US embassy cable - 88BAGHDAD4587 (original version)

IRAN-IRAQ: EVE OF GENEVA (original version)

Identifier: 88BAGHDAD4587
Wikileaks: View 88BAGHDAD4587 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 1988-08-23 12:07:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL UNSC IZ
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
O 231207Z AUG 88
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7964
INFO USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE
USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE
GULFWAR COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 04587 
 
GENEVA FOR MARSH 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS: PREL, UNSC, IZ 
SUBJECT: IRAN-IRAQ: EVE OF GENEVA 
 
REF: (A) BAGHDAD 4454  (B) STATE 270576 
 
1. CONFIDENTIAL ENTIRE TEST. 
 
2. SUMMARY: THE IRAQIS GO TO GENEVA HAVING CONCEDED 
TO IRAN WHAT IT WANTED MOST, I.E., A CEASE-FIRE, 
AND THEY ARE, WE SUSPECT, DUBIOUS ABOUT WHAT THEY 
THINK OHEZ CAN GET OUT OF THE TALKS.  THEY WANT 
ASSURANCE OF FREE NAVIGATION (INCLUDING WARSHIPS) 
WITHOUT INSPECTION BY IRAN; NO REPARATIONS TO IRAN; 
NO VERDICT BY THE IMPARTIAL COMMITTEE ACCUSING IRAQ; 
CLEAR DEMARCATION OF LAND BORDERS; AND ULTIMATELY, 
A PEACE TREATY WHICH GUARANTEES THE MOST IMPORTANT 
OBJECTIVE OF ALL, . NONINTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL 
AFFAIRS (INCLUDING WITHDRAWAL OF SUPPORT OF KURDS). 
THE DIFFICULTY IS THAT THE IRAQIS PROBABLY DO NOT 
BELIEVE THAT A CLERICAL REGIME, EVEN AFTER KHOMEINI 
DIES, CAN BE ANYTHING BUT EXPANSIONIST/REVOLUTIONARY, 
SO THAT NO PEACE TREATY WOULD BE WORTH MUCH IN THE 
LONG RUN. END SUMMARY. 
 
3. THE IRAQIS GO TO GENEVA IN A QUANDARY.  THEY HAVE 
ALREADY CONCEDED TO IRAN THE MAIN THING IRAN WANTED 
RIGHT NOW, I.E.,  CEASE-FIRE -- A BREATHING SPACE 
JUST WHEN IRAQ HAD TURNED THE TABLES MILITARILY. 
THEY MADE THIS CONCESSION PRESUMABLY BECAUSE OF 
NEARLH UNAH 
YUNCOLDS OVER IRAN IS MILITARY 
THREAT, AND THE REPUBLICAN GUARD CONTINUES TO BE 
MASSED OPPOSITE ABADAN AS A POTENT WARNING TO IRAN. 
BUT THE JUBILANT CELEBRATIONS ALL OVER IRAQ MAKE IT 
MORE DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THAT THREAT. 
 
4. THE PRINCIPAL DETERMINANT OF WHETHER THE IRAQIS 
WILL BE FORTHCOMING OR OBSTRUCTIONIST AT GENEVA IS 
THEIR ATTITUDE TO THE KEY ISSUE: IS IRAN REALLY 
INERESTED IN COMPJEHENSIVE PEACE?  WE BELIEVE THAT 
THE IRAQIS THEMSELVES DO WANT A COMPREHENSIVE PEACE. 
FOR ALL THEIR PRESENT MILITARY ADVANTAGE, WE DOUBT 
THAT THEY ENTERTAIN NOTIONS OF MILITARY CONQUEST 
OF IRAN.  THEY KNOW THAT THEY HAVE TO LIVE WITH 
IRAN AND THAT IN TIME THE TABLES MAY TURN BACK THE 
OTHER WAY AGAIN, WITH IRAN RESURGING IN STRENGTH 
MILITARILY AND ECONOMICALLY.  ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE 
GAINED THE UPPER HAND WITH THE KURDS, THEY BADLY 
NEED A GUARANTEE OF NONSUPPORT OF THE KURDS FROM 
IRAN.  BUT FOR ALL THEIR YEARNING FOR A GENUINE 
PEACE, WE DOUBT LHAHTHE IRAQIS ARE NAIVE ENOUGH 
TO BELIEVE THAT ANY CLERICAL REGIME IN IRAN, EVEN 
AFTER KHOMEINI DIES, WILL RENOUNCE THE REVOLUTION 
OR ITS INTEGRAL ELEMENTS, EXPANSIONISM AND INTER- 
FERENCE IN THE INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF OTHER COUNTRIES, 
PRINCIPALLY IRAQ'S. 
 
