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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05BAGHDAD4843 2005-12-04 22:10:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

SHIA INDEPENDENT ALI AL-DABAGH ON ELECTIONS, SHIA

Tags:   PREL PGOV KISL KDEM IZ 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 004843 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/02/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV KISL KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: SHIA INDEPENDENT ALI AL-DABAGH ON ELECTIONS, SHIA
ALLIANCE, AND SADR

Classified By: ACTING POLITICAL COUNSELOR MICHAEL J. ADLER, FOR REASONS
1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY. Poloffs met December 1 with TNA member Ali
al-Dabagh, a politician who left the United Iraqi Alliance to
form his own party, while maintaining his ties to Ayatollah
Sistani. Al-Dabagh accused the Shia Alliance of candidate
intimidation as well as inappropriate efforts to convey to
Iraqis that Sistani has blessed the Alliance list. He said
that the Shia Alliance is too pro-Iranian and theocratic.
Moqtada Al-Sadr, in al-Dabagh's opinion, "is a reality now"
and must be dealt with by the other Iraqi political leaders
and the United States. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) Ali Al-Dabagh's "Qualified Iraqis Party" is a slate of
defectors from the Shia Islamic Coalition. Al-Dabagh, who is
known to have a strong relationship with the Hawza in Najaf,
told poloffs that four days previously Ayatollah Sistani
issued an indirect blessing of the Shia Alliance and other
parties acceptable to the Shia leadership, including
al-Dabagh's. He complained about the Shia Alliance's
intimidation of other Shia candidates, its misuse of Sistani
images (e.g., picture on posters), and its effort to
communicate to Iraqis that Sistani has blessed the Alliance
list. Al-Dabagh said he opposed such tactics, adding that he
had declined opportunities -- for the present -- to put
Sistani's image on his campaign material. Al-Dabagh said he
did not expect Sistani to say anything further about the
elections.



3. (C) Al-Dabagh predicted that the Shia Alliance will get
the majority of seats in the elections for the Council of
Representatives. However, he told poloffs that it will be
impossible for the Shia Alliance to govern with just the
Kurds and that Sunni participation will be required. He
speculated that PM Jafari and SCIRI head Abdul Aziz al-Hakim
will not be able to work together in the next government for
longer than one year. He added that the future government
will need to create jobs and criticized the proposed 2006
Iraqi budget for only creating 250,000 jobs. He highlighted
the need for a vibrant private sector.



4. (C) Al-Dabagh described the Shia Alliance as too
pro-Iranian. He described this as destructive because the
Iraqi Shias should be seen as Iraqis, not as "a shadow of
Iran." He acknowledged that Iraq should have neighborly
relations with Iran, but added that Iraq should not be paying
for Iran's problems with the United States (referring to
Iranian support for Syria, etc.). He added that Iran is
financing Dawa and the Sadrists and controls several
newspapers in Iraq. (COMMENT: Al-Dabagh denied that his
party has any links to Iran. END COMMENT)



5. (C) Al-Dabagh, who speaks fluent Farsi from his 26 years
in Dubai and has extensive business ties to Iran, believes
that the Shia Alliance is using religion in a way that is
harmful to Iraq. He noted with concern Sunni Arab
perceptions of a Shia attempt to establish a theocratic
state, despite Sistani's wishes to the contrary.



6. (C) Al-Dabagh stressed that Moqtada al-Sadr "is a
political reality," who has the capacity to "destroy much of
the south." Al-Dabagh added that Moqtada will have a share
of seats within and outside the Shia Alliance so he "must be
dealt with in a smart way." When asked for clarification,
al-Dabagh said the other Iraqi leaders and the United States
need to accommodate Moqtada, who "wants others to recognize
him." Al-Dabagh added that Moqtada is not really interested
in throwing out the Coalition, "he just wants to be treated
as a real leader." Moqtada knows that "the political process
is much cheaper than fighting." He made several references
to his close relationship with al-Sadr, saying that al-Sadr
tried to pressure him into remaining in the Alliance.



7. (C) Al-Dabagh said that since June, Moqtada has been
playing his cards strategically. He noted a meeting
organized by Moqtada November 30 in Najaf with various Shia
groups designed to issue a statement asking for troop
withdrawal, recognition of the insurgency, release of all
Iraqi prisoners, and a formal rejection of Israel. He said
that Moqtada would expand his outreach to include Sunnis as
well.
SATTERFIELD