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Viewing cable 10BAGHDAD112, SENIOR MFA OFFICIAL ON MOTTAKI VISIT AND IRAQ-IRAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10BAGHDAD112 2010-01-17 09:09 2010-12-05 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO0554
PP RUEHBC RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGB #0112/01 0170925
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 170925Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6146
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 0692
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000112 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/FO LIMBERT AND CORBIN; NEA/I AND NEA/IR. 
NSC FOR TALWAR, MAGSAMEN, PHEE, AND VROOMAN. 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/12/2020 
TAGS: PGOV PREL IR TU IZ
SUBJECT: SENIOR MFA OFFICIAL ON MOTTAKI VISIT AND IRAQ-IRAN 
BORDER DISPUTE 

REF: A. BAGHDAD 3326 
B. 09 BAGHDAD 2237 

Classified By: Acting Political M/C Yuri Kim for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Ambassador Taha Shukr Abbassi, the head of 
the Iraqi MFA's Neighboring Countries' division (A/S 
equivalent), made the following comments regarding Iranian FM 
Mottaki's visit and the recent oil field dispute between Iraq 
and Iran: (1) Mottaki promised to fully withdraw Iranian 
soldiers from the disputed oil field (ref A) and pressed the 
GOI to conduct joint surveys of the Iran-Iraq border; (2) the 
Iranians have not yet withdrawn their soldiers; (3) GOI 
technical survey teams will begin their work once Iranian 
soldiers fully withdraw; (3) the incident has tarnished 
Iran's standing among many Iraqi Shi'a supporters; (4) the 
GOI does not recognize the 1975 Algiers Accord governing 
border issues and would like to negotiate a new or amended 
agreement with Iran; (5) Iran, unlike Turkey, is slow in 
fulfilling its promises and implementing bilateral 
agreements; and (6) Iraq recognizes the need to proceed 
patiently and diplomatically in its dealing with Iran to 
ensure a peaceful outcome to these and other disputes. END 
SUMMARY. 

Iranian Troops Still Present 
---------------------------- 

2. (C) On January 13, Ambassador Taha Shukr Abbassi met with 
Post's Deputy Political Counselor and Senior Iran Watcher to 
discuss FM Mottaki's recent visit in light of the Fakka oil 
field incident. Abbassi, a career diplomat who has had 
extensive dealings with the Iranians, confirmed that FM 
Mottaki pressed the GOI during his visit to resume the work 
of a technical committee tasked with conducting joint surveys 
along the Iran-Iraq border, including the maritime border. 
FM Mottaki offered assurances of Iranian troop withdrawal 
from the disputed oil field; however, the continued presence 
of Iranian troops called into question Iran's willingness to 
deliver on its promises, Abbassi complained. He added that 
the Iranian incursion has undermined Iran's standing among 
many Iraqi Shi'a supporters, who viewed the dispute as 
nothing more than typical Iranian aggression and interference 
in Iraqi affairs. 

3. (C) Abbassi criticized Mottaki for failing to keep his 
promise and said the work of the two GOI technical teams 
(land and water) would only begin once all Iranian troops 
have fully withdrawn from the disputed area. Abbassi 
asserted that the work of the committees "will take years to 
complete" given the complexity of the terrain and the 
security risks posed by landmines that are scattered along 
the border areas since the Iran-Iraq war. Senior MFA 
Advisor Mohammed al-Haj Hamoud told DCM the same day that the 
Iraqis had been ready to allow the working groups to start 
their work, even with the less-than-complete Iranian border, 
"We're only talking about a 100 meters or so and the border 
area is admittedly undefined," but then the Iranians moved in 
high-powered lights and a small piece of artillery. 
Following that, FM Zebari had ordered the teams to stand down 
at present, said Haj Hamoud, adding that an additional 
"partial withdrawal, a gesture" might be enough to get the 
work back on track. (NOTE: USG satellite imagery confirms 
the continued presence of Iranian troops approximately 75-100 
meters inside Iraq. Imagery has also captured what appears 
to be Iranian construction activity, including the 
Qto be Iranian construction activity, including the 
establishment of a small building near the troop outpost. 
END NOTE) 

Iran Not As Reliable As Turkey 
------------------------------ 

4. (C) Describing Iran's intransigence as usual Iranian 
stubbornness and inefficiency when it comes to implementing 
agreements, Abbassi said that over a year ago, he personally 
presented Mottaki with a non-paper proposing a new way 
forward on Iraq-Iran relations, focusing largely on bilateral 
issues such as borders, maritime rights, natural resources, 
etc. The paper was intended to wipe the slate clean for both 
countries, who technically remain in a state of war following 
the cessation of hostilities in 1988. "We have not heard back 
regarding the paper," Abbassi lamented. "The Iranians still 
feel that they are dealing with the same Iraq that Saddam 
dominated for so long. But we are a very different country 
now," Abbassi said in trying to explain lingering Iranian 
suspicions about GOI intentions. In comparison, Abbassi 

BAGHDAD 00000112 002 OF 002 


applauded the efficiency of the Turkish government in its 
dealings with Iraq, stating that "Turkey is very good at 
following-up and keeping promises." 

Algiers Accord Obsolete 
----------------------- 

5. (C) Abbassi commented that the GOI does not accept or 
formally recognize the 1975 Algiers Accord that was signed 
between then-Vice President Saddam Hussein and the Shah of 
Iran. Abbassi noted that Saddam himself literally tore up 
the agreement during the war with Iran and that no current or 
future Iraqi parliament would ratify the agreement in its 
present form. (NOTE: The agreement was ratified under Iraqi 
President al-Bakr's government and subsequently registered 
with the UN. END NOTE.) According to Abbassi, the GOI would 
welcome a new or amended agreement that takes into account 
existing political and geographic realities, notably with the 
Shatt-al-Arab waterway since 1975. However, the Iranians are 
reluctant to renegotiate because they fear losing territory 
and waters claimed in the Shatt al-Arab, which a new 
demarcation would likely not recognize, Abbassi said. (NOTE: 
Despite repeated condemnation of the Algiers Accord by 
numerous GOI officials, the GOI has never made use of any of 
the dispute resolution mechanisms contained in the agreement, 
nor made any attempt to legally terminate the agreement. END 
NOTE.) 

6. (C) Abbassi asked about what military support, if any, 
the USG would be obliged or willing to provide to Iraq under 
the Security Agreement in the event of future aggression by 
any of its neighbors. He also encouraged greater USG public 
statements condemning Iranian aggression as a violation of 
international law in order to demonstrate to the Iraqi public 
the USG's moral support for Iraq's territorial integrity. 
Abbassi underscored that Iraq's relations with Iran will 
require patience and diplomacy given historic grievances and 
lingering suspicions. 

COMMENT 
------- 

7. (C) Water and border disputes will continue to define 
Iran and Iraq's broader bilateral agenda as Iraq regains its 
political footing and maturity. Iran's reluctance (and 
discomfort) in dealing with Iraq as an equal partner on 
sensitive issues of broader public concern (water rights, 
borders, trade) are likely to further erode GOI and Iraqi 
public confidence in their closest neighbor's intentions and 
"goodwill". Abbassi's comments highlight the challenges he 
and other technocrats face in their dealings with Iran. It 
is also increasingly apparent that both sides realize that 
their bilateral dealings are driven less by a shared Shi'a 
heritage and more by real-world priorities and diverging 
interests.