5. IF THIS ASSESSMENT IS CORRECT, WE PREDICT THAT 
EVEN THOUGH TARIQ AZIZ EMPHATICALLY WANTS TO AVOID 
A LONG PERIOD OF "NO PEACE, NO WAR" (ALONG THE LINES 
OF THE POST-1948 ARAB-ISRAEL DISPUTE), THE IRAQIS 
WILL NOT BE HIGHLY MOTIVATED TO BE FORTHCOMING 
IN THE GENEVA TALKS, SINCE A PEACE TREATY WOULD 
NOT IMPEL THE IRANIANS TO SCALE DOWN THEIR LONG- 
TERM REVOLUTIONARY AMBITIONS.  NEVERTHELESS, 
THERE ARE A SERIES BF ULTIMATE GAINS THE IRAQIS 
MIGHT AIM FOR, INCLUDING: 
 
-- ASSURANCE OF FREE NAVIGATION IN THE GULF/HORMUZ/ 
SHATT, INCLUDING FOR WARSHIPS WITHOUT INSPECTION 
OR HINDRANCE BY IRAN.  THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS POINT 
WAS ALREADY MADE CLEAR TWO DAYS AFTER IRAN'S 
ACCEPTANCE OF 598 IN TARIQ AZIZ'S JULY 20 LETTER, 
OVER HALF OF WHICH WAS DEVOTED TO THE ISSUE OF 
NAVIGATION.  THE IRAQIS EMPHASIZE IT NOT ONLY 
BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT TO THEM IN ITS OWN RIGHT, 
BUT BECAUSE THEY VIEW IT AS A TEST OF IRANIAN 
INTENTIONS.  AT A BASER LEVEL, THEY MAY ALSO WANT 
TO DRIVE THIS POINT HOME AS A WAY TO EMBARRASS 
IRAN; 
 
-- DEMARCATION OF LAND BOUNDARIES AS VOUCHSAFED 
IN PREVIOUS TREATIES INCLUDING THE ALGIERS ACCORD, 
WHICH IRAN FAILED TO FOLLOW THROUGH ON.  THE IRAQIS 
NOW OCCUPY ZAYN AL-QAWS, SAIF SA'D, AND THE OTHER 
TINY SECTORS (ONLY 356 SQ. KM. ALL TOLD), MAKING 
THEIR POSITION NOT ONLY LEGALLY (##) 
MISSION OFFICIALS SPENT 
FOUR YEARS FINDING EVER MORE INGENIOUS WAYS TO AVOID 
THE DEMARCATION, AND SO IRAN CONTINUED TO HOLD ZAYN 
AL-QAWS, SAIF SA'D, AND THE OTHER POCKETS.  DDING 
TO IRAQI ANGER IS THE FACT THAT IRAN SHELLED BORDER 
TOWNS IN SEPTEMBER 1980 FROM THESE POCKETS -- 
INDEED, THE IRAQIS ARGUE THAT THAT SHELLING WAS THE 
IMMEDIATE TRIGGER OF THE WAR; 
 
-- CANCELLATION OF THE ALGIERS ACCORD INSOFAR AS 
CONCERNS THE SHATT, I.E., RETURN OF SOVEREIGNTY 
TO IRAQ OVER THE ENTIRE RIVER COURSE.  THE IRAQIS 
HAVE LEFT THE ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNTY OPEN AT PRESENT, 
SAYING THAT THE SHATT SHOULD BE CLEARED FOR UTILI- 
ZATION BY BOTH PARTIES AND SPEAKING INFORMALLY OF 
INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION.  BUT IF THE IRANIANS DO 
NOT COME FORWARD ON THEIR OWN OBLIGATIONS UNDER 
THE ACCORD, BOTH IN REFERENCE TO NONINTERFERENCE 
AND DEMARCATION OF LAND BOUNDARIES, THE IRAQIS WILL 
CERTAINLY NOT CONCEDE ON SOVEREIGNTY OVER ALL THE 
RIVER.  (THEY MAY NOT CONCEDE AT ALL.); 
 
