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09BAGHDAD2906 2009-10-30 16:28:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

CORRECTED COPY: SENIOR ADVISOR MISENHEIMER'S

Tags:   PGOV PREL IZ 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO4950
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2906/01 3031628
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 301628Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5284
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BAGHDAD 002906 

SIPDIS

NEA/I

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/29/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL IZ
SUBJECT: CORRECTED COPY: SENIOR ADVISOR MISENHEIMER'S
MEETINGS IN THE KURDISTAN REGION

REF: BAGHDAD 2905

Classified By: Senior Advisor Misenheimer For Northern Iraq for reasons
1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: The Ambassador's Senior Advisor for Northern
Iraq, Alan Misenheimer, held a round of meetings in Erbil and
Sulaimaniyah October 19-22. He met with the incoming and
outgoing KRG Prime Ministers, the KRG Parliamentary leader,
KDP and PUK officials, President Barzani,s Chief of Staff,
the leader of the Goran (Change) movement, the heads of the
two leading Islamist parties, and others. The electoral law
for the January election, the situation in Ninewa and Kirkuk,
and relations with neighboring countries dominated the
conversations. KRG officials all rejected the idea of a
pre-allocation of seats for Kirkuk province in the electoral
law, arguing that it unfairly singled out Kirkuk and was
undemocratic. The KRG officials believe this issue is an
excuse for their opponents in the COR, whom the Kurds are
convinced want no elections at all. The emergence of a newly
strengthened opposition in the Kurdistan Region may be
contributing to the Regional Government,s unwillingness to
be perceived to be compromising on Kirkuk. End Summary.

Electoral Law:


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





2. (C) The Senior Advisor emphasized in all of his meetings
the U.S. view that the overriding priority is that national
elections be held on time in January, and that Kirkuk
province be included. All the KRG interlocutors agreed.
None of the KRG officials had any problems with the proposal
to establish a committee to review voter rolls as long as
voter rolls throughout Iraq are looked at and not just those
in Kirkuk. KRG Presidency Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein said
that having the elections in January benefits Kurds as well,
since nothing is being done on other issues because GOI
officials and politicians are consumed with the elections.



3. (C) However, KRG officials unanimously rejected the
proposal to pre-allocate Kirkuk,s seats in the COR on the
basis of ethnicity. Fuad Hussein also asked why there was no
allocation for Christians. KRG PM-designate Dr. Barham Salih
said that from a KRG point of view the Kurds are always asked
to compromise, and that this proposal looks like it is not
only giving special status to Kirkuk but that it is
pre-determining Article 140. He and Fuad Hussein both said
that if something like this is going to be done in Kirkuk,
why can,t something similar be done in Mosul as well? Dr.
Barham complained that the U.S. is asking Kurds to accept
power sharing in Kirkuk, while the Kurds are being blocked
from power in Ninewa despite a significant Kurdish
population. In an October 22 follow-up meeting, Dr. Barham
said that President Barzani had convoked a meeting of 22
political parties represented in the KRG and not a single
party was willing to accept the idea of pre-allocation of
seats in Kirkuk. The KRG parliament issued a statement to
this effect, as well. Dr. Barham reported that at the meeting
with political parties, President Barzani asked rhetorically
whether it would be better to make a stand now or wait until
the GOI has tanks and F-16,s.



4. (C) Parliamentary leader Kamal Kirkuki said that to
prevent a province from having an election was both corrupt
and a violation of human rights. Director of Intelligence
Masrur Barzani said that it would be an injustice if Kirkuk
was not treated equally. Minister responsible for External
Relations Falah Mustafa and others said that it is important
for the KRG that Kirkuk not be singled out. He added that
allocating seats through an agreed quota would not be
Qallocating seats through an agreed quota would not be
democratic and would set a negative precedent. Fuad Hussein
said that instead of solving one problem it would create
three, in addition to creating an apartheid system. Goran
Movement/Change List leader Nawsherwan Mustafa commented that
Diyala, Ninewa and Baghdad also each have ethnically mixed
populations.


Delaying Tactics:


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





5. (C) The Senior Advisor was repeatedly told that the
various proposals for an electoral law "compromise" on Kirkuk
were just a way for elements that either do not want the
election to be held, or who would like it delayed, to put the
blame on the Kurds. Fuad Hussein said that there are those in
the COR who don,t want the elections because they don,t
want to lose their jobs. He also said that Maliki wants to
delay the election in order to strengthen his coalition. He
added that, if tomorrow they agree about Kirkuk, then the

BAGHDAD 00002906 002 OF 005


next day those who want to delay will come up with a new
problem. KDP Politburo Director Fadhil Mirani said that
parliamentarians in the COR are not independent, with
factions getting direction from Syria, Jordan, Iran, Turkey,
or Saudia Arabia.

