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WikiLeaks: Ninewa's Kurds and their Neighbors: Encroachment Issues

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 07:12 PM CT


Viewing cable 06MOSUL25, NINEWA'S KURDS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS: ENCROACHMENT ISSUES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSUL25 2006-03-04 17:24 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL REO Mosul

VZCZCXRO8028
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMOS #0025/01 0631724
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041724Z MAR 06
FM REO MOSUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0428
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHLU/AMEMBASSY LUANDA 0026
RUEHMOS/REO MOSUL 0446

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSUL 000025 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL:  3/4/2016 

TAGS: PREL PINS PINT PGOV PHUM IZ MARR

SUBJECT: NINEWA'S KURDS AND THEIR NEIGHBORS: ENCROACHMENT ISSUES 

MOSUL 00000025  001.2 OF 003 

CLASSIFIED BY: Cameron  Munter, PRT Leader, Provincial 
Reconstruction Team Ninewa, State. 

REASON: 1.4 (a), (b), (d) 


------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 

1.  (C) Anxieties are building between the Kurds and their 
neighbors in Ninewa.  Since taking control of the provincial 
government in January 2005, Kurdish political parties have 
spread their influence through many symbolic gestures in several 
strategic areas of the province.  From Sinjar in the west to 
Makhmour in the southeast, the proliferation of Kurdish 
political party offices, Asayesh (Kurdistan Regional Government 
"KRG" Intelligence) offices, Kurdish learning institutions, and 
KRG flags has gone on virtually unobstructed and to the 
consternation of many of their non-Kurdish neighbors.  End 
Summary. 

2.  (SBU) PRT Poloff met with Ninewa Education Director General 
(DG) Saeed Hamid Al-Haj Saeed in Mosul on February 25; with 
Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) Ninewa Director Edmon Yohanna 
in Mosul on February 20; with Shabek Democratic Assembly (SDA) 
Spokesman Yousef Muharam on February 20; with Iraqi Islamic 
Party (IIP) Public Affairs Director Younis Hashim on February 
19; with Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) Ninewa Director Sabbah 
Baberi on February 2; and with Patriotic Union of Kurdistan 
(PUK) Deputy Director Abdelbari Al-Zebari on January 29. 

 
------------------------------------ 
KURDISH FLAGS BELOW THE GREEN LINE 
------------------------------------ 
 
3.  (C) The site of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) flags in 
Ninewa has caused a considerable amount of consternation among 
minorities and Arabs.  Over the past year, the PRT has received 
numerous reports from political parties, NGOs, and individuals 
about encroachment issues.  Complaints ranged from KRG flags 
being flown on police and military checkpoints, public schools 
and local government offices, to the increase in Asayesh (KRG 
Intelligence) offices popping up in villages.  KRG flags can be 
seen almost everywhere in eastern and northern Ninewa, well 
below the "Green Line" that separates Iraqi Kurdistan from the 
rest of the country.  [COMMENT: The PRT has confirmed many of 
these reports first hand on visits to outlying villages, and via 
photographic evidence from contacts.  In Telkaif, a 
predominantly Assyrian village just north of Mosul, for example, 
a large public water tank has the KRG flag prominently displaced 
on its face].  Many non-Kurds and Kurds alike consider this an 
issue of grave importance.  Calling it "Kurd aggression," Hashim 
of IIP said it was the "greatest problem" facing Ninewa today. 
Deputy PUK director Al-Zebari fingered the KDP as the main 
culprit, and accused the KDP of employing "unnecessary 
heavy-handed tactics to exert influence" over the province. 
Ninewa KIU director Baberi called the visibility of KRG flags 
and the public display of (KRG President and KDP leader Masoud) 
Barzani's photos as part of the "Barzani cult of personality." 
Hashim said the presence of Barzani photos demonstrated that 
"the KDP" had "replaced Saddam Hussein with Masoud Barzani." 

