|08BAGHDAD3632||2008-11-16 10:53:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Baghdad|
1. (U) This is a PRT Kirkuk reporting cable.
2. (C) This is the first of two cables on November 10
meetings Senior Advisor (S/A) Krajeski had with Kirkuki Arab,
Turkmen, and Kurdish provincial leaders' views on
Kirkuk-specific issues. This cable reports on Kirkuki
comments on the SOFA and Article 23.
3. (C) Only the Turkmen engaged on the SOFA, favoring it.
While the representatives of each group reinforced
currently-known positions, all professed to support Article
23. Despite each bloc's starkly differing opinions on these
issues, S/A Krajeski lauded their continued efforts to
discuss the issues peacefully while working together to
prevent violence. All groups emphasized the need for more
GOI investment in projects in the province. END SUMMARY.
4. (SBU) S/A Krajeski met Kurdish Governor Abdulrahman
Mustafa, Arab Deputy Governor Rakan Saeed, Kurdish Provincial
Council Chair Rizgar Ali (jointly with KDP PC member Mohammed
Kamal), and key provincial council members from the Turkmen
and Arab blocs in Kirkuk. Rizgar, a PUK member, may have
summoned Kamal, the province's leading KDP member, to
demonstrate KDP-PUK solidarity on the points Rizgar would
make. In each meeting S/A Krajeski emphasized that Kirkuk
officials should seize the opportunity to develop solutions
to the problems facing the province themselves before Baghdad
and Erbil, as well as foreign governments, intervene more
5. (C) Only PC Shi'a Turkmen members Tahseen Kahea and Najat
Hussein discussed the SOFA. They expressed solid support for
it, noting that it was superior to any other option available
for ensuring security in Iraq under current circumstances.
Despite delays in its adoption, they expressed confidence in
its ultimate acceptance. Tahseen voiced his support for the
agreement, but expressed concern about foreign countries
(Iran) who do not want Iraq to sign the SOFA, and what he
imagined were additional secret security agreements attached
6. (C) The two detailed a split in opinion on the SOFA in
the Turkman community along sectarian lines, with the Shi'a
Turkmen supporting it and the Sunni Turkmen opposing.
According to Najat, the Sunni Turkmen feel excluded from
engagement with GOI and believe it is neglecting Sunni
interests. As a result, they instinctively oppose the SOFA
as a creature of the Shi'a majority in Baghdad. Both he and
Tahseen believed, however, that Sunni opposition to the SOFA
would be overcome as they learned more about it.
7. (C) Tahseen and Najat (Turkmen) thought that the success
of the Article 23 committee depended upon the Kurds: "if
they have good intentions, it will succeed," but without
active Kurdish support, it would fail. Tahseen stated that,
despite imperfect elections, the PC already had a fair
division of seats among the ethnicities. He favored
allocating executive branch positions in provincial and
district government. (NOTE: Tahseen's satisfaction with the
current allocation of PC seats is largely due to Turkman
over-representation in the PC, a result of the Arab boycott
of the 2005 provincial elections. END NOTE). Though Tahseen
supported the Article 23 committee, he saw a challenge in the
requirement that its recommendations to the Council of
Representative be unanimous.
8. (C) Najat saw the Article 23 committee as "a secret
operation" since very little has been published on the
committee. He added that unlike the Arabs and the Turkmen,
the Kurds oppose the mission of the Article 23 committee. As
a result, he believed that the committee would not be able to
change the situation in Kirkuk.
9. (C) While agreeing with its ultimate goal of establishing
a framework for elections in Kirkuk, PC Chair Rizgar (Kurd)
criticized the mechanism of the Article 23 committee. He
objected specifically to its being composed of Council of
Representatives (CoR) members. He felt that Baghdad-based
politicians would "play games" with Kirkuk. Mohammed Kamal
interjected that the Article 23 committee would fail because
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the forces blocking implementation of Article 140 of the
Constitution and Articles 58 and 53 of the Transitional
Administrative Law (the central GOI) will do the same with
Article 23. He went further to claim that Maliki is
systematically centralizing the government and has a
10. (C) Rizgar adamantly asserted that PC seats should be
determined solely according to election results, opposing
quotas of seats for each ethnicity. He predicted that some
Turkmen might choose to vote for Kurds, and others similarly
might vote separately from their ethnic group. He proposed
an alternative solution of a second chamber of the provincial
council, with a quota of seats reserved for ethnicity, to
guarantee a minimum number of seats for each group. Rizgar
also supported the idea of allocating executive offices
(Governor, Deputy Governor, PC Chair) among the ethnicities.
11. (C) Governor Abdulrahman (Kurd) is ready to cooperate
with the article 23 committee; however he claimed to have
heard nothing about their proceedings so far, and was waiting
to meet with the committee--originally supposed to have
visited Kirkuk November 1. The Governor preferred to let
voters choose directly who sits on the PC rather than
establishing quotas for each ethnic group.
12. (C) Arab PC member Burhan Al Ubedi said that those who
could most help the Article 23 Committee to carry out its
work were afraid of speaking to it for fear of political
reprisals from Kurdish parties. He hoped that the GOI would
take a strong role in Kirkuk to counter Kurdish influence.
SECURITY IN KIRKUK
13. (C) Turkman PC member Tahseen stated that, despite
isolated incidents, security in Kirkuk was good. He hoped
that this would in turn promote investment, and expected the
Provincial Investment Committee to capitalize on the relative
calm in Kirkuk. Kurd PC Chair Rizgar Ali agreed, believing
that Kirkuk is in good condition, and "the heat is lower."