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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BAGHDAD4527 2006-12-12 12:58:00 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

IRAQI MODERATE FRONT ORGANIZERS CONCERNED ABOUT

Tags:   PGOV PREL IZ 
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VZCZCXRO2740
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #4527/01 3461258
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 121258Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8439
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHWSR/WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004527 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/11/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQI MODERATE FRONT ORGANIZERS CONCERNED ABOUT
MEDIA ATTENTION, LACK OF PROGRESS

Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (S) Summary: In the latest meeting of political leaders
quietly organizing a moderate front, Iraqi Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki made clear his desire to keep their effort
out of the media and expressed frustration at the front's
lack of progress thus far. Usual participant Sunni VP Tariq
al-Hashimi was not present due to his trip to the US, but
participants expressed concern he could be reconsidering his
participation in the moderate front. Participants called for
quickly taking the initiative and agreed on the need to unify
their positions and talk to their own coalitions before going
public with their plans. KRG President Massoud Barzani
advocated the use of force against extremists. Participants
also discussed the recently released Iraq Study Group report.
Those present also included the Ambassador, President
Talabani, DPM Salih, VP Abdul Mehdi, and former DPM Shaways.
End Summary.



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


Moderate Front Not Ready for the Media


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





2. (S) PM Maliki began the December 9 meeting by expressing
frustration over a press report stating the PM had authorized
the formation of a national front. He said the organizers of
the front should work without a public show or statements to
the media. Maliki also expressed concern that it was
becoming increasingly difficult to find common ground within
the Shia coalition (UIC), but that the UIC could not be
blamed for everything. He added that the planners of the
front were all "under the stick" now, all responsible, all
partners. This was not the way the coalition should be
brought together, he said. He told the group that Fadilah
and the independent Shia felt the group was gathering against
them and added that there were rumors they were plotting a
coup. Talabani responded that the moderate front had not
even been established yet but it was already being
criticized. He asked if there were no longer agreement on
forming the front. Maliki reiterated his concern about
rumors and innuendo, but he bel
ieved that their common effort had not yet slipped into the
danger zone.



3. (S) Talabani asked what the IIP really wanted. He said
the moderate front was the four present plus Hashimi
(PM/Da'wa, KDP, PUK, SCIRI, and IIP) but now the IIP was
shaky. It would be good if they could win over the IIP to
the others' point of view. If not, then the IIP must leave
the front, and the four remaining should continue. He
stressed that they must confront other parties and convince
them to be a part of the front or the extremists would become
increasingly influential in Iraq. Maliki expressed concern
that Hashimi's recent speech and some of his actions -- such
as going to Jordan -- seemed to indicate he was not a true
partner in the political process.



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


Mahdi: "Meetings are not Enough"


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





4. (S) Mahdi said they had issues that could not be solved
with just flashy meetings; the group should act quickly
because it may not have the same strength tomorrow that it
had today. Barzani expressed the view that forming the front
was at least a positive action. Even if it turned out in the
long-run to be a failed effort, it was better to try than
not. Hesitation within the government was not acceptable.
Abdul Mehdi reiterated that political groups close to the
middle must take initiative instead of talking about
divisions, coups, or conspiracies. They needed to keep
coalitions of parties intact but still unite the moderates as
a means for reining in the political fringes. Those present
should focus on groups that support the government rather
than groups that in his view were obstructing the government.



5. (S) Maliki stated the first step forward was to examine
all political groups to establish what partners could and
could not do and who should be invited to join. Any
potential new partner would need to be willing to join the
political process and sign an agreement to that effect, in
accordance with the constitution. He said those present
should have an open discussion with all groups and have a
clear plan: no militias, no terrorism, no media statements.
Groups and individuals that agreed would be welcome to join
the front. Maliki thought two or three groups from the UIC
would join, and Talabani believed they could get 12 members
of Iraqiya. Talabani and Barzani said two members of
Fadhilah told them they wanted to be part of the government

BAGHDAD 00004527 002 OF 002


and inside the political process.



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


Take a United Voice to Each Front


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





6. (S) Talabani emphasized the need for the group to unite
and speak with one voice. Maliki, Mahdi, and Talabani said
each participant should take the moderate front idea to his
coalition. Talabani suggested reporting back to the group in
two days. He asked if all present were in agreement. There
seemed to be consensus, but Maliki wanted to know how they
would treat potential newcomers to their front. He said they
could not restrict themselves by trying to build a broad
front -- they would be right back where they had started
during government formation. Talabani and Shaways agreed on
the need for a kitchen cabinet for the front, which Talabani
suggested should be called the "National Front."



7. (S) Maliki asked for agreement on the group's solution to
each problem. Barzani replied that many problems could be
solved through a strong cabinet with strong ministers. CoR
members should be pressured to attend the CoR. Moreover, the
moderate front must deal with militarized groups -- "We
either hit them or surrender the government to them."
Barzani further suggested Iraq should have withdrawn its
ambassador from Amman after King Abdullah met with extremist
Sunni cleric Harith al-Dhari. The participants agreed on the
need to take the initiative and prevent extremists from
dictating to the GOI as well as the persistent lack of a
quorum at CoR meetings. Barzani said he told the Kurdistan
Alliance List (KAL) they should resign if they do not attend
CoR sessions. Others echoed this sentiment.



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


Extremists Should be Dealt With by Force


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





8. (S) Barzani asserted that any politician who supported
terrorists could not be considered a patriot, much less
appointed as a government minister. He further dismissed any
concept of treating terrorists as equal to moderates. Iraq's
leaders should resort to the political process, not to arms.
He called for crushing those who resort to violent means such
as attacking police stations. He underscored that he was not
just speaking of Al Qaeda, but also the militias. Barzani
characterized the Ministry of Health, infiltrated by
Sadrists, as the "Ministry of Weapons Transportation."
Maliki replied that when he appoints a new Minister of Health
first he would first send in the army to cleanse the ministry
of corruption.



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


ISG Report


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





9. (S) Barzani focused on the ISG report, bringing it up
several times during the meeting. He noted that President
Bush would announce a new strategy for Iraq on December 20
and that Baghdad should come up with its own initiative
before that. It was better for Iraqis to do something than
to have a solution imposed on them or to find themselves
fighting an Arab coalition, he declared. Abdul Mehdi agreed,
saying they needed to look at other options. The report
provided suggested solutions and, while Iraq and the US would
have differences of opinion about some parts, the two
governments should focus on the things we could agree on.
The PM said the report had positive and negatives that would
get a lot of attention, but that Iraq should focus on the
positives and work on them. For instance, he said, Iraq
could initiate a stronger dialogue with its neighbors in the
region.



10. (S) Salih emphasized that the report did not necessarily
reflect President Bush's view, but it did represent the way
institutions in the US were thinking. He said Iraq could not
wait to change the thinking in the US. Abdul Mehdi said they
should meet separately to discuss the report. Talabani agreed.
KHALILZAD