Open Versus Closed Lists:


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





6. (C) KRG Officials viewed the current COR debate over open
versus closed lists as an issue of secondary importance to
the KRG officials. Fuad Hussein and others said that they
would agree to use the 2005 election law. Fadhil Mirani said
that the KDP prefers a closed list because an open list will
cause them to lose some voters. Outgoing KRG Prime Minister
Nechirvan Barzani said that the Shia are worried because of
the huge number of Shia entities registered for the election.
He said that Sistani said that the lists should be open in
order to get Shia to participate in the election. In
Nechirvan,s opinion, with an open list it will be harder to
fill the mandated 27% seats for women. Change List leader
Nawsherwan Mustafa voiced his support for open lists in the
January elections. He pointed out that previous closed list
elections have led to the current situation, in which some
governorates have virtually no representation in the Iraqi
COR.


Need a Census:


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





7. (C) The KRG leaders were emphatic in reiterating the
familiar Kurdish call for a census, including the
Kirkuk-specific census called for in Article 140. KRG
Deputy PM-designate Azad Barwary said that the Iraqi Planning
Committee had said that it was ready to conduct a census, but
Maliki blocked it. He added that in the last two months two
million new ration cards have been issued to non-existent
people and that the food allocations are being sold to pay
for weapons. In Mosul, for example, there has been a 100%
increase in the voting population due to fraud and a heavy
influx of ethnic Arabs and Arabic speaking Iranians who have
been given ration cards and registered to vote in southern
provinces. Falah Mustafa aptly summarized the issue: without
a census everyone talks about numbers but there are no clear
numbers on ethnic or religious populations anywhere in Iraq.

Asayeesh:


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





8. (C) The Senior Advisor raised with key interlocutors the
sensitive issue of the Asayeesh (PUK and KDP intelligence
services) in the DIBs region, particularly Kirkuk City. He
observed that the invisibility of the Asayeesh worked against
Kurdish interests in Ninewa and Kirkuk by making it easy for
Arabs and Turkomans to blame unsubstantiated crimes and
abuses on the Kurds; and while the Asayeesh are a positive
counter-terrorism asset, continuing friction with the Arabs
and Turkomans over Asayeesh activities would impede longer
term progress toward reconciliation within the DIBs. Barham
Salih welcomed future U.S. help in training the Asayeesh and
in supporting the impending merger of the PUK and KDP wings
into a single organization. He characterized the Asayeesh
and Peshmerga as part of the over all defense architecture of
Iraq. He cautioned that restructuring the Asayeesh is a very
sensitive subject, and the Senior Advisor reassured him that
the USG would not get out ahead of the KRG in any public
references. All interlocutors said the KDP and PUK arms of
the Asayeesh needed to be merged and professionalized; but
there were variations in emphasis. PUK members tended to
refer to the merger as already on track or in immediate
prospect. Masrur Barzani said that the hold-up was with the
PUK side. Nawshirwan Mustafa agreed on the need to merge and
QPUK side. Nawshirwan Mustafa agreed on the need to merge and
modernize the KDP and PUK security and intelligence
operations--each of which is extremely expensive, and
constitutes a heavy burden on the KRG budget--but was
skeptical that the political will existed within either party
to carry out such a process.

Lack of Trust:


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





9. (C) KRG officials uniformly dismissed Turkoman and Arab
fears that the Kurds are preparing to declare independence.
In strikingly similar terms they laid out a sophisticated
argument that independence would be economically and
politically impossible, even if the Kurds wanted to do it.
Masrur Barzani cited the Kurds' geo-political circumstances,
including its "tough lineup" of neighboring states, as
precluding independence for Kurdistan. Barham Salih and

BAGHDAD 00002906 003 OF 005


Interior Minister Karim Sinjari stressed that a Kurdish state
could not long bear the stress of enmity from "all" its
neighbors, and that "nearly all" Kurds therefore recognize
that their best hope for sustained future prosperity is to
make the most of their inclusion within Iraq.

Opposition Views on KRG Politics:


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





10. (C) Nawsherwan Mustafa reiterated that Goran is in
agreement with the KDP and PUK on Kurdish equities on
national issues, and that Goran,s opposition point of view
focuses on issues of internal KRG governance and
administration. He said that even though there has been the
appearance of a PUK/KDP administration merge, in reality they
are still separate. Regarding even low-level government
jobs, the PUK still has a lock on those in Sulaimaniyah
province and the KDP on those in Erbil and Dohuk. Anyone who
is not a PUK/KDP supporter has no hope of working as a public
official, even as a public school principal. Nawsherwan
decried the lack of KRG budget transparency. He said that
both the KDP and PUK take $35 million each off the top of the
KRG general budget every month for their own private
purposes, including giving money to smaller parties to buy
their support. The KDP and PUK try hard to maintain a
coalition in the government to prevent criticism and minimize
questions about contents of the budget. Regarding recent
allegations of corruption facing Sulaimaniyah governor Dana
Majeed, Nawshirwan said that the governor would resign over
the mistrust created from the investigation, even though the
investigation did not find a smoking gun.



