Sep 152014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2001/11/01MANILA6761.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
01MANILA6761
2001-11-21 11:56
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila
O 211156Z NOV 01
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4399
INFO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//OO/FPA/J2/J3/J5// PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHDC//USDP:ISA/AP/SOCLIC// PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 006761

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2010
TAGS: PINS MOPS PREL KISL PGOV RP
SUBJECT: MISUARI TO USG “I’M NO TERRORIST”

REF: MANILA 6730

CLASSIFIED BY POLITICAL COUNSELOR STEVEN E. ZATE, REASONS:
1.5 (B) AND (D).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: NUR MISUARI HAS DECIDED TO REVERT BACK TO HIS
ARMED SEPARATIST WAYS, BUT HAS SENT A CLEAR MESSAGE TO THE
UNITED STATES CLAIMING THAT HE WILL NEVER BE A TERRORIST AND
HAS NOT ALLIED HIS FORCES WITH THOSE OF THE ABU SAYYAF GROUP
(ASG). A MISUARI EMISSARY HAS TOLD EMBASSY MANILA HE INTENDS
TO BE AN “HONEST ADVERSARY” IN HIS RENEWED FIGHT AGAINST THE
PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT (GOP) BUT EVEN NOW IS OPEN TO A REAL
AGREEMENT THAT ALLOWS FOR “TRUE AUTONOMY” FOR MUSLIMS. THE
MORO NATIONAL LIBERATION FRONT – MISUARI FACTION (MNLF-MF)
MESSENGER INDICATED THAT A FULL POLITICAL AND MILITARY
ALLIANCE BETWEEN HIS GROUP AND THE ARMED MORO ISLAMIC
LIBERATION FRONT (MILF) IS IMMINENT AND THAT JOINT MNLF/MILF
OPERATIONS AGAINST GOP FORCES HAVE ALREADY BEGUN IN CENTRAL
MINDANAO. THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR – MISUARI HAS AGAIN TAKEN TO
THE HILLS BUT HE DOES NOT WANT TO MAKE AN ENEMY OF THE U.S.
OR BE BRANDED AS AN INTERNATIONAL TERRORIST. END SUMMARY.

GET THE WORD TO THE US
———————-

¶2. (C) POLOFF MET NOVEMBER 21 WITH REV. ABSALOM CERVEZA, A
PROTESTANT CLERGYMAN WHO IS DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE SOUTHERN
PHILIPPINES COUNCIL FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT (SPCPD) UNDER
THE OFFICE PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT MACAPAGAL-ARROYO. CERVEZA IS
A LONG TIME SUPPORTER OF MNLF FOUNDER (AND SUSPENDED MUSLIM
REGIONAL GOVERNOR) NUR MISUARI AND WAS APPOINTED BY MISUARI
TO HIS CURRENT POST. HE REMAINS MISUARI’S CLOSE CONFIDANT
AND ADVISOR. CERVEZA SAID MISUARI HAD ASKED HIM TO PASS
SEVERAL MESSAGES TO THE EMBASSY AND THE USG. HE TOLD US THAT
MISUARI HAS DECIDED THAT THERE IS NO CURRENT HOPE THAT THE
GOP WILL TRULY HONOR ITS COMMITMENTS TO GRANT TRUE AUTONOMY
TO THE MUSLIMS – AS CALLED FOR IN THE TRIPOLI AGREEMENT OF
1976 AND THE PEACE AGREEMENT OF 1996 SIGNED BY BOTH PARTIES.
SINCE THAT IS THE CASE, MISUARI HAS DECIDED TO GO BACK TO THE
HILLS AND LEAD HIS REJUVENATED MNLF FACTION IN THE “ONLY
NEGOTIATION THE GOP TRULY UNDERSTANDS – ARMED WARFARE.”
CERVEZA SAID THAT MISUARI, WHO REMAINS WITH HIS FIGHTERS IN
SULU PROVINCE, WANTS THE USG TO CLEARLY UNDERSTAND THAT HE IS
“NO TERRORIST,” AND “HAS NO LINKS WITH THE TERRORIST ABU
SAYYAF.” MISUARI’S MAN NOTED THAT HIS LEADER HAS
“CONSISTENTLY CONDEMNED THE ASG AND THEIR UN-ISLAMIC BANDITRY
AGAINST INNOCENTS.”

