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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BAGHDAD3135
2005-07-29 12:51:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

FALLUJAH/RAMADI: VOCAL SUNNI MOBILIZATION

Tags:   PREL  KDEM  IZ  XL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 003135 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2025
TAGS: PREL KDEM IZ XL
SUBJECT: FALLUJAH/RAMADI: VOCAL SUNNI MOBILIZATION
CONTINUES IN ANBAR PROVINCE PRE-REFERENDUM

REF: BAGHDAD 3042

Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBERT FORD.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY: Fallujah city groups continue to
echo intentions to participate in the upcoming
constitution referendum and follow-on December
election. Religious, tribal and political leaders
have emphasized to Fallujah Poloff that they intend to
educate Fallujah/Ramadi and neighboring area residents
in coming weeks. Fallujah imams have begun to
advocate national political issues during Friday
prayers, following an oral fatwa on participation
initially broadcast at all city mosques July 15,


2005. Tribal leaders have stated that they are open
to receiving additional training and neutral
information on the constitution from the coalition or
other sources. The Fallujah city council agreed at
its July 26, 2005, session to put political engagement
issues on its weekly agenda. Recent discussions in Al
Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi, also point to
broad Sunni mobilization efforts pre-referendum vote.
Anbar leaders urged voting opportunity be made
available to detainees; they have requested greater
coalition attention regarding their longstanding
concern that innocent individuals had been targeted
and moved to detention facilities without sufficient
explanation or transparent procedures. END SUMMARY.



--------------------------


IMAMS: WE'LL EDUCATE WEEKLY;
PREFER QUIET APPROACH


--------------------------





2. (C) Fallujah imams issued an oral fatwa at all
city mosques July 15, calling on residents to
participate in the constitutional referendum and
election (reftel). (NOTE: the fatwa was based on
conclusions reached at a July 14, 2005, national
gathering of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad -- full text
of the meeting's "final report" at para 13). Leading
Fallujah imam and city council member, Sheikh Abdul
Hady, announced at the weekly council session July 26,
2005, that city imams would echo their earlier fatwa
during Friday prayers. They had already urged all in
positions of responsibility to educate their people.
Abdul Hady added that engagement would be pressed in
all small meetings as well, whether "two or three or
four come to see us" at the mosques.



3. (C) In a meeting held July 23, 2005, two junior
Fallujah imams said that religious leaders at all 48
city mosques had issued the oral fatwa July 15 and
would continue their outreach. They asked that local
ISF and Marine forces be notified that planned
political gatherings at mosques -- which could number
around 250 at smaller sites and up to 1,000 at larger
mosques -- would be peaceful. Constitution
"specialists" from Baghdad intended to travel to
Fallujah to help educate residents; a list of these

individuals would be provided later. They welcomed
media involvement, both western and Arab. One argued
that the Fallujah people "will come when we ask them
to come and listen, but we will not ask for their
names." Some fliers had been distributed in Fallujah
urging people not to vote, but without attribution.



4. (C) The imams cautioned Poloff to allow city
religious leaders to pursue a "quiet" approach for
now; one stated flatly that Marines should not handout
any election material. The Iraqi people needed to see
fewer American uniforms and more civilians.
(COMMENT: Both junior imams said that many Iraqis
"hated" the military, both Iraqi and U.S., because of
the military's longstanding affiliation with war in
Iraq. Perceptions of Americans had been restricted
mainly to occupation, not liberation. Iraqi people
wanted and needed to see more Americans without
uniforms, they opined. END COMMENT.)



--------------------------


HELP US GET CONNECTED


--------------------------





5. (C) Both imams said the U.S. should help build
free internet cafes in Fallujah (and across Anbar) as
a larger engagement strategy -- young military-aged
males could not afford to pay for internet service
(three internet caf7 sites are presently in the city;
there had been six pre-Al Fajr). Connecting Fallujans
to the wider world would help beat back insurgent
messages. One Fallujah imam said he had friends in
the UK, Europe and U.S. but could not be in touch with
them because his mobile phone internet card had long
expired and was expensive. When allowed to access his
Yahoo account at a CMOC internet terminal, he found
out the account had been canceled because it had been
inactive for over 30 days. U.S. investment in
computers would, he argued, be money better spent than
funds directed to big projects -- largely disconnected
from the everyday lives of the Iraqi people. Some
Fallujah tribal leaders also stressed this point.
They, as a group, have already established a Yahoo
account, including having their email address
(Fallujah SheikhsATyahoo.com) printed on envelopes.
(Comment: Present projects in Fallujah are meant to
address this need, to include refurbishing
two internet cafes in the city by the end of August


2005. USAID also plans to provide computers and
furniture for the local government center. END
COMMENT.)



--------------------------


TRIBES: WE'LL BE READY


--------------------------





6. (C) During weekly meetings held at the Fallujah
Civil-Military Operations Center (CMOC), area tribal
leaders have reinforced their desire to help residents
participate in the election. They largely lack
detailed information, however. One tribal leader,
Sheikh Mohammed Saleh Fiadh Al-Bijari, stated flatly
at a July 23, meeting that Sunnis were now ready to
return to power -- as Sh'ia rule the past year "had
proven to be a failure." The sheikhs said that they
would turn out "and win" -- Iraqi people wanted a
return to strong leadership. Iraq, he added, had a
6,000 year history and would be able to come back and
rebuild. Sunnis had a better ability to provide
justice, and could beat back "outside forces."