11. (C) Meetings with the leaders of the two main Islamic
parties confirmed that their outlooks are similar. Salahadin
Bahadin, leader of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU),
confirmed that his party would remain in opposition, even
though some central KIU figures had favored entering the
governing coalition. Ali Bapir, Amir of the Kurdistan
Islamic Group (KIG), had a list of criticisms for KDP/PUK
leadership including lack of budget transparency, arbitrary
arrests, lack of timely trials, and party membership
determining job opportunities. He said he had submitted a
list of conditions, focusing on anti-corruption and human
rights, for his party to join the government. Deputy
PM-designate Azad Barwary and Fuad Hussein later said that
Bapir had also asked for control of several municipalities, a
commitment that laws would not be in conflict with Sharia and
even separate schools for boys and girls. Fuad and Barwary
told us the KRG had rejected Bapir,s conditions and the KIG
would not be included in the government.

Ninewa:


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





12. (C) Nawsherwan Mustafa said that the Kurds need to work
to rebuild relationships with the Arab communities of Ninewa,
and was scathing in criticism of Kurdish (read: KDP) handling
of the situation in Ninewa since 2003. Similarly, Sa,dy
Pira, Head of Public Relations for the PUK, who assisted the
CPA in governing Mosul, said that he had repeatedly
recommended that the KDP change their representatives in
Ninewa, because the current KDP leadership is making things
worse. He specifically criticized Ninewa KDP Chief (and
former Ninewa Deputy Governor) Khasro Goran as mishandling
the situation, particularly in dealing with tribal leaders.
Salahadin Bahadin, Secretary of the Kurdistan Islamic Union
said that KDP leadership in Mosul was heavy-handed, adding
that breaking the law may work in the short term but not
forever. New PM Dr. Barham Salih, in a one-on-one discussion
Qforever. New PM Dr. Barham Salih, in a one-on-one discussion
with the Senior Advisor, similarly blamed Khasro Goran for
making the worst of an already tough political/ethnic
situation in the province. He underscored that Khasro is
unpopular even within the KDP, but President Barzani cannot
replace him while the Arab side--particularly Governor Atheel
al-Nujafi--maintains a maximalist anti-Kurdish posture across
the board. Masrur Barzani said that the current government
in Mosul is working with terrorists who are bringing foreign
fighters to Iraq through Syria. Masrur and Council of
Ministers Chief of Staff Nouri Sinjari said the hardline, and
supposedly Arab nationalist Nujafi brothers--governor Atheel
and COR member Osama--are not Arab at all, but Arabized
Turkomans whose grandfather wrote a letter in support of
Turkey retaining Mosul province in the 1920,s. More
recently, according to Masrur, the Nujafis made their their
family fortune as horse breeders for Uday and Qusay and
through other lucrative dealings with the Baath regime.
Regarding Shammar tribal confederation leader Sheikh Abdullah
al-Humeidi al-Yawar, Masrur acknowledged that he was not as
hardline as the Nujafis, but asserted that there are other,
more moderate Shammari sheiks that should be cultivated.

BAGHDAD 00002906 004 OF 005



Kirkuk:


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





13. (C) Several KRG officials derided Arab and Turkoman
accusations that Kurds from Turkey or Iran had moved to
Kirkuk, noting that the difference in dialects would make any
such people easily detectable. Intelligence Chief Masrur
Barzani said the KRG had difficulty encouraging even former
Kirkuki Kurds to return, because of the relatively better
conditions in the KR. Referring to Article 140, Peshmerga
Affairs Minister Sheikh Jafar stressed that if all parties
moved forward following the constitution, all difficulties
would be resolved, including the mosaic of security forces in
Kirkuk. He said that "the other side" claims that the
Asayeesh causes all the problems in Kirkuk. He proposed that
an investigation committee be formed to look into the truth
of these claims. He said that reconciliation could be
achieved with all parties at the table.



14. (C) Sheikh Jafar expressed concern about the proposal to
deploy the Iraqi Army to Hawija, especially under the
leadership of General Abdul Amir, who participated in the
Anfal campaign. Jafar suspected that if Abdul Amir deploys
his troops as far as Hawija, his real intent will be to enter
Kirkuk, and it will undermine the authority of the Iraqi
police inside the city. Sheikh Jafar acknowledged that Iraqi
PM Maliki has the constitutional right to deploy Iraqi forces
wherever he deems their presence necessary, but still
cautioned that any IA movements within Kirkuk Province,
either into Hawija, or more so into Kirkuk City, would
inescapably be destabilizing.