-- NO NEGATIVE VERDICT BY THE IMPARTIAL BODY.  WE 
THINK THE IRAQIS UNDERSTAND FULL WELL THAT NO COM- 
MITTEE WILL EVER GIVE IRAQ A POSITIVE VERDICT -- 
THE ONLY POSSIBLE OUTCOMES ARE A "NONVERDICT" 
THAT IMPUGNS BOTH SIDES OR ONE THAT BLAMES IRAQ 
FOR STARTING THE WAR.  THE IRAQIS HAVE ALWAYS 
EXUDED CONFIDENCE THAT THEY ARE NOT AFRAID OF AN 
IMPARTIAL BODY SET UP TO EXAMINE THE GENERALIZED 
ISSUE OF "RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE WAR," AS OPPOSED 
TO THE NARROW QUESTION OF "WHO STARTED THE WAR" 
 
-- INDEED, THE IRAQIS CALLED FOR SUCH AN IMPARTIAL 
INQUIRY AS FAR BACK AS 1982.  AT THE SAME TIME, THEY 
ARE NOT EAGER FOR SUCH AN INQUIRY AND INSIST ON 
EXAMINATION OF ISSUES IN 598 IN STRICT SEQUENTIAL 
ORDER; 
 
-- NO REPARATIONS TO IRAN.  A YEAR AGO IF IRAN HAD 
ACCEPTED 598, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN WELL-PLACED, WITH 
MAJNUN AND FAW IN ITS POSSESSION, TO DEMAND BILLIONS 
OF DOLLARS WORTH OF REPARATIONS.  NOW THEY HAVE 
LOST THEIR LEVERAGE.  THE IRAQIS WILL BE UNWILLING 
TO ADMIT THE CONCEPT OF REPARATIONS, AND THEY WILL 
WANT RECONSTRUCTION FOR ONE SIDE TO BE BALANCED BY 
RECONSTRUCTION FOR THE OTHER. 
 
6. IMPORTANT AS THE ABOVE OBJECTIVES ARE FOR IRAQ, 
THE MOST IMPORTANT, AND MOST ELUSIVE, IS AN ASSURANCE 
OF NONINTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL AFFAIRS, MEANING 
NONSUPPORT FOR THE KURDS AND THE SHI'A.  THE IRAQI 
MFA STRESSES TO DIPLOMATS THAT KHOMEINI'S BREACH 
OF THIS SINGLE ISSUE IN THE ALGIERS ACCORD IS THE 
BASIS FOR IRAQI INSISTENCE THAT IRAN HAS (DE FACTO) 
ABROGATED THE AGREEMENT.  IT WAS THE ASSURANCE OF 
NONINTERFERENCE THAT PROMPTED THE IRAQIS -- SADDAM 
HUSSEIN AS THE PARTY'S VICE-CHARIMAN AND SA'DUN 
HAMMADI AS FOREIGN MINISTER -- TO SWALLOW THEIR 
PRIDE IN 1975 AND AGREE TO GIVING UP FULL SOVEREIGNTY 
OVER THE SHATT, SOMETHING THAT IRAQ, AND BEFORE IT 
THE OTTOMANS, HAD ALWAYS STRENUOUSLY INSISTED UPON. 
(IRAQ, UNLIKE IRAN, HAS ONLY A TINY COAST AND VIEWS 
THE TIGRIS-EUPHRATES RIVER SYSTEMS AS ITS OWN, 
NOTE BY OC/T: (##) OMISSION IN TEXT CORRECTION TO FOLLOW... 
COMPLETELY NON-PERSIAN.)  THE SHAH'S AGREEMENT 
TO NONINTERFERENCE IN 1975 HAD A STUNNINGLY IMMEDIATE 
IMPACT -- MULLA MUSTAFA BARZANI FLED TO THE UNITED 
STATES WITHIN WEEKS AND THE SUDDEN WITHDRAWAL OF 
IRANIAN SUPPORT COMPLETELY DEVASTATED THE 
KURDISH INSURGENCY -- AND A SIMILAR RESULT WOULD 
PROBABLY OCCUR NOW.  HOWEVER, WHILE THE PRESENT 
IRANIAN REGIME HAS BEEN EMPHASIZING THE APPLICABILITY 
OF THE ALGIERS ACCORD TO THE SHATT AL-ARAB, IT HAS 
BREATHED NOTHING  ABOUT ITS OWN PRINCIPAL OBLIGATION 
UNDER THE AGREEMENT. 
 
