US embassy cable - 04BAGHDAD235

USEB 154: 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE DISCUSSES SITUATION IN AL ANBAR PROVINCE

Identifier: 04BAGHDAD235
Wikileaks: View 04BAGHDAD235 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2004-07-23 21:08:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PREL PGOV PTER MOPS IZ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
R 232108Z JUL 04
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 0342
INFO WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
DIA WASHINGTON DC
CIA WASHDC
JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
IRAQ COLLECTIVE
S E C R E T  BAGHDAD 000235 
 
STATE FOR NEA/I 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/15/14 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, MOPS, IZ 
SUBJECT: USEB 154: 1ST MARINE EXPEDITIONARY FORCE DISCUSSES 
SITUATION IN AL ANBAR PROVINCE 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMBASSADOR RONALD NEUMANN FOR REASONS 1.4 (A) AND (D). 
 
1. (S) SUMMARY:  PolMilCouns Ambassador Neumann and PolCouns 
Robert Ford, along with staff, traveled to Fallujah for a 
familiarization visit on 14 July, 2004 to meet with 1st Marine 
Expeditionary Force (1MEF) CG Conway, 1st Marine Divison 
(MARDIV) CG Mattis, and Regimental Combat Team 1 (RCT-1) Col 
Toolan.  The Marines presented the recent timeline of events in 
Fallujah from late March 2004, when Americans were murdered in 
the city and Marines were subsequently ordered in, through the 
present situation, characterized by an uneasy stand-off between 
the Coalition security forces and a collection of locals making 
up the Fallujah Brigade.  They displayed a cautious sense of 
optimism about the growing internal divide between moderates and 
extremists within the city.  1MEF is focusing on accelerating a 
handover of security to local Iraqi control by 31 December and 
was aware of the necessary hurdles to overcome in order for that 
goal to be achieved.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (S) Commanding General 1st MARDIV Mattis and RCT-1 Commander 
Colonel Toolan briefed the timeline of events that took place in 
Fallujah from late March 2004 through the creation of the 
"Fallujah Brigade" to the present situation.  They discussed the 
attacks on Americans on March 31, offensive operations by the 
Marines in early April, the negotiations with various local 
leaders and Governing Council representatives, and the present 
"wait and see" strategy-- essentially a middle ground between 
destruction and rebuilding.  Fallujah remains a denied area to 
the Marines, and while the Marines are not undertaking offensive 
operations, they are also not at liberty to funnel 
civil/military funding to the city since they do not have 
freedom of movement.  As a consequence, USD 27 million worth of 
projects remains on hold for Fallujah itself, whereas in the 
surrounding areas, such as Qarmah and Saqlawiyah, there are USD 
13 million worth of projects ongoing.  The 1st MARDIV hopes that 
this dichotomy will make Fallujans realize it is to their 
benefit to work constructively with Coalition forces. 
 
3.  (S) The Marines indicated they have a strong troop 
concentration in Fallujah's outlying areas, which has helped to 
stabilize the city's surrounding towns, whereas insurgents and 
foreign fighters largely operate without constraint within the 
city, where the Fallujah Brigade and other Iraqi security forces 
have failed to secure the city.  Coalition forces are still 
seeking to disrupt insurgents and foreign jihadists with 
surgical strikes against Abu Mus'ab al Zarqawi-related targets 
within the town in order to prevent Fallujah from operating as a 
safe-haven for extremists.  Marines viewed the Fallujah Brigade 
as having failed to provide security, but they did view the 
force as "buying time" for the Coalition forces to create a rift 
between moderates and extremists.  1MEF also appeared optimistic 
about new Iraqi security forces, indicating there is ever- 
increasing coordination between the Iraqi National Guard and the 
Iraqi police. 
 
4.  (S) Civil affairs officers attached to RCT-1 view their 
increasing contacts with area residents, the contracts they've 
awarded, and the compensation claims they honored to repair 
homes and buildings after the April conflict as driving a wedge 
between moderates and extremists in Fallujah.  These 
compensation payments have stopped due to the hardliners' 
control of the city. More Fallujans are realizing these benefits 
of Coalition presence and are edging away from extremists. 
Likewise, the release of prominent Fallujah imam Shaykh Jamal 
Shakir al-Nazzal and Albu Issa Shaykh Barakat Sa'dun al-Issawi 
have added voices of moderation in Fallujah and among insurgents 
since their release from Abu Ghurayb prison in April 2004.  In 
the Marines' estimation, most Fallujah residents are growing 
weary of foreign fighters and Islamic extremists, and are 
tolerant of the recent surgical strikes against Zarqawi related 
targets.  The U.S. military's Fallujah Liaison Center (FLC), 
located approximately 2.5 miles from Fallujah, in between the 
city and 1MEF/RCT-1 headquarters, is a neutral area that serves 
as the main point of interaction between Coalition forces and 
Fallujah citizens.  The civil affairs team reported a large 
daily stream of businessmen, local shaykhs, Iraqi security 
forces, and average residents who come to bid for contracts, 
submit claims, or lodge complaints. 
 
5.  (C) 1MEF and 1st MARDIV reported that Fallujans and 
residents from Al Anbar still resent and often complain that 
they have no representation in the new Iraqi Interim Government 
and that Baghdad does not represent their interests -- a view 
similar to their estimation of the former Governing Council. 
Most Fallujah residents have little connection to Baghdad and 
appear more focused on local problems or contentions with local 
officials and tribes in Ramadi. 
 
6.  (S)  1MEF, which takes a strategic view of its AOR, Al Anbar 
and Northern Babil province, is looking towards transitioning to 
local control by 31 December, facilitating participation in the 
national elections in January, and achieving Iraqi self- 
governance in the Anbar governorate and in Northern Babil.  They 
laid out a combined approach of security and stability 
operations, information operations, and civil affairs projects 
and activities in order to achieve this goal.  Improvement of 
the Iraqi security forces is central to this purpose, and 1MEF 
has seen improvements in this area, with ISF becoming more 
receptive and taking on a more proactive role.  Containing the 
border is also a key undertaking, however at this point only 
eight of the planned 32 border posts have been built. 
 
7.  (C) Comment:  The Marines are looking to more closely meld 
the political and military processes, including coordination and 
decisions, as well as achieve closer contact with the IIG and 
the Embassy.  The Marines said they would welcome monthly visits 
from the Embassy for further coordination.  They also look 
forward to the assignment of a long-term Department of State 
embedded person, but caution that short duration TDYers are not 
sufficient to build understanding of the area.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
NEGROPONTE 

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