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07BAGHDAD236 2007-01-22 16:53:00 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

PM MALIKI ON AL-DARRAJI, BASRAH, ISF EQUIPPING,

Tags:   IZ MOPS PREL PTER PGOV 
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1. (S) SUMMARY: In a January 19 meeting, PM Maliki agreed
that senior JAM leader Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji could be held
for two days while investigations into his alleged criminal
activities are carried out, but asked that this agreement not
be publicized. Maliki also said he would support actions
taken against those attacking U.S. and UK diplomatic staff in
Basrah. At the same time, he expressed continuing
frustration with the Coalition's pace of arming the Iraqi
Security Forces. Urging that action be taken against a
senior Ministry of Health (MOH) official, he said that an
overhauled MOH could be moved into a new building. END
SUMMARY



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The Al-Darraji Arrest


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





2. (S) In a January 19 meeting with PM Maliki, MNF-I
Commanding General Casey acknowledged that the previous
evening's arrest of senior JAM leader Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji
should not have taken place without prior consultation with
the GOI. At the same time, Casey and the Ambassador stressed
that there was substantial evidence linking al-Darraji to
illegal activities.



3. (S) Maliki agreed that al-Darraji was tied to illicit
activities, adding that he had also broken with radical Shia
cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Maliki said that al-Darraji could be
held for two days while investigations are concluded. A
decision on how to proceed could then be based on the
evidence assembled against him at the end of the two days.
National Security Advisor Rubaie suggested that if sufficient
evidence were developed, al-Darraji could be transferred to
the Iraqi criminal system for criminal prosecution.



4. (S) Maliki claimed that a-Darraji was one of 21
individuals granted immunity in 2004 by then Interim PM
Allawi as a part of the cease-fire ending the battle for
Najaf. Casey said that he thought only Moqtada al-Sadr had
been given immunity as a part of that deal, suggesting that
al-Darraji might have been granted immunity at some point in
order to end violence in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood.
The Ambassador asked whether such immunity would cover
criminal acts conducted after the immunity was granted.
Casey said the agreement should be reviewed to determine its
parameters.



5. (S) The Ambassador said now that al-Darraji has been
arrested, Maliki should not call for his release; and asked
Maliki to stop his advisors from publicly calling for that.
Maliki agreed, but asked in return that the Coalition not
publicly reveal that he had agreed al-Darraji could be held.
Maliki also said it would help him politically if MNF-I could
acknowledge publicly that coordination mistakes had been made
in the operation. Looking to the future, Maliki said that it
would play better domestically if similar operations were
conducted with just Iraqi forces.



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


Basrah


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





6. (S) The Ambassador said that U.S. and UK diplomatic staff
were being subjected to heavy Indirect Fire (IDF) attacks in
Basrah. Maliki said he would support the Coalition if it
took action against those launching the attacks. He also
said that he hoped we would not withdraw our personnel from
Basrah because doing so would be the wrong signal to send to
those instigating the violence. He said that the violence
following the British withdrawal from Amarah was
illustrative. He also said that before security
responsibility for Basrah is transferred the 10th Iraqi Army
Division will have to be completed and the division's
commander replaced.



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


Where are Our Weapons


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





7. (S) Maliki repeated his oft-heard call for the need to
increase the tempo of arming the Iraqi Security Forces.
Casey said that one problem was that the number of police in
some areas was above what were authorized by the Ministry of
Interior. The Ambassador suggested that this issue be added
to the agenda of an upcoming meeting of the Ministerial
Committee on National Security, adding that MNSTC-I

Commanding General Dempsey should also be asked to attend.



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


Ministry of Health Issues


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





8. (S) Maliki said that an overhauled Ministry of Health
(MOH) could move into a completely new building, helping to
give the ministry a fresh start. He urged the Coalition to
take quick action against a senior MOH official with known
links to militia activity. Casey pointed out that a senior
member of the MOH's Facility Protection Service was also a
Coalition target.



9. (S) When Maliki asked for the Coalition's help with
medicine, the Ambassador told him that we have medicine and
equipment waiting for 148 hospitals. Citing a case near
Mosul as an example, the Ambassador pointed out that medical
facilities built by the Coalition are sometimes targets for
terrorist attacks. The PM said local police should be given
responsibility for security for these facilities. When the
Ambassador told the PM that VP al-Mahdi had formed a
medical-related NGO and had asked that the Coalition transfer
some hospitals to it, the PM expressed his frustration,
commenting that "I don't understand how this country can run
on quotas."
KHALILZAD