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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BAGHDAD4242 2006-11-15 08:13:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

PUK PARLIAMENTARIAN TANIA GILLY ON FUTURE OF KIRKUK

Tags:   PGOV PREL IZ 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: In a meeting on November 12, Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Council of Representatives (CoR)
member Tanya Gilly expressed the Kurds, determination to
hold the referendum on Kirkuk by December 31, 2007 as
specified in Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution. She also
articulated the Kurdish party line on local administration of
elections and mistrust between Kurds and Arabs, and warned
that Kurds are impatient with delays to what they see as
justified demands. END SUMMARY.



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Holding to Kirkuk Referendum Timeline


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2. (C) In a meeting on November 12, CoR member Tanya Gilly
told Poloffs that the 1994 law that changed provincial
boundaries should be repealed, and areas of Kirkuk and other
districts that were artificially reassigned should be
returned to their original provinces. Gilly was insistent
that despite significant obstacles to fulfilling all the
requirements of Article 140, the referendum on Kirkuk should
go through by December 31, 2007 as scheduled. She said that
trying to plan for an alternate contingency was tantamount to
giving up on the idea that the referendum could be held on
time and would allow politicians to continue to delay on a
key issue for the Kurds.



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Elections Law Should Include Local Administration


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3. (C) Asked about the draft elections commission law, Gilly
agrees the central government should have oversight over
regional elections but the actual administration of those
elections, including such things as voter registration, is
better handled at the local level. Gilly claimed that the
Kurds were cheated out of two seats in Kirkuk in the last
election because of the Independent Electoral Commission of
Iraq,s (IECI) incompetence, adding that Kurds were
determined not to allow that to happen again.



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Mutual Distrust


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4. (C) Gilly commented on the historical mistrust between
the Arabs and the Kurds. Although the Kurds had been
conditioned by previous Arab-led administrations to view the
central government with suspicion, she also recognized that
the Sunni and Shia Arabs are concerned about Kurdish
intentions on independence - and noted that this is clouded
by a continued lack of understanding by all political leaders
of the definition of federalism. She said she has been
pushing Kurdish leaders to engage on this issue. Poloff
responded that they needed to come to Baghdad and engage the
leaders there to be effective.



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Concern over Results of U.S. Elections


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5. (C) When Gilly inquired about the implications of the
recent U.S. elections and the possibility of Coalition troop
withdrawal, Poloff assured her that the U.S. is still fully
committed to Iraq and Iraqis. Gilly expressed her hope that
current funding levels for reconstruction and governance
capacity building will be maintained.



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Comment


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6. (C) Although still a junior member of the Kurdistan
Alliance bloc in the CoR, Gilly,s fluent English and
understanding of Western systems of governance (prior to
Baghdad, she and her family had lived in Canada) make her a
valuable contact. She faithfully repeated the Kurdish party
line and is genuinely focused on ensuring the timely transfer
of Kirkuk to the Kurdistan region. Gilly reluctantly
admitted that part of the drive to secure Kirkuk stemmed from
pressure by the Kurdish public, and conceded that the senior
Kurdish leadership bore some responsibility for failing to
moderate expectations. However, Gilly flatly warned that the
Kurds were no longer prepared to wait patiently for their
demands while the Arabs sorted out their problems.
Speckhard