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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BASRAH9 2008-02-05 11:33:00 SECRET//NOFORN REO Basrah
Cable title:  

SAYID AL SHUHADA SUPPORT BADR'S NINE PROVINCE REGION

Tags:   PTER PGOV PINS IR IZ 
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VZCZCXRO9724
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHBC #0009/01 0361133
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P R 051133Z FEB 08
FM REO BASRAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0674
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0257
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDHP/DIA DHP-1 WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEPGAB/MNF-I C2X BAGHDAD IZ
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHBC/REO BASRAH 0709
					  S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BASRAH 000009 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/5/2018
TAGS: PTER PGOV PINS IR IZ
SUBJECT: SAYID AL SHUHADA SUPPORT BADR'S NINE PROVINCE REGION

REF: A) 07 BASRAH 104 B) 07 BASRAH 116

BASRAH 00000009 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Won Lee, A/Director, U.S. Regional Embassy
Office, Basrah, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)





1. (S/NF) Summary: Regional Embassy Officers met with
representatives of Sayid al-Shuhada (SAS, aka Lord of the
Martyrs) January 28. SAS complained about the U.S. arrest of
Rasheed Majeed al-Sari, the editor of SAS newspaper Al-Fateh,
and requested his release. They also reviewed their political
platform, told us that they supported early elections, expected
to gain several seats in the Provincial Council, and supported
the Badr/Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) proposal to form
a nine-province region. They also asked for U.S. support in
Basrah's economic development. End Summary.

SAS COMPLAINS ABOUT NEWSPAPER EDITOR'S ARREST


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





2. (S/NF) SAS Deputy Secretary General Hilal Naiem Dikhan was
accompanied by Political Director and Provincial Council (PC)
member Qasim Al-Fayad (aka Qasim Mohammad Badir), and Drs. Ahmad
Jasim, Nasser Abd al-Sijad al-Musawi, and Hussein al-Kabi
(political section). Hilal began by passing us a letter in both
Arabic and English protesting America's detention of Rasheed
Majeed al-Sarai on January 17 in Baghdad. Hilal said that Sarai
was the chief editor of SAS's newspaper, Al-Fateh, published in
Baghdad and distributed throughout Iraq. Hilal said that Sarai
was a legitimate member of the Press Union, arresting him
violated the democratic principle of freedom of speech, and
demanded his release. We told Hilal we were unaware of the
arrest and would ask Embassy Baghdad for Sarai's status.
(Comment: U.S. forces captured Rashid Majid Muhammad al-Sarraji
(aka Abu Narjis) on January 16 in Baghdad. The Al-Fateh
newspaper uses anti-CF rhetoric, and while detained, Sarai
admitted the paper was financed by Iran. We have scanned the
letter to Embassy Baghdad. End Comment.)

POLITICAL PLATFORM


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





3. (S/NF) SAS described for us their political beliefs at our
last meeting (Ref B), but reviewed them once more at our request
as follows: peace, prosperity and democracy for all Iraqis who
suffered under the previous regime; supporting peace
negotiations with their neighbors; support for the security
forces and the law; educating Iraqis to support the Iraqi
Constitution; repudiating of terrorism; developing relationships
with the international community, especially their neighbors,
based on mutual benefit and non-interference; the renunciation
of nuclear and chemical weapons; supporting the role in society;
and supporting an effective government. Qasim promised to
provide us with a written description at our next meeting.

EARLY ELECTIONS & NINE PROVINCE REGION


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





4. (S/NF) Hilal stressed the need for early elections to bring
political change to Basrah. When asked how SAS might fare,
Hilal said they planned to campaign hard, expected to do well
and win at least five seats on the PC. He reasoned that
Basrawis are upset with the current power-holding parties and
would vote for a change in the status quo. He predicted that
the Office of the Martyr Sadr, despite trying to improve their
image, would not do as well as some predicted because Jaysh
al-Mahdi is still blamed for Basrah's problems. Fayad added that
SAS only got one seat on the PC through the closed-list system
by joining the Badr-led Basrah Islamic List. Had they ran
independently, they might have done better and they were
contemplating doing so for the next election. They also said an
open-list was more democratic and preferable to a closed-list.



5. (S/NF) SAS supports the Badr/Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq
(ISCI) proposal to form a southern region of nine provinces,
with Basrah as the capital. Hilal said SAS supported the idea
because a separate southern region could emulate the success of
the UAE. He also said that the Gulf States should divide into
regions, not because it would be good for them, but because it
would prevent them from negatively interfering in Basrah's
affairs. (Comment: SAS's support for Badr/ISCI plan is expected
given the close coordination between the two parties. Sources
and reporting indicate that SAS often take orders from Badr.)

BASRAH NEEDS RECONSTRUCTION FROM THE U.S.

BASRAH 00000009 002.2 OF 002




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





6. (S/NF) SAS representatives stressed the need for Basrah's
economic development and asked us to bring more investors here.
They also complained that the USG was not doing reconstruction
projects here. After we explained that the British-led PRT was
primarily funded by the U.S. and the work of the Corps of
Engineers, they expressed disappointment that we did not claim
any credit for what we did. We retorted that we had to keep a
low profile or some militias would target CF-led projects. Not
willing to concede the point, Hilal said those groups should
then be confronted. Basrah's security was slightly better since
the arrival of Basrah Operations Commander LTG Mohan Hafith
Fahad and Police Chief MG Jalil Khalaf Shuwayl, but Hilal said
neither was forceful enough in dealing with JAM.

COMMENT


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





7. (S/NF) SAS may be trying to improve their image to do better
in possible elections this year. Our conversation made it clear
they are already preparing an elections campaign. They have
co-opted some professors to portray a more educated party, claim
to have disavowed their militant activities, stressed their
party's legitimacy, and their engagement with us is likely an
attempt to reinforce their fagade of legitimacy. Hilal even
asked for a meeting with Ambassador Crocker during our
discussion, though promising to keep the REO as their central
contact.



8. (S/NF) Hilal also told us that SAS has a weak relationship
with MND-SE and has only met with them a couple of times since


2003. We offered to broker introductions, but Hilal refused
stating the British failed in Basrah and SAS preferred to work
with the USG.
WLEE