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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BAGHDAD3196 2007-09-23 13:50:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

DR. MEHDI HAFEDH PROMOTES HIMSELF AS ALTERNATIVE

Tags:   PREL PGOV PINR ECON EFIN IZ 
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VZCZCXRO5299
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3196/01 2661350
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 231350Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3518
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003196 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2017
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR ECON EFIN IZ
SUBJECT: DR. MEHDI HAFEDH PROMOTES HIMSELF AS ALTERNATIVE
TO MALIKI, SAYS FORMING INDEPENDENT BLOC

REF: BAGHDAD 176

Classified By: Political Counselor Matt Tueller for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d)



1. (S/NF) Summary: During a Sept. 20 meeting, Council of
Representatives (CoR) member Dr. Mehdi Hafedh
(Shi'a/Independent) said it was time for the USG to
"initiate" the replacement of PM Maliki. Poloffs pushed
back, leaving no doubt that the USG supports Maliki as the
head of Iraq's constitutional government and stressing that
whether to replace the PM through the Iraqi democratic
process was a question for Iraqis to answer themselves. Dr.
Mehdi said this approach was admirable in principle but
counterproductive in practice. He unabashedly proclaimed
himself the candidate most likely to replace Maliki in the
event of a no confidence vote in the CoR, and said he is
building support with Hiwar, Tawafuq, and various
independents. He claimed to be a member of an emerging bloc
of independents that might contain as many as 20 CoR members
(and hinted that he was likely to become the bloc's leader).
He said his priorities include the appointment of
non-sectarian ministers, passing an oil law and improving
efficiency in GOI budget execution. End summary.

PM WILL NOT SURVIVE, DR. MEHDI A POSSIBLE SUCCESSOR


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



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





2. (S/NF) Dr. Mehdi told DepPolCouns and PolOff on Sept. 20
that he does not think PM Maliki will "easily survive in his
position," noting the dissatisfaction with Maliki's rule had
spread into Da'wa itself. He said he has been approached by
Tawafuq, independents, and others to succeed PM Maliki should
a no-confidence vote occur in the CoR. He stated "I have a
good chance and am the most favorable (sic) candidate." He
argued that the USG should initiate the process of replacing
Maliki. Poloffs pushed back, leaving no doubt that the USG
supports Maliki as the head of Iraq's constitutional
government and emphasizing that whether to replace Maliki
through Iraq's democratic process is a question for Iraqis to
decide. Mehdi conceded that the USG approach was correct in
principle, although he insisted that in practice it was
damaging U.S. and Iraqi interests. Turning to the shifting
political alliances within the CoR, Mehdi predicted that some
former Iraqiyya members who recently broke with the party (a
possible reference to Safia Taleb Souhail, Izzat Shahbandar
and Hachim al-Hassani, who reportedly withdrew from Iraqiyya
this week in response to Ayad Allawi's meetings with Ba'ath
party members in Jordan) would join him in forming an
independent, non-sectarian bloc with approximately 20
members. Mehdi hinted that he would emerge as the bloc's
leader.



3. (S/NF) Citing a recent meeting he held with Sunni VP
al-Hashimi, Mehdi intimated that al-Hashimi and Tawafuq would
likely support him as an alternative to Maliki. He also
claimed to have support from some Shi'a elements in the CoR
as well. (Note: In two separate meetings with Hiwar leader
Salah Mutlaq and another independent CoR member, Dr. Mehdi
Hafedh's name was raised as a strong contender to replace PM
Maliki if the CoR votes no confidence (septel). End note)
Mehdi said the prospects for a vote of no confidence in PM
Maliki changes by the moment. In his view, Tawafuq wishes to
avoid the appearance of allying with the Sadrists and would,
therefore, let the Sadrists initiate a vote of no-confidence,
which Tawafuq would wait until the last moment to support.

DR. MEHDI'S PRIORITIES


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





4. (S/NF) As to his priorities for reforming the GOI, Dr.
Mehdi said first that "we need competent ministers." Second,
increased oil production is imperative both for economic
growth and so that Iraq can fulfill its requirements under
the Stand-By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund
(IMF). Third, he criticized the GOI for poor budget
execution, which has reduced the Cabinet's effectiveness.
Fourth, he noted the need to resolve the impasse on the
hydrocarbons law, and said that the KRG's intent to create a
"fait accompli" by passing its own oil law recently (August)
was unacceptable.

COR LAGGING BEHIND


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





5. (S/NF) Dr. Mehdi said the CoR is lagging behind in its
tasks and responsibilities. He cited bad management and
sectarianism as the main impediments to the CoR's
effectiveness. He said that the committees "are not doing
their jobs" and this needs to be dealt with soon by Speaker
Mahmoud Mashadani. He added there are daily shifts regarding

BAGHDAD 00003196 002 OF 002


the composition of the political blocs in the CoR.



6. (S/NF) On a positive note, Dr. Mehdi said Speaker
Mashadani initiated dialogue and was part of the meeting of
CoR leadership which met on September 9 to discuss the crisis
in the government and prepare a list of priorities to raise
with PM Maliki. He added there would be a meeting at noon on
September 20 between CoR members and the Presidency Council,
Prime Minister, and ministers, to discuss that list. (Note:
Our understanding is that neither the PM nor the Presidency
Council attended that meeting. End note).

BIO NOTE


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





7. (S/NF) Dr. Mehdi Hafedh (Shi'a) is a CoR member who
withdrew from the Iraqiyya bloc during the past year and is
now an independent. He was Minister of Planning and
Development in the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and was
Chair of the Iraq Strategic Review Board (ISRB) and the
Council for International Coordination. He is the author of
many books on Arab affairs and economic and social issues.
He comes from the town of Al-Shamiyah in Al-Qadisiyah
province. He is a graduate in chemistry and pursued his
studies in social science and obtained a Doctorate of State
degree in Economic Science from the University of Prague.
Dr. Hafedh developed his expertise in the Iraqi Ministry of
Oil before representing Iraq as Minister (1978-1980)
Plenipotentiary at the United Nations in Geneva. He later
joined the UN System in Trade and Development where he was
Director for Special Industrial Development from 1983-1996,
and then served as a Regional Director for Industrial
Development until 1999. He later served as Advisor to the
Director General for Industrial Development in Vienna. In
addition, Dr. Hafedh has played an active role in supporting
positive change in governance in the Arab World, as member of
the Board of Trustees at the Arab Thought Forum since 1996,
as President of the Arab Society for Economic Research
between 1998 and 2003, and as a founding member of the Arab
Organization for Human Rights in 1983.
CROCKER