Oct 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/11/07MANILA3676.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA3676
2007-11-15 09:54
2011-08-30 01:44
SECRET
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO7219
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #3676/01 3190954
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 150954Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8890
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MANILA 003676

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/15/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS RP
SUBJECT: MUSLIM INSURGENT CHAIRMAN, MALAYSIAN FACILITATOR WELCOME USG SUPPORT TO PEACE NEGOTIATIONS

REF: A. MANILA 3509 (GOVERNMENT AND MILF BREAK IMPASSE

ON TERRITORY)
¶B. KUALA LUMPUR 1506 (OTHMAN USES IMT THREAT TO
PUSH MANILA)

MANILA 00003676 001.2 OF 003

Classified By: Classified by DCM Paul W. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).

¶1. (C) Summary: In the first ever official USG meeting with
the leader of the Muslim insurgent organization engaged in
peace talks with the government, Chairman Murad asked DCM if
the U.S. would consider a more formal role in supporting the
implementation of an eventual peace agreement with the
government. The Malaysian facilitator of the talks arranged
and participated in the meeting, which occurred on the eve of
resumed negotiations in Kuala Lumpur; regular Embassy
meetings over the past year with senior insurgent leaders
laid the foundation; senior Philippine government officials,
briefed in advance, were supportive. Chairman Murad was
friendly, confident and well-versed, opening with
appreciation for U.S. support for socio-economic development
of Mindanao, and spoke excellent English. The meeting took
place without media deep inside the insurgent camp near
Cotabato city in Mindanao; the mile-long dirt road was lined
with an honor guard of insurgent combatants with weapons; 10
Central Committee members accompanid the Chairman. The
insurgents subsequently plaed a positive, factual story of
the meeting on their website. We will continue to expand our
consltations with the government, Malaysian facilitatos in
partnership with Embassy Kuala Lumpur, the arious factions
of Muslim insurgents and politicl leadership, Christian and
indigenous groups, as well as the business and
non-governmental sector in Mindanao. Our direct engagement
is clearly elcomed by all parties and can help pull the
comlex peace process toward concrete progress, possiby
including step-by-step eradication of terrorist from
Mindanao. End Summary

MILF Chairman Muad
——————-

¶2. (C) After a two hor discussion en route (see below), DCM
and Malayian facilitator Datuk Othman Abdul Razak were
greted on November 9 with banners and an honor guard f
Muslim insurgents deep inside Camp Darapanan, ear Cotabato
City, Mindanao. Chairman of the Moo Islamic Liberation
Front (MILF) Murad Ebrahim eceived DCM and the Malaysian
facilitator, flankd by 10 Central Committee members, noting
it was he first official USG call on him. Murad was
reaxed, friendly and confident, speaking excellent Eglish.
He opened by thanking the U.S. for its contributions to the
socio-economic development of Mindanao. Murad underscored
the importance of U.S. political support to the peace
negotiations. DCM noted that Ambassador and senior Embassy
officials encourage progress publicly and privately with key
Philippine government officials, while carefully avoiding
encroaching on the roles of Malaysia and the negotiating
parties. Murad suggested the U.S. consider, along with other
key countries, signing a protocol to support the
implementation of an eventual peace agreement. Malaysian
facilitator Othman endorsed Murad,s suggestion. Turning to
peace panel member advisor Michael Mastura for details, Murad
said the MILF was skeptical that the government would succeed
in passing needed legislation through the Philippine congress
without greater international support. He indicated that the
territorial aspects of the negotiation were complete, but
that governance, including security, required more work.

¶3. (C) Murad emphasized the need for good governance of
Mindanao, inclusive of all factions of Muslims as well as
Christians and indigenous peoples. The MILF is reaching out
to the fractious leaders of the original Muslim insurgent
movement, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), to see
how its peace agreement, signed in 1996, could be merged with
the MILF negotiations, as well as to local Muslim political
leaders, Murad said. Malaysian negotiator Othman noted the
importance to Indonesia, which facilitated the MNLF peace
negotiations, of paying respect to the 1996 agreement (which
the MILF has traditionally rejected); Murad agreed. DCM
noted that Ambassador has sought opportunities to bring
together the various representatives of Muslim, Christian and
other communities in Mindanao, such as at an Iftar dinner at
her residence or on the reception of the USS Peleliu. All
agreed that greater unity was needed for the success of
Mindanao.

