Viewing cable 07THEHAGUE1729, NETHERLANDS/AFGHANISTAN: DESPERATELY SEEKING
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|07THEHAGUE1729||2007-09-19 16:04||2011-01-17 00:12||SECRET||Embassy The Hague|
VZCZCXYZ0022 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHTC #1729/01 2621613 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 191613Z SEP 07 FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0313 INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2690 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0303 RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 5166 RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T THE HAGUE 001729 SIPDIS SIPDIS STATE FOR EUR/WE, EUR/RPM, SCA E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2017 TAGS: PGOV PREL NATO AF NL SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/AFGHANISTAN: DESPERATELY SEEKING SOMEONE... REF: THE HAGUE 1625 AND PREVIOUS... " 122868,9/19/2007 16:13,07THEHAGUE1729,"Embassy The Hague",SECRET,07THEHAGUE1625,"VZCZCXYZ0022 OO RUEHWEB DE RUEHTC #1729/01 2621613 ZNY SSSSS ZZH O 191613Z SEP 07 FM AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0313 INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2690 RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0303 RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 5166 RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY ","S E C R E T THE HAGUE 001729 SIPDIS SIPDIS STATE FOR EUR/WE, EUR/RPM, SCA E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2017 TAGS: PGOV PREL NATO AF NL SUBJECT: NETHERLANDS/AFGHANISTAN: DESPERATELY SEEKING SOMEONE... REF: THE HAGUE 1625 AND PREVIOUS Classified By: Ambassador Roland Arnall, for reasons 1.4 (b,d) ¶1. (S) SUMMARY: The Dutch Cabinet is prepared to approve an extension of the Dutch mission in Uruzgan for approximately 1,200 troops, but only if a third party (or parties) steps forward to replace the 400 or so Dutch troops who will need to be withdrawn. Dutch lobbying efforts -- bilaterally and through NATO -- to find a new partner have been unsuccessful so far, and time is running out, as the Cabinet must submit a decision to Parliament by mid-October. On September 19, Foreign Minister Verhagen explicitly asked the U.S. to assist the Dutch in identifying and soliciting possible contributions. He also made clear that the Dutch would accept U.S. military support for the ISAF mission in Uruzgan, if offered. END SUMMARY. ¶2. (S) On September 19, Ambassador Arnall was summoned to the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to receive an urgent message on Afghanistan from Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. Dutch POLDIR Pieter de Gooijer also attended the meeting. According to the Foreign Minister, intensive Dutch efforts to secure ""third party"" troops to support ISAF operations in Uruzgan province have, so far, failed to produce concrete results -- and time is running out. ¶3. (S) Verhagen stressed that he and Prime Minister Balkenende were personally committed to continuing the Dutch presence in Uruzgan. Politically and logistically, however, it was just not possible to maintain the current deployment level. The Cabinet was therefore proposing a draw-down of roughly 25 percent of the current force -- about 400 troops -- which would allow the Dutch to retain leadership of the Uruzgan mission with a remaining force of roughly 1,200 troops. Verhagen emphasized that he believed he had secured full Cabinet support -- including from Finance Minister Wouter Bos and Development Minister Koenders -- for an extension at this level, but ONLY if a third party or parties agreed to replace the departing Dutch troops. The third party contributions should fill seven ""modules"" the Dutch have shared with NATO: 1) Camp protection (two platoons of 30 each); 2) Field Hospital (40 - 60 personnel); 3) two ""OMLTs"" (40 personnel); 4) two battle groups (250 - 260); 5) a PRT mission team (5-6 plus security); 6) F-16 support (4-6 aircraft); and 7) helicopters (although the Dutch consider this an RC-South, rather than Dutch, responsibility.) ¶4. (S) Verhagen said he did not anticipate serious parliamentary opposition to a reduced extension provided sufficient third party forces could be secured. Without additional partners, however, there would be no majority in Parliament in favor of the mission, as both the coalition partner Labor Party (PvdA) and the opposition Liberal Party (VVD) had made this a non-negotiable condition of their support. (Note: EMBOFF contacts this week with the Foreign Affairs Spokesmen of both parties support this statement.) According to Verhagen, the choice for the GONL is clear: either find enough partners to stay, or leave Uruzgan by August 2008 when the initial deployment runs out. ¶5. (S) Unfortunately, according to Verhagen, intensive Dutch efforts to secure contributions from potential partners have so far failed to produce concrete results. He noted that he was particularly disappointed that the Slovak Foreign Minister had been unable to make a significant commitment during a September 13 visit to The Hague, despite earlier indications to the contrary. The Dutch have now approached more than a dozen countries, including many identified by NATO as potential contributors, mostly without success (see list in para. 9). Time, meanwhile, is running out; the Cabinet is committed to providing a proposal to Parliament before the internal debate on the Foreign Affairs Budget begins at the end of October, and would hope to have a decision prior to the NATO Defense Ministerial in Noordwijk October 24-25. ¶6. (S) Verhagen said he had called the Ambassador in specifically to request U.S. assistance in finding the additional troops necessary to allow the Dutch to continue the Uruzgan mission. Since Dutch bilateral efforts and approaches to NATO have failed, he said, the Dutch are now turning to us in the hope that we can shake something loose. Verhagen added that the Dutch also wanted to ensure that we were not competing for the same resources -- there had been rumors that some countries were not open to Dutch requests because they anticipated filling other missions. He mentioned Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and Slovakia as specific countries where he believed U.S. lobbying on behalf of the Dutch requests could be especially effective, but was also open to suggestions. ¶7. (S) In response to a question from Ambassador Arnall, Verhagen said it did not matter to the Dutch whether the gaps were filled by one large deployment or several smaller ones, provide issues of command and control could be worked out. (Note: Other contacts at the MFA and MOD had previously expressed a strong preference for one large contribution over multiple smaller ones.) He also said the Dutch would be open to U.S. contributions, assuming the U.S. forces would operate under ISAF (vice OEF) command. ¶8. (S) COMMENT: After months of receiving mixed signals -- possibly due to divisions within the Cabinet -- the Foreign Minister's message could not be clearer: the Dutch will stay in Uruzgan if they get the additional troops, but cannot do so without them. It is also clear that the Dutch do not believe they can find the troops without USG assistance. In a separate meeting with POLCOUNS, Karel van Oosterom (PM Balkenende's Foreign Policy Advisor) reaffirmed that the Prime Minister is determined to see the mission extended, but believes U.S. support in finding additional troops will be critical. Van Oosterom added that the Prime Minister had recently beaten back an effort by PvdA cabinet members to link the Uruzgan extension issue to a possible referendum on the EU reform treaty, making the ""third party"" issue, in his view, the last meaningful remaining hurdle to achieving an extension. If we want the Dutch to maintain a significant presence in Uruzgan, now is the time to weigh in seriously with potential partners. END COMMENT. ¶9. (S) SUMMARY OF DUTCH THIRD PARTY LOBBYING: According to Pieter Jan Kleiweg, the head of the Dutch MFA's Uruzgan Task Force, the Dutch have directly approached the following countries for support with the following results: - Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Japan, and South Korea: all ""very negative""; - Poland, Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia, Denmark: ""not positive,"" although the Belgians and Danes might be prepared to provide F-16 support in the Southern region more generally. - France: ""not positive,"" but Dutch are hoping British might be willing to weigh in. - Czech Republic: ""not available,"" as already heading a PRT in Lowgar - Singapore: Dutch approaching jointly with Australians; might be able to provide field hospital (but no commitment.) - Indonesia: No success; said might be willing to provide ""one policeman,"" at most. - Ukraine: Next on Dutch list; will approach week of September 24. Arnall