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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07BAGHDAD680 2007-02-24 15:22:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

POPULAR COMMITTEES MEETING PARTICIPANTS DISMAYED

Tags:   PGOV PHUM PINR PREL IZ 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0680 0551522
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241522Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9857
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000680 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/23/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL IZ
SUBJECT: POPULAR COMMITTEES MEETING PARTICIPANTS DISMAYED
AT CHALABI'S PLANS

REF: A. BAGHDAD 585


B. BAGHDAD 386

Classified By: Political Counselor Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b)
and (d).



1. (C) Summary: Ahmed Chalabi frustrated community and tribal
leaders who attended a February 21 meeting to discuss the
"popular committees" for the Baghdad Security Plan (BSP) when
he announced that he had named "liaison officers" to
represent each of the ten security areas of Baghdad. Meeting
participants came with the understanding that they would
nominate members for their communities' popular committees
and complained that the liaison officers were unknown figures
among their communities. Many local government leaders
walked out of the meeting when they learned that Chalabi
appointed the liaison officers without their input. By
arbitrarily naming de facto committee leaders, Chalabi
appears to have alienated local governance structures and
hurt chances for popular committee success. End Summary.

Attendees Complain, Walk Out Angrily


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





2. (C) Community and tribal leaders attended a February 21
meeting at Baghdad's Mansour Media Hotel to discuss the
"popular committees" strand of the BSP, an initiative headed
by Ahmad Chalabi and Nasser Al-Ani. Al-Ani did not speak at
the meeting. (Note: As described in ref B, the popular
committees are meant to be local entities that pass up
information about security concerns and complaints about
behavior by security forces to the steering committee while
passing down information about the BSP to local communities.
End Note.)



3. (C) Meeting participants had come expecting to nominate
members for their communities' popular committees and learn
more about their structure, responsibilities and functions.
Chalabi instead announced that he had named a "liaison
officer" to represent each of Baghdad's ten security areas
and said that the 10 appointees should each choose ten people
from among participants to discuss committee formation.



3. (C) Participants complained that many of the appointed
liaison officers were unknown figures in their communities.
They also said that most of the ten areas had several dozen
community leaders present at the meeting and limiting the
discussion to 10 participants for each community would be
exclude most attendees. Attendees said they understood that
the liaison officers would act as de facto team leaders for
each of the ten popular committees. Many attendees left
angrily, particularly members of district and neighborhood
councils. Several local council members and sheikhs who
remained also complained to PRTOffs that the process was
deeply flawed.

Unanswered Questions Remain


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





4. (C) Chalabi failed to address unanswered questions
lingering from the February 14 meeting about the committees'
size, structure and functions (see ref A). It remains
unclear whether Chalabi intends for the popular committees to
consist of the ten people chosen from the February 21
attendees by each liaison officer, or whether the ten person
teams would determine committee size and membership.



5. (C) Comment: On the positive side, Chalabi's approach to
the popular mobilization effort has raised awareness of the
initiative among many of Baghdad's leaders, as evidenced by
larger audiences at each of his general meetings. He has
not, however, provided a coherent vision of the popular
committee concept, and appears to have discouraged local
government institutions from participation. Finding ways to
ensure local government participation in the popular
committee structure should become a priority for the popular
mobilization effort.



6. (C) Comment (continued): PRTOffs will meet with Chalabi's
chief of staff and separately with local officials to discuss
the situation and try to determine what local residents want
to happen. MNF-I and the Embassy will develop suggestions to
offer Chalabi and local officials to answer outstanding
questions and repair the disconnect between Chalabi and local
officials. End Comment.
KHALILZAD