|07BAGHDAD3991||2007-12-09 12:05:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Baghdad|
1. (C) Summary and Comment: In a December 5 meeting with
S/I David Satterfield, Deputy COR Speaker Khalid al-Attiya
gave a rosy outlook for key legislation in the new year. He
said the De-Ba'athification bill and budget were nearing
completion, a provincial powers law would reach the COR in
early 2008 with substantial consensus among the blocs, and
that a provincial election law could follow from it. He also
enumerated the COR,s willingness to stay in session
following the inevitable delay due to the hajj, a position
somewhat undermined by the body,s sudden adjournment and
Attiya,s own departure for Egypt the next day. Looking
further ahead, Attiya raised the need for a civil service law
and a "grand bargain" to achieve national reconciliation.
Attiya's assessment of the status of de-Ba'ath reform and the
budget law expresses a consensus view we are hearing from all
bloc leaders. While a re-drafted provincial powers law could
indeed reach the CoR in early 2008, there is still
substantial work remaining to bridge differences amongst the
key parties on that piece of legislation. End summary.
2. (C) Attiya professed optimism on key legislation,
observing the Justice and Accountability (De-Ba'thification)
law had received two readings and was nearing a vote, and the
greatest obstacle to passing the 2008 budget (the Kurdistan
Alliance,s objections) had been resolved. He optimistically
claimed a Provincial Powers Law will pass early in the new
year, followed by an election law three to four months after.
According to Attiya, all major blocs except the Sadrists and
Fadhila have finished discussion on a law giving provincial
governments greater power and will hold a meeting after the
hajj to discuss amendments and produce a draft law.
3. (C) Attiya lamented the probable delay in passing
these laws in spite of such substantive progress, however,
because the upcoming hajj likely would preclude the quorum
(138 members) required to hold a vote. In a separate meeting
the same day with PolCouns, Attiya made strong representation
for "continuity," claiming sessions would continue until a
break for the Eid holiday, the COR would forego its scheduled
two month recess at the end of December, and as necessary
remain in session as late as February to pass key legislation
(Comment: The following day, Attiya departed mid-session for
Cairo, and COR Speaker Mashhadani declared a recess until
December 30. End comment).
4. (C) If a follow-on election law reaches the COR,
Ambassador Satterfield suggested a middle course between open
and closed lists as a transition away from the closed list
system used in 2005. Attiya agreed, saying eventually even
COR elections should move in this direction. Attiya also
suggested elections need not take place in all 18 provinces
at the same time, if circumstances in some merit a delay.
Finally, Satterfield asked if a broader federalism agreement
might follow elections. Attiya assented, but doubted new
regions would form for at least six months after they are
theoretically allowed in April 2008.
5. (C) Attiya said a new civil service law is as
important for Iraq as the benchmark legislation. The
ministries in his view fill positions through patronage and
nepotism, such that only those with political party
connections can obtain a government job. A new law could
help check corruption and limit spending on salaries. Attiya
noted a new code might borrow from that of the former regime,
which established effective civil service laws and a council
to test and interview applicants before assigning them
positions. S/I Satterfield welcomed the idea and encouraged
efforts to build consensus on the law.
6. (C) In response to a question about prospects for
national reconciliation, Attiya called for a grand bargain
among all parties, and enumerated three prerequisites for
this to happen: Tawafuq must return to the government,
sub-state actors must lay down their arms, and some form of
general amnesty must take effect. On disarmament, Attiya
voiced suspicion of Concerned Local Citizens committees,
cautioning that they would only have long-term value if
incorporated into official security forces, and suggested
bolstering the quality, not the quantity, of current units.
Attiya said there was some modest progress toward an amnesty
law, saying both Sunni and Shia leaders had agreed on the
need to release suspects who had not demonstrably committed a
7. (U) Cable drafted after Ambassador Satterfield departed
post and not cleared by S/I.