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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BAGHDAD35 2007-01-05 21:13:00 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

MALIKI'S GROWING WILLINGNESS TO TAKE ON JAM

Tags:   IZ MOPS PREL PGOV 
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TO RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8925
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEKJCS/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEOMFE/CDR USSOCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
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					  S E C R E T BAGHDAD 000035 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2016
TAGS: IZ MOPS PREL PGOV
SUBJECT: MALIKI'S GROWING WILLINGNESS TO TAKE ON JAM

REF: A. BASRAH 2

B. BAGHDAD 4754

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



1. (S) SUMMARY: PM Maliki is increasingly willing to allow
targeted military action against elements of Moqtada
al-Sadr's Jaish al-Mahdi militia and other Sadr organizations
involved in illegal activities, even in his Sadr City
stronghold. Evidence for this shift can be seen in the
increased number of JAM-linked security detainees being held
by coaltion forces since this past summer. This change seems
to reflect the failure of Maliki's efforts to bring radical
Shia cleric and JAM leader Moqtada al-Sadr into the political
mainstream, as well as his increasing understanding and sense
of responsibility for security in the country. END SUMMARY



2. (S) Throughout the summer of 2006, Maliki argued that
Coalition operations against JAM would undermine his efforts
to bring Moqtada al-Sadr into the political process. His
patient efforts to tame Sadr have borne few results. Indeed,
with the suspension of their participation in the government
following the Bush-Maliki meeting in Amman and their demand
that the government renounce the UN Security Council
Resolution extending MNF-I's mandate, Sadrist politicians
seem to be distancing themselves from the political process.
The Prime Minister told the Ambassador a few weeks ago that
he had exhausted efforts to get Moqtada to reign in the JAM
and distance himself from their violent actions.



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A NOTICEABLE CHANGE


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





3. (S) PM Maliki is increasingly willing to authorize
military action against members of JAM and other Sadr
organizations that have demonstrable links to illegal
activities. He has pre-approved a list of High Value Targets
in Sadr City and approved operations against those linked to
EFP and IDF attacks, as well as those who might have
information on the kidnapped American soldier. Examples
include:

-- Maliki approved a December 31 raid in Sadr City conducted
by Iraqi Security Forces with Coalition advisors that
resulted in the detention of a high ranking individual linked
to a "killing cell." The cell was linked to extra-judicial
killings and was also thought to have information about the
kidnapped U.S. soldier.

-- Maliki authorized the December 25 raid by Iraqi and
British forces on the headquarters of the JAM-infested Basrah
Police Serious Crime Unit (ref A). The unit had been linked
to torture and death squad activities.

-- Maliki approved Operation Black Hole, targeting a JAM
brigade commander in charge of several Sadr City-based death
squads. The JAM commander has also been linked to Improvised
Explosive Attacks against Coalition forces and Indirect Fire
(rocket and mortars) attacks against Sunni neighborhoods.

These are important steps, especially when compared with
Maliki's attitude as recently as late October -- when he
complained loudly about Coalition efforts in Sadr City to
locate the kidnapped U.S. soldier and had checkpoints in the
area removed.



4. (S) This increased operational tempo against JAM is
reflected in detention statistics. The number of JAM-linked
detainees being held by coalition forces has risen from
approximately 100 in the spring of 2006 to a current number
of 539. Iraqi Shias now account for almost 10 percent of the
security detainee population, up from five percent eight or
nine months ago. According to the detainees operations task
force led by Major General Gardner, Prime Minister Maliki's
office has rarely (three or four times) tried to intervene to
have a Shia detainee released.



5. (S) In addition to military operations, Maliki has
recently taken steps to reduce the corrosive influence of
militia infiltration in government ministries, forming and
tasking a ministerial committee with security ministry
reform. Maliki is also examining options for dealing with
the Ministry of Health's militia-controlled Facility
Protection Service.


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



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POLITICAL OUTREACH FAILS; MALIKI TAKES OWNERSHIP OF SECURITY


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



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





6. (S) Other factors may play into Maliki's shift, including
increasingly close senior-level operational coordination
between MNF-I and Iraqi leaders and evidence that the U.S. is
taking seriously Maliki's desire for a speedy transfer of
security responsibility -- both of which give him more
"ownership" of the issue. It is worth noting that Iraqi
Security Forces -- particularly Iraqi Special Operations
Forces (ISOF) -- have been in the lead during recent Sadr
City operations. Increasing evidence of Shia militia links
to outside forces -- such as the recent detention of Iranian
intelligence officials at a SCIRI/Badr compound -- may be
also shaping Maliki's thinking on the need to more
aggressively tackle unlawful militia activity.
KHALILZAD