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Viewing cable 09ALGIERS1077, BOUTEFLIKA TO WARD: WE WANT A STRATEGIC

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ALGIERS1077 2009-12-06 07:07 2010-12-06 21:09 SECRET Embassy Algiers
VZCZCXYZ0001
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAS #1077/01 3400757
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 060757Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8190
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBP/AMEMBASSY BAMAKO IMMEDIATE 1048
RUEHNM/AMEMBASSY NIAMEY IMMEDIATE 1989
RUEHNK/AMEMBASSY NOUAKCHOTT IMMEDIATE 6814
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE 1259
S E C R E T ALGIERS 001077 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PBTS KPAL KWBG US IR IZ IS
AF, XA 
SUBJECT: BOUTEFLIKA TO WARD: WE WANT A STRATEGIC 
RELATIONSHIP 

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires a.i. William Jordan; 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 

Summary 
------- 

1. (C) U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General 
William Ward met Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 
November 25, during Ward's first visit to Algeria since 
assuming command of AFRICOM. Ward said AFRICOM's strategy 
was to assist African nations in providing for their own 
security needs, not do the job for them. The U.S. recognized 
Algeria's leadership in the region, and AFRICOM was prepared 
to assist Algeria and its neighbors combat terrorism. 
Bouteflika said Algeria wanted to be a strategic partner, not 
an adversary. Our military relationship already included 
training and technical cooperation. End-use-monitoring 
requirements infringed on Algeria's national sovereignty and 
therefore imposed some limits on military engagement. But 
the U.S. and Algeria shared a common goal in combating 
terrorism. Terrorism in the region had taken a dangerous 
form, and Sahel countries were prepared to address the 
problem jointly. More needed to be done to ensure the 
participation and commitment of Mali's political leadership 
in the regional struggle. Bouteflika told Ward the Malian 
president needed to understand he could not be friends with 
both the thieves and their victims at the same time. 
Trans-Sahara heads of state still planned to convene a 
security and development summit in Bamako but had yet to set 
a firm date. Bouteflika also reviewed Egyptian-Algerian 
tensions in the aftermath of a World Cup qualifying match, 
Western Sahara, the negative repercussions of Israeli 
settlement activities, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. On the 
soccer issue, he made a point of telling Ward that the king 
of Morocco -- in contrast to the strain with Egypt -- had 
sent him a very warm congratulatory message after the game. 
At the end of the meeting, Bouteflika invited Ward to return 
to Algeria in the near future. End summary. 

Addressing Common Challenges 
---------------------------- 

2. (C) Visiting Africa Command (AFRICOM) Commander General 
William Ward met with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 
November 25 at the presidential residence. With Bouteflika 
were Chief of Staff of the Algerian National Popular Army 
(ANP) Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid-Salah, Ministry of 
National Defense (MND) Director of External Relations and 
Cooperation General Nourredine Mekri, ANP Chief of 
Organization and Logistics Major General Abdelhamid Ghriss 
and a translator. The Ambassador, General Ward's foreign 
policy advisor, Dr. Raymond Brown, the DATT and Poloff 
(notetaker) accompanied General Ward to the meeting, which 
lasted two hours. Ward emphasized that his visit to Algiers 
was symbolic of our countries' growing bilateral 
relationship. Africa Command's mission was to assist African 
nations address their own security challenges, not to do it 
for them. The purpose of his visit, Ward said, was to listen 
to Algeria's perspective on enhancing our cooperation as we 
seek ways to work together to address common challenges in 
Africa. Ward recognized that these challenges were complex 
and required development and political solutions, not just 
military intervention. Going forward, we sought to cooperate 
in areas that Algeria determines are priorities. AFRICOM 
welcomed the regional counterterrorism efforts Algeria has 
engaged in with neighboring Sahel countries. Algeria is 
leading the effort; we will work with Algeria and its 
neighbors to assist in eliminating the terrorist threat in 
the region. 

3. (C) President Bouteflika said that the United States and 
Algeria shared a common objective and the will to work 
cooperatively in the fight against terrorism. Bouteflika 
noted the U.S. and Algeria started to work more closely 
together during the Clinton administration when both sides 
came to realize they were fighting the same problem. 
Bouteflika underscored that after 9/11, Algeria was the first 
Arab and Muslim country to send a message of solidarity to 
President Bush. Subsequently, despite the unpopularity of 
some Bush policies, political and economic relations between 
our countries improved. Today, relations were excellent, he 
said, noting that Algeria was the United States' second 
largest trading partner in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia 
and our largest trading partner in Africa. President Obama's 
new approach to U.S. foreign policy was "a breath of fresh 
air" and well regarded by developing world countries. But 
this meant there were also high expectations for his 
administration. Bouteflika predicted that our bilateral 
relationship would continue in a positive direction. He 
commented that the U.S. and Algeria were moving forward with 
cooperation, recognizing the value of dialogue across all 
leadership levels. In this regard, Bouteflika declared he 
was ready to assist Ward and invited him to visit Algeria 
again. 

Military Cooperation 
-------------------- 

4. (S) Bouteflika attached importance to Algeria's 
military-military cooperation with the United States but 
noted that U.S. end-use monitoring requirements contravened 
Algeria's national sovereignty. Nonetheless, we had made 
progress on training and technical cooperation. Bouteflika 
said the capabilities of U.S. and Algerian forces were well 
understood in the region. Bouteflika argued that frank, 
direct talks were the key to a successful military dialogue, 
as well as recognizing that, in some cases, there would be 
limits on the extent of cooperation. "Tell us what you want, 
and we will tell you what we can do." Algeria, he continued, 
wanted to be a strategic partner for the U.S. in the region, 
not an adversary. 

