Viewing cable 06CONAKRY101

06CONAKRY1012006-01-30 12:55:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET Embassy Conakry
DE RUEHRY #0101/01 0301255
O 301255Z JAN 06
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 CONAKRY 000101 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/30/2016 
CONAKRY 00000101  001.6 OF 004 
Classified By:DCM Julie Winn for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1.  (S) On January 24, Deputy Assistant Secretary for 
Defense (DASD) Theresa Whelan met with Prime Minister 
Cellou Dalein Diallo and then with senior military officers 
to discuss regional stability and bilateral military 
¶2.  (S) DASD Whelan delivered a strong message to Guinean 
military leaders that U.S. assistance would be compromised 
if the military intervened in an extra-constitutional 
manner in the presidential transition.  Guinea's highest- 
ranking military officers responded that their mandate is 
to ensure Guinea's territorial integrity and guarantee the 
safety and survival of the Guinean people -- a broad view 
that would permit significant flexibility of action.  They 
underscored, however, that the Guinean armed forces are and 
will remain loyal to the republic. 
¶3.  (C) The delegations also reviewed areas for potential 
U.S. military cooperation.  End Summary. 
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Prime Minister Focuses on Costs of Regional Instability 
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¶4.  (C) Prime Minister Diallo expressed gratitude for the 
long and productive military relationship between Guinea 
and the U.S, citing U.S. political, diplomatic and military 
support to ward off the incursion by Charles Taylor's 
forces in 2000-2001.  The Prime Minister recalled that 
President Conte has dispatched him to Washington to seek 
the USG's support just after Charles Taylor and the RUF 
invaded Guinea.  DASD Whelan noted that the program to 
create and train Guinea's Ranger battalion was successful 
because both parties had brought something to the table. 
¶5.  (C) The Prime Minister focused on the need for 
collaboration to secure peace in the sub-region.  He 
perceived the region as a whole, where actions in one 
country directly affected the others.  He said the 
successes we enjoy now in Sierra Leone and Liberia 
reinforce the values of freedom and democracy, which in 
turn support peace in the region.  Guinea remains open to 
engagement and wants to strengthen these values, he said. 
DASD Whelan recognized the important role that Guinea plays 
in the region and noted that the U.S. is taking a regional 
approach by focusing on the development of the ECOWAS 
stand-by force. 
¶6.  (C) The Prime Minister underscored the economic costs 
of regional instability -- Guinea's previous World Bank and 
IMF programs fell off track because of the high national 
defense expenditures it was forced to make to repel Charles 
Taylor's aggression.  This had a disastrous effect on 
Guinea's fiscal and monetary indicators, triggering the 
economic and social crisis that continues today.  Since 
Guinea had fallen off track with the IMF, budgetary support 
was suspended and, even worse, Guinea had not qualified for 
HIPC debt cancellation. 
¶7.  (C) The Prime Minister asked for DASD Whelan's views on 
Cote d'Ivoire.  She expressed concern with the stalemate 
that continues to cause an economic, political, and social 
drain on the region.  The Prime Minister noted the 
unwillingness of Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo to 
compromise.  The only way to relieve the stalemate would be 
to force Gbagbo to "play the game" or to remove him from 
the equation, he said. 
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Guinea Brings out the Big Guns to Request U.S. Assistance 
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¶8.  (C) Twenty of Guinea's highest-ranking military 
officers, average age approximately 65, flanked by about 15 
somewhat younger junior officers, received DASD Whelan, her 
team, and the Ambassador at the Ministry of Defense.  MOD 
Director of Cabinet (and de facto Defense Minister) Colonel 
Kandet Toure echoed the Prime Minister's gratitude for U.S. 
military engagement, the training of officers under IMET, 
and the assistance to Guinea in the defense of its borders. 
Colonel Toure averred that Guinea's army is neither 
aggressive nor out for domination, but that it must be 
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Classified By: DCM Julie Winn for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
ready for any situation. 
¶9.  (C) To this end, the Army Inspector General, Colonel 
Ibrahima Diallo, outlined a wish list covering six areas of 
critical need where U.S. assistance would be most helpful. 
-- The military's first priority is preparing for its 
contribution of a 750-strong infantry battalion to the 
ECOWAS stand-by brigade.  The Guinean military requested 
U.S. assistance to prepare its battalion in the areas of 
health (laboratories and ambulances), communications (HF, 
VHF, and walkie-talkies), subsistence (clothing, bedding, 
furniture, and allowances), civil engineering (training and 
equipping a transportation unit; cranes, and small tools). 