¶4. (C) After moving to coffee and snacks, Malaysian
facilitator Othman raised the possibility of Ambassador

MANILA 00003676 002.2 OF 003

visiting Chairman Murad. Murad said a visit by the
Ambassador would convey dramatically U.S. support to the
peace process; DCM said the Ambassador would welcome such a
meeting, with advance arrangements agreed. Othman also
prompted a more specific discussion of U.S. concerns over
terrorists operating in MILF areas. DCM conveyed the need
for continued, step-by-step removal of those who would thwart
the peace process from MILF territories, as he has discussed
in meetings with Central Committee members over the past
year, as the process moves toward signing an agreement.

Malaysian Facilitator Othman
—————————-

¶5. (C) During the two hour flight en route, DCM, DATT and
Malaysian facilitator Othman engaged in a wide-ranging,
collaborative discussion of the peace process, during which
Othman conveyed the clear impression that Malaysia welcomes
greater official USG support to the peace negotiations.
Discussing the likely need for local plebiscites once the new
Muslim political entity was agreed, Othman hoped the U.S.
would contribute to an international observation effort that
could minimize irregularities and boost confidence in the
outcome. He asked that the U.S. help convince Philippine
government leaders that ASEAN, and Malaysia in particular,
will never let the MILF or other Muslim insurgents declare
independence from the Philippines. Finally, Othman said he
would welcome a direct conversation with the Philippine
government’s national security cabinet cluster, hinting that
we could help arrange that.

¶6. (S) Speaking personally, Othman conveyed his deep
skepticism of the Philippine Armed Forces, speculating that
elements may be in league with Abu Sayyaf terrorists and some
local Muslim leaders in Mindanao to blame terrorist attacks
on the MILF and therefore weaken the Muslim insurgent
organization. DCM explained in detail our assessment that
the Philippine Armed Forces has placed progressive,
peace-minded generals in key positions in Mindanao, and that
we had absolutely no evidence of collusion with the Abu
Sayyaf and much evidence to the contrary. Philippine Armed
Forces operations, even when provoked, have been measured,
focused on building peace and not on falsely pinning blame.

¶7. (C) DCM conveyed our assessment that Abu Sayyaf and
Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists, in collusion with elements of
the MILF, coordinate on training and conducting bombings to
undermine the peace process, foment instability and maintain
their sanctuaries in Mindanao. Othman countered that the Abu
Sayyaf terrorists conduct bombings, not MILF elements. He
said that the MILF had ejected some 100 members of the Jemaah
Islamiyah some years ago, and that now only a few remain who
have married locally and ceased terrorist activities. Othman
maintained that once the MILF has responsibility for
governance and internal security as the result of a peace
agreement, it will be able to remove the Abu Sayyaf
terrorists as well. DCM observed that the peace agreement
will not succeed unless the MILF continues to take step by
step actions to remove those responsible for bombings in
Mindanao, either on its own or in coordination with the
Philippine government.

¶8. (C) Othman described his efforts to encourage the MILF to
open itself to a broader range of Mindanao business and NGO
leaders who could help build its governing capacity, while
also preparing itself for transformation into a political
party. He criticized the Bangsamoro Development Agency,
designed to be the development arm of a new Muslim political
entity, for underperforming due to over-reliance on personnel
tied to Chairman Murad and lack of consensus within the
Central Committee on its role. DCM described USG engagement
with Mindanao’s domestic and international business
community, as well as U.S. assistance strategy. Murad
welcomed our emphasis on business growth, while noting the
need for Christian and international businesses to adopt
affirmative action programs to transition to local, Muslim
management, thereby building long-term local community
support.

¶10. (C) Comment: Regular meetings over the past year with
members of the Central Committee of the MILF, as well
Mindanao academics and local leaders, laid the foundation for
this friendly and substantive first session with Chairman
Murad. Progress in the peace talks and the support of the
Malaysian facilitator probably gave Murad needed political
cover with the MILF’s more radical elements. Quietly
building these relationships appears to have convinced the
Malaysians and the MILF that we are trusted partners who

MANILA 00003676 003.2 OF 003

genuinely support the peace process.

¶11. (C) Comment Con’t: The U.S. is uniquely positioned as
the only country with close relationships among the
Philippine government, Malaysian facilitators (through
Embassy Kuala Lumpur), all Muslim factions, as well as
Christian, indigenous, business and NGO sectors in Mindanao.
We will continue to engage substantively all of the players
in this multi-dimensional chess game as we press for
significant progress in the peace process during 2008, before
campaigning begins for the 2010 Philippines presidential
elections.
KENNEY

   

 

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