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Viewing cable 07MADRID753, SPANISH ENCOURAGE LONGER MINURSO RENEWAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MADRID753 2007-04-26 07:07 2010-12-14 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Madrid
VZCZCXRO7643
PP RUEHAG RUEHROV
DE RUEHMD #0753/01 1160757
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260757Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MADRID
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2355
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAS/AMEMBASSY ALGIERS PRIORITY 3934
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT PRIORITY 1145
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT PRIORITY 6016
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA PRIORITY 2640
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0340
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MADRID 000753

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NEA/FO FOR GORDON GRAY
NEA/MAG FOR ROBERT EWING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2017
TAGS: PREL PBTS SP MO AG WI
SUBJECT: SPANISH ENCOURAGE LONGER MINURSO RENEWAL

MADRID 00000753 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: DCM Hugo Llorens for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) SUMMARY: NEA DAS Gordon Gray discussed the Western
Sahara over lunch with a team of high-level MFA officials
April 19 in Madrid. Alvaro Iranzo, the Spanish DG for North
Africa, told Gray that the Spanish want a UNSCR which impels
the two sides to negotiate without preconditions. While
favoring a six-month renewal, Spain is more flexible on the
length of the mandate. The Spanish would also like
negotiations between the parties to take place under UN
auspices, although they would not oppose a facilitator to
help find common ground between the two sides. Given its
proximity to the region, Spain is directly concerned with
preventing any possible outbreak of instability in the
Western Sahara. Iranzo underscored that Spain is pleased that
the U.S. is taking an active interest in the matter, and
agrees the Moroccan autonomy plan has merit. Iranzo said
that though we had some tactical differences, Spain shares
our strategic goal of resolving the Western Sahara issues in
order to promote an integrated, stable Maghreb. Iranzo
shared a proposed Spanish draft UNSCR for the MINURSO
renewal. Gray said he thought the main point for debate
would be the length of the rollover. DG Iranzo also extended
an invitation to A/S Welch to visit Madrid. Presidential
advisor Diego de Ojeda told Gray that President Zapatero is
heavily invested politically in the fate of North Africa.
END SUMMARY.

2. (U) During a stop in Madrid April 19 to consult on the
Western Sahara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern
Affairs Gordon Gray held an in-depth discussion on the
current U.S. approach toward the Western Sahara dispute with
MFA DG Alvaro Iranzo, and a team of experts from MFA,s
Middle East and UN divisions including Juan Manuel Linares,
Deputy Director General for the UN, Felix Costales, Deputy
Political Director, Javier Sancho, Chief of Staff to the FM,
and Federico Torres, Chief of Staff to the Deputy FM. The
DCM and PolCouns attended from the Embassy. Discussions took
place over lunch in the Foreign Minister's private dining
room, a special courtesy which reflected the GOS appreciation
for the consultations and the importance the Foreign Minister
attached to the issue.

//TURNING POINT//

3. (C) DG Iranzo opened the lunch by providing an historical
overview of the Spanish position on the Western Sahara and
the various efforts to reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Iranzo noted that Morocco and Algeria, which are the main
sources of Muslim immigration to Spain, are vital neighbors
and factor heavily in Spanish foreign policy; he added that
in the age of globalization, Spain in particular as well as
the rest of the EU feel compelled to reach a solution in the
Western Sahara that would open the door to North African
integration. The recent terrorist attacks in North Africa
are just additional proof of the need to increase cooperation
in the region. Iranzo said the only modern comparison to the
frozen border between Algeria and Morocco is the DMZ on the
Korean Peninsula, and he underscored that the two nations are
natural allies that share homogeneous populations and
strategic interests. Spain would like to bring the leaders
together through the EuroMediterranean Process and other
international bodies in order to improve the region's
capacity to combat terrorism and poverty.

//ACHIEVE A SOLUTION WITH NO CLEAR WINNER//

4. (C) Spain wants the April UNSC resolution to compel
bilateral negotiations without preconditions between the
Polisario and Morocco under UN auspices with the assistance
of a facilitator designated by the UNSYG. The UN's role is
historically established in the conflict and provides a
guarantee to both parties, and Iranzo said Spain was
"religiously" committed to efficient multilateralism. The
facilitator should not be a traditional mediator but should
compel the two sides to find common ground rather than
proposing a third-party solution. Iranzo said that Spain had
no specific preference on who would facilitate negotiations,
though he noted that current Personal Envoy Van Walsum does
not have the confidence of both parties. The end goal,
according to Iranzo, should be a negotiated settlement with
no clear winner. Without a mutually acceptable solution, it
would be very difficult to achieve a thaw in relations
between Algeria and Morocco. He cautioned that the worst

MADRID 00000753 002.2 OF 003


possible result from a Spanish perspective would be another
technical rollover of MINURSO, and the international
community should refuse any attempt at this by either party.
On the need to maintain the ceasefire between the Polisario
and Morocco, he said, "This is a must for Spain and the EU."
As it remains extremely difficult to identify the proper
voting population for a referendum on Western Sahara, Spain
thinks any referendum should not be the first step in any
solution but should take place years down the road.

//MANDATE RENEWAL//

5. (C) Turning to the length of the MINURSO mandate renewal,
Iranzo said that Spain favored a six-month mandate that
includes a report by UNSYG Moon on the Western Sahara after
two months, providing the basis for negotiations prior to the
next renewal. He cautioned that a two month renewal would be
too short a period for Polisario decision making to take
place. He also warned against using MINURSO as leverage,
noting that the Moroccans benefit from MINURSO's continued
presence while the Polisario feel they have nothing to lose
by MINURSO's departure. Spain, for its part, considers
MINURSO an essential element in maintaining stability so long
as there is no agreement on the status of the Western Sahara
and therefore would not want the current process to lead to
the end of MINURSO unless conditions were appropriate. The
Spanish have told the Moroccans not to be over-anxious in
moving ahead with their autonomy plan and to keep their
expectations low.