Five additional areas for potential mil-to-mil cooperation 
-- renovation of airfields in border areas to prepare for 
troop deployment; air security equipment; 
-- infrared, night-vision, and GPS equipment to improve the 
Guinean military's capacity to control its borders with 
Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia; 
-- maintenance and repair of Guinea's naval assets, e.g., 
barges, patrol boats; 
-- communications equipment, both fixed and mobile 
-- training of trainers for the Ranger battalion. 
Col. Diallo added that civil-military relations are also 
critical to their mission. 
¶10.  (C) DASD Whelan noted that the U.S. had already 
provided equipment and medical training to the Ranger 
battalion.  While the U.S. has made an investment in the 
Rangers, additional training for them is not readily 
available at this time.  However, she added, there are 
potentially several areas where the U.S. can assist.  For 
example, due to the U.S. commitment to the African Union 
and the ECOWAS stand-by force, we will seek ways to help 
make Guinea's contribution effective. 
¶11.  (C) DASD Whelan recalled our commitment to repair the 
dry dock we supplied in 1991.  She thought that we might be 
able to contribute to the maintenance of U.S.-provided 
patrol boats.  She said, with DOD's focus on maritime 
security and control of territorial waters, we welcome 
Guinea's efforts to build a capable navy.  Whelan praised 
the military's effective use of the IMET program, reflected 
in Guinea's rank as the fifth-largest recipient of IMET 
funds in sub-Saharan Africa.  She said we would explore 
ways to expand IMET.  Whelan and the Guineans agreed that 
they look forward to increasing the cooperative mil-to-mil 
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Leaders Warned of Consequences of Military Interference 
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¶12. (S) Following the large session, the U.S. side 
requested a more restricted meeting.  In attendance were 
four of Guinea's top military officers:  General Kerfalla 
Camara, Chief of Defense Staff; General Alhousseiny Fofana, 
Advisor to the Ministry of Defense; Colonel Kandet Toure, 
de facto Minister of Defense; and General Kaba 43 Camara, 
Chief of the Army.  The U.S. side consisted of DASD Whalen, 
the Ambassador, Colonel Victor Nelson, and Pol/Econ Chief 
Jessica Davis Ba (notetaker). 
¶13.  (S) DASD Whelan noted that when we discuss future 
engagement, it is critical also to address potential 
impediments to collaboration.  She expressed optimism about 
the future of the region, including Sierra Leone and 
Liberia.  Even with the continued problems in Liberia, the 
U.S. believes in and is committed to lasting stability in 
the Mano River region.  Continued U.S.-Guinea military 
cooperation is critical to this progress, she said. 
¶14.  (S) Alluding to the presidential transition, DASD 
Whelan stated that at some point in the future, Guinea will 
face a significant change in its political landscape. 
(Comment: It was clear to all parties that DASD Whelan was 
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referring to the eventual death of President Conte.)  At 
that point, the Guinean military would have important 
decisions to make.  All Guineans, Guinea's neighbors, as 
well as the United States and the world, would closely 
watch these decisions. 
¶15.  (S) DASD Whelan emphasized that she had been 
personally involved in all decisions regarding U.S. 
military assistance to Guinea since the late 1980s 
(Comment:  Generally suspicious and rebuffing "outside" 
interference, the officers responded favorably to Whelan's 
personal involvement and experience with Guinea.)  DASD 
Whelan said that, as a friend to the Guinean military, she 
wanted to be sure all parties were aware that any military 
actions with regard to the presidential succession outside 
the framework of the constitution would trigger negative 
consequences from the United States.  We would be compelled 
to suspend U.S.-Guinea cooperation in almost all sectors, 
including military cooperation.  DASD concluded, "You will 
make your decisions, but I must explain clearly that 
certain decisions will compromise our cooperation." 
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View from Top Brass:  Mandate is Defense of the People 
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¶16.  (S) The military leaders took detailed notes with no 
perceptible reaction when DASD Whelan broached this once 
taboo topic.  They clearly understood the Ambassador's 
verbatim translation of Whelan's remarks and the warning 
against military intervention.  General Kerfalla Camara 
then removed his glasses, sat back in his chair and made 
his first comments of the afternoon:  "The Guinean army is 
and will remain republican," i.e., the Army is an 
institution of the Republic of Guinea, governed by its 
¶17.  (S) General Kerfalla continued, "Since its creation in 
1958, the army has not been one of conquest or repression, 
but one that acts in the exclusive service of its people. 