5. (S) General Ward thanked Bouteflika for his candid 
assessment of our mil-mil relationship. He said the 
President, secretaries of State and Defense, and US Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, all recognized the value of the US-Algeria 
partnership. Bouteflika responded that he would help us to 
consolidate that partnership. Ward argued that to enhance 
our partnership, Algeria needed to tell us how we can 
contribute best to achieve mutual objectives. Despite the 
bad things sometimes said about AFRICOM, Ward said with a 
smile, his command had not been created to take over Africa. 
Without missing a beat, Bouteflika replied with an even 
bigger smile that he had been unsure about this himself until 
Ward came. Ward said that, as we continue our military 
dialogue, we want to do the things Algeria tells us are 
important. Ward affirmed Algeria had long recognized the 
challenge of extremism and demonstrated its ability to fight 
back. AFRICOM would do its part to support Algeria and its 
neighbors in this effort. Addressing Bouteflika's point on 
end-use-monitoring requirements, Ward suggested focusing our 
efforts in areas where cooperation was possible, i.e., 
training and equipping. He acknowledged that some U.S. laws 
and regulations may preclude for now Algeria's participation 
in other forms of engagement. 

Civil-Military Relations 
------------------------ 

6. (S) Bouteflika underscored that Algeria's military 
"absolutely" respected the authority of civilian leadership. 
"This is not at all like Turkey," he said. Bouteflika 
asserted that the army was forced to take drastic measures 
during the violence of the 1990s in order to save the 
country. This was a difficult period, but constitutional 
rule had been restored. "The house is now in order," he 
stressed, "and I can tell you that the army obeys the 
civilians. There is one constitution and all obey it." 
Bouteflika acknowledged, however, that the problems of the 
past still haunted the country. He cited foreign press 
reports referring to Algeria as a dictatorship and argued 
that the term was sometimes used carelessly. The Algerian 
constitution had established the rule of law. In 2004 it was 
decided that there was no more historical "revolutionary 
legitimacy". The only legitimacy was the constitution. 
"Anyone can be a candidate for election, in accordance with 
the constitution, even a general." He paused, then grinned 
and said, "but the generals realize the difficulties and none 
has been a candidate yet." 

Counterterrorism 
---------------- 

7. (C) Bouteflika said terrorism in Africa had taken a 
dangerous form. The situation in Somalia was hopeless, he 
commented. Meanwhile, the Sahel region presented a complex 
set of issues. Fortunately, most Sahel countries were 
determined to cooperate and have the capability to fight the 
threat if they work together. Mauritania expressed a clear 
commitment as did Niger, although Bouteflika recognized U.S. 
concerns with President Tandja. Mali's full cooperation 
remained elusive, however. Mali's policies have failed to 
create stability in the north. The result is a lawless 
environment in which smuggling, along with arms and drug 
trafficking, enable terrorism. Bouteflika said the region 
was prepared to tackle this problem, and bilateral and 
regional efforts were already underway. In this regard, 
Algeria was closely monitoring U.S. military assistance to 
Mali and Niger. 

8. (S) Ward told Bouteflika that he planned to visit Bamako 
after Algiers and would encourage Mali's leaders to cooperate 
in the region's counterterrorism efforts. The U.S. was 
providing military assistance to Mali, and we hoped it 
complemented the work Algeria was doing. Ward emphasized 
that, ultimately, defeating terrorism was the responsibility 
of the region. Bouteflika expressed his appreciation for 
U.S. assistance to Mali and said Algeria also provided aid, 
including some equipment. Bouteflika urged the U.S. to tell 
Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure that "he cannot be a 
friend to the thieves and victims at the same time." Many in 
Mali's security services shared the same concern, Bouteflika 
asserted. In the past, he said, Algeria has waited for the 
chance to debrief terrorist suspects held in Mali, only to 
find out later that Malian officials were conducting 
negotiations for the terrorist's release back to the 
terrorist organizations at the same time. "It is difficult 
to cooperate in these conditions," he said. Despite 
difficulties, Bouteflika said regional leaders still planned 
to convene a security and development summit in Bamako. All 
agreed on the need for the summit, he said, but there was 
still no set date. Bouteflika said that Algeria would be 
open to sharing information with the U.S. regarding Algeria's 
cooperation with its neighbors. General Ward said AFRICOM 
would do the same for Algeria regarding U.S. initiatives in 
the region. 

XXXXXXXXXXXX

16. (S) The Ward-Bouteflika meeting was significant in a 
number of respects. The Algerian president spoke repeatedly 
of his readiness to build a strategic relationship with the 
US. He transmitted clear readiness for closer coordination 
and contact on Sahel counter-terrorism issues. The simple 
fact of the meeting with the president was itself a green 
light to the military bureaucracy on stepped-up bilateral 
military cooperation. Not least, the warm and high-level 
official reception provided a powerful antidote to the 
persistent negative mythology about Africa Command since the 
command's rollout. It was also noteworthy that, in the 
presence of three generals, including the chief of staff, 
Bouteflika spoke assertively to Ward about civilian control 
of the military. He described the revolutionary origins of 
military influence in Algeria, said this so-called 
revolutionary legitimacy ended in 2004, and the military now 
obeys the civilians and they all obey the constitution. In 
the course of his regional political review, Bouteflika 
delivered Algeria's views on Western Sahara in familiar 
terms. But in doing so, he also struck an unusually 
positive note about Morocco and the king's message. Clearly, 
in the context of the high emotions stirred in Algeria over 
the controversial World Cup contest with Egypt, Mohammed VI's 
message of congratulations struck a chord with Bouteflika. 
JORDAN