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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BAGHDAD3357
2006-09-10 07:41:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

KURDS HOLDING FIRM ON FLAG, CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW

Tags:   PGOV  IZ 
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VZCZCXRO6035
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3357 2530741
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 100741Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6787
INFO RHEHWSR/WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC// PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
						C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 003357 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2016
TAGS: PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: KURDS HOLDING FIRM ON FLAG, CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW

Classified By: Political Counselor Margaret Scobey for Reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 003357

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/08/2016
TAGS: PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: KURDS HOLDING FIRM ON FLAG, CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW

Classified By: Political Counselor Margaret Scobey for Reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).


1. (C) Senior Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Council of
Representatives (CoR) member Saadi al-Barzinji said on
September 7 that he could not understand the U.S. Embassy's
reaction to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President
Masud Barzani's statement on flying the 1958 Iraqi flag
rather than the "Saddamist/Baathist flag." The Kurds'
refusal to fly the current flag was a long-standing issue,
and - using what seems to be the primary talking point on
this issue - demanded why the flag issue received so much
attention when the same clause in the Iraqi Constitution
also mentioned the national anthem, which was never used
since it was also a Saddam-era relic. PolOff replied that
the Embassy objected to the unilateral manner in which
Barzani made his announcement, without consultation with
the CoR.


2. (C) Although Barzinji accepted the criticism on
Barzani's behalf for not consulting the CoR, he pointed out
that the Prime Minister had taken on the issue, and on
September 6 had created a special committee on redesigning
the Iraqi flag, complete with a nationwide competition for
designs. He also brushed aside rumors that the Kurds had
deliberately brought up the flag issue to raise the stakes
on Constitutional review. (COMMENT: When asked directly,
Barzinji stated that the Kurds had no problems with
Constitutional review, as long as it did not decrease
regional authorities - especially on natural resources.
Other than that, there were plenty of areas where the vague
language of the Constitution could be amended. The key
thing, Barzinji argued, was to choose carefully which
articles in the Constitution would be proposed for
amendment. He warned that the wrong choice - i.e.,
tackling controversial issues such as natural resources -
could result in the embarrassment of the amended
Constitution failing at the polls.


3. (C) Barzinji then asked what was the U.S. Embassy's
position on a Shia federal region. Without waiting for a
response, however, Barzinji stated that the Kurds did not
feel comfortable with the concept of a "two-pronged system"
- if the Kurds were allowed to have a federal region, other
groups should also be allowed this opportunity. The Shia's
plan for a 9-province federal region was in flux, he said,
and the debate within the Shia Coalition between those who
favored this plan (SCIRI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim and
his family) and those who did not (senior SCIRI member
Sheikh Humam Hammudi) was growing sharper every day.

--------------
COMMENT
--------------


4. (C) Saadi Barzinji is one of the Kurdistan Alliance's
(KAL) key decisionmakers in the Council of Representatives,
as well as one of the senior Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP) members in the KAL. When former Deputy Prime
Minister Rowsch Shaways is not in attendance, Barzinji is
the one who transmits the opinions and wishes of KDP leader
and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masud
Barzani. Barzinji is a hard-liner even within the fairly
nationalistic KDP - which makes his quiet acceptance of
some criticism on the flag issue all the more significant
an admission of the KRG's awareness that they handled this
issue poorly.
SPECKHARD