7. ANOTHER GOAL -- PARTICULARLY TRICKY -- FOR IRAQ 
WILL BE TO ENSURE THAT INTERNATIONAL STRICTURES ON 
SUPPLY OF ARMS TO IRAN CONTINUE AND THAT WESTERN 
FLEETS CONTINUE IN PLACE IN THE GULF.  IRAQ IS 
OBVIOUSLY NOT WELL-PLACED TO PRESSURE EXTERNAL 
POWERS.  THE FACT MAY NOT BE LOST ON THE IRAQIS 
THAT THE BEST WAY TO ACHIEVE THIS GOAL IS TO ENSURE 
THAT THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR REMAINS IN THE HEADLINES OF 
THE WORLD MEDIA.  UNFORTUNATELY, THE BEST WAY TO 
DO THAT IS TO OBSTRUCT THE GENEVA PROCESS AND, 
INDEED, TO RENEW HOSTILITIES.  IRAQ WANTS TO BE 
CAREFUL NOT TO DO THIS IN SUCH A WAY AS TO BECOME 
ISOLATED OR HAVE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY POINT 
A FINGER DIRECTLY AT IRAQ AS THE CONTINUER OF THE 
WAR. 
 
8. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LEDGER, IRANIAN OBJECTIVES 
AS WE UNDERSTAND THEM HERE, ARE VERY DIFFERENT FROM 
IRAQ'S: 
 
-- THE IRANIANS HAVE THE CEASE-FIRE; THE TRICK FOR 
THEM NOW IS TO MAINTAIN IT AS LONG AS POSSIBLE, 
GIVING AS LITTLE AWAY AS POSSIBLE; 
 
-- THEIR IDEA OF A "COMPREHENSIVE PEACE" IS SIMPLY A 
NONAGGRESSION PACT.  IN MAHALLATI'S MOST RECENT 
PRONOUNCEMENT (TEHRAN RADIO INTERVIEW AUGUST 20, 
FBIS NC2008073888) THE ONLY SPECIFIC POINT HE MEN- 
TIONED THAT IS TO BE ADDRESSED IN THE GENEVA TALKS 
IS "STEPS THAT CAN BE TAKEN TO PREVENT RENEWED 
AGGRESSION." 
 
-- REASSERTION OF THE ALGIERS ACCORD ONLY IN REGARD 
TO SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE SHATT, I.E., BOUNDARY AT THE 
THALWEG, WITHOUT MAKING ANY COMMITMENTS ON NONINTER- 
FERENCE OR DEMARCATION OF BORDERS; 
 
-- INSISTENCE ON RIGHT TO INSPECT ALL VESSELS IN THE 
GULF AND TO CONFISCATE ALL WAR-RELATED MATERIEL, 
INCLUDING SEIZING WARSHIPS; 
 
-- VERDICT BY THE IMPARTIAL BODY (WHICH THE IRANIANS 
WOULD LIKE TO HAVE STACKED WITH PARTIES OF THEIR 
CHOOSING) COMPLETELY IN IRAN'S FAVOR; 
 
-- MASIVE REPARATIONS ONLY TO IRAN; 
 
-- PERIOD OF QUIET IN WHICH THE WORLD FORGETS ABOUT 
IRAN AND IRAQ, THE WESTERN FLEETS GO HOME, STRICTURES 
ON ARMS DELIVERIES ARE LIFTED. 
 
9. THE IRANIAN CONCEPT OF THE DIRECT TALKS AT GENEVA 
IS ALREADY BECOMING CLEAR.  AS MUCH AS THE IRANIANS 
PURPORT TO BELIEVE THAT THE SECRETARY GENERAL IS 
COMPLETELY ON THEIR SIDE, THEY DO NOT SUPPORT THE 
PLAIN LANGUAGE IN HIS AUGUST 8 LETTER, SENT IDENTICALLY 
TO BOTH TEHRAN AND BAGHDAD: "BOTH GOVERNMENTS HAVE 
AGREED THAT DIRECT TALKS SHALL BE HELD UNDER MY 
AUSPICES TO REACH A COMMON UNDERSTANDING OF THE OTHER 
PROVISIONS OF RESOLUTION 598."  TO THE CONTRARY, IN 
THE IRANIAN VIEW (AGAIN, MAHALLATI'S AUGUST 20 IN- 
TERVIEW), "THE UN SECRETARY GENERAL HAS BEEN GRANTED 
THE RIGHT TO INVITE BOTH SIDES TO TALK ONLY ABOUT 
ARTICLE 4 OF THE RESOLUTION, AND NOT THE TOPICS 
INCLUDED IN ARTICLES 1-8."  ARTICLE 4 DEALS WITH 
"ALL OUTSTANDING ISSUES," I.E., THOSE NOT SPECIFICALLY 
ADDRESSED IN THE RESOLUTION. 
 
