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Viewing cable 09LONDON1702, WEST AFRICA: PDAS CARTER HEARS UK CONCERNS ABOUT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09LONDON1702 2009-07-24 13:01 2010-12-14 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy London
VZCZCXRO5722
PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHTRO
DE RUEHLO #1702/01 2051313
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241313Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY LONDON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2953
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 LONDON 001702 

SIPDIS 

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/FO, AF/W, AND AF/RSA 

EO 12958 DECL: 07/23/2019 
TAGS PREL, EAID, MASS, PHUM, XY, NI, UK 
SUBJECT: WEST AFRICA: PDAS CARTER HEARS UK CONCERNS ABOUT 
DRUGS, TERRORISM, AND GOVERNANCE
REF: A. LONDON 1373  B. LONDON 1229

Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Daniel McNicholas, reasons 1. 4 (b/d).

1. (C) Summary. Foreign Office West and Southern Africa DAS-equivalent Janet Douglas told PDAS Carter July 22 that relative stability in West Africa and a UK budget crunch had meant a reduced UK presence and programming in West Africa, but agreed that Briton Edwin Dyer’s June murder in Mali by AQIM had been a “game changer.” It re-focused UK attention on security and criminality issues in the region and prompted new efforts to coordinate policy, which Douglas strongly supports. She agreed the French proposed P-3 coordination meeting on counter-terrorism in the Sahel should be in September, given the urgency of the issue. She also agreed that CT success would come through engagement with Algeria. She acknowledged the institutionalization of drug and criminality in several West African countries, especially along the coast. The UK has concluded it needs to “up its game” with ECOWAS and that the Mano River Union, while a useful forum for desk officer and technical level, noting a more coordinated effort would be needed to push electoral reform, constitutional succession, and corruption issues with the federal government. End summary.

2. (C) AF PDAS Carter discussed the UK’s overall posture in West Africa, increasing security issues in the Sahel, counter-narcotics initiatives, support to ECOWAS, and next steps with Nigeria on July 22 with Foreign Office West and Southern Africa Department Director Janet Douglas, Deputy Jennifer Townson, West Africa Team leader Paul Welsh, and Africa Research Analyst Head Clare Thomas.

The UK in West Africa: Maintaining UK Attention on the Region
-------------------------------------- 

3. (C) Douglas began by explaining that relative stability in West Africa and a UK budget crunch (reftel A) has meant a reduced UK presence and less UK programming in West Africa. Noting questionable trends in several West Africa countries, Douglas said her team tries to “ensure the level of consciousness on West Africa does not diminish too far” in the minds of UK ministers. She agreed the June murder of Briton Edwin Dyer in Mali by AQIM had been “a game changer,” re-focusing UK attention on the security issues in the Sahel and prompting new efforts to coordinate policy on the region, particularly with the French and Spanish. She strongly endorsed greater P-3 coordination, even though the French “have not been doing a great job on promoting democracy in West Africa.” Carter highlighted the need for greater focus on governance, not just democracy, and West African governments’ resource distribution and service delivery to meet the needs of all their citizens. Douglas said the UK was trying to get the EU to hold a tougher line on backsliding democracies, particularly when the African Union has strong and helpful positions.

Security in the Sahel
--------------------- 

4. (C) Douglas agreed that counter-terrorism (CT) is the next major challenge facing the Sahel and that the West African countries lack the capacity to deal with it. Welsh acknowledged that the UK has had limited insight into the issue, in large part due to lack of presence on the ground in countries like Mauritania and Mali, though they are learning quickly and planning to open UK offices in both countries. Douglas took on board Carter’s assessment that the road to CT in the Sahel, particularly in Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, is through Algiers, that Mauritania possibly faces the biggest terrorist threat in the region, and that it was imperative for EU states to stop paying ransoms for kidnapped citizens. Douglas described the EU’s approach to the region as trying to extend central governments’ reach on security and development issues to the whole of their countries, realizing that many problems stem from a center domination over periphery mentality of governance. Carter noted that enhancing CT capability is going to require a country-smart approach that recognizees whether it is the police, military, or security services that are best placed to deal with CT. Douglas agreed that given the urgency of the issues the French-proposed P-3 consultations in October would likely be better held in September.

Drugs, Trafficking, and Lawlessness in the Coastal States
LONDON 00001702 002 OF 002
----------------------------------- 

5. (C) Douglas termed the drugs trade and other criminal activities in the West Africa as “becoming institutionalized,” especially in Guinea Bissau and increasing so throughout the coastal states. She indicated that the UK has a good understanding about how the drugs arrive to West Africa, but not how they go North from there and how they are related to terrorist issues. Carter said the Northern transit routes are varied across land, air, and sea and that to date there is no information to indicate that the narcotics trade has links with terrorist activities, in particular AQIM. He did add that the Hizbollah networks in West Africa might tap into the drug trade due to its high levels of profit. Douglas agreed it was important to stymie the drug trade before it becomes more institutionalized, before it destabilizes the region further, and before terrorists begin using it as a source of revenue.

ECOWAS/Mano River Union
----------------------- 

6. (C) Douglas said the UK had concluded it needs to “up its game” with ECOWAS, especially as it has recently had some useful political positions, but that it was unclear how it should be supported. Carter said that it lacked direction under Executive Secretary Chambos. He noted that ECOWAS requires a national champion. However, Nigeria, which had that role during Obasanjo’s administration, has stepped back under Yar’Adua. Ghana, the next likely ECOWAS leader after Nigeria, had not picked up the ball. He said ECOWAS could best help the region by developing common strategies to deal with issues like counter narcotics. Douglas agreed that the Manor River Union did not amount to much but provided a useful forum for discussion. The secretariat did not yet merit support.

Nigeria
------- 

7. (C) Strongly endorsing greater U.S.-UK dialogue on Nigeria at the desk officer and technical levels, Douglas agreed that it was important to focus on the critical areas of electoral reform, constitutional succession, and corruption issues with the federal government. Assistance should be back-loaded, as the Nigeria government has the resources to begin initiatives but lacks the political will. On the elections, Douglas agreed there is great potential for violence and that while the elections will likely be “bad,” it will be important to deal with governance and democracy as a process. She agreed that working with local civil society organization in the run-up to the elections on both conflict mitigation and transparency issues would be important. She also supported working with individual states and governors, corrupt and ineffective as they may be, because they were providing an avenue of engagement and were more effective than the current, largely leaderless federal government.

8. (U) This cable was cleared by PDAS Carter.
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