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Viewing cable 07PARIS2440, FRENCH MFA OFFICIAL SHARES VIEWS ON IRAN/IRAQ

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07PARIS2440 2007-06-07 17:05 2010-11-29 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
VZCZCXYZ0015
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFRA #2440 1581725
ZNY CCCCC ZZH ZUI RUEWMCE1074 1581702
O 071725Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0000
INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 002440 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 6/7/2017 
TAGS: PREL FR IR IZ PGOV
SUBJECT: FRENCH MFA OFFICIAL SHARES VIEWS ON IRAN/IRAQ 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: POLITICAL MINISTER-COUNSELOR JOSIAH ROSENBLATT, 
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: FRANCK GELLET, FRENCH DAS-EQUIVALENT FOR THE 
PAGE 02 RUEHFRA2440 C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 002440 
PERSIAN GULF, SHARED HIS VIEWS ON IRAN AND IRAQ ON JUNE 7. 
GELLET ASSESSED THAT THE IRANIANS ARE OVERCONFIDENT AND 
VULNERABLE TO A BAN ON INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAVEL.  HIS 
ASSESSMENT OF IRAQ WAS NOTABLY BLEAK.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) OVER LUNCH JUNE 7, THE MFAS DAS-EQUIVALENT FOR THE 
PERSIAN GULF, FRANCK GELLET, SHARED HIS VIEWS ON IRAN AND 
IRAQ.  HAVING RECENTLY RETURNED FROM A 15-DAY TRIP TO IRAN, 
GELLET SAID THAT HIS MOST SERIOUS AND USEFUL INTERLOCUTOR WAS 
FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER VELAYATI, WHOM HE DESCRIBED AS BEING 
"LESS ROMANTIC" THAN THE REGIME'S OTHER FOREIGN POLICY 
HEAVYWEIGHTS.  GELLET SAID THAT VIRTUALLY ALL OF THE IRANIAN 
OFFICIALS HE MET OVERESTIMATED THE REGIME'S STRENGTH, BOTH ON 
THE REGIONAL AND THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE.  "THE IRANIANS ARE 
CONVINCED THAT NO ONE -- INCLUDING THE UNITED STATES -- CAN 
TOUCH THEM ECONOMICALLY OR MILITARILY.  THEY SIMPLY CAN'T 
IMAGINE THAT THE U.S. HAS THE CAPACITY AND THE POLITICAL WILL 
TO LAUNCH A MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST THEM AT A TIME WHEN THE 
U.S. MILITARY APPEARS TO BE BOGGED DOWN IN IRAQ," SAID 
GELLET. 
 
 
 
PAGE 03 RUEHFRA2440 C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 002440 
 
3. (C) GELLET SAID HIS OWN VIEW (WHICH, HE CAUTIONED, IS NOT 
SHARED BY EVERYONE AT THE MFA), IS THAT IF THE EUROPEANS 
REALLY WANT TO AVOID A MILITARY CONFRONTATION BETWEEN THE 
U.S. AND IRAN THEN THEY NEED TO SHOW THE IRANIANS THEY ARE 
SERIOUS ABOUT ECONOMIC SANCTIONS.  "THE IRANIANS WILL NEVER 
BLINK UNTIL THEY FEEL THAT THE REGIME'S SURVIVAL IS AT 
STAKE," SAID GELLET.  HE SUGGESTED THAT -- IN ADDITION TO A 
FURTHER SANCTIONS ON THE BANKING SECTOR, A FULL ARMS EMBARGO, 
AND A CUT IN EXPORT CREDITS -- THE IRANIANS MIGHT BE 
VULNERABLE TO AN EMBARGO OF REFINED PETROLEUM PRODUCTS.  IN 
ADDITION, HE SUGGESTED THAT WE NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE DRAMATIC 
ISOLATING EFFECT THAT A BAN ON INTERNATIONAL AIR TRAVEL TO 
AND FROM IRAN WOULD HAVE.  GELLET NOTED THAT THESE WERE JUST 
HIS PERSONAL VIEWS, AND SAID THAT HE HAS NOT YET RECEIVED ANY 
GUIDANCE FROM THE NEW PRESIDENCY ON IRAN SANCTIONS.  HE 
OBSERVED THAT PRESIDENT SARKOZY TOOK A HARD LINE AGAINST THE 
IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM DURING HIS ELECTION CAMPAIGN, BUT 
SAID IT REMAINED TO BE SEEN WHAT THAT WOULD TRANSLATE INTO IN 
POLICY TERMS. 
 
 
 
PAGE 04 RUEHFRA2440 C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 002440 
 
4. (C) GELLET, WHO SERVED FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS AT THE 
FRENCH EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD BEFORE ASSUMING HIS CURRENT 
POSITION, HAD A PARTICULARLY GRIM VIEW OF IRAQ.  "WE DON'T 
HAVE THE SLIGHTEST HOPE IT CAN BE SALVAGED -- IT'S LOST," HE 
SAID.  HE PREDICTED THAT IRAQ WILL DESCEND INTO FULL-SCALE 
CIVIL WAR WHETHER OR NOT MNF-I REMAINS.  ON THE OTHER HAND, 
HE PREDICTED THAT IF THE COALITION WERE TO WITHDRAW THERE 
WOULD BE AN IMMEDIATE AND HORRIFIC SPIKE IN THE LEVEL OF 
VIOLENCE.  "YOUR DEPARTURE WOULD BE SEEN EVERYWHERE AS A SIGN 
THAT IT'S TIME FOR THE GLOVES TO COME OFF," HE SAID.  HE 
FURTHER PREDICTED THAT, IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE COALITION'S 
DEPARTURE (WHENEVER THAT OCCURS), THE ENSUING CONFLICT WOULD 
LAST MANY YEARS UNTIL IRAQ'S SUNNIS AND SHIITES (AND THEIR 
RESPECTIVE PATRONS) WERE EXHAUSTED.  AS FOR THE KURDS, GELLET 
SAID THEY SERIOUSLY UNDERESTIMATED THE RISK THAT THEY WOULD 
BE ANNIHILATED DURING THE COURSE OF A CIVIL WAR THAT WOULD 
LIKELY PULL IN MOST OF IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS, INCLUDING TURKEY. 
 
5. (C) NOTWITHSTANDING HIS BLEAK ANALYSIS, GELLET ENCOURAGED 
 
 
 
PAGE 05 RUEHFRA2440 C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 002440 
THE U.S. TO CONTINUE ITS EFFORTS TO PROMOTE RECONCILIATION. 
HE NOTED THAT ONE COMPLAINT HE OFTEN HEARD FROM HIS SUNNI 
CONTACTS WAS THAT THEY RECEIVED CONFLICTING MESSAGES FROM THE 
VARIOUS USG AGENCIES ON THE GROUND IN IRAQ, AND WERE NEVER 
SURE WHICH OF THEM HAD THE ULTIMATE DECISION-MAKING 
AUTHORITY.  GELLET FINISHED BY WARNING THAT OUR TRIBAL ALLIES 
IN ANBAR PROVINCE WOULD TURN ON US WHENEVER IT SUITED THEIR 
INTERESTS TO DO SO. 
 
 
PLEASE VISIT PARIS' CLASSIFIED WEBSITE AT: 
HTTP://WWW.STATE.SGOV.GOV/P/EUR/PARIS/INDEX.C FM 
 
 
STAPLETON