“IT’S THE GOVERNMENT’S FAULT”
—————————–

¶3. (C) CERVEZA SAID THAT MISUARI BELIEVES THAT PRESIDENT
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO HAS RECEIVED BAD ADVICE FROM SEVERAL
MEMBERS OF HER CABINET LED BY HER PEACE ADVISER EDUARDO
ERMITA, SPECIAL PROJECTS ADVISER NORBERTO GONZALES, AND
DEFENSE SECRETARY ANGELO REYES. THESE THREE HAD CONSPIRED
WITH MEMBERS OF MISUARI’S MNLF CENTRAL COMMITTEE LED BY
PAROUK HUSSIN TO OUST HIM AND MANIPULATE THE NOVEMBER 26
ELECTIONS IN THE AUTONOMOUS REGION OF MUSLIM MINDANAO (ARMM)
TO ENSURE A HUSSIN WIN. ACCORDING TO CERVEZA THIS WAS THE
LAST STRAW IN A LONG-RUNNING GOP CAMPAIGN TO DEMOLISH
MISUARI’S REPUTATION AND DIGNITY AND TO BRING HIM DOWN IN THE
EYES OF HIS SUPPORTERS AND ALL MUSLIMS. “MISUARI IS A PROUD
MAN AND WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS DISHONOR, WHILE AT 60 HE IS
NOT YOUNG, HE IS OUT TO PROVE THAT HE STILL ENJOYS THE
SUPPORT OF MANY MUSLIMS,” CERVEZA SAID. TO PROVE THIS,
MISUARI HAS SENT HIS FAMILY OUT OF THE COUNTRY, HAS PICKED UP
HIS ASSAULT RIFLE, HAS REFURBISHED HIS MILITARY COMMAND
STRUCTURE, AND IS FINALIZING A FORMAL RECOMBINING OF THE MNLF
AND THE MILF LED BY HASHIM SALAMAT. (NOTE: SALAMAT BROKE
WITH THE MNLF IN THE LATE 1970S AFTER DISAGREEMENTS WITH
MISUARI OVER HOW TO PUSH FOR MUSLIM INDEPENDENCE AND A MORE
ISLAMIC UNDERPINNING FOR THE SEPARATIST MOVEMENT. END NOTE.)
ACCORDING TO CERVEZA THIS AMALGAMATION IS IMMINENT AND MILF
AND MNLF-MF FORCES HAVE ALREADY COOPERATED IN JOINT
OPERATIONS AGAINST THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES (AFP)
IN SULU AND IN CENTRAL MINDANAO.

¶4. (C) CERVEZA ASSERTED THAT THE GOP SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT
MISUARI WOULD JUST GO AWAY, AS THEY EXPECTED HIM TO DO. “THE
MAN IS NOT STUPID. HE COULDN’T BE BOUGHT OFF WITH AN
AMBASSADORSHIP IN SAUDI ARABIA OR TURKEY,” CERVEZA SAID.
“NOW THAT MISUARI IS MAKING HIMSELF A MILITARY FORCE TO BE
RECKONED WITH THE GOVERNMENT IS AT A LOSS TO KNOW WHAT TO
DO,” HE CLAIMED. “THEY HAVE NO PLAN AND HAVE LEFT MISUARI NO
CHOICE BUT TO RETURN TO THE HILLS.” CERVEZA ADDED THAT
MISUARI BELIEVES THAT HE WILL FORCE THE GOP TO DEAL WITH HIM
AND HIS FOLLOWERS POLITICALLY TO ASSURE TRUE AUTONOMY ONLY IF
HE NOW PURSUES THE MILITARY OPTION. MISUARI’S MAN INDICATED
THAT THE GOP WILL NOW HAVE TO DEAL WITH AN ARMED MNLF AGAIN
BECAUSE IT FAILED AT DEALING WITH UNARMED MUSLIMS WHO WANTED
A STRAIGHT POLITICAL SHAKE FOR THE “MORO NATION.”

COMMENT
——-

¶5. (C) HUBRIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE PRICKLY MISUARI’S BIGGEST
FAILING, AND THIS HAS PROMPTED HIM TO TRY AND REVIVE HIS PAST
GLORY AS A TOUGH LEADER OF AN ARMED SEPARATIST MOVEMENT. THE
GOP, IN TURN, UNDERESTIMATED HIS DETERMINATION TO CONTINUE TO
BE A PLAYER. A GENUINE MNLF (SULU-BASED AND MOSTLY ETHNIC
TAUSUG) TIE-UP WITH THE MILF (MOSTLY CENTRAL MINDANAO-BASED
MAGUINDANAOS AND MARANAOS) IS A DAUNTING PROSPECT AND SHOULD
GIVE GOP MILITARY PLANNERS AND POLITICAL POLICY-MAKERS PAUSE.
MISUARI IS THE MAJOR POWER BROKER IN THE ISLAND PROVINCE OF
SULU AND THE GOP HAS ITS HANDS FULL WITH THE ASG IN BASILAN
TO THE NORTH. AN MILF/MNLF ALLIANCE IS NOT A DONE DEAL
BECAUSE SOME OF THE FACTORS THAT LED TO THEIR SPLIT REMAIN.
IN ADDITION, THE MILF LEADERSHIP REMAINS IN PEACE
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE GOP, AND WHILE THESE TALKS ARE
PROCEEDING SLOWLY, THEY ARE MOVING FORWARD. HOWEVER, THE
OPENING OF ANOTHER SEPARATIST FRONT THROUGH MILF/MNLF
COOPERATION IN CENTRAL MINDANAO WILL NOT BE GOOD FOR THE
CREAKY, POORLY LED, AND RESOURCE-POOR AFP. THE AFP STILL HAS
TO CONTEND WITH A NAGGING COMMUNIST INSURGENCY IN SCATTERED
PARTS OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY AND HAVING TO BATTLE ON TOO MANY
FRONTS LEAVE IT STRETCHED EXTREMELY THIN. PRESIDENT
MACAPAGAL-ARROYO RETURNS TO THE COUNTRY FROM THE US AND
MEXICO ON NOVEMBER 22. THIS ITEM WILL BE AT THE TOP OF HER
NOW EVEN MORE PRESSING SECURITY AGENDA. WITH ALL THE RECENT
PUBLICITY ABOUT US ASSISTANCE TO DESTROY THE ASG, MISUARI MAY
HAVE WANTED TO EXPLAIN HIS MOTIVES IN AN EFFORT TO AVOID
HAVING IS RE-ARMED SEPARATIST FORCES BECOME ANOTHER DIRECT
(OR INDIRECT) US TARGET. PROBABLY A WISE MOVE.

FITTS

   

 

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