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08BAGHDAD2828 2008-09-03 03:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

NINEWA: MINORITY COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVES SHARE

Tags:   PGOV PHUM KDEM IZ 
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1. (C) Summary: Ninewa,s minority communities are divided
between and among themselves over the article 140 process.
Some claim that their communities will be better off under
Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) rule; others prefer to
remain part of Ninewa Province. Some cite the KRG as their
primary threat, while others cite Al Qaeda. Internal unity
among confessional or ethnic minority groups is still far
over the horizon; getting Ninewa,s minority groups to
recognize common interests and make common cause is an even
more daunting challenge. At the same time, it is the Sunni
Arab majority that is the source of the insurgency and which
is most alienated from provincial power, either the formal
structure through Mosul or the informal KRG mechanisms that
dominate the political life of the province. End summary.



2. (C) On August 26-30, a UN human rights team led by Maria
Soledad Pazzo (Argentine) visited PRT Ninewa to interview
representatives from ethnic and confessional minority groups,
as well as Arab and Kurdish groups regarding the human rights
situation in Ninewa Province. (Note: PRT did not sit in the
meetings with the UN.)



3. (C) On August 27, the UN team met with Yezidi and Shebak
groups from Hamdaniya and Al-Sheikhan led by Hussein Aswad
Mato of the Yezidi Cultural Center and Sindibad Shawkat of
the Shebak Cultural Center respectively. According to Pazzo,
both groups were highly politicized and appeared to be paid
to support the KRG publicly. Neither raised any specific
human rights concerns but noted their satisfaction with the
security situation provided for them by the KRG.



4. (C) Also on August 27, the UN team met with Kurdish
members of the Ninewa Provincial Council as well as some
members of the Herki, Keki and Mizori groups. (Note: The
Herkis are Kurds who supported Saddam Hussein and are now
outcasts in the Bartalla area. The Keki and Mizori are
Kurdish clans both suspected of instigating violence against
Yezidis in Al-Sheikhan in February 2007.) The head of the
delegation was Mahdi Herki, who is also a KDP Provincial
Council member. Overall, Pazzo said the Kurds primarily
blamed the difficult security situation in Mosul on Arab
Muslim extremists. In addition, Pazzo said that Herki and
the others attending the meeting blamed the Kurdish exodus
from Mosul city on the repeated assassinations of Kurds at
the hands of Muslim Arab extremists. None of the attendees,
including the Herki Kurds, mentioned any Kurd-on-Kurd
violence.



5. (C) Pazzo and her team met with Sunni Arab and Turkmen
tribal leaders on August 28. There were Arabs
representatives from the districts of Sinjar, Makhmoor,
Mosul, and Tel Afar. They were led by Shaher Sultan of Qaraj
sub-district, who complained mostly of unlawful Kurdish
detention of Arabs. In addition, the Arab representatives
from Sinjar said they were being discouraged from registering
to vote by Peshmerga forces guarding Voter Registration
Centers. According to Pazzo, the Peshmerga would tell Arabs
trying to register that elections would not be held so there
was no need to register. The Arabs said they all faced
difficult economic conditions with regard to rising food
prices. (Note: Voter registration in Iraq is a passive
system; if one is listed on the Public Distribution System
list (rations database), then one is registered to vote. The
voter registration update period which ran from July 15
through August 28 allowed Iraqis to check the list and ensure
their information was correct. End Note.)



6. (C) The Turkmen, led by Ahmed Younis Salih from the
village of Rasheediya in Mosul district, said their main
concerns were the lack of services and the economic
deprivation they suffer. The Turkmen representatives said
that the provision of services was only marginally better in
Turkmen villages under Kurdish administration (such as those
around Basheeqa) than those under the Ninewa provincial
administration. The Turkmen also said that they could not
enter Mosul for security reasons, which hurt the ability of
their community to conduct trade.



7. (C) On August 29, the UN team again met with Yezidis and
Shebak leaders as well as the Christian mayor of Tel Kaif,
Bassam Bello of the Assyrian Democratic Movement. Bello
described Kurdish attempts to win support through either
payouts or intimidation, according to Pazzo. Consequently,
Assyrian Christians in Tel Kaif who do not want to join the
KRG are subject to threats and harassment.


BAGHDAD 00002828 002 OF 002




8. (C) Qosay Abbas of the Shebak Democratic Assembly told a
similar story for the Shebak in Hamdaniya. According to
Pazzo, Abbas said that the KDP employs threats and
intimidation against any Shebak groups that try to assert an
independent, non-KRG aligned identity. Pazzo also said that
Abbas took time to explain the intimidation and violence the
Shebak IDPs now residing in Hamdaniya district had faced.
According to Pazzo, Abbas emphasized that the Shebak IDP
communities in Hamdaniya are suffering due to unemployment.



9. (C) The Yezidis in Sinjar led by Wa,ad Mandou Hamou of
the Yezidi Movement also echoed much of what Bello and Abbas
had said about the strong-arm tactics of the Kurdish
political parties, according to Pazzo. Hamou, however, said
that the economic situation for the Yezidi in Sinjar were as
big, if not a bigger, concern. According to Pazzo, Hamou
said that the ongoing drought has hit the Yezidi farmers
especially hard, thereby pushing food prices up in an already
depressed economy.



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


Comment


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





10. (C) It is important that the UN and other interlocutors
meet regularly with these groups. Although these are set
piece meetings, they serve the useful purpose of ensuring
that a wide cross-section of views is heard. As with
previous meetings, we will need to keep in contact with the
participants to ensure that they suffer no retaliation for
having met with the UN.



11. (C) Minority rights are critical to our work in Ninewa,
and we have succeeded in assembling a broad range of
interlocutors in all communities and of all persuasions.
That said, the insurgent threat to the province is deeply
rooted in the Sunni insurgency, which feeds off the profound
alienation of Sunni residents from their provincial
government. Having pursued aggressive minority outreach over
the last two months, we will continue to build on the links
that have been established and renewed. However, we are
turning our attention to the Sunni community and will spend
the coming weeks reaching out to its members.

BUTENIS