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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BAGHDAD2849
2005-07-07 12:15:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

TWO SUNNI LEADERS SHARE SUNNI INITIATIVES AND

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KDEM  IZ 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002849 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2025
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: TWO SUNNI LEADERS SHARE SUNNI INITIATIVES AND
CONCERNS WITH CODEL LEVIN


Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Ford.
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002849

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/07/2025
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: TWO SUNNI LEADERS SHARE SUNNI INITIATIVES AND
CONCERNS WITH CODEL LEVIN


Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Ford.
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).


1. (C) SUMMARY: Deputy Prime Minister Abid Mutlak al-
Jaburi and Deputy Constitution Committee Chairman
Adnan al-Janabi, both Sunni Arabs, offered Senator
Carl Levin a wide range of initiatives to reach out to
their community in a July 5 dinner meeting. Both
Jaburi and Janabi supported holding to the TAL
timeline for constitution drafting and elections.
They called for a halt to what they called
indiscriminate and aggressive military operations
targeting Sunni areas, and they complained that the
Iraqi security services were poorly led and
inadequately trained. They also sought the release of
high-profile detainees and an improved process to
disseminate information about detainees. Jaburi
warned that the Jafari government risks further
alienating the Sunni population with a plan to
confiscate the assets of former Ba'athists and regime
officials. (However, one leading Iraqi government
official has since told us there is no such plan under
consideration.) Both Jaburi and Janabi expected
strong Sunni Arab participation in the next elections
but said the IECI needs to be replaced because it is
politicized. END SUMMARY.


2. (C) Codel Levin explored possibilities for
improved Sunni Arab outreach in a dinner July 5 with
Deputy Prime Minister Abid Mutlak al-Jaburi and Deputy
Constitution Committee Chairman Adnan al-Janabi. Both
Jaburi and Janabi supported sticking with the TAL
deadlines on constitution drafting, the referendum,
and the next elections. Janabi said that following
the induction of Sunni Arabs into the constitution
drafting committee, he was optimistic that the
document could be completed on time. But Jaburi
lamented that Sunni extremists, Shia extremists, and
leaders in "neighboring states" were all working to
keeping the Sunni Arab population marginalized from
the political process. He warned, "Our non-
participation will halt the whole American plan here -
- our children and the Americans will still be
fighting instead of living in freedom and democracy."


--------------
LISTING THE INITIATIVES
--------------


3. (C) The following set of initiatives was proposed
over dinner with the Charge and the Iraqi leaders.
Jaburi elaborated on some of them in a letter he wrote
to Senator Levin and the Charge, excerpts of which
have been translated below. The central goal of all
of these plans, both men said repeatedly, was to end
the "humiliation" of the Sunni community so it can
reclaim a place of honor in the political process.

-- HALT AGGRESSIVE "ANTI-SUNNI" OPERATIONS: Both
Jaburi and Janabi were convinced that arrest campaigns
and military operations were being deliberately
targeted at the Sunni community. When Senator Levin
pointed out that this was natural since the Sunni
community was the center of the insurgency, neither
man was assuaged. The names of the operations are
themselves provocative, Jaburi said, referring to
Operations "Lightning" and "Spear." Jaburi said,
"Every day hundreds are killed or hurt in these
attacks." Particularly offensive are raids on mosques
and the detention of women, he said. In sum, he said,
he was asking for "more mercy" and more thought about
excessive use of force. Janabi said that he
successfully coordinated North Babil operations while
serving as Minister of State in the Allawi government.
The lesson of the experience was that random military
searches only provoked the population while targeted
operations was much more effective at winning local
trust.

-- RELEASE PROMINENT DETAINEES, IMPROVE INFORMATION
FLOW: Jaburi said that the Iraqi government and MNF-I
should build confidence with the Sunni Arab community
by releasing detained clerics, former senior officers,
and local notables. "Even if they've made small
mistakes, close your eyes a little bit," Jaburi said.
Jaburi's letter calls for the release of those who did
not committee a "witnessed crime." Janabi said the
process of informing Iraqis about detained relatives
was improved, but he complained that Iraqis still have
too much trouble finding out the nature of the charges
against them. (NOTE: MNF-I currently has under
detention thirty-eight Sunni clerics, nineteen rated
high or extreme threat, ten as medium threat, and nine
still in initial interview. A number of former senior
Ba'ath officials categorized as "High-Value Detainees"
have been approved by MNF-I for release, but these
releases have been awaiting ITG approval for months,
and several of these HVDs are now under consideration
for trial by the Iraqi Special Tribunal. END NOTE)

-- IMPROVE PROFESSIONALISM IN THE IRAQI FORCES:
Jaburi said that politicized and under-qualified
personnel plague the Iraqi security services. Too
many former criminals and low-ranking officers have
been unduly promoted to senior rank. "Some men who
never attended a military academy are colonels," he
said. "There are thieves who are captains." Jaburi
alleged in his letter that many soldiers are stealing
property during raids and demanding ransom in exchange
for the release of detainees. Militias, he argued,
must be dissolved and assurances must be made that
soldiers are serving the nation, not their sect.

