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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BAGHDAD585 2007-02-19 12:24:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

BSP POPULAR COMMITTEE MOBILIZATION EFFORT'S ROCKY

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM PINR PTER IZ 
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VZCZCXRO1295
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0585/01 0501224
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191224Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9729
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC// PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000585 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/18/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR PTER IZ
SUBJECT: BSP POPULAR COMMITTEE MOBILIZATION EFFORT'S ROCKY
START

REF: BAGHDAD 386

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Daniel V. Speckhard for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: The popular mobilization strand of the new
Baghdad Security Plan (BSP) is off to a rocky start. In a
February 14 meeting with provincial and local government
leaders, tribal sheikhs, religious leaders, and Embassy
staff, committee co-chairs Ahmed Chalabi and Naseer Al-Ani
struggled to clarify the purpose, membership, and structure
of the proposed popular committees. At the conclusion of the
meeting, Chalabi requested that Baghdad local leaders submit
lists of names for possible neighborhood-level committee
membership. However, they did not specify what committee
members' qualifications and duties would be, or how popular
committees would interact with local government. While
Chalabi reached out to the right people, his planning has
fallen behind. End Summary.



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


Reaching Out For Support On Mobilization


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





2. (SBU) Ahmed Chalabi and Naseer Al-Ani, co-chairs for the
BSP's Popular Mobilization initiative, held several meetings
over the past week to develop plans and support for
implementing popular committees in Baghdad (reftel). Their
efforts to date culminated with a large gathering at the
Mansour Media Hotel February 14 of representatives from
Baghdad's provincial and local government, tribal leaders,
and religious authorities to finalize planning for the
effort. In addition to media representatives, nearly 100
people from neighborhoods throughout the city attended, with
strong participation from both Sunni and Shia communities.
Chalabi reiterated basic points about the popular committees.
Although Chalabi and Naseer al-Ani are officially equal
co-chairs, Chalabi did nearly all of the talking at this
event.



3. (SBU) Chalabi mentioned reconciliation initiatives in Sadr
City, notably the planned reopening of a Sunni mosque, saying
that he hoped to see more initiatives like this in the
future. He requested assistance in furthering the reopening
of Islamic centers in Shaab, Ghazaliya, and Doura, cited the
need for more participation by women in the popular
mobilization planning process, and ended saying that, "peace
and security will start from the people, not from the
government." (Note: In a subsequent 15 February meeting with
CDA, Chalabi emphasized the importance of mosque reopenings,
and outlined his plans to do so in Ghazaliya/Shu'la and in
Adhamiyah. End Note.)



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


Chaos and Confusion About the Plan


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





4. (C) Several common concerns emerged during the open
discussion that followed Chalabi's remarks. The largest
issue that was raised by participants was an overarching
feeling that no clear plan exists for implementing popular
mobilization in Baghdad. District Council chairmen, sheikhs,
and waqf representatives alike expressed confusion,
complaining that Chalabi was being unclear about the
composition, size, structure, and purpose of these
committees. When pressed on these issues, Chalabi was unable
to respond in a consistent fashion, providing conflicting
answers to questions about committee size, for example. A
cacaphony briefly ensued as questions about these issues
continued to be raised by more and more of the participants.
Many attendees appeared wary of Chalabi's role as leader of
this effort.



5. (C) Many attendees were also confused about the role of
existing government institutions in the popular committees.
Chalabi said several times that the popular committees should
be supported by the government but not part of the
government, but then also said that local government councils
should take a leadership role in committee formation.
Chalabi's description of the role of political parties in the
popular committees was similarly vague. He said that parties
will have an 'important role' and that party members can
serve on committees, but that the committees themselves will
not be politically affiliated.



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


Incentives and Dangers for Popular Committees


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





6. (C) Although Chalabi continued to assert that the

BAGHDAD 00000585 002 OF 002


committees will be "non-governmental, unarmed, unpaid,
nonviolent" entities, he did mention that the program will
have a budget and that money will be available to be used for
"incentives." He did not elaborate on what this may entail,
and downplayed the concept in his subsequent meeting with the
CDA. In one of his rare comments, Naseer al-Ani stated that
the popular committees should not become a tool for sectarian
revenge or "false reporting"; nor should they be a tool for
groups to reward one another.



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


Next Steps on Committee Formation?


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





7. (C) Chalabi requested that all meeting participants
forward lists of possible neighborhood committee members from
their areas, as well as proposals for possible committee
structures to him by phone. When this provoked another
outcry among attendees, Chalabi amended this request, saying
instead that leaders from each sector should work together to
generate lists and proposed structures, which can then be
forwarded to the co-chairs. Chalabi indicated that
participants would regroup on 21 February to form a workshop
to parse the various lists and proposals. Chalabi provided
no guidance to participants about membership qualifications
or council size.



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


Chalabi Describes the Road Ahead


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





8. (C) In his subsequent 15 February meeting with CDA,
Chalabi claimed that he has instructed the local district
advisory councils (DACs) to take the lead on committee
formation in anticipation of the workshop next week. He
stated, however, that local government will not run the
committees, nor will they staff them. He said that his team
is working to codify roles and responsibilities for the
committees, and that approval of his proposed budget by the
IESC is important to his progress. He also agreed that, "we
will need to watch the committees to be sure that they do not
go outside their bounds." Chalabi said he is thinking about
the possible role of the committees in reporting and
responding to allegations of impropriety by security forces,
describing public frustration in both Sunni and Shia
neighborhoods about past misconduct. He also made a point
that the GOI's recent announcement about the proposed abrupt
return of internally displaced families was unrealistic and
counterproductive, and asked for Embassy assistance in
promoting a more reasoned message.



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


Comment


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





9. (C) Chalabi is engaging many of the right individuals for
the political mobilization initiative, but his planning has
fallen behind his outreach. There is still insufficient
clarity on important concrete details of the committees --
organizational structure, membership guidelines and
responsibilities, and coordination with local government
institutions. Prime Minister and other members of the
government are suspicious of his intentions. End Comment.
KHALILZAD