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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BAGHDAD107 2008-01-14 18:15:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

FLEDGLING "NATIONAL PROJECT" SEEKS POLITICAL

Tags:   PGOV IZ 
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O 141815Z JAN 08
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5223
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000107 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2023
TAGS: PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: FLEDGLING "NATIONAL PROJECT" SEEKS POLITICAL
RELEVANCE

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



1. (C) Summary: Billing their fledgling group as a
broad-based CoR coalition that cuts across sectarian lines,
organizers of the "National Project" told the media January
13 that they hope to attract as many as 145 CoR members from
across Iraq's political spectrum with a common goal of
fostering national reconciliation, backing up the Maliki
government on Article 140 and oil/gas revenue distribution,
and developing the ISF so as to "end all justifications for
the continued presence of occupation forces." Initial
indications reveal, however, that "National Project"
impresarios may have puffed the actual participation and that
the new grouping is more a talking shop of marginal but
ambitious political players, mostly Sunnis who feel isolated
by the recent pact between the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) and
the two leading Kurdish parties, than a juggernaut coalition
on which Maliki can rely as he faces Kurdish threats to
abandon support for his government. End Summary.

Hold On, What's Our Name?


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





2. (C) The new grouping was announced with as much fanfare as
organizers Osama al-Najaifi of Iraqiyyah, Khalaf al-Alayan of
the Sunni Iraqi National Dialogue Conference, and Abdel Karim
al-Anazi of the Shia Dawa Tanzim could muster at a January 13
press conference. The organizers told the media that they
seek to build a broad-based movement that cuts across the
Sunni-Shia divide to increase political participation and
foster national reconciliation. They said they support
further development, training, and supply of the Iraqi Army
so that it can quickly assume full security responsibility
and "end all justifications for the continued presence of
occupation forces." They also said they wish to work with
the GOI to develop a timetable for the departure of foreign
forces from Iraq. Al-Alayan issued a separate statement in
which he said group organizers had met PM Maliki two days ago
and pledged support for Maliki, now and even in a second PM
term, as long as he continued to support the unity of Iraq
and the equitable distribution of proceeds from Iraq's oil
and gas resources (we read this as code for a stance against
Kurdish demands on Article 140, Kirkuk, and gas/oil related
issues). An Embassy FSN who was present at the press
conference said that when journalists asked the organizers
for the name of this new grouping, they quickly huddled
together in whispered conversation before announcing proudly
that henceforth the group would be known as "the National
Project" (al-Mashrua'al-Watani).



3. (C) Iraqiyyah's al-Najaifi told the media that the
"National Project" plans to attract as many as 145 CoR
members drawn from the parties of the three organizers, most
of non-IIP Tawafuq, the Shia Fadhila Party and the Sadrists,
and several small ethnic minority parties such as the
Turkomen Front and a Yazidi party, thus making it a truly
formidable alliance. Closer examination reveals that, for
now at least, "Project" impresarios may be overly optimistic
or, at worst, downright disingenuous about their actual
strength. For example, the Secretary General of Najaifi's
own Iraqiyyah party told us January 14 that she was unaware
of the new grouping, and the CoR bloc leader of the Shia
Fadhila Party told us with some irritation that "Project"
organizers had falsely claimed that Fadhila and the Sadrists
intended to join the new grouping. He characterized the
"National Project" not as a "coalition" but rather a
"dialogue." In a January 14 conversation, IIP deputy bloc
leader Ayad Sammarai spoke in dismissive terms of the new
grouping and told us it was not to be taken seriously. We
will monitor ongoing "National Project" formation and report
any significant developments.
CROCKER