 
4.  (C) Several non-Kurdish contacts have repeatedly complained 
to the PRT about the legality of issue, since the KRG does not 
have administrative authority over Ninewa.  However, many have 
said they refused to raise this with the provincial government 
or the KDP.  Hashim said that IIP feared broaching the topic 
with the Kurds, especially the KDP, because he claimed they had 
"finally made progress" in relations between their respective 
parties.  Hashim in turn blamed the USG and Coalition Forces 
(CF) for "allowing Kurds" to fly the flags.  He suggested 
therefore that CF Stryker brigades physically "tear down" the 
flags instead, so as not to put the IIP or other groups in an 
awkward position.  [COMMENT: The PRT has been working with 
political parties and NGOs to have them address complaints 
directly with the local government.  On February 28, the PRT 
received calls from SDA members that the KDP had raised a KRG 
flag over the men's wing of the Bazwaya Clinic in Bazwaya 
village in eastern Ninewa.  The KDP allegedly refurbished the 
building to serve as a local headquarters.  After connecting SDA 
with officials in the Iraqi Police (IP) and Provincial Joint 
Communication Center (PJCC), the flag was taken down later that 
evening.  Afterwards, SDA reps said that based on the IP's 
response to the issue they were now more comfortable contacting 
the IP for assistance in the future, rather than just the PRT]. 

 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
INCREASED PRESENCE OF KDP OFFICES IN MINORITY VILLAGES 

MOSUL 00000025  002.2 OF 003 
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5.  (C) SDA Muharam said the Kurds, specifically the KDP, were 
behind a concerted effort to "control minorities," especially 
Shabek, whom he claimed, the KDP considered "Kurds."  Muharam 
said, for example, that the KDP has been building numerous 
recruiting offices in minority villages in Ninewa.  He claimed 
the impetus behind the increased number of offices was for KDP 
to "have a presence" in villages where they did not perform well 
during the national election.  The problem, according to 
Muharam, was that the offices were built in residential and not 
commercial neighborhoods.  He claimed this was causing many 
Shabek to become angry and uncomfortable, especially women, who 
believed they were being watched in their homes by the KDP.  ADM 
director Yohanna said society in Ninewa was becoming 
increasingly polarized between the Kurds and Arabs.  He claimed 
Peshmerga forces had contributed to tensions, and accused them 
of trying to "claim eastern and northern Ninewa for the KRG." 
He said that as a result Arabs have begun to consider minorities 
"Kurds" and have retaliated against them. 

 
-------------------------------- 
PROLIFERATION OF KURDISH SCHOOLS 
-------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Since the fall of the regime there has been a concerted 
effort by the Kurds to build Kurdish schools in Ninewa.  The 
issue has served as another point of contention in the 
provincial council amongst the majority Kurds and the GOI's 
Education DG, Saeed, a Sunni Arab.  Saeed credited himself for 
successfully presiding over 1,700 schools, 30,000 staff and 
600,000 students in the province.  However, Saeed was recently 
removed by the provincial council at the end of February.  He 
said he believed his sacking was done to open the way for the 
unimpeded construction of more schools under the auspices of the 
KRG.  Saeed said he fought against the provincial council over 
the issue for the past year.  He accused the provincial 
government of overstepping its authority by allowing the KRG 
Ministry of Education to build Kurdish schools outside of their 
jurisdiction and without his approval.  "The Green Line does not 
run through Ninewa," said Saeed, and therefore the KRG had "no 
authority to operate schools in the province." 
 

7.  (C) Vice Governor Goran on the other hand, said he believed 
that Kurds had a right to open the schools.  He said that the 
KRG had in fact built about 250 schools, mostly in Sinjar, 
Telkaif, and Ain Sifne.  He said the schools were created to 
allow Kurdish youth the opportunity to learn about their culture 
and language.  He said the schools, opened to both Kurds and 
Arabs, had complied with GOI requirements and that the 
curriculum included training in Arabic and Kurdish (a claim 
disputed by Saeed).  Goran said no one was forced to attend the 
schools, and that the provincial government had received 
positive feedback from Arab students and parents.  He said 
resistance to the schools came from "racists" and "nationalist 
Arabs."  During a provincial council meeting on March 1, Goran 
suggested that Ninewa have two Education DGs (one from the GOI 
and the other from the KRG).  Saeed said he spoke directly to 
the GOI Minister of Education, Abdel Falah Hassan, about the 
issue.  He said the Minister, with the support of labor and 
teachers unions in Baghdad, was planning to give Saeed a 
six-month extension.  Saeed said he believed the extension was 
granted in the hope that he might be retained after provincial 
elections were held later this year, and the Kurds "lose control 
of the provincial government." 
 

--------------------------------------------- --------- 
PROVINCIAL ELECTION STRATEGY AGAINST KURDISH DOMINANