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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BAGHDAD4215
2005-10-13 12:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

FALLUJAH: MOBILIZED FOR THE REFERENDUM, BIG

Tags:   PREL  KDEM  IZ  XL 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004215 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2015
TAGS: PREL KDEM IZ XL
SUBJECT: FALLUJAH: MOBILIZED FOR THE REFERENDUM, BIG
TURNOUT PREDICTED IN ICONIC CITY

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



1. (C) SUMMARY: Fallujans are mobilized to vote in large
numbers October 15. Most residents remain primarily focused
on immediate needs in the recovering city (power, water, and
security) rather than the national political debate. City
leaders have not yet formally urged rejection of the
constitution. Tribal leaders have stated that the decision
should be left to individuals. Imams, the city,s most
influential group, likely will urge a "no" vote via informal
exchanges during prayer sessions, but not from the city,s
numerous mosque pulpits. Clerics fear the current draft
equals Iraq,s division. They still seek and hope for
changes. (NOTE: It is unclear what effect the IIP,s
decision to support the draft will have on Fallujah voters,
although initial indications are that it will move a
proportion of them to vote in favor of the draft. END NOTE.)
Few constitutions have been distributed in the city; a
majority of residents will not have read the draft by
referendum day. Fallujah's near universal mobilization,
active over several months, has translated into a sizable
Sunni-Arab voting bloc in Al Anbar province. The Independent
Electoral Commission for Iraqi (IECI) has agreed to allow
area tribes, with imam support, to help provide inner
security at the city,s approximate 30 polling sites.
International media (Coalition Force-assisted) are scheduled
to be in the city for the referendum; their presence should
help capture strategic images of high turnout in a city more
known for its notoriety than any democratic impulse. Zarqawi
propaganda discouraging political participation has proven to
be largely ineffective in Iraq,s city of mosques, once his
terrorist headquarters. This ironic and telling AMZ failure
should be exploited in the days following the October 15
vote. END SUMMARY.

A MOBILIZED CITY



2. (C) Fallujah leaders began to mobilize in spring 2005,
organizing grass-roots meetings among key city groups. In
early June, one session included over 200 participants, who
met at a nearby cement factory. A summary document issued at
the time contained standard Sunni-Arab complaints (detainee
release, CF withdrawal, etc.), but it also urged area
residents to participate in the national political process.
In mid-July, Fallujah imams issued an oral fatwa urging
Fallujans to register for the upcoming referendum and
election. Tens of thousands did. Key city groups and
ordinary residents have since offered consistent points to
Fallujah Poloff and Marine officers echoing that the city
will participate in the upcoming referendum and December
election. They include imams and tribal sheikhs.

IMAMS: The city,s mufti (principal imam authorized to issue

fatwas) told Poloff and Marine FAO October 4 that "the city
is completely ready for the referendum, but the more
important question is whether appropriate changes will be
made to the constitution. If there are not, we will reject
it. We would like to vote for it, but not in its present
form." Another senior imam, Sheikh Ahmed Al Janabi, said
September 28 that he had delivered five Friday sermons urging
participation, adding that many other imams had as well.
Sheikh Ahmed noted that the city,s council of imams had not
yet decided on a joint position. He, however, would vote
"no" because of "dangers" in certain paragraphs, many of
which would lead to &a splitting of the country . . . you
will have many different parties with no centralized
control."

TRIBAL SHEIKHS: The head of Fallujah,s tribal council,
Sheikh Thamer, noted in an October 8 meeting that Fallujans
had been informed about polling locations. He stressed that
tribal leaders would not tell tribal members how to vote,
declaring "Of course not. A man is free to vote. It,s his
decision. We are not going to tell anyone how to vote."
Other tribal heads have questioned ongoing U.S. military
operations in the Euphrates River Valley, which they believe
are intentionally designed to suppress Sunni-Arab turnout.

IECI EXCEPTION: FALLUJAH'S DIFFERENT



3. (C) IECI Chairman Izadin visited Fallujah October 6
(reported septel) and informed leaders that the commission
had agreed to allow Fallujah-area tribes to help protect
polling sites. City police would be co-located for inner
core security, while ISF units (Iraqi Army and Public Order
Brigades) would provide outer security, shadowing Marine
quick-reaction force teams. This approach would help reduce
possible friction between the largely Shia dominated ISF and
the city's dominant Sunni-Arab population. Fallujah imams
had also agreed to help provide IECI workers. (NOTE: Poloff
and Marine FAO will meet with local IECI hires Wednesday,
October 12, to confirm overall preparations in the city.)

INTIMIDATION?



4. (C) Fallujah leaders have largely discounted
pre-referendum threats by extremists and insurgents. The
city's broad mobilization, supported publicly by imams and
tribal heads, has blunted the terrorist message. Some fliers
have appeared on city streets urging residents not to
participate in the referendum, but without attribution.
Residents do not appear swayed by AMZ warnings and have
instead decided to heed calls by their religious and tribal
leaders. Fallujans continue, however, to flag ongoing
concern about ISF in the city, including their role on
referendum day. The presence of Iraqi police in the inner
cordon should alleviate most Fallujans, concerns about
possible harassment or intimidation by the Shia-dominated
Iraqi Army and POB units. (NOTE: In the January 30
election, there were some reports of ISF harassment. ; inIn
recent days, we have heard a POB refrain along the lines of
"It,s Shia time, Sunni boys.")

STRATEGIC MEDIA MOMENT



5. (C) A delegation of media representatives are scheduled to
visit Fallujah referendum day, facilitated by Embassy PAO,
MNC-I and U.S. Marines. This group, mostly western, will be
based at the downtown Fallujah Civil-Military Operations
Center October 14-16. Their presence should help ensure that
strategic images of the anticipated tens of thousands of
voters are captured October 15. One Fallujah resident,
Lawyer Muslih, told Poloff and Marine FAO October 4 that &if
you don,t take pictures, no one will believe it.8 Big
turnout in the city should help counter extremist propaganda,
including from Zarqawi himself )- Fallujah,s most notorious
ex-resident. COMMENT



6. (C) COMMENT: Fallujah leaders have echoed each other for
many weeks: the city will turnout in large numbers
referendum day. Residents are mobilized to an extent not
seen in other Anbar cities. The large presence of U.S.
Marines and a local tribal security plan, supplemented by
police, have helped reassure residents that polling sites
will be safe. So far, informal discussions with Fallujah
residents point toward &no8 vote, particularly should
further changes not be made to the draft constitution. The
IIP,s decision to support the draft will likely move some in
the city toward a positive vote and could signal an important
shift in perceptions on the ground. One Fallujan, Engineer
Farouk, told Poloff and Marine FAO October 12 that Fallujans
would take note of the announcement, although not all people
listened to the IIP. Notably, key Fallujah leaders have also
begun to look toward the follow-on December election, a sign
that their mobilization efforts -- and momentum as a sizable
Sunni-Arab voting bloc -- will be carried forward, regardless
of the referendum outcome. This is positive and reflects
pragmatic thinking. Media images from the strategic city on
referendum day will show Fallujah advancing politically,
albeit amid still sizable reconstruction and security
challenges. High turnout October 15 will be a testament to
qualified progress on a key front. END COMMENT.
Khalilzad