Our mandate is to guarantee the safety and survival of 
Guinea's citizens.  This army was called upon to 
reestablish peace in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea 
Bissau, and since 1960 we have ensured stability in the 
region.  The president (Conte) is a real soldier.  He has 
instructed us not to overstep one inch of our border unless 
invited by that neighboring country."  Kerfalla repeated, 
"Since its creation, the mission of Guinea's military is to 
defend the security of our people and its borders.  In 
training our soldiers to fight, it is only for the benefit 
and protection of our people.  The mandate of the armed 
forces is to defend its people.  We have no other 
¶18.  (S) Colonel Kandet Toure said he appreciated the 
sincerity and openness of DASD Whelan's message and that he 
could not improve upon General Kerfalla's response.  "We 
can assure you, those who are here before you are officers 
who have taken an oath to the people of Guinea.  General 
Kerfalla's statement represents the position of each member 
of our party.  We will be more vigilant now so that we can 
handle any situation which may arise."  Colonel Toure 
invited closer and more permanent communication, suggesting 
that the U.S. might see dangers that Guinean military 
leadership itself is not aware of.  We are at your 
disposal, he said.  Colonel Toure also alluded at one point 
to his imperfect knowledge of what was happening "among the 
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Colonel Toure Clarifies His View of the Army's Role 
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¶19.  (S) While onboard the C-12 with DASD Whelan from 
Conakry to Kankan, the Ambassador spoke with Colonel Kandet 
Toure (a) to ensure that DASD Whelan's message the previous 
day had fully registered and (b) to probe further about 
what the Guinean military leadership meant by the phrase 
"we are and will remain a republican army." 
¶20.  (S) Colonel Toure said that Guinea needed peace as a 
prerequisite for its social and economic development. 
Toure said he also "needed peace" because he did not, as a 
senior military official, want to find himself facing 
conflict in his own country.  The examples of neighboring 
Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cote d'Ivoire had convinced 
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everyone of the disastrous consequences of civil conflict. 
¶21.  (S) Referring to DASD Whelan's message the previous 
day, the Ambassador said that the U.S. was not singling 
Guinea out and that the U.S. policy against coups and 
extra-constitutional transitions applies broadly, as 
evidenced by our position on Mauritania.  Colonel Toure 
said he understood. 
¶22. (S) The Ambassador said that the term "republican army" (armee 
republicaine) used by General Kerfalla the previous 
day was difficult to translate precisely into English.  He 
asked Colonel Toure what, in his view, the term implied. 
Toure responded that a "republican army" is one that 
remains loyal to the people, respectful of the laws of the 
land, and defends the country's territorial integrity.  The 
Ambassador asked specifically whether the laws of the land, 
in Colonel Toure's view, included the constitution.  Toure 
responded, "Of course." 
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Government Leaders Also Focused on Maintaining Stability 
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¶23.  (U) At a reception hosted by the Ambassador, DASD 
Whelan and her team had the opportunity to engage with 
civilian leaders, including President of the National 
Assembly (and constitutional successor to the President of 
the Republic) Aboubacar Sompare and Minister of Territorial 
Administration Kiridi Bangoura.  The most senior military 
leaders attended the reception as well. 
¶24.  (SBU) DASD Whelan and Sompare discussed developments 
in the region and the possibilities for increased trade 
with Liberia now that it has turned over a new leaf. 
Sompare noted that the economic development of Guinea was 
directly linked with that of its neighbors.  Cote d'Ivoire 
remains the dark spot on the horizon.  Sompare emphasized 
the heavy toll of Ivoirian refugees and the risk of 
compromise and instability in the border region. 
¶25.  (SBU) Kiridi Bangoura spoke about the December local 
elections and his recent travel to all of Guinea's regions 
to consolidate lessons learned.  The most important 
challenge, he said, was educating the winners and losers on 
their role in a democratic system and the role all actors 
must play in the success of newly elected municipal and 
local governments. 
¶26.  (S) As highlighted by President Lansana Conte's 
granting a rare meeting the next day (septel), the Guineans 
viewed DASD WhelanQs visit as an important chance to engage 
with the U.S. on bilateral military cooperation.  Moreover, 
there is increasingly open discussion and sub rosa 
maneuvering in Guinea regarding the once taboo subject of 
the inevitable presidential transition.  The challenge is 
to ensure that such planning -- whether by the military or 
civilian political leaders -- remains constitutional and 
constructive.  The Guinean military heard DASD Whelan's 
message.  The Guinean military's view of their mandate is 
very broad, however, and may be broad enough to justify in 
their eyes a range of actions when Conte dies or even 
before.  Colonel Toure's remarks about the army's respect 
for the laws of the land, including the constitution, were 
somewhat reassuring, but he may not have the last word. 
¶27.  (U) This cable was cleared by DASD Whelan.