--------------------------


COUNCIL: POLITICS ON THE AGENDA


--------------------------





7. (C) Fallujah city council leaders agreed July 26
to place political engagement subjects on its weekly
meeting agenda. Vice-Chairman Qassim stressed the
importance of the referendum and election, noting that
this "new project" would be closely tied to overall
success in the city. He reminded all present that
city imams had issued a fatwa, calling on residents to
support the referendum and election. Qassim said the
council would accept any questions from residents
about the constitution and would relay them to
appropriate officials in Baghdad. He asked coalition
officials to consider allowing detainees to
participate in the referendum, adding that unfair
detainment constituted a top Sunni concern.



8. (C) In follow-on remarks, council member and
senior city imam, Sheikh Abdul Hady, said the fatwa
had been intended to ensure political involvement.
Every Friday, city imams "will explain and stress this
point." The same message would be conveyed in
individual meetings with Fallujans. In connection
with this education initiative, Abdul Hady also asked
coalition officials to reexamine its detainee review
policy.



--------------------------


RAMADI MOBILIZING, TOO


--------------------------





9. (C) Sunni leaders convened an Al-Anbar
Constitutional Conference July 25, 2005, which brought
together around 50 participants, according to U.S.
Marine contacts. Most remarks were positive and
supportive of the need for Sunnis to participate in
the upcoming referendum and election. Other key
points echoed by attendees included:

-- Iraq was a Muslim Nation and part of the greater
Islamic Nation.
-- Islam should serve as the primary source of law,
not the only source, however. (Many speakers stressed
the need to ensure minority rights -- but that no laws
should be passed that went against Sharia law.)
-- Arabic as the official language throughout Iraq,
although Kurdish regions should be free to use and
teach Kurdish.
-- Iraq was part of the Arab Community; many non-Arab
groups within its borders should be considered equal.
-- The need to guarantee religious freedom to all
citizens.
-- Rights of women should remain an issue open to
discussion.
-- Militias had no place in a modern state and
challenged the authority of the central government.
-- Federalism and the status of Kirkuk comprised the
two most contentious issues to be settled in the
constitution.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





10. (C) Sunni mobilization in both Fallujah and
Ramadi -- the principal population centers in Al-Anbar
Province -- thus far bodes well for high turnout on
referendum day. The imams' preference for a quiet
political outreach approach is understandable -- and
needs to be respected. Their willingness to wrap
political engagement issues into their weekly prayer
sessions will help keep residents focused on the
referendum, even while most local Sunnis remain more
concerned about infrastructure issues (power, water,
etc.). Calls for voting opportunity for detainees
reflect ongoing concern that too many Sunnis have been
unfairly targeted by coalition forces and the ITG -- a
growing point of friction, particularly with respect
to uneven Sh'ia-dominated Iraqi Security Force
performance. Given the large ISF role in polling site
protection, this dynamic will require continued
scrutiny. In the January 30, 2005, election, some
area Sunnis complained about unprofessional ISF
behavior and harassment at polling sites.



11. (C) USAID- affiliated NGOs are considering holding
a formal outreach event in Fallujah (tentatively
scheduled for August 2, 2005). Area leaders will be
invited to the session. A possible follow-on session
in Ramadi, with Governor Ma'moon and other provincial
leaders , might also be held.



12. (U) TEXT OF SUMMARY DOCUMENT, IRAQI SCHOLARS
EMERGENCY MEETING, AS ISSUED IN BAGHDAD 14 JULY 2005
(TRANSLATION FROM ARABIC).

BEGIN TEXT:

In the name of God the gracious and merciful

The final report for emergency meeting of Iraqi
Scholars

Since the occupation forces occupied our country, the
situation is getting worse day after day, and it's
unreal when some people believed that the situation
will improve when the new government takes over, but
the real situation is totally different; they raid
houses, mosques, and detained the speakers in the
mosques, clergymen, and the people who were praying,
and the assassinations expanded, including the
teachers, thinkers and the scientists. The
unemployment spread everywhere, the security, medical,
politics and the economy worsened.

For this reason, the meeting took place on Thursday 14
July 2005, at the banquet hall of Al Nidaa mosque in
Baghdad / Rusafa, to study the situation and take the
appropriate action that leads to unify the people.
For Iraq to rise and fulfill the security and national
reconciliation, move away from the differences in
beliefs, and do its share, representatives reached the
following recommendations:

1- The unity of the Iraqi people and land, to ensure
the Islamic identity.

2- Letting the constitution go in effect, in such a
way that does not accord with the laws and the
patriotism of the Iraqi people, is refused.
3- We see that, for the sake of all, we should prepare
to contribute in the election, and urge all the
Iraqis, to register their names at the election polls.

4- We refuse the occupiers, and demand a schedule for
their departure.

5- We ask the government to stop the arrests and
raids, and to release all the innocent people, and to
form a legal independent judicial committee to
investigate the cause of killing and torture of the
clergymen and the people who were praying and others.

6- We demand the high authority for the election to be
independent, decent and non-aligned, and to propagate
its action clearly through various media.

7- We call for unity and agreement, and to establish
bridges between all Iraqis.

The emergency conference of the Iraqi scholars.

END TEXT.



14. (U) Reo Basrah, Reo Hillah, REO Kirkuk, and REO
Mosul minimize considered.


Khalilzad