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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BAGHDAD442 2006-02-13 15:17:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

FALLUJAH CITY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN ASSASSINATED

Tags:   PGOV PTER PINS KDEM IZ 
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VZCZCXRO5124
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHGB #0442/01 0441517
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131517Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2668
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL//CCJ2// PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000442 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2016
TAGS: PGOV PTER PINS KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: FALLUJAH CITY COUNCIL CHAIRMAN ASSASSINATED

Classified By: Robert S. Ford, Political Counselor,
reasons 1.4 (b), (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: Assailants assassinated Sheikh Kamal
Shakir Al-Nazal. Fallujah City Council (FCC) Chairman and
senior city imam, on February 7, 2006 in central
Fallujah. He had generally pursued a cooperative
relationship with coalition forces. Sheikh Kamal, along
with other Fallujah imams and city leaders, encouraged
political participation in the October referendum and
December election, and urged residents to join the police
and Iraqi army. Their calls were heeded. Sheikh Kamal,
along with the city's mayor, had unsuccessfully run as a
candidate in the December 15 election. Sheikh Kamal's
death marks the latest in a series of attacks against
senior Fallujah leaders. The city's revered mufti,
Sheikh Hamza Abass Al-Issawi, was murdered in late
November 2005; in September 2005, attackers
unsuccessfully targeted Mayor Dhari Abdul Hady Irsan Al-
Zobaie. Formal FCC meetings have been suspended. One
contact told PolOff that another city imam had already
fled the city, with other clerics largely intimidated.
Sheikh Kamal's death represents an immediate blow to
governance building efforts in the city, but could also
serve to galvanize residents over the long term against
extremists. Fallujans continue to look to the Coalition
for sustained security support and civil engagement,
while warily watching developments in Baghdad as the new
Shia-dominant government forms and key cabinet ministers
are designated. END SUMMARY.



--------------------------


ASSASSINATION BLOW
TO LOCAL GOVERNANCE


--------------------------





2. (C) Sheikh Kamal's assassination represents an
immediate loss to overarching local governance objectives
in Fallujah. The Fallujah City Council, which he led,
had consistently met since spring 2005 and was comprised
of key city groups. The council had generally adopted a
constructive approach, even though in recent weeks they
had suspended work and pressed Marines regarding alleged
abuses (largely unfounded or exaggerated). In a private
meeting held February 7, just after Sheikh Kamal's
murder, Mayor Dhari told PolOff that the FCC would not
meet until "the situation calmed down." He complained
that security plans proposed by him had not been adopted
(moving police to stationary checkpoints in various parts
of the city, and the possible introduction of Iraqi Army
units from Fallujah). (NOTE: Fallujah's police chief,
BGen Salah Al-Ani, considers his force to be too small
and ill-equipped; city police number 1,200, with another
500 in training. He has requested additional support
from the MOI. Two police officers told PolOff February 8
that they had not received pay for the last two months.
END NOTE)



3. (C) Mayor Dhari described the current situation in
Fallujah as tense, noting "we can't tell who our enemy is
any more." He urged that Fallujan Iraqi Army recruits be
trained more quickly and possibly be stationed for duty
in Fallujah proper. Longstanding frustration with the
lack of Ministry of Interior support for the city's
police force also drew sharp criticism. Mayor Dhari
stressed that reconstruction projects mattered little
when security remained the overriding -- and debilitating
-- concern, remarking "we do not need a third bridge
(across the Euphrates); we need security, and with it, we
can build many bridges. Take that money and pay more
police instead."



--------------------------


LASTING IMPACT?


--------------------------





4. (C) The murder of Sheikh Kamal, and reports of more
aggressive intimidation of other Fallujah leaders (tribal
and civic), will likely stall local governance and
related civil engagement efforts. Whether Mayor Dhari
decides to stay on the job -- he survived an
assassination attempt in September 2005, shooting one of
his attackers, and then showed up for the city council
session two hours later -- will send an important and
immediate signal to residents and other leaders. PolOff
and Marine leaders have urged him to continue to function
in his role, even if future meetings need to be held
privately. The resumption of more normal city governance
will largely depend on renewed leadership, additional
steps to protect city council members, and pro-active
coalition engagement efforts at the civil military

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operations center.



5. (C) Reactions in the city will be hard to gauge until
the official mourning period is over. Initially,
residents appear to be have signaled condemnation of
extremist elements. Two Fallujah Iraqi policemen told
PolOff February 8 that while residents were clearly
unnerved, they viewed the assassination as an affront to
their city -- the same sentiment that followed the
November 2005 assassination of Sheikh Hamza. Still, the
intimidation seems to have expanded. A local traffic
police officer told PolOff February 9 that FCC member and
senior imam, Sheikh Abdul Sittar, had fled to Syria. He
added that many residents believed the mayor had already,
or soon would, quit.



--------------------------


COMMENT


--------------------------





6. (C) Sheikh Kamal's assassination will set back our
local governance efforts in Fallujah, at least in the
short term. The number of leaders willing to continue in
or assume top leadership jobs in the face of renewed
threats remains unclear; the Fallujah bench, however, is
not deep. Unconfirmed reports of imams fleeing the city
do not bode well. As a group, they have generally been
cooperative, or at a minimum, preached messages of
stability. Other intimidation efforts in spring and
summer 2005 effectively silenced senior tribal leaders.
Following Sheikh Kamal's assassination, all other groups,
including the area tribal sheikhs council, mukhtars
(neighborhood watch-type individuals and resident
advocates), and junior imams in Fallujah who had
regularly interacted with CF and PolOff, decided to
suspend any further meetings. A prolonged city
leadership and civic engagement vacuum would heighten
citizen unease. A new Marine regiment assumes control of
security operations in the city within two weeks. This
transition comes at an especially sensitive time and will
need to be carefully orchestrated.


KHALILZAD