6. (C) Gray agreed with much of Iranzo's analysis, but he
expressed the USG's slight disappointment in the UNSYG's
report on the proposals. The report treated the Moroccan and
Polisario plans equally and did not give enough credit to the
sincere Moroccan effort to craft a solution, while the
Polisario simply recycled the Baker Plan. He noted that the
U.S. was flexible with regard to the auspices of any
negotiations and could live with UN auspices, but was not
pushing for that outcome. He added that Secretary Rice had
told the Algerian Foreign Minister that negotiations without
preconditions were the only way to proceed, and that the most
important point was that both sides sit down to talk. On
mandate renewal length, Gray told Iranzo that the U.S. favors
a two-month mandate in order to maintain the pressure on both
parties and to signal that this renewal is not a continuation
of business as usual. The UN also should not give the
Polisario a permanent veto over the process. If the
Polisario were to choose not to take advantage of the
two-month window to accept negotiations, then the U.S. would
be prepared to support the Moroccan plan as the preferred
solution. He explained that if the negotiations do not begin
after two months, it was not the U.S. intention at this point
to terminate MINURSO.

7. (C) Iranzo said that any disagreement between Spain and
the U.S. was over tactics and not strategy. He praised the
previous efforts of James Baker and noted that the likely
solution to the conflict would be found somewhere in the
confines of Baker's previous proposals. In that sense he
said, "The Baker plans are not dead, they are hibernating."
On a brief mandate renewal, he said that the Security Council
should not provide any easy excuse for either party to opt
out, preserving the stalemate. He suggested that three or
four months might provide more time to get things done,
especially given the brand new SYG who has not entirely
focused on the matter. Gray said that a two-month rollover
would not shut the door to any future rollovers, it would
just maintain the pressure. He also said that the
achievement of a solution would probably not impact MINURSO's
short term status, as any solution would take some time to
implement.

//SPANISH INITIATIVE?//

8. (C) Iranzo told Gray that Spain would be unveiling new
programs and initiatives, both from President Zapatero and
Foreign Minister Moratinos, including significant
international assistance to both Algeria and Morocco, in
order to bring the Maghreb closer to the EU and the West.
(NOTE: At an earlier meeting with PolCouns, Iranzo made this
same point, saying that his minister would be "pulling a
rabbit out of a hat" in North Africa. END NOTE.)

//POLISARIO UNITY//

MADRID 00000753 003.2 OF 003



9. (C) Gray asked Iranzo what the Spanish assessment was of
unity within the Polisario. Iranzo said it was a matter of
pressure and time. As long as the Moroccan government lacked
subtlety in its handling of the matter, the Polisario would
remain united by opposition to the Moroccans. But if the
Moroccans start offering the Sahrawi "a way out of misery,
there will be fractures." He also viewed the Moroccan
refusal to use Sahrawi symbols in its autonomy plan as a
mistake, saying that Morocco should encourage the Sahrawi
symbols' usage in the autonomous region, thereby minimizing
their utility for separatists.

//TERRORIST ATTACKS IN NORTH AFRICA//

10. (C) Deputy Political Director Costales asked Gray for
the U.S. assessment of the recent bombings in North Africa.
Gray said that the Algerian attack clearly showed the
adoption of Al-Qa'ida tactics by the Maghreb extremists, but
the U.S. has not yet found any link between the Algiers and
Casablanca attacks, nor the thwarted attack in Tunisia in
January. Iranzo said that Spain is very worried about these
new developments given the extent of Spanish interests in the
two countries. He said Spanish interests will be a target in
the future in North Africa. However, he also expressed hope
that the public reaction to the attacks was perhaps evidence
of a growing popular condemnation of such methods. He stated
that while Morocco and Algeria claim to have good bilateral
CT cooperation, "there is undoubtedly a lot of room for
improvement."

//PRESIDENT ZAPATERO INVESTED IN NORTH AFRICA//

11. (C) Gray also met with Diego de Ojeda, a foreign policy
advisor to President Zapatero in the Spanish equivalent of
the national security council. Ojeda provided Spanish
political context, saying that Spain is in favor of applying
pressure on the parties, but given the Maghreb's geographic
proximity, Spain is also very wary of a potential return to
violence. In addition, the Zapatero government is being
criticized by both the left and the right for allegedly
abandoning the traditional Spanish stance of support for
Sahrawi independence. He said that President Zapatero has
invested significant political capital in improving Spain's
relations with North Africa, and the Western Sahara will
remain a critical issue for the GOS. He repeated Iranzo's
statement that Spain is happy that the U.S. is forcefully
engaged on the issue. Algeria's recent message to Spain has
been that the Western Sahara is not a "causus belli" with
Morocco, and he agreed that Polisario engagement would depend
on the amount of pressure exerted upon them.

12. (C) On the North Africa attacks, de Ojeda described the
Algerian attacks as evidence of a new "Al Qa'ida franchise"
in Algeria, but not necessarily of a coordinated strategy
across the Middle East or even the Maghreb. He assessed the
threat to Spain as very serious, given its proximity to North
Africa, the amount of trans-migration through Spain, the
ongoing March 11 trial, and the recent statements by Ayman
Al-Zawahiri about reconquering Al-Andalus. The Spanish North
African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla also remain a likely
target, although de Ojeda speculated that extremists might
not choose to attack there, as this would provoke a security
lockdown that would take away one of their relatively safe
havens in the EU.

13. (U) DAS Gordon Gray cleared this message.

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Visit Embassy Madrid's Classified Website;
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/madrid/
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