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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BAGHDAD380 2009-02-13 12:06:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

THE AMBASSADOR'S FAREWELL CALLS ON KEY SHI'A

Tags:   PGOV KDEM KISL IZ 
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VZCZCXRO1491
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0380 0441206
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 131206Z FEB 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1699
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000380 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/12/2019
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KISL IZ
SUBJECT: THE AMBASSADOR'S FAREWELL CALLS ON KEY SHI'A
LEADERS ABDELAZIZ AND AMMAR AL HAKIM

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



1. (C) Summary: In farewell calls on Abdelaziz Al-Hakim,
President of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) and
Ammar al-Hakim, his son and likely successor, each admitted
they had been caught by surprise by ISCI's anemic performance
in the January 31 provincial elections. Allowing that ISCI
would take away valuable lessons from the latest polls, the
Hakims also complained of fierce campaigns against ISCI in
the media, alleging that USG-funded Al-Hurra Iraq TV was
among the stations that had unfairly attacked them. The
Hakims reemphasized their commitment to maintaining open
channels and cooperation between ISCI and the USG. End
summary.


2. (C) In separate farewell calls with Ammar al-Hakim on
February 9 and his father Abdelaziz al-Hakim on February 12,
each admitted to the Ambassador that ISCI was caught off
guard by its relatively weak performance in the January 31
provincial elections. (Abdelaziz al-Hakim, ISCI's President,
appeared tired and frail, having just returned from Tehran,
where he is undergoing a course of chemotherapy for his
cancer. Ammar, who is being groomed to replace his father,
has had an increasingly high public profile and stood in for
his father for much of the recent campaigning.)


3. (C) Of the two, Ammar was more circumspect about the
elections results, allowing that ISCI had made some mistakes
and was busy drawing lessons from the January 31 polls.
Ammar also complained, vaguely, that the Iraqi High Electoral
Commission had been biased and taken decisions in favor of
ISCI's chief competitors, PM Maliki's State of Law list.
Ammar also told the Ambassador that ISCI had been
disappointed to see strongly biased coverage and attacks
against the group on Al-Hurra Iraq TV, the USG-funded station
popular in Iraq for its news coverage. Abdelaziz was more
blunt: "We are surprised by the USG's media position," he
told the Ambassador. President Bush told us he respected the
role of people of faith in public life, and now we see
Al-Hurra attacking Islamists in general and ISCI in
particular.


4. (C) The Ambassador responded that all of Iraq's major
political movements, save the Sadrists (who don't talk to us)
had complained of Al-Hurra's coverage. The Ambassador also
underlined that the USG, though it does subsidize Al-Hurra,
does not play any role in the station's editorial decisions.


5. (C) Abdelaziz asked the Ambassador for his assessment of
the direction of U.S.-Iraqi relations under the Obama
administration. The Ambassador expressed his full confidence
that the bedrock principles of partnership would remain
solid. Pointing to President Obama's recent appearance on
Al-Arabiya TV, the Ambassador said it was clear that the new
administration was committed to deepening ties and
understanding between the U.S. and the Islamic world.


6. (C) The Ambassador said that while he was sad to be
leaving Iraq, he was leaving optimistic about Iraq's future.
Both Hakims thanked the Ambassador for his commitment to
Iraq, wished him well, and hoped that he would remain engaged
in U.S.-Iraqi relations. "Your departure is your good luck
and our bad luck," quipped Ammar. The Ambassador praised
ISCI's steadfast opposition to violence and commitment to
playing a constructive role in Iraq's democratic development.
Abdelaziz said ISCI would remain committed to democratic
principles, and hoped to see "full implementation of the
Constitution" in the coming period.
CROCKER