-- BE MORE REALISTIC ON IRAQI MILITARY TRAINING:
Jaburi, a former Iraqi army officer himself, called
for more intensive and realistic approach to the
training of the Iraqi military. Figures on Iraqi
force strength are exaggerated because large numbers
of soldiers are absentees, he claimed. Speaking as a
former division commander, Jaburi said that Iraq does
not really have 10 divisions despite announcements to
that effect. Each group falls short of 1,000 soldiers
even though the government is allocating funding for
that amount and seeing it disappear. Jaburi pointed
out that Iraq's monarchy held the country under its
control with a force of only 15,000 soldiers. The
1958 coup was carried out with only one division, and
the Ba'athist coup in 1968 was pulled off with less
than a hundred leading Ba'athists in charge and an
extremely small number of troops. If the government
really controlled some 170,000 soldiers -- the current
statistic -- then all would be well, he said.
-- FIND MORE OBJECTIVE ELECTION OVERSIGHT: Both Jaburi
and Janabi were convinced that the IECI was a partisan
body in the service of Kurdish and Shia interests.
They want it replaced altogether in time for the next
elections. Jaburi's letter recommends having the
"Iraqi judiciary" oversee the elections rather than
the IECI. The letter also suggests having an
"international neutral party provide oversight in the
presence of an American official," mentioning as
examples the UN and the Arab League. (Note: The TAL
states that IECI has sole authority for elections
throughout Iraq during the transitional period. Also,
there already exists a non-voting UN Commissioner seat
in the IECI Board of Commissioners. End Note.)

-- ELECTIONS BY DISTRICTS: Both men supported holding
future elections with slots allotted to each district.
This step would ensure representation for each
province, unlike the previous system, they said.
(Comment: We understand most members of the
constitution drafting committee are leaning in this
direction. End Comment)

-- INITIATE MORE MEETINGS: Jaburi's letter calls for
Iraqi and U.S. officials to increase the tempo and
scope of their outreach meetings with notables and
shaykhs and former officers to encourage participation
in the political process and hear complaints.

-- HALT THE "NEW GOVERNMENT CONFISCATION CAMPAIGN":
Jaburi claimed that the Iraqi Council of Ministers had
passed or would soon pass a policy to confiscate the
assets of all Ba'ath Party "Division Members" and all
former regime officials who held the rank of Director
General or higher. Jaburi claimed that the policy
would stretch back to assets acquired since 1979 and
would bankrupt a wide swath of Sunni Arabs. The
government planned to carry out the policy through the
creation of a special court, he said. Jaburi said
only he and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi had
opposed the plan. In his letter, Jaburi warned, "This
decision will be more disastrous and dangerous than
the dissolution of the army and the de-Ba'athification
campaign." (Comment: Jaburi appears to be entirely
mistaken here, but his fears reflect the widespread
sense of persecution that De-Ba'athification policies
have created, even amongst those who have nothing to
fear from the process. Da'wa Party leader and Jafari
colleague Nuri Kamil told Poloff on July 6 that no
such confiscation policy has been presented or
contemplated. Kamil said the only possible grain of
truth in this allegation was that Ba'athists had
stolen Iraqi assets and the Iraqi government, by law,
has always reserved the right to reclaim assets stolen
from the Iraqi people. And, of course, De-
Ba'athification law does single out Division Level
Ba'athists and Directors General as the lowest rung of
"senior" members of the former regime. Kamil
emphasized that in practice the government has never
made a single confiscation. "It is just ink on
paper," he said. End Comment)

--------------
COMMENT: Buttressing the IECI
For the Battle Ahead
--------------


4. (C) The doubts both men expressed over the IECI
are real cause for concern. While we will work
diligently to keep them on board, there is a real
danger that some Sunni Arab leaders -- perhaps even
members of the committee -- could campaign to vote
down the constitution in the referendum. The Sunni
Arabs likely to lead such an effort will undoubtedly
be among those who are convinced that the Sunni Arabs
hold a majority in this country and an overwhelming
majority in several provinces. They are likely to
fail in the referendum because, despite these dreams,
Sunni Arabs lack two-thirds of the votes in three
provinces. When they do fail, these Sunni Arab
leaders will face a choice: accept the legitimacy of
the referendum and the concurrent fact that Sunnis are
not even close to a majority in Iraq, or reject the
legitimacy of the IECI and cling to the illusion that
they are Iraq's majority. They are depressingly
likely to make the latter choice, which means the IECI
will already be under fire from some leaders in the
Sunni Arab community at precisely the moment when we
are gearing up to encourage wide Sunni Arab
participation in the next elections.


5. (C) It will, therefore, be important to boost the
credibility of the IECI among the Sunni community.
Doing that will require more contact between the IECI
and Sunni Arab organizations, political and non-
political, and a solid demonstration by the IECI that
it is sensitive to the election-related needs of the
Sunni Arab community. In contrast to other parts of
Iraq, a higher-profile role by the UN and other
international observers would be helpful in Iraqi
Sunni Arab areas. If some of those observers are
credible representatives from other Sunni Arab states,
this would further ease Iraqi Sunni Arab suspicions.


6. (C) List of participants:

Deputy Prime Minister Abid Mutlak al-Jaburi
Deputy Constitution Committee Chairman Adnan al-Janabi
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
Mr. Richard DeBobes, Minority Staff Director
Mr. Daniel Cox, Professional Staff Member
Major John Ulrich, US Army Liaison
Charge D'Affaires David Satterfield
Political Counselor Robert Ford
Political Officer Jeff Beals
Legislative Liaison Robert Kelley


7. (U) REO HILLA, REO BASRA, REO MOSUL, and REO
KIRKUK, minimize considered.


Satterfield