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Viewing cable 09BAGHDAD1103, IRAN IN IRAQ: STRATEGY FOR PRESSURING IRGC-QF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD1103 2009-04-24 16:04 2010-12-05 12:12 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO8610
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1103/01 1141618
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 241618Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2829
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 001103 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/I AND NEA/IR 
NSC STAFF FOR OLLIVANT AND MAGSAMEN 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/23/2029 
TAGS: PREL PTER PINR MOPS ECON ETRD IR IZ
SUBJECT: IRAN IN IRAQ: STRATEGY FOR PRESSURING IRGC-QF 

REF: A. 07 BAGHDAD 150 
B. 07 BAGHDAD 488 
C. BAGHDAD 289 

Classified By: Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Patricia A. Butenis for 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

1. (S/NF) Summary: Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps - Quds 
Force (IRGC-QF) officers are active in Iraq, conducting 
traditional espionage and supporting violent extremists as 
well as supporting both legitimate and malign Iranian 
economic and cultural outreach. Iraqis and their government 
have demonstrated increasing willingness to push back against 
malign Iranian influence in the last year. Working with the 
Iraqis, we have succeeded in stopping some IRGC-QF activity 
through military operations and diplomatic engagement, while 
we prevented some IRGC-QF officers from entering Iraq through 
explicit warnings that we would target them unilaterally. 
However, under the Security Agreement effective January 1, 
all operations in Iraq must be conducted in conjunction with 
Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and our previous unilateral 
warnings carry less weight. As Coalition Forces continue the 
period of responsible drawdown, we will rely increasingly on 
the GOI to keep the pressure on the IRGC-QF. We intend to 
support the GOI in these efforts through continued diplomatic 
engagement, intelligence sharing, and our security 
partnership of Coalition Forces working by, with, and through 
the ISF. End summary. 

----------- 
Background: 
----------- 

2. (S/NF) IRGC-QF leadership took advantage of the vacuum 
which surrounded the fall of Saddam Hussein and the entry of 
Coalition Forces into Iraq in 2003, using the opportunity to 
send operatives to Iraq when little attention was focused on 
Iran. In January 2007, Coalition Forces raided an unofficial 
Iranian consulate in Erbil, detaining five Iranians who 
claimed to be diplomats but in reality held no diplomatic 
status. They were suspected of operations aimed at killing 
Coalition and Iraqi security forces (refs A and B). The 
original targets of the raid, IRGC-QF officers Abbas Hoseyni 
(of the Erbil office) and Hormat Faruqi (of the Sulaimaniyah 
office), escaped and fled to Iran. The Iranian government 
immediately pulled back most IRGC-QF officers from Iraq and 
shuttered its "consulates" in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah until 
mid-2007; consulates in Basrah and Karbala remained open. 
Since 2007, Iran has submitted diplomatic visa applications 
for Hoseini and Faruqi to return to Iraq. In 2008 the 
Embassy and MNF-I convinced the GOI not to approve these 
applications, making it clear if they returned to Iraq, they 
would be targeted by Coalition Forces. 

3. (S/NF) Since 2008, the MFA has passed names of Iranians 
applying for diplomatic visas to the US Embassy for vetting. 
Background checks have revealed that about 20 percent have 
possible ties to the IRGC or Iran's Ministry of Intelligence 
and Security (MOIS) (ref C). The MFA has informed us that it 
denies visas to all new suspected intelligence officers, but 
we have not been able to verify such claims. In January 
2009, the MFA passed a list of 35 names to the USG of Iranian 
diplomats already in country before the vetting process 
began. Of those, eight had ties to IRGC or MOIS. 

-------- 
Strategy 
-------- 

4. (S/NF) As U.S. forces continue a period of responsible 
draw down, we will seek to ensure that the GOI understands 
that IRGC-QF activity harms Iraq -- which should be 
self-evident if the IRGC-QF continues to conduct malign 
activity that targets Iraqi citizens and infrastructure. 
Qactivity that targets Iraqi citizens and infrastructure. 
Engagements with political and security leadership at the 
national and provincial level, intelligence sharing, and 
security cooperation will be key to explaining the dangers of 
IRGC-QF activity and providing Iraqis the information they 
need to defend their own interests. The following are 
diplomatic, political, military, intelligence, and public 
information options which either the GOI can pursue 
unilaterally, or in concert with the USG, to target IRGC-QF 
activity in Iraq. 

--------- 
Diplomacy 
--------- 


BAGHDAD 00001103 002 OF 003 


5. (S/NF) We intend to continue working closely with the MFA 
to deny visas to Iranian intelligence officers. We may also 
consider suggesting that the MFA use another diplomatic tool, 
albeit one with more consequences -- the "persona non grata" 
designation. The MFA may be reluctant to take this step 
because Iraqi diplomats in Iran would face retaliation and 
the dispute would inevitably become public. Since the fall 
of Saddam, the GOI has avoided most public disagreements with 
Iran. 

