the Embassy has begun
intensive planning and preparation for the many issues that will
need to be addressed once direction is forthcoming. END SUMMARY.
2. (SBU) Diplomatic relations between the United States and Iraq
are already normalized in many respects, as evidenced in part by the
fact that each country maintains an embassy and additional
diplomatic posts in the other country, and each country's embassy is
led by an accredited Ambassador. Embassy Baghdad therefore
understands the phrase "Upon receiving policy direction from the
Administration to proceed forward in the normalization of relations"
to mean that the Embassy will proceed in accordance with the
Administration's instruction once the Administration has determined
the nature of its desired presence in Iraq post-2012, when the
withdrawal of U.S. military forces is complete. As the U.S.
military presence in Iraq declines -- with withdrawal of all U.S.
forces to occur no later than December 31, 2011 -- the conduct of
bilateral relations will increasingly become the sole purview of
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, performed by an interagency team led by the
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. The U.S. presence in Iraq will also
include several additional facilities, including consulates and
other operations (currently referred to informally as "Provincial
Diplomatic Teams," or PDTs), whose location, size, and composition
are the subject of ongoing deliberations at senior levels of the
Administration.
3. (SBU) As of September 2009, there are 16 Provincial
Reconstruction teams (PRTs) and seven embedded PRTs (ePRTs) located
throughout Iraq, as well as Regional Embassy Offices (REOs) in
Hillah and Basrah. The REO in Hillah, which serves as the
administrative and operational platform for PRT Babil, will be
closed by October 30th. The PRT in Hillah is being relocated to a
U.S. forward operating base in Kalsu and, once this is done, the
building housing the former REO will be decommissioned and returned
to Iraq by the end of 2009. A requirement of the decommissioning
process is a formal notification to Congress of the Department of
State's intention to close the REO. The notification was
transmitted to Congress on September 15, 2009.
4. (SBU) The Embassy and MNF-I are currently negotiating
arrangements to embed the existing Basrah REO and Basrah PRT in
Basrah Air Base. No decision has been made as to whether Basrah
will be the site of a future U.S. consulate.
5. (SBU) As for the future of other U.S. operations in other
locations in Iraq, the seven ePRTs will be folded into their parent
PRTs by August 2010. Administration policy is to maintain 16
Provincial Reconstruction Teams (one for the 3 Kurdish Regional
QProvincial Reconstruction Teams (one for the 3 Kurdish Regional
Government provinces and one each in the other 15 provinces) through
August 2011. From August 2011 until December 2011, further
consolidation will take place, leaving a smaller number of U.S.
presence posts when the military completes its withdrawal.
6. (SBU) As noted in MERO's report, a 2004 agreement between the
United States and Iraq provides that Iraq will transfer title to
properties in Mosul and Basrah to the United States for future
consulate sites, but no decisions have been made as to the ultimate
number and location of U.S. consulates. Ultimately, in accordance
with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Government of
Iraq must consent to the opening of a new consulate and must approve
of its location and consular district. The Department will also be
required to complete congressional notification procedures prior to
the opening of a new consulate. Nevertheless, the planning process
to determine the U.S. presence in Iraq in 2012 and beyond began in
May 2009 and is ongoing. Embassy Baghdad has had significant input
into deliberations in Washington, and OPA has begun a number of
planning processes in advance of the final Administration decision,
that will be applicable regardless of how many consulates and other
U.S. presences (including PDTs).
7. (SBU) These plans include working in concert with Multinational
Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) and other Embassy sections to develop detailed
plans for PRT and ePRT drawdown/closures; planning for a reduced PRT
footprint by identifying key strategic priorities and diverting
reduced resources to these provinces and functions; reviewing
resource requirements for enduring presences (including consulates)
and identifying equipment, vehicles and other resources the U.S.
military may be able to provide to meet those requirements; and
determining cost estimates for various enduring presence options for
security operations, life support, personnel, facilities upgrades
and other resource requirements.
8. (SBU) Planning for U.S. provincial presence in Iraq will continue
and intensify once Administration policy with regard to the location
of consulates and any other USG presences is finalized.
Hill
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