10. ANOTHER ELEMENT CALLING FOR PESSIMISM ABOUT THE 
HARMONIOUS PROGRESS OF TALKS IN GENEVA IS IRAQ'S 
DEEP DISTRUST OF PEREZ DE CUELLAR.  WELL AWARE OF 
THIS DISTRUST, THE SYG MIGHT HAVE MOVED QUICKLY TO 
FIND A MUTUALLY ACCEPTABLE SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE, 
BUT HE HAS NOT YET DONE SO, AND INSTEAD HE IS SEEN 
AS JEALOUSLY GUARDING LEADERSHIP OF THE PROCESS IN 
HIS OWN HANDS AND OF ONE SUBORDINATE, GIANNI PICCO 
(WHOM THE IRAQIS HAVE ALSO TAKEN A DISLIKE TO, 
APPARENTLY).  RECRIMINATIONS ROSE TO A CRESCENDO 
DURING THE PAST WEEK, WITH THE IRAQIS BELIEVING 
THE SYG WAS ABOUT TO ANNOUNCE A FORESHADOWING OF 
HIS IMPLEMENTATION PLAN, INCLUDING A REFERENCE TO 
THE ALGIERS ACCORD.  THE SYG HAS ALLOWED HIMSELF 
TO APPEAR TO BE ARGUING THE IRANIANS' BRIEF, WITH 
INCALCULABLE DETRIMENT TO HIS STANDING AS AN IMPARTIAL 
ASSISTANT TO THE PROCESS. 
 
11. INITIAL PROCEDURAL ISSUES IN GENEVA -- NOT TO 
MENTION SUBSTANCE -- ARE LIKELY TO BE DIFFICULT. 
THE IRAQIS WILL REACT SHARPLY TO ANY SUGGESTIONS 
ON PROCEDURE THAT APPEAR TO BE IMPOSED BY THE SYG. 
THEY WILL PROBABLY INSIST THAT EVEN THE MOST MUNDANE 
MATTERS OF PROCEDURE BE WORKED OUT DIRECTLY BY THE 
TWO PARTIES.  THEY WILL NOT ACCEPT A PREARRANGED 
AGENDA -- IN THEIR EMPHASIS ON STRICT SEQUENTIALITY, 
THE IRAQIS HAVE SIGNALED THAT AN AGENDA IS NOT "MERE" 
PROCEDURE FOR THEM. 
 
12. FOR DCM MARSH IN GENEVA: AN EXCELLENT CONTACT 
IN THE IRAQI DELEGATION WILL BE DR. RIYAD AL-QAYSI. 
(AMBASSADOR HAS AN APPOINTMENT WITH HIM THIS EVENING, 
AUGUST 23, JUST BEFORE HIS DEPARTURE.)  HE HAS BEEN 
THE FOREMOST INTERNATIONAL JURIST IN THE IRAQI MFA 
FOR OVER A DECADE.  WHILE OFFICIALLY HE IS DIRECTOR 
OF THE MFA INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS OFFICE, HE 
HAS BEEN WORKING FULL TIME FOR OVER A YEAR ON 
BUILDING THE IRAQI LEGAL CASE FOR THE IMPARTIAL 
COMMITTEE (IF IT IS EVER ESTABLISHED) AND FOR ALL 
OTHER MATTERS IN 598; HE KNOWS     EVERY ASPECT, 
DOWN TO THE SMALLEST DETAIL, OF THE CENTURIES- 
OLD BORDER/SHATT DISPUTE.  QAYSI HAS A SHARP MIND 
AND IS AN ENGAGING INTERLOCUTOR, ALTHOUGH HE CAN 
BE OVERLY LEGALISTIC.  AS DEPARTMENT HAS INFORMED 
YOU, THE IRAQI DELEGATION WILL ALSO INCLUDE PERMANENT 
REPRESENTATIVE KITTANI AND AMBASSADOR ANBARI.  MFA 
HAS INFORMED US THAT ANBARI WAS ASSIGNED TO THE 
IRAQI DELEGATION BECAUSE OF HIS OWN LEGAL BACKGROUND 
(ANOTHER LAWYER -- THE IRAQIS WILL BE FULLY PREPARED 
TO BE STICKLERS, AS THE NEED ARISES). 
 
 
GLASPIE 

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