Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/08/06KUALALUMPUR1525.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KUALALUMPUR1525
2006-08-14 07:21
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO9373
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHKL #1525/01 2260721
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 140721Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7340
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 0073
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 001525

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/14/2026
TAGS: PREL PINS PTER EAID RP MY
SUBJECT: MALAYSIAN VIEW OF GRP/MILF PEACE PROCESS

REF: MANILA 3352

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CHRISTOPHER J. LAFLEUR, REASON 1.4 (B AND D).

¶1. (S) Summary: Malaysian lead facilitator for the
Philippine Government(GRP)/Moro Islamic Liberation Front
(MILF) peace process Othman Abdul Razak told the Ambassador
August 9 that he anticipated that the parties would sign an
interim agreement late this year, with conclusion of a
“comprehensive compact” possible in the first half of 2007.
Othman described the MILF as practical and realistic in their
negotiating approach. He identified key challenges as the
delineation of Muslim-majority areas and the ability of
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) to sell the deal in
Manila given her weak political position. Continued
restraint by the Philippine armed forces, success of the
constitutional reform process, and the commitment of local
MILF commanders and ulamas also would be important. Othman
claimed the MILF had already neutralized Jemaah Islamiyah
(JI) terrorists, with only three JI-linked persons remaining.
Othman called for capacity building efforts for MILF,
including financing of a leadership school, to proceed in
parallel with the remaining negotiations. Othman foresaw the
need for U.S. diplomatic pressure on GMA to seal the deal at
the end, as well as development assistance to ensure the deal
lasts. End Summary.

¶2. (S) The Ambassador, accompanied by Polcouns, called on
Othman Abdul Razak August 9 to seek his views on the GRP/MILF
peace process. The Ambassador emphasized the importance the
U.S. places on seeing the conflict in Mindanao resolved and
eliminating a safe haven for terrorists in the region, noting
that such extremists pose a threat to Malaysia as well. He
lauded Malaysia’s important role in the GRP/MILF
negotiations. Othman, who retired as Malaysia’s external
intelligence chief early this year and operates out of the
Prime Minister’s office, readily acknowledged Malaysia’s
self-interest in eliminating a breeding ground and sanctuary
for extremists who could also threaten Malaysian territory.
Othman reiterated that Malaysia’s role was as a “facilitator,
not a mediator,” and that Malaysia remained “impartial” but
not “neutral” as to the outcome. Othman provided a positive
overview of the process so far, comparing it very favorably
to the 1996 accord, which ultimately failed. He described
MILF leaders as more realistic in their approach compared
with earlier negotiations. For example, the MILF accepted
that they could not reclaim areas of recent non-Muslim
settlement. Importantly, the MILF for all practical purposes
had given up its claims for independence.

¶3. (S) Othman acknowledged that the negotiations had
proceeded more slowly than originally forecast. However, he
believed that the parties should reach a written interim
agreement or memorandum of understanding sometime after the
fasting month of Ramadan and before the Christmas season
(late October to mid December). The memorandum would pin
down the important areas of agreement to date. Othman stated
that the signing of a “comprehensive compact” should be
possible within the first half of 2007. The process had not
hit a lull and activities continued. Most recently, on the
margins of the August 3 OIC summit, Malaysia facilitated a
meeting between a MILF delegation and a senior Organization
of the Islamic Conference (OIC) senior official intended to
seek OIC approval of the negotiations.

¶4. (S) Othman described the delineation of Muslim-majority
areas and the Moro ancestral domain as the major remaining
challenge. The GRP and MILF thus far had agreed on some 630
villages, but the MILF claimed an additional 1,200 villages
as properly included in the Moro domain. Othman stated that
the GRP and MILF already had agreed to conduct a joint survey
of the villages in dispute. The need to devise a settlement
map that resulted de facto in territorial contiguity for the
eventual Moro-administered area constituted another issue
that required a solution, as thus far the prospective map was
a patchwork of Muslim and non-Muslim enclaves.

¶5. (S) The ability of President Macapagal Arroyo to sell the
final package, including concessions to the MILF, to
stakeholders in Manila represented another major hurdle,
Othman commented. He questioned whether GMA’s current
political weakness would allow her to win sufficient Senate
backing for ratification of the accord. Othman noted other
factors of importance for the final agreement. The
Philippines armed forces should continue to exercise
restraint and avoid a return to the aggressive and disruptive
attacks launched under General Reyes. A successful
constitutional reform effort in Manila would allow the future
Moro entity to fall neatly under an emerging federalism. The
MILF commanders and ulamas would need to buy into the accord

KUALA LUMP 00001525 002 OF 002

in order to avoid the emergence of a new insurgency.

¶6. (S) Othman claimed the MILF had already largely
neutralized Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorists, with only three
JI-linked persons remaining in MILF areas. These three had
married into the local society. Malaysian persuasion had
played the key role in MILF’s expulsion of JI members.
Malaysia also had encouraged the MILF to take action against
the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), but the MILF had been reluctant
to open a “second front.”

¶7. (S) The Malaysian peace facilitator encouraged the U.S.
to take on a greater role in support of the negotiations.
Specifically, he urged U.S. assistance for capacity building
for MILF leaders so that they would be better able to govern
and manage areas under their control. He argued that the
MNLF accord had failed in large part because the MNLF leaders
had been unprepared to assume peace-time leadership roles; he
wanted to train MILF leaders now, before the settlement, to
prevent this from happening again. As a starting point, he
recommended U.S. funding for the Bangsamoro leadership and
management center in Cotabato City. Malaysia was considering
a modest financial contribution. On the diplomatic front,
Othman foresaw a need for U.S. pressure on GMA to conclude
and accept the “comprehensive compact” that necessarily
included some concessions to the MILF. While acknowledging
the good intentions of the U.S. Institute of Peace in seeking
to support the negotiations, he implied a preference that the
Department take a more direct role. More broadly, Othman
strongly disagreed with the inclusion of any NGOs in the
negotiations, including those who claimed to represent
stakeholders from the 1996 process.

¶8. (S) Comment: Othman portrayed a peace process that
remained on track, but would require more time than initially
envisioned. His comments indicated that Malaysia intends to
remain positively engaged as the facilitator for the talks
and would welcome some further U.S. involvement, at least in
the form of MILF capacity building and future diplomatic
pressure on Manila. We defer to Embassy Manila as to the
validity of Othman’s observations of the GRP/MILF talks and
the U.S. role.
LAFLEUR

   

 

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