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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05DAMASCUS6165 2005-11-27 15:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus
Cable title:  

IRAQI OUT-OF-COUNTRY VOTING, PROSPECTS FOR

Tags:   PGOV PREL SY IRPE 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 006165 

SIPDIS

PARIS FOR ZEYA; LONDON FOR TSOU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2015
TAGS: PGOV PREL SY IRPE
SUBJECT: IRAQI OUT-OF-COUNTRY VOTING, PROSPECTS FOR
DIPLOMATIC TIES, AND VISAS FOR SYRIANS

REF: 04 DAMASCUS 0467

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Stephen A. Seche, per 1.4 b,d.



1. (C) Summary: The head of the Iraqi Interests Section in
Damascus Sabah al-Imam told PolChief November 27 that an
Iraqi official from Baghdad has arrived and is coordinating
with SARG officials to organize Out-of-Country voing for
December 13-15 at ten Damascus polling stations. Imam
expressed guarded hope that the SARG might move to
re-estalish diplomatic ties with Iraq after the voting. The
consular division of the Interests Section issues fewer than
200 visas monthly to Syrians to travel to Iraq, most of them
for Syrian men married to Iraqi women. End Summary.



2. (C) OUT-OF-COUNTRY VOTING FOR IRAQIS IN SYRIA: The head
of the Iraqi Interests Section in Damascus, Sabah al-Imam,
reported November 27 that planning for Iraqi out-of-country
voting in Syria is proceeding smoothly. In mid-November,
Imam signed an MOU with a SARG MFA official, Feisal Hamwi,
the head of International Organizations, detailing plans for
the joint effort. Imam said that the International Office of
Migration would not be involved in OCV for these elections.
Baghdad has sent a representative, Sa'ad al-Samarai, to take
the lead. He has opened an office in the Damascus suburb of
Mezzeh. Samarai met on November 24 with his MFA counterpart
and officials from other SARG ministries, including the
Ministry of Interior. Another meeting is scheduled for
November 28.



3. (C) The voting is scheduled for December 13-15 at ten
Syrian polling stations, all of them located in Damascus.
(In the previous OCV, all polling stations were likewise
located in Damascus.) Imam expects some 30,000 Iraqis to
vote in the elections, a number he described as "more than
double" the number who voted this past January. The
successful first OCV one year ago, with little or no evidence
that SARG authorities had used intelligence gathered from
participation in the voting to harass or deport Iraqis living
and working here illegally, had led Iraqis to feel more at
ease about voting in the upcoming election, Imam said.



4. (C) NO PROGRESS ON RESUMING DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS: On
future diplomatic relations, Imam said there had been no
significant developments, while expressing hope that the
Syrians might move on this issue after the elections in Iraq.
He noted that after being summoned by DFM Walid Mu'allim
several days ago to receive a letter from President Bashar
al-Asad for Iraqi President Jamal Talabani, detailing Syrian
efforts to cooperate with the UNIIIC investigation, he had
raised the issue of diplomatic relations. (Note: He was
following up on an Iraqi MFA recommendation that he sound out
the SARG MFA, in the wake of Asad's reference in his November
10 speech, about the possibility of re-establishing
relations.)



5. (C) Mu'allim told Imam that the SARG did not want to
resume diplomatic relations at the present time because it
would appear that the government had succumbed to foreign
pressure. Instead, the SARG wanted to take such action
during a visit to Syria by PM Ja'afari, where it would seem
like a more natural development. Imam reported that the
Iraqi MFA Undersecretary for Administrative and Technical
Affairs, Sa'ad al-Hayani, visited Damascus a few months ago
in a move designed to fast-track the resumption of relations,
but had been similarly brushed aside by Mu'allim. Imam
speculated that the Syrians want to proceed first on
commercial issues and on other fronts with the Iraqis, and
then on the issue of formal resumption of ties. Imam said
that he had recommended to his government that Iraq refuse
such movement until the Syrians moved to re-establish ties.



6. (C) LESS THAN 200 IRAQI VISAS MONTHLY FOR SYRIANS:
Imam's consular section only issues visas to Syrians to visit
Iraq in two circumstances: to Syrian male citizens who are
married to Iraqis, as well as to to Syrian businessmen. In
both cases, the applicants must prove their bona fides with
documentation. For businessmen, that means a letter from the
Syrian Chamber of Commerce and another from the MFA.



7. (C) In the month of October, the Iraqi Interest Section
issued 181 visas to Syrians, 15 to businessmen and the rest
to Syrian husbands of Iraqi women, reported Imam. He added
that he was not sure of the exact screening procedures at the
border, but knew that Iraqi immigration officials, whether at
the border or at Baghdad International Airport, verified that
entering Syrians had a proper visa.

SECHE