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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BAGHDAD1466 2008-05-11 12:56:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

BAGHDAD LEAGUE CREATES FORUM FOR MODERATES

Tags:   PREL PGOV PTER IR IZ 
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1. (U) This is a Baghdad PRT reporting cable.



2. (SBU) Summary: The "Baghdad League," a nascent
organization dedicated to supporting social, cultural and
educational activities in Baghdad, met Sunday May 3 to review
the organization's bylaws and plan the group's activities for
the coming months. The Baghdad League was founded by Ali
Fadel al-Misir, former Baghdad Provincial Council Chairman
and Governor of Baghdad, and the group's membership includes
many prominent moderate political, business and activist
leaders from Baghdad. Baghdad PRT will support the Baghdad
League with a Quick Reaction Fund (QRF) grant and technical
assistance. End Summary.



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WHAT IS A BAGHDAD 'MODERATE'?


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3. (SBU) Baghdad is home to a "silent majority" of people
who reject violence as a means to achieve political ends,
respect the rule of law, believe in human rights for all
regardless of sect, ethnicity or creed, and want to see a
Baghdad that is again respected for its history, culture,
prosperity, and progressive spirit. Many leaders
representing this population risk their lives daily to
participate in local government, academia, business, and
civil society organizations. Baghdad PRT has regular
interaction with these 8moderate" figures and seeks ways to
assist them in their efforts to build forums for political
cooperation and social interaction, preserve the cultural
heritage of their communities, and be a part of creating a
unified democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself,
defend itself and sustain itself (REF A).



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BAGHDAD LEAGUE FORMED BY FORMER GOVERNOR OF BAGHDAD


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4. (SBU) The Baghdad League is the brain-child of prominent
Baghdad leader, Ali Fadel al-Misir. Al-Misir was selected to
represent his local neighborhood on the Baghdad Provincial
Council in 2003, and served several terms as Chairman of that
body. In December 2004, Baghdad's Governor al-Haidery was
assassinated and the PC chose al-Misir to be his successor.



5. (SBU) Prior to the elections of January 2005, members of
the Baghdad Provincial Council were local leaders selected to
represent their neighborhoods; most were politically
independent. The January 2005 elections were run as a
single-district, party-list vote. Members of the currently
sitting Provincial Council represent the interests of the
major political parties in Baghdad, not its geographic
districts. Upon taking office in March 2005, that body
selected Hussein al-Tahan, a former Badr Corps commander, to
replace al-Misir as Governor of Baghdad.



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BAGHDAD MODERATES FEEL SHUT-OUT BY SECTARIAN POLITICS


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6. (SBU) Al-Misir retreated from active politics in 2005,
dismayed, like many local leaders, about the overnight
takeover of Baghdad's government by Shia religious political
parties. The ISCI/Badr party now controls 28 out of 51 seats
on the Baghdad PC; along with Da'wa and Fadhila, Shia parties
control 45 out of 51 seats.



7. (SBU) Al-Misir contemplated returning to politics
throughout 2006 and 2007, but claimed that there were few
opportunities for secular moderates like himself. Al-Misir
is Shia, but feels no strong loyalty to the Shia political
parties, like ISCI and Da'wa, who often look to the Shia
religious establishment for their governing principles, he
said.



8. (SBU) He launched the Baghdad League to bring together
other like-minded local leaders and activists to engage in a
forum where they can interact, develop a social support
network, and coordinate efforts to launch cultural and
educational initiatives celebrating Baghdad's heritage.



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LEAGUE EXPANDS EFFORTS WITH PRT HELP


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





9. (SBU) During an afternoon session on May 3, hosted by
Baghdad PRT in our International Zone facilities, al-Misir
led a planning session with members of the Baghdad League;
current membership includes 25 prominent Baghdad citizens

BAGHDAD 00001466 002 OF 002


including district council members, business leaders, civil
servants, community activists and the current GOI Minister of
Human Rights, Wijdan Mikha'el.



10. (SBU) Baghdad PRT plans to support the Baghdad League as
it expands its membership and scope of activities. A Quick
Reaction Funds (QRF) grant is in the works for the League,
and will provide funding to the organization over the next
few months to sponsor educational and cultural events in
Baghdad.



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CHANGING POLITICS IN BAGHDAD


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11. (SBU) Comment: The Baghdad PRT is uniquely positioned to
provide support to political moderates, without overtly
supporting specifically partisan activity. Support to forums
such as the Baghdad League enables a cadre of like-minded,
progressive leaders and community activists to network
amongst themselves and strategize methods to convert Iraq's
current environment of identity politics into one of issues
and ideals, the hallmark of a truly advanced democracy.
Baghdad moderates admit that this transition will take some
time, but they hope to at least make some impact prior to the
next round of provincial elections, currently scheduled for
October 2008. End Comment.


CROCKER