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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BAGHDAD3068
2005-07-24 14:58:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

TALABANI PONDERS HOW TO REACH OUT TO SUNNI ARABS,

Tags:   PGOV  PHUM  PREL  IZ  TU  SY 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 003068 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2025
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL IZ TU SY
SUBJECT: TALABANI PONDERS HOW TO REACH OUT TO SUNNI ARABS,
UPBEAT ABOUT IRAQ'S FOREIGN RELATIONS

REF: BAGHDAD 3044

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 003068

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2025
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL IZ TU SY
SUBJECT: TALABANI PONDERS HOW TO REACH OUT TO SUNNI ARABS,
UPBEAT ABOUT IRAQ'S FOREIGN RELATIONS

REF: BAGHDAD 3044

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) Summary: President Talabani told Ambassador
Khalilzad that the Sunni Arabs have to be brought back into
the constitution-drafting process, and agreed with the
Ambassador's point that the Iraqi Government should provide
security for their negotiators to facilitate that return.
Talabani noted other steps that will or could be taken to
reach out to the disgruntled Sunni Arab population, including
an independent investigation of alleged Interior Ministry
abuses of Sunni Arab prisoners and targeted releases of Sunni
Arab imams now in detention. Talabani confirmed there would
be a summit of Iraqi political leaders to finalize the draft
constitution. The Ambassador urged Talabani to stand up for
strong protection of human rights and women's rights.
Talabani pledged he would do so.


2. (C) Summary, cont.: Talabani said the U.S. and Iraq must
maintain pressure on Syria to stop its help to Iraqi
Baathists seeking to destabilize Iraq. He mentioned he had
spoken to Jordan's King Abdallah July 22 and urged Abdallah
to invite some Iraqi Shia to Amman so that Iran does not have
a monopoly on their goodwill. He opined that Iran probably
would support the Iraqi Government since its Shia political
friends are in power. Talabani reiterated that he condemns
PKK terrorist acts against Turkey, but added that Turkey
should take political steps to resolve the PKK problem. End
summary.

--------------
IRAQI GOVERNMENT CONFAB
--------------


3. (C) President Talabani warmly greeted Ambassador
Khalilzad on July 23 and pledged to work closely with him in
the months ahead. Talabani noted that the Iraq Transitional
Government (ITG) had held a big meeting earlier that day.
The three members of the Iraqi Presidency Council, the
Speaker and the Deputy Speakers of the National Assembly, the
Prime Minister, and the Deputy Prime Ministers and Judge
Midhat representing the judicial system had attended,

according to Talabani. The President said they had discussed
mainly the constitution drafting process and the need to get
Sunni Arabs re-engaged. The Ambassador said it is important
to bring the Sunni Arabs into the constitution process, and
they will need personal security. Talabani readily agreed.
He said the Sunni Arabs initially thought they would not need
personal security, but the murder of Mijbil Shaykh Issa had
shown they were wrong. Talabani reported that Prime Minister
Jafari had promised to provide the Sunni Arabs cars and arms
and funds to pay for bodyguards. Talabani also said the
Sunni Arabs want more time to discuss draft text produced by
the national assembly sub-committees. The President thought
this a reasonable request.


4. (C) Talabani added that the discussion among the
government leadership on July 22 was very heated at times.
In particular, he said, TNA speaker Al-Hassani and Prime
Minister Jafari had had sharp exchanges. Talabani noted that
they had agreed in the meeting to set up a special committee
under the Iraqi judiciary to investigate the Sunni
allegations of the security forces' abuses against Sunni
Arabs. Talabani confided that he is unsure of the extent of
the abuses, but he thinks there is a problem.


5. (C) Talabani said the Iraqi detainees held by the
Coalition are an issue that must be resolved. He said a
committee needs to be set up to investigate charges against
each detainee. If there is evidence against them, their
cases should go to an Iraqi court for judgment. If there are
doubts about the evidence, the detainees should be released
with guarantees from their families or local imams or tribal
leaders. Talabani said it would be useful releasing some of
the Sunni Arab imams in detention. He doubts that all the
religious men detained are supporting terrorism. Talabani
added that arresting suspects at night is not helpful.
Arrest operations should be conducted in daylight and with
judicial orders to demonstrate there is rule of law in Iraq.
Arresting persons at night who are later reported dead makes
it difficult to say whether they were arrested by security
forces or killed by terrorists dressed as security forces,
said Talabani. Judicial orders would help clarify
responsibility for killing.


