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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BAGHDAD9 2008-01-02 11:00:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

HAKIM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 2008 IN MEETING WITH AMB

Tags:   PGOV IR IZ 
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VZCZCXRO3080
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0009 0021100
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021100Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5079
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000009 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2017
TAGS: PGOV IR IZ
SUBJECT: HAKIM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT 2008 IN MEETING WITH AMB

Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: In a December 31 meeting with the
Ambassador, ISCI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim agreed that
significant security, economic, and political progress had
been made in 2007. He expressed hope that provincial
elections would be held in 2008 but was noncommittal over the
possibility of using an open-list system. Hakim agreed that
the Council of Representatives (COR) needed to take its
responsibilities seriously, and expressed satisfaction with
the improving capability of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).
He discussed the improving relations between Iraq and its
neighbors and emphasized the important role of the U.S. in
supporting these relationships. End Summary.



2. (C) Hakim agreed with the Ambassador's assessment that
the year 2007 ended on a more positive note than it began and
cited progress on a range of issues. In terms of security,
he mentioned the increasing ability of the ISF to stand on
its own and its success in maintaining stability in Najaf and
Karbala. Hakim noted that the provincial governorates are
more active than the central ministries in terms of
reconstruction and development and that overall the situation
in the provinces is good. Politically, he said he spoke on
December 30 with VP Hashimi and saw a good chance for the
Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) to return to government. Finally,
Hakim said relations between Iraq and its neighbors had
improved.



3. (C) Hakim expressed hope that provincial elections would
be held in 2008. The Ambassador said he considered 2008
elections 'necessary' and asked whether the Provincial Powers
law needed to be passed before elections were held. He
mentioned a recent meeting in Babil in which four
south-central governors all emphasized the importance of the
legislation. Hakim explained that the only required
legislation was the Election Law, and said the parties were
currently negotiating on the text. The Ambassador emphasized
that, from an outsider,s perspective, the law should
sanction open rather than closed lists, adding that the
closed-list system was the source of many of Iraq's current
problems, but it is up to Iraqis to decide how they select
their leaders. Hakim was noncommittal, repeating only that
the electoral system was one of several points under
negotiation.



4. (C) Turning to the Council of Representatives (COR), the
Ambassador mentioned the importance of passing the
De-Ba'athification Law and the 2008 Federal Budget. He added
that, in meetings with Speaker Mashhadani and Deputy Speaker
Attiya, he had stressed that the COR should not take a winter
recess after adjourning for several weeks for the hajj.
Hakim agreed, and mentioned several sermons recently given by
the marja'iyya urging the MPs to take their responsibilities
seriously.



5. (C) The Ambassador said he agreed with Hakim's positive
outlook on the ISF. He noted that although commentators
focused on the impact of the U.S. 'surge' of 30,000
additional troops, during the same period the ISF increased
its numbers by 100,000. Hakim cautioned that the ISF still
needed more training and equipment but expressed optimism
over the ISF's overall capability.



6. (C) On neighboring countries, Hakim emphasized the
positive effects of Vice President Mehdi's visit to Syria and
President Talabani's visit to Egypt. The Ambassador agreed
on the positive effect of VP Mehdi's regional travel and
Ammar al-Hakim's visit to Kuwait but noted the absence of any
Arab ambassadors in Iraq, saying he hoped for reciprocal
visits from Arab governments to Iraq in 2008. Hakim asked
whether the U.S. was involved in Talabani's invitation to
Iranian President Ahmadinejad to visit Iraq on January 15.
The Ambassador replied that he had not "heard a word" about
the visit. Hakim said the U.S. had a very important role in
fostering good relations between Iraq and neighboring
countries, and the Ambassador emphasized his readiness to
assist in these efforts.
CROCKER