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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BAGHDAD3340 2009-12-27 12:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

PM ADVISOR ON PRESIDENCY COUNCIL, IHEC, ADDITIONAL

Tags:   PREL PGOV KDEM UNSC KJUS IZ SY 
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VZCZCXRO5867
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3340/01 3611244
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271244Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5902
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003340 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV KDEM UNSC KJUS IZ SY
SUBJECT: PM ADVISOR ON PRESIDENCY COUNCIL, IHEC, ADDITIONAL
PROTOCOL, AND AMCIT CIVIL CLAIMS

REF: A. BAGHDAD 3311

B. STATE 105413

Classified By: A/DCM Gary A. Grappo, for reasons 1.4 b and d.



1. (C) SUMMARY: PM Advisor Sadiq Rikabi told A/DCM December
21 that according to the Iraqi constitution, the Presidency
Council would expire with the current government and that any
constitutional fix to extend it would be extremely difficult.
He expressed uncertainty about whether the President, under
the constitution, would continue to wield a veto. Rikabi
expressed doubt that the recent killing of an IHEC employee
was related to his work on elections. The PM Advisor
reported that Iraq's Additional Protocol to its IAEA
safeguards agreement had gone through two readings in the
Council of Representatives (COR) and that further action was
up to the Speaker. Regarding Saddam-era Amcit civil claims,
Rikabi reiterated a demand he made with NEA A/S Feltman and
previously, asking the Embassy to provide "the principles"
that the USG had used in putting together the settlement
offer of $650 million. He insisted that such information
would be critical in obtaining COR approval and deflecting
its inevitable criticisms. END SUMMARY.

PRESIDENCY COUNCIL SEEN TO DISAPPEAR


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





2. (C) In a December 21 meeting with A/DCM, PM Advisor Sadiq
Rikabi shared his views on the powers of the Presidency once
the current term of the Council of Representatives (COR)
expires and a new government is formed. In Rikabi's reading
of the Iraqi Constitution, the Presidency Council goes away,
replaced by a single President. He termed this a positive
development. On a related note, he expressed uncertainty
about whether the President would continue to wield a veto.
Rikabi took down an Arabic language version of the
Constitution and pointed to Article 73, para. 3, to observe
that the President would have the power to "approve"
("ratify" in the official English translation) and "issue the
laws enacted by the Council of Representatives." (NOTE:
There appear to be differing interpretations of Constitution
Article 73 and the future of veto authority, among contacts
across the political spectrum. Septel forthcoming. END
NOTE.) Rikabi criticized the manner in which the three
current members of the Presidency Council are allowed to
individually exercise the veto, insisting that Article 138 of
the Constitution, if properly understood, only allowed the
veto to be exercised if all three members of the Presidency
Council were in agreement. In Rikabi's view, Vice
President's Hashemi's recent veto of the election law was
unconstitutional.



3. (C) When asked if it would be possible to amend the
Constitution to extend the life of the Presidency Council,
given the uncertainty about the future existence of the veto
for a single president and the problems for coalition
building that the loss of two key vice-presidential posts
might entail, Rikabi responded that such an amendment was "a
practical impossibility." In his view, it would be
impossible to obtain the constitutionally required majority
approval in the COR and approval in a referendum by a
majority of voters (where two-thirds opposition by voters in
three provinces would defeat it). (COMMENT: Given that the
Kurds and Sunnis are likely supportive of such an amendment,
Rikabi seemed to be intimating with this argument and his
criticism of the Presidency Council in general, that Shia
politicians and voters would not look favorably on extending
this powerful check on majority-rule government. END
COMMENT.)
QCOMMENT.)

