Viewing cable 07RABAT1238, MOROCCAN TROOPS IN COTE D'IVOIRE: INVESTIGATION OF
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|07RABAT1238||2007-08-01 12:12||2011-01-13 05:05||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Rabat|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L RABAT 001238 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2017 TAGS: PREL KPKO IC MO SUBJECT: MOROCCAN TROOPS IN COTE D'IVOIRE: INVESTIGATION OF MOROCCAN PEACEKEEPERS ON SEX ABUSE CHARGES REF: STATE 102800 Classified By: Ambassador Thomas Riley for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) ------- SUMMARY ------- ¶1. (C) In response to the points conveyed reftel, MFA Chief of International Organizations Section Nasser Bourita told us on July 26 that the GOM takes the accusations of sexual misconduct against its troops in Ivory Coast seriously, and is sending a high level military delegation to join the UN inquiry. He feels, however, that the GOM troops are scapegoats for larger problems surrounding the discipline of UN peacekeepers in Africa. ¶2. (C) Polcouns and poloff conveyed the USG's concern regarding the recent allegations levied against the Moroccan United Nations Operations in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) contingent and urged the GOM to conduct a full and fair investigation. End Summary. ------------------------------- GOM CONCERNED AND INVESTIGATING ------------------------------- ¶2. (C) Bourita said the GOM takes these charges seriously and planned on sending a high level military delegation to serve as part of the UN inquest team in Cote d'Ivoire on July ¶30. The GOM will take decisive action to punish any individuals against whom accusations are proven. The king stressed military ethics when he ascended to the throne and expects breaches by his forces to be quickly, vigorously and transparently investigated at home and abroad. --------------------------------------------- TROOPS SCAPEGOATS FOR LARGER UN DEFICIENCIES? --------------------------------------------- ¶3. (C) Bourita said, however, the GOM believes the UN is scapegoating the Moroccan UNOCI troops to show new resolve in the wake of damning reports of smuggling and rape against its peacekeepers in Congo. He protested the sanctions levied against the Moroccan troops now in Cote d'Ivoire stressing that they arrived little over a month ago, while the incidents for which they are being punished occurred over a year ago. When reports of malfeasance first surfaced in 2005, the GOM removed its troop commander, repatriated him for disciplinary action, and has cooperated with the UN investigation ever since. Collective punishment for the as yet unproven actions of individuals was unfair. "How can the entire battalion be punished," he asked, "when the alleged incidents took place in an area where only 250 Moroccan troops were stationed?" He further argued that GOM troops served with NATO in Kosovo and received no complaints. Comment: He did not refer to problems Moroccan troops may have had in Congo. End Comment. ------------------------------ Peacekeeping, Politics and PXs ------------------------------ ¶4. (C) Bourita felt that the GOM troops are caught in a political crossfire between Cote d'Ivoire's President Gbagbo and some UN members, who oppose UNOCI and its French leadership, and are seeking opportunities to discredit the mission; and Cote d'Ivoire Prime Minister Soro, who supports UNOCI. As a counter weight to accusations, he pointed to press statements by Soro, who led rebels in the area now under Moroccan supervision, lauding the GOM's troops. He also mentioned a signed statement sent by civilians in the Moroccan zone to the UNOCI Force Commander stating that the GOM's troops had shown "irreproachable behavior." Bourita expanded the scope of his complaint saying that there are larger structural issues regarding UN peacekeeping command and control in Africa that contribute to breakdowns in discipline and degradation in troop effectiveness. Key issues he focused on were: -units are located far from their commanders with poor lines of communication and little supervision; -the UN has no, or insufficient, morale, welfare and supply programs, which forces troops to look for incidentals and entertainment in the areas in which they are posted, increasing the opportunity for unsavory incidents to occur; -six-month operational rotations (as opposed to one to two month cycles for European troops) with frequent end-of-tour extensions that lead to disgruntlement and breaches in discipline. ------- Comment ------- ¶5. (C) We will continue to urge a strong response to the case as we track the Moroccan side of the investigation. Bourita left the impression that the GOM will, in fact, conduct a rigorous inquiry with UNOCI in Cote d'Ivoire. It remains to be seen what type of punishment will be meted out to troops against whom allegations are proven. End Comment. ***************************************** Visit Embassy Rabat's Classified Website; http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/rabat ***************************************** RILEY