Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/10/07KUALALUMPUR1506.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KUALALUMPUR1506
2007-10-10 07:45
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuala Lumpur

VZCZCXRO5271
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHKL #1506/01 2830745
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 100745Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0084
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2399
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 2461
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KUALA LUMPUR 001506

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR EAP

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/10/2027
TAGS: PREL PINR PTER MOPS EAID KISL RP MY
SUBJECT: MILF TALKS: OTHMAN USES IMT THREAT AND PREVIOUS GRP NEGOTIATOR TO PUSH MANILA

REF: KUALA LUMPUR 1234 – SEEKING RESTRAINT AFTER

BASILAN

Classified By: Political Section Chief Mark D. Clark, reasons 1.4 (b an
d d).

Summary
——-

¶1. (C) Malaysian facilitator for the Philippines (GRP)/Moro
Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace talks Othman Abdul
Razak employed previous GRP negotiator Silvestre Afable and
the threat of Malaysia’s pull-out from the International
Monitoring Team (IMT) to push Manila during a September 25-26
executive session in Kuala Lumpur. The executive session
reaffirmed the informal agreements reached prior to Afable’s
resignation in June 2007, reversing the GRP’s “backtracking”
over recent months. The Malaysian facilitator anticipated a
Philippines cabinet response to the points of understanding
as soon as October 9, which could lead to an informal
negotiating round by late October and, ideally, a formal
session in November to endorse the ancestral domain formula.
Othman reiterated Malaysia’s threat to withdraw its
participants from the IMT should there be no progress in the
talks by November. While Malaysia has upped the ante with
its public ultimatum, a withdrawal from the monitoring group
clearly would hurt Malaysia’s own prestige in the region and
its future influence in Mindanao. End Summary.

Reaffirming Previous Understandings
———————————–

¶2. (C) On October 8, Othman provided polchief with a summary
read-out of the September 25-26 “executive session” he
convened in Kuala Lumpur with lead GRP negotiator Rudy Garcia
and his MILF counterpart Mohaqher Iqbal. Othman described
the session as relatively successful. Originally scheduled
for just one day as a “question and answer” event, all sides
agreed to remain for a second day of discussions. Othman
said he had used the meeting to reaffirm previous informal
agreements on key points, including the critical ancestral
domain (territorial) issue and methods to avoid
constitutional challenges, which Othman believed would
otherwise block an agreement. He explained this
reaffirmation as necessary because the June 2007 resignation
of GRP negotiator Silvestre Afable (“due to lack of cabinet
support”) had resulted in Manila “backtracking” on earlier
understandings reached between Afable and the MILF. Othman
invited Afable into the executive session in order to confirm
the previous understandings to Garcia, who had not been privy
to all of the prior discussions with the MILF. The late
September session resulted in minor modifications (NFI) to
the earlier understandings reached under Afable. Othman
indicated that Malaysia’s threat to withdraw from the IMT
also played a role in pressuring Garcia during the September
executive session (see below).

Next Steps
———-

¶3. (C) Othman stated that Garcia had undertaken to present
the informal agreements to the Philippines cabinet. He
expected to learn the results of the cabinet consultation as
early as October 9. If the Philippines cabinet reacted
positively, Othman intended to schedule another informal
round of talks as early as October 23 (after Muslim
celebrations of Aidul Fitri). Ideally, this would lead to a
formal negotiating session in November that could feature a
signing of a memorandum on ancestral domain. The two sides
had not addressed in any detail maritime issues related to
creation of a new Bangsa Moro entity, and this topic would
require more attention, Othman added.

Malaysia’s IMT Ultimatum
————————

¶4. (C) Polchief queried Othman regarding Deputy Prime
Minister Najib Tun Razak’s remarks to the press that
Malaysian troops could not stay indefinitely in the IMT and
reports that Malaysia had set a November deadline for
progress in the negotiations. Othman confirmed that Malaysia
had “informed, not threatened” Manila that it would pull out
of the IMT unless the talks achieved some results by

KUALA LUMP 00001506 002 OF 002

November. Whereas the GRP and MILF had agreed in August to
extend the IMT’s mandate by one year, Malaysia had set its
own deadline of three months to achieve something that would
justify its further commitment to the IMT. Manila and the
MILF were nervous about the ultimatum because both sides
valued the IMT’s contribution to confidence-building and a
notable reduction in armed clashes. Othman did not specify
any particular condition that would satisfy Malaysia’s
definition of progress, stating only that, “I must have
something to show my government.”

¶5. (C) When polchief asked if Najib’s statements indicated
that the Deputy Prime Minister (who also serves as Defense
Minister) was involving himself more closely in the MILF
negotiations, Othman emphasized that the Prime Minister as
well as the Deputy Prime Minister were focused on the talks.
Otherwise, Najib had not taken up any particular role.

Avoid Constitutional Amendments, Study Other Models
——————————————— ——

¶6. (C) Othman believed it essential for the GRP to avoid an
approach that required constitutional amendments, as this
likely would prove unworkable and rule out a peace agreement
with the MILF. In order to educate the GRP side in
particular on possible modalities, Othman thought it would be
useful to stage a short workshop showcasing successful
agreements between governments and rebel groups, including
the 2004 south Sudan peace accord.

MILF-MNLF Equation
——————

¶7. (C) Othman said he understood that some Moro National
Liberation Front (MNLF) elements at the local level over time
were joining MILF. In particular, MNLF members in the
islands, including Palawan and Basilan, had switched over to
MILF. This was due to MNLF’s disarray, with some leaders
(Misuari) in jail and others co-opted by the GRP, and the
unsuccessful implementation of the GRP-MNLF Jakarta accord.
OIC sponsored efforts to broker a renewed dialogue with the
MNLF were going nowhere. Othman believed at some point it
would be useful to bring MILF and MNLF leaders together for
discussions, but he did not have plans to pursue such a
meeting over the medium term.

Meeting with Embassy Manila
—————————

¶8. (SBU) Polchief expressed appreciation for Othman’s
September 19 meeting in Manila with Embassy Manila DCM and
USAID Director, and indicated a follow-up meeting would be
useful. Othman said that he benefited from the discussion,
including the briefing on U.S. assistance to Mindanao.

Comment
——-

¶9. (C) Othman appeared modestly optimistic regarding the
possibility of progress, pending word on the Philippines
cabinet’s reaction to Garcia’s brief. Malaysia has upped the
ante with its public and private IMT ultimatum, but we do not
take this wholly at face value. In early August (reftel),
Othman used the renewal of the IMT’s mandate as a pressure
point against Manila, disingenuously ascribing this to the
MILF. We have no hint that the November deadline signals any
policy split within the Malaysian government. Instead, this
move appears to reflect Othman’s tactics. Malaysia would
stand to lose a great deal of prestige in the region and
future influence in Mindanao by giving up on the IMT. We
presume a precipitous Malaysian withdrawal from the IMT would
damage or jeopardize Kuala Lumpur’s peace facilitation role.
If a country like Indonesia stepped in to replace Malaysia as
a monitor or peacemaker, this would constitute a major blow
to Malaysia’s regional position. Without the IMT members on
the ground, Malaysia also would lose much of its Mindanao
field intelligence and harm linkages with the MILF. For
these reasons, we do not believe Malaysia would take lightly
the decision to abandon the IMT. Nevertheless, given the
ultimatum, Othman will want to point to something positive by
November.
SHEAR

   

 

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