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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08BAGHDAD1094
2008-04-08 20:01:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

BAGHDAD SITUATION REPORT: APRIL 8, 2200 LOCAL

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PINS  PTER  MOPS  IZ 
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VZCZCXRO6727
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1094/01 0992001
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 082001Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6746
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001094 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/08/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINS PTER MOPS IZ
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD SITUATION REPORT: APRIL 8, 2200 LOCAL

Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Greg D'Elia for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: Muqtada Al-Sadr (MAS) announced on April 8
that he had postponed indefinitely a "million-strong"
demonstration originally scheduled for April 9 in Sadr City.
The march had been planned to coincide with the fifth
anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. News media also reported
Sadr threatened to end the nine-month long cease-fire, which
has been credited with much of the reduction in violence.
Ahmad Chalabi told us that Sadr would lift the cease-fire if
the GOI refuses to end the curfew in Baghdad. The GOI
remains focused on its efforts to defeat Jaysh Al-Madhi
(JAM), including preventing young men between the ages of
15-35 from traveling to Baghdad from the south to participate
in the demonstration. Over the past two days, Sadr City
residents reported to our PRTs and ePRTs that they feel
imprisoned within their homes, while out in the streets
sporadic fighting continues between JAM elements and Iraqi
Security Forces (ISF). A growing propaganda war has all
sides leveling rampant accusations against their rivals,
adding to the already extremely tense environment. Iran's
Foreign Ministry, in a statement critical of Coalition and
GOI operations in Sadr City, for the first time also
condemned the rocket and mortar attacks launched by Sadr
supporters against the International Zone (IZ). End Summary.

Sadr Million Man March Postponed


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





2. (C) Muqtada Al-Sadr (MAS) announced via the Sadrist
semi-official web site on April 8 that he has indefinitely
postponed a "million-strong" demonstration originally
scheduled for April 9 in Sadr City. Sadr had planned the
march to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the fall of
Baghdad. Our southern PRTs reported that ISF were blocking
southern Iraqi men between the ages of 15-35 from traveling
to Baghdad to participate in the demonstration, and that this
and other GOI efforts to curtail participation in the march
may have contributed to Sadr's decision to postpone.

Will Sadr End the Current Cease-fire?


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





3. (C) Former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi told us on
April 8 that unless the curfew in Baghdad is lifted, MAS
would end his cease-fire. In his statement, MAS encouraged
his supporters to continue their resistance against the
occupiers "that have vandalized our land and attacked our
holy sites and killed our youth, women, children, and elders
indiscriminately."

ISF Blocks Travel


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





4. (C) In the southern provinces of Babil and Najaf, PRTOffs
report that the Ministry of Interior has enforced a ban on

men between the ages of 15-35 from traveling to Baghdad.
This, according to our PRTOffs, may have played a role in
Sadr's decision to postpone the march.

Anxiety High Among Sadr City Residents


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





5. (SBU) Sadr City residents remain for the most part
hunkered down within their homes, only venturing out to buy
necessities from local markets in their neighborhoods.
Locals in contact with Baghdad PRT report that Sadr City is
on edge, with anxiety building over the uncertainty of the
situation. The prison-like atmosphere that has pervaded Sadr
City over the recent days has been compounded by the
GOI-imposed curfew, announced to last from 7:00pm April 8
until 7:00pm April 9. Residents told PRTOffs that they are
increasingly frustrated with everyone, feeling animosity
towards JAM and MAS, Prime Minister Maliki and the GOI, and
Coalition forces alike.

Baghdad's Political Rivals Express Irreconcilable Views


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



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





6. (C) Baghdad Provincial Council (PC) Chairman Mueen
al-Khademy told Baghdad PRT Team Leader April 7 that there
was "little room left to negotiate" with the Sadrists.
Chairman Mueen, leader of the majority ISCI/Badr coalition on
the PC, sees the latest violence in Sadr City and elsewhere
as evidence that the Sadrists have little respect for
legitimate government and must be treated like the criminals
they are. He stopped short of complete support for Maliki's
hard line, however, and said he supported a strategy of
undermining the Sadrists in the public's eye by publicizing
their nefarious behavior.



7. (C) One of Baghdad's leading Sadrist-affiliated

BAGHDAD 00001094 002 OF 002


politicians, Deputy Mayor Naeem Aboub al-Kaby, told Baghdad
PRTOff that the Coalition, by supporting Maliki's actions
against JAM, is playing into the hands of those calling the
shots in Tehran. He justified the actions of MAS and other
Sadrist leaders as legitimate resistance against both "the
American occupation" and the "Iranian invasion," referring to
his ISCI/Badr rivals as pawns of the regime in Tehran. Naeem
supports more open dialogue between the Coalition and the
Sadrists, stating that there was much 'common ground' to be
found between them. He deplored the conditions Sadr City
residents are facing and hoped that the ISF and Coalition
forces, who he credited with creating such hardships, would
back off and leave Sadr City "in peace."

Iran Condemns Attacks on IZ


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





8. (SBU) The AP reported today that Iran, for the first
time, condemned attacks on the International Zone by MAS
supporters. A statement appearing on the Iranian state
broadcasting company web site, a Foreign Ministry spokesman
criticized the attacks, but also denounced raids by Coalition
Forces against Sadr City.
BUTENIS