15. (C) Nawsherwan Mustafa proposed that Kirkuk have multiple
constituencies to allow citizens to choose the local
representative they want. Several KRG officials said that
the KRG is not trying to take control of Hawija sub-district
and that the Kurds would accept Hawija being attached to
Salah ad Din Province. Some made the case that the Arabs of
Hawija were imported from southern areas in the 1930s and
permitted by the Kurds to settle in the Hawija area, which
was at the time a grazing area for Kurdish livestock. Hence,
in this analysis, they are not "true" natives of Kirkuk and
in fact should/should be administered by a majority Arab
Province like Salah Ad Din. Speaking of the DIBs in general,
Nawsherwan admitted that the Kurds had made mistakes when
initially setting up administrative bodies in Ninewa, Kirkuk
and Diyala that repelled the Turkomen and Arab communities
rather than attracting them. He expressed some hope that the
hardened attitudes caused by Kurdish overreaching since 2003
could be undone in time, with the aid of the USG and the UN.

Turkey and Iran:


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





16. (C) Outgoing PM Nechirvan Barzani said that the KRG has
been careful to maintain a low profile in ongoing discussions
with Turkey from the Makhmour district of Ninewa. He added
that they have worked hard to build confidence and that the
KRG has bent over backwards to encourage Turkish firms to
come to the KRG. Nechirvan revealed that the KRG had been an
active but behind-the-scenes facilitator of the recent return
of PKK members to Turkey. He said that the KRG had been
communicating with the PKK on the issue, with Turkey,s full
knowledge. He said that the KRG talks not only with ruling
party officials but also with the Turkish intelligence
organization (MIT) and military officials. Further, he said
that in the past the Iranians have actively fed
misinformation about the Kurds to Turkey, but Turkey has now
stopped listening to them. The improved relationship between
Qstopped listening to them. The improved relationship between
the KRG and Turkey has made Iran unhappy. Sheikh Jafar
requested U.S. assistance in putting pressure on the Iranians
to cease shelling the border areas. KRG External Relations
Chief Falah Mustafa said that the KRG would like U.S. help to
bring them closer to Turkey. He expressed no optimism for
the improvement of relations with Iran in the near future.

Vision for the Future:


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





17. (C) Falah Mustafa said that Iraq needs a real national
reconciliation that includes everyone, where every group
believes that they can live together. He said that the Kurds
recognize that compromise is needed, but it should be
compromise and not surrender. He further said that the
majority should make assurances to the others that "this is
an Iraq for everyone." He said that the KRG wants people in
government who believe in 'Iraqiness' and are loyal to Iraq
rather than to Iran, Syria, and others. To help with
building trust he said that the KRG would like to host

BAGHDAD 00002906 005 OF 005


inter-ministerial meetings, training sessions, and
conferences to bring people to the Kurdistan Region.
Nechirvan Barzani complained that in Baghdad there is no
vision for the future. Describing a private sector
investment into power generation for the Kurdistan Region,
Nechirvan said that Baghdad was against the project from the
beginning telling the Kurds that they would fail. Nechirvan
said that the region has now gone from 3 hours to 22 hours of
electricity a day thanks to foreign private sector
investment. He added that they would like provincial
councils from all over Iraq to come to the Kurdistan Region
to see what is possible.



18. (C) COMMENT: Throughout a week of meetings in Erbil and
Sulaymaniyah, KRG officials presented a strikingly consistent
front concerning dealings with Baghdad and prospects for
reconciliation in the DIBs area. On the continuing impasse
over the election law, Kurdish leaders uniformly rejected any
"singling out" of Kirkuk. They were suspicious even of
Kirkuk-specific arrangements of a purely
administrative/technical nature as tantamount to imposition
of "special status"--an outcome which no one acknowledges as
desirable, and some describe as unacceptable. There is
positive movement on Peshmerga and Asayeesh integration and
modernization, but U.S. urging and assistance will be needed.



19. (C) COMMENT CONTINUED: Internally, the emergence of an
unprecedented level of domestic political opposition,
embodied in Change List, had altered the Kurdish domestic
equation in a way many find unsettling. In fact, the
weakening of the traditional two-party bedrock of Kurdish
politics may be a constraint on Kurdish leaders, perception
of their own room to maneuver on the election law and/or DIBs
issues. Aware as never before of a noncompliant opposition
looking for grounds to criticize them--and of a Kurdish
public opinion that will take such criticism seriously--KRG
officials will continue to need U.S. reassurance in
conjunction with any concession or compromise with what they
regard as an uncertain partner in Baghdad and an overtly
hostile Arab face across the DIBs line, particularly in
Kirkuk and Ninewa.
HILL