IHEC'S TRAVAILS


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





4. (C) Responding to reports that a mid-level employee of
the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) had been
assassinated and family members of two other employees had
been kidnapped, Rikabi said it was very important to find out
the facts in each case before jumping to the conclusion that
such crimes were attempts to intimidate IHEC. He
acknowledged that IHEC employees were feeling threatened, but
described the circumstances surrounding the recent crimes as
ambiguous and in his view more likely related to a series of
unrelated common crimes. (COMMENT: Facts surrounding the
murder are still unclear but it now appears that the
kidnappings were unrelated to the IHEC employees' status.
END COMMENT.) Rikabi criticized senior IHEC officials for
"releasing" such information and commenting on the incidents
in a way that exacerbated these fears. Responding to A/DCM's
description of the IHEC employees' demand that they be given
civil service status (which would provide them with more
protections and benefits if they suffered harm because of
their work), Rikabi said such action by the COR would be

BAGHDAD 00003340 002 OF 002


difficult at the current time. He took on board A/DCM's
suggestion that it might be easier to amend their current
at-will contracts to include, for example, a
civil-service-equivalent death benefit, one of the
protections IHEC personnel were seeking.

THE ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL AND COR ACTION


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





5. (C) Rikabi told A/DCM that the Maliki government had done
its job in moving the Additional Protocol (AP) to the COR
some months ago. Based on his conversation with Badr bloc
leader and COR Security and Technical Committee Chair Hadi
al-Ameri, he thought the AP had gone through two readings at
the COR, although he admitted that he was unsure if al-Ameri
was correct. Rikabi rejected criticism by Speaker Sammarra'i
-- reported by A/DCM -- that the Maliki government had not
done enough to highlight the importance of COR action on the
AP. "This is Sammarra'i's job, he knows it's important, "
said Rikabi, noting that the Maliki government had done its
part when the Council of Ministers had referred the AP to the
COR for ratification. He indicated that further pressing by
the government on the COR could be counterproductive, hinting
that there was latent resistance to giving the Maliki
government "a political victory" it could claim credit for in
the run-up to elections.

SADDAM-ERA CIVIL CLAIMS


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





6. (C) Regarding Saddam-era Amcit civil claims, the PM's
advisor reiterated a demand he made with A/S Feltman (ref A)
and previously, asking the Embassy to provide "the
principles" that the USG had used in putting together the
settlement offer of $650 million (ref B). Rikabi rejected
A/DCM's points that there was no set formula and that the
figure resulted from a range of factors, including the
demands from plaintiffs' attorneys. According to Rikabi, the
key issue on the Iraqi side is the need for COR approval of
the settlement. In his view, there will be intense criticism
from the COR for such a large settlement, given the disparity
between what the American victims would receive and what
Iraqi victims' families had received when their loved ones
had been killed by the American side: "Five to ten thousand
dollars" in the case of Iraqi fatalities versus "millions"
for Amcits who had been held hostage for "a short period,"
claimed Rikabi. He insisted that a fuller explanation of the
principles or elements that had helped shape the settlement
offer would help GOI officials defend the settlement. Said
Rikabi, "I will never go to the COR to defend such an
agreement" without a better explanation of what the money is
for. A/DCM responded firmly that such an explanation from
the USG or the plaintiffs' attorneys would not be
forthcoming. He urged the GOI to establish its own
principles to shape the counter-offer, which the USG would
certainly review carefully. Rikabi pressed once more,
insisting that in civil lawsuits, plaintiffs' attorneys had
to provide an explanation to the court for the damages
claimed and harm suffered.



7. (C) Rikabi also noted that the COR would attack the
settlement because it was not comprehensive, since it did not
include the 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing cases. A/DCM
pointed out that in the Oklahoma case, is well on its way to
dismissal. He urged the GOI to get in contact with its
lawyer in New York regarding the 9/11 cases, to urge a
stronger effort. A/DCM made the point that the settlement
offer had not included the cost of settling these two sets of
cases because the State Department believes it is in the
Qcases because the State Department believes it is in the
GOI's interest to litigate those cases in court, a view borne
out by the recent success in the Oklahoma case, where
plaintiffs have not opposed the GOI motion to dismiss.


FORD