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Viewing cable 09KABUL376, PRESIDENT KARZAI PREVIEWS STRATEGIC REVIEW IDEAS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09KABUL376 2009-02-21 04:04 2010-12-02 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO8838
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #0376/01 0520427
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 210427Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7443
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000376 

SIPDIS 

EO 12958 DECL: 02/16/2019 
TAGS PGOV, PREL, PTER, SNAR, AF, PK, IR 
SUBJECT: PRESIDENT KARZAI PREVIEWS STRATEGIC REVIEW IDEAS 
FOR USD/P FLOURNOY

1. (C NF) President Karzai on February 15 told Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Flournoy that his government welcomed the opportunity to join in the USG’s strategic policy review. He suggested his team likely would advocate for: 1) greater efforts to target terrorist leaders and sanctuaries in Pakistan; 2) additional work to strengthen Afghan communities to enhance security; and 3) new multilateral talks with individual groups of Taliban who agree to respect the Afghan constitution. On the contentious issue of civilian casualties, Karzai expressed satisfaction with the recent agreement on specific military operations and a willingness to move forward. The President predicted Iran would respond positively to the new US administration’s offers of dialog.

----------------- 
FOCUS ON PAKISTAN
----------------- 

2. (C NF) The fight for stability in Afghanistan must be taken to the terrorist planners and their sanctuaries in Pakistan, Karzai said. He noted he had long argued for greater efforts in this direction, including in public remarks in Kabul in 2005. Karzai expressed frustration that the close relationship between the United States and Pakistan had yet to yield a serious campaign against terrorist leaders operating there. Instead, he argued, Afghanistan paid the price of perceived US and Pakistani reluctance to grapple with the problem. Pakistan, of course, had long used Islamic fundamentalism as a policy tool. But “Pakistan is a puzzle to me now,” Karzai admitted. “I see things happening on a massive scale in the northwest that are not the work of ISI,” the Pakistani intelligence service.

3. (C NF) On cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Karzai said, “Zardari is of a different (positive) mindset.” The Pakistani President has yet to move, however, from good intentions to implementation, and is weak. Karzai asked Flournoy whether the US strategic review envisioned more direct bilateral military cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the US or NATO as broker, or whether only greater US-Pakistan military cooperation was under consideration. Flournoy replied that the regional strategic review, while urgent and extremely important to the new US administration, was only just underway.

----------------------- 
RENEW COMMUNITY SUPPORT
----------------------- 

3. (C NF) The President underscored his analysis that the support of communities was key to countering the insurgency. When I first returned to Afghanistan, Karzai mused, I had only 14 American soldiers with me. But we had the Afghan people with us, they believed in the moral correctness of what we were doing, and even Helmand was safe for girls to go to school. Now, 4000 (sic) British soldiers are in Helmand, and the people are not safe. “We must stand on a higher moral platform than the bad guys,” the President said.

4. (C NF) Community empowerment is not about the arming the tribes, Karzai noted. Media speculation about this approach is misleading. We need ordinary people, the elders and the villagers, to trust in the government’s ability to do the right thing, and give them what they need to be able to defend themselves, the President said. In turn, the government must minimize civilian casualties, limit night raids, and make sure women and children are protected during military operations. Increasing the numbers and capabilities of the police and army, and strengthening government institutions, are also important, Karzai added.

---------------------- 
TALK TO AFHGAN TALIBAN
---------------------- 

5. (C NF) Afghanistan and the US together should formally launch a process of peace-making with those Taliban who are not al Qaeda or part of any terrorist network, Karzai proposed. There are groups and individuals who would accept the Afghan constitution, who have “run away” from us because of our own failings, he said. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and religious leaders have the right resources to make such a process work and should participate. But US partnership with Afghanistan is key to success and has been the missing element in efforts to date.

6. (C NF) If there really was a Taliban movement, Karzai said, I would be greatly worried by US reports that Iran is supporting the Taliban. But I do not think the Taliban is really a movement. It is the result of three decades of past Pakistani policy, plus a lot of poor, desperate kids who lack
KABUL 00000376 002 OF 002
connection to a family or community.

------------------------- 
FRIENDS DESPITE FRICTIONS
------------------------- 

7. (C NF) On several topics, Karzai said, recent frictions in the bilateral relationship represent “annoyances” between “friends.” “We have been hurt by some recent statements,” he said, and also I know my “loud speeches” on civilian casualties hurt your feelings. Still, the two nations have common interests, and the two peoples are friends. Afghanistan is very grateful for the generosity of US aid in reconstruction and development. The agreement on civilian casualties is a “good start” and we can now move forward to implement it and so speak with one voice on this issue. On Iran, Karzai said, Afghanistan cannot be a channel, but we can help you convey the nuances of your demands. Iran is likely to respond positively to US offers of dialog even though it will never give up its nuclear programs. Progress in curbing poppy cultivation this year probably largely reflects market forces such as high wheat prices. Afghans consider poppy “not respectable,” however, and with stability and hope for the future will respond to international efforts to replace its cultivation with alternate livelihoods.

8. (C) Comment: Coming in the immediate aftermath of Special 
Representative Holbrooke’s visit, this meeting reflected Karzai’s effort to stick by his agreement to re-found the relationship. His calm, constructive comments on civilian casualties contrast sharply to his attitude previously.

9. (U) Undersecretary Flournoy cleared this cable. WOOD