-------------------- 
Security Partnership 
-------------------- 

6. (S/NF) The role of the ISF in countering IRGC-QF in Iraq 
is critical, yet complex. We can encourage the Iraqi Army to 
take the lead on kinetic action against IRGC-QF agents, with 
Iraqi police monitoring and reacting to suspicious activity 
at the local level. We intend to continue to strengthen our 
partnership with the ISF to counter pro-Iranian elements who 
have infiltrated the security forces such as Kata'ib 
Hizbollah and Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. While the US combat mission 
will end by August 31, 2009, we will continue to assist the 
Ministry of Defense (MOD) with training, equipment, mentoring 
and other bilateral military-to-military programs and 
engagements. Military sales, such as the recent Iraqi 
interest in purchasing F-16s and plans to transition from 
AK-47 to M-4 rifles, will increase US influence through 
training and support in Iraq for years to come, although the 
MOD will continue to consider weapons purchases from other 
sources as well. 

--------------- 
Border Controls 
--------------- 

7. (S) The Department of Border Enforcement (DBE) can help 
limit IRGC-QF activity by combating smuggling and 
scrutinizing people and cargo crossing legitimate routes from 
Iran into Iraq. XXXXXXXXXXXX corruption 
at the ports of entry (POEs), unwillingness of inspectors to 
do their jobs, and poor leadership and professionalism at the 
supervisory level keep the DBE from being fully effective. 
The USG can assist, however. Personal Identification Secure 
Comparison and Evaluation System (PISCES), which checks 
travelers' biographic data, is already in use at many land 
and air POEs around Iraq. Additional training at sea ports, 
airports, and land borders could help Iraqi officials detect 
smugglers of cash, weapons, weapons components and other 
contraband. An Iranian IRGC-QF officer was briefly detained 
at Baghdad International Airport in November 2008 when his 
name was flagged in PISCES. In January 2009, KRG's Minister 
of the Interior Karim Sinjari praised PISCES and asked for 
the system at two more land border entry points the KRG 
shares with Iran, Khalil Ibrahim and Hadjer Meran. 

8. (S) As of April 2009, there were 200 PISCES units in 
operation at 15 different POEs in Iraq. Current guidance 
states that every traveler entering or exiting Iraq is 
processed through PISCES. On occasion however, travelers 
will pay a small "fee" to enter or exit without going through 
PISCES. If a potential match is found to someone on the 
"stop list," the screen freezes, and only INIS can unlock the 
screen and conduct a secondary inspection. INIS notifies the 
GOI or USG when the identity of a wanted person is confirmed. 
PISCES is operated by Immigration officers assigned to the 
Department of Travel and Nationality, and the GOI will 
continue to use PISCES after the military drawdown. 
Collection and storage of biometric data is another tool the 
QCollection and storage of biometric data is another tool the 
GOI is already using at POEs, although Biometric Automated 
Toolset (BAT) system is run by U.S. forces and will not stay 
in Iraq after their departure. 

9. (S/NF) A timely example of cooperation with DBE in 
countering Iranian lethal aid smuggling occurred April 14. A 
DBE brigade in Maysan Province, partnered with Multi-National 
Division-South (MND-S) forces, captured an unmanned boat 
carrying explosive devices floating in the Huwayza Marsh. 
The patrol found three explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) 
and other military equipment. MND-S said it was the first 
time the DBE had reported success against this type of 
smuggling. 

-------------------- 
Intelligence Sharing 
-------------------- 


BAGHDAD 00001103 003 OF 003 


10. (S/NF) Coordinating with GOI intelligence agencies to 
stop IRGC-QF activity is complicated by the fact that the 
Iraqi intelligence establishment is extremely fragmented. 
Intelligence offices affiliated with the Ministry of the 
Interior (MOI), DBE, and the Ministry of State for National 
Security Affairs (MSNSA) do not trust each other and often 
work in opposition. The USG could further assist Iraqi 
intelligence by negotiating and approving a bilateral 
US-Iraqi intelligence sharing agreements and further 
providing the GOI with intelligence that demonstrates the 
involvement of IRGC-QF officers in lethal assistance to 
extremists. US Forces in Iraq have established positive 
relationships with their ISF counterparts and are developing 
appropriate intelligence-sharing mechanisms. The USG can also 
assist the GOI to further develop its intelligence 
infrastructure to monitor malign Iranian influence and 
counter the IRGC-QF. INIS currently interacts closely with 
the Office of Regional Affairs (ORA). The establishment of a 
Defense Attach's Office at the Embassy will also help 
facilitate intelligence sharing and is under consideration by 
Chief of Mission. 

------------------- 
Public Information 
------------------- 

11. (S/NF) Highlighting nefarious Iranian activity to GOI 
leadership and the Iraqi public has had a significant impact 
on increasing GOI willingness to confront Iran, as well as 
public rejection of Iranian attempts to dominate Iraq's 
political and economic sectors. Provincial elections 
demonstrated that perceived fealty to Iran is a political 
liability for Iraqi politicians, and they are increasingly 
sensitive to it. Continued USG assistance in uncovering and 
publicizing Iranian attempts to influence events in Iraq will 
make the country a much more inhospitable environment for 
IRGC-QF operatives. 

------- 
Comment 
------- 

12. (S/NF) The Iranian government may sense that the drawdown 
of U.S. military forces in Iraq presents an opportunity to 
expand IRGC-QF activity, although the broader regional 
dynamic will undoubtedly also influence Iranian decision 
making. Without the ability to conduct unilateral military 
action against IRGC-QF operatives in Iraq, we will leverage 
our evolving diplomatic, intelligence, security, and military 
partnerships with Iraq to maintain pressure. Many USG 
agencies will be involved in assisting the Iraqis in this 
critical area, and must actively engage in order to counter 
IRGC-QF officers and their lethal aid. 
BUTENIS