--------------
CONSTITUTION SUMMIT
--------------


6. (C) Talabani said that the key political leaders of Iraq
should come to Baghdad to finalize a deal on the
constitution. It would be important for these leaders to
represent the government and the national assembly as well as
other interested parties. For example, Muhsin Abdel-Hamid
from the Iraqi Islamic Party, and a representative of the
Arab Nationalist Front should receive invitations. Toward
this end, Talabani appreciated the DCM's recent visit to
Kurdistan where he had urged Kurdish Regional Government
President Masoud Barzani to come to Baghdad (Ref A).


7. (C) The Ambassador urged Talabani to weigh in during the
constitutional discussions to support strong measures
protecting human rights in general and women's rights in
particular. Talabani said he would do so. The Iraqi
President pledged that he would not accept Iraq's becoming an
Islamic Republic.

--------------
TALABANI ON JORDAN: REACH OUT TO SHIA
--------------


8. (C) Turning to Iraq's foreign relations, Talabani said he
had received a telephone call from Jordan King Abdallah on
July 22. Talabani said he had admonished Abdallah for
alienating Iraq's Shia population. (Talabani recalled that
Abdallah's father Hussein had had good relations with Iraq's
Shia and in particular with the brother of former SCIRI
leader Mohammad Bahir al-Hakim. The brother, Mahdi al-Hakim,
lived in Amman.) Talabani said he urged Abdallah to open the
door to Iraqi Shia and invite some to visit Amman. Talabani
said that Abdallah agreed. Talabani added that he had urged
King Abdallah to convince his fellow Jordanians to cease
celebrating the murder of Iraqi civilians in places like
Baghdad and Hillah. Even their silence would be insulting;
they should be condemning the murders of Iraqis just as the
Arab world condemns terrorist acts in places like Sharm
ash-Shaykh. Talabani concluded that the Arab world needs a
comprehensive policy against terrorism in the region;
fashioning such a policy might even warrant an Arab League
summit. In the meantime the Iraqi government would approach
the United Nations and the Organization of the Islamic
Conference to raise the need for greater international
cooperation.

--------------
SYRIA IS A SPECIAL CASE
--------------


9. (C) Talabani said that Syria is a special case. The
Syrians remain in contact with Iraqi Ba'athists trying to
destabilize Iraq from inside Syria. Their handover of an
Iraqi Ba'athist (Sibawi) was not serious because he had
already been negotiating his return to Iraq. Talabani urged
that the United States maintain pressure on Syria. Bashar
al-Assad is different from Saddam Hussein and will not risk
regime change in Syria. Arab leaders like Egypt's Mubarak
and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah need to weigh in
with the Syrians, Talabani said.

--------------
IRAN - THEY WILL BE HELPFUL, PROBABLY
--------------


10. (C) Talabani opined that Iran wants to help normalize
the situation in Iraq. In Talabani's analysis, Iran's
friends are now in power in Baghdad, and the Iranian
government should be supportive. Talabani noted that the
Iranians had suggested a three-way summit in Tehran between
Iraq's Prime Minister, the Syrian President, and the
Iranians. Since this would have looked to outsiders like the
Shia were arranging the affairs of Iraq, Talabani urged the
Prime Minister to maintain pressure on Syria. Talabani
cautioned that Iran's relations with Ayatollah Sistani could
affect overall relations between Iraq and Iran. Sistani is
insisting that the Iraqi Shia be independent of Iran. They
have rebuffed Iranian efforts to start construction projects
in Najaf, for example. Talabani is not sure that the
Iranians easily accept that independence.

--------------
TURKISH RELATIONS GOOD OVERALL
--------------


11. (C) Talabani said Iraq's relations with Turkey are
generally good now. Grinning widely, he said the Turks like
him because as President of Iraq he reinforces Kurdistan's
place inside a unified Iraq. Talabani said he has advised the
Turks to pay attention to Shia Turkmen and to invite them to
Ankara to counter-balance Iran's influence with the
Shia-Turkmen. Talabani noted that Ankara recently invited
Shia Turkmen leader Abbas Bayati to Turkey. Talabani said
the Turks seem satisfied with Talabani's proposal that a
definitive determination of Kirkuk's status be deferred two
or three years. (COMMENT. Not all Iraqi Kurds agree with
this proposal. END COMMENT.) Turning to PKK acts of
violence, Talabani said that he condemned the PKK's terrorist
operations against the Turks. He added, however, that the
Turkish government should take steps towards the PKK
militants who want to stop fighting. An amnesty would be
useful. So far, the Turkish army has rejected this idea.


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