wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BAGHDAD594 2006-02-24 15:40:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

QUIET CONTINUES; ASSOCIATION OF MOSLEM SCHOLARS

Tags:   PINS PTER PHUM IZ 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO8055
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHGB #0594/01 0551540
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 241540Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2897
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000594 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/24/2016
TAGS: PINS PTER PHUM IZ
SUBJECT: QUIET CONTINUES; ASSOCIATION OF MOSLEM SCHOLARS
CALLS FOR "UNITY" IN THE SPIRIT OF FALLUJAH AND NAJAF

REF: A. BAGHDAD 584

B. BAGHDAD 574

Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Ford for
reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY Iraq was relatively calm on February


24. There was a curfew in effect most of the day in
Baghdad and three surrounding provinces. There were
no or reduced prayers at many Baghdad mosques. The
Mahdi militia was out in force in some cities.
Political and religious leaders, both Sunni and
Shia, appealed for calm. Although Friday seems
calmer thus far, sectarian tensions remain high.
END SUMMARY



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


Baghdad


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





2. (C) City streets leading to public buildings were
reportedly being patrolled by the Iraqi Army, police
and neighborhood citizens, who are controlling
traffic into these areas. In Sadr City, Jaysh al-
Mahdi (JAM) forces have blocked off streets and
effectively shut down traffic, reportedly out of
fear of VBIEDs, according to an Embassy FSN who
lives in Sadr City. Sadrist mosques in this area
held Friday prayers and demonstrations, despite the
ban in effect in Baghdad. JAM is also conducting
round-the-clock patrols in Sadr City.



3. (C) On the morning of February 24, the National
Joint Operations Center, combining MOI and MOD data,
reported that the Baghdad body count was highest on
Wednesday, February 22 and that the level of
confirmed killed decreased on February 23. The
body count as of mid-afternoon February 24 also
pointed to a continued decreasing level of body
counts. In a conflicting report, Deputy Mayor
Hussein Bahrani told PolOff that the body count in
Baghdad resulting from violence after the attack on
the Samarra mosque could be as high as 500, citing
police and hospital numbers from across the city.
MOI's IG office reported that as of the afternoon of
February 23, 29 mosques had been attacked (septel)
and 57 people killed since the Samarra explosion.



4. (C) Tawafuq member Professor Hassan al-Bazzaz
asked for USG assistance to control militia and the
Iraqi Police, whom he accused of taking advantage of
the curfew to raid homes and kill Sunnis in seven
Baghdad neighborhoods. In addition, Allawi ally
Saad al Janabi told PolOff that MOI Police Commandos
had arrested 70 Sunni men late February 23 with CF
asssistance. (COMMENT: MNF-I has no information to
confirm this report. END COMMENT.) He suggested
that Sadr militia and Badr Corps are coordinating
efforts to cause 'civil war'. Janabi accused the
Iraqi Police of colluding with JAM militia in Salman
Pak to arrest Sunni men from their homes. Another
Sunni Arab contact on February 24 told us that the
Mahdi Army was operating openly in Salman Pak. An
Embassy contact in Lutifiya, south of Baghdad,
reported that Jaysh al-Mahdi elements were driving
through the city and ignoring checkpoints.



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


Basrah


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





5. (C) As Friday prayers ended around 13:30, Basrah
remained relatively calm, according to REO Basrah.
2000-3000 people gathered at the Al Ubala mosque for
a unity prayer, and small but peaceful
demonstrations continue around the city. Local REO
staff report that Jaysh al-Mahdi is out in the
streets in force and is "protecting" Sunni mosques.
(NOTE: In a February 23 press conference, the
Association of Moslem Scholars AMS called for
Moqtada al-Sadr to remember the unity between the
Sunnis and his supporters shown during the attacks
on Fallujah and Najaf in 2004 and called for JAM to
take back all the Sunni mosques and protect them.)



6. (C) Sadr's office in Basrah is reportedly saying
that the Coalition and the central government are to
blame for the attack on the Samarra mosque, and is
vowing to protect Shia shrines themselves. Local
REO staff is reporting that individual Sunnis

BAGHDAD 00000594 002 OF 002


throughout Basrah province have been harassed or
threatened on the streets or in their homes.



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


Political Responses


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





7. (C) Ayad al-Samarai told PolOff February 24 that
he and Tariq al-Hashimi would meet Sadrist (and
Transportation Minister) Salam al-Maliki later in
the day at TNA Speaker Hachim al Hashimi's home to
discuss how to decrease the violence. The three
leaders of the Sunni Arab Tawafuq Coalition, Adnan
Dulaymi, Khalif al-Alayan and Tariq al-Hashimi, will
also meet President Talabani on February 25,
according to Tawafuq member Hassan al Bazzaz.



8. (C) On February 24, Arab media broadcast a pre-
recorded speech by Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim calling for
calm and for his followers not to attack Sunnis.
Al-Furat TV on February 24 highlighted in its news
crawlers throughout the day the condemnations by
Sunni figures, including the Iraqi Sunni Endowment
head, the Jordanian King and the Kuwait Government.



9. (C) Many mosques did not have Friday sermons
because of the curfew. SCIRI Chief of Staff Haitham
Husseini told PolOff that SCIRI called on associated
mosques to obey al-Hakim's demands, telling the
people to calm down, avoid confrontation and
maintain stability. IIP's Ayad al-Samarai told
PolOff February 24 that his party had issued a
similar message to Sunni mosques. Sammari said he
believed Friday sermons called for calm, and for
Iraqis to put down their weapons and stop attacks on
all mosques, Sunni and Shia. (By contrast, the
Prime Minister's office was furious at coverage on
February 24 the Islamic Party's Baghdad TV station
that they said was encouraging Sunnis to arm
themselves.) In Baquba, the local head of the Sunni
Waqf received a phone call from Sunni Waqf leader
Ahmed Abdul Ghafur al-Samarai and was asked to give
peaceful messages during Friday sermons. In the
Istiqlal District of Baghdad, Sunni and Shia leaders
agreed to have a joint worship service in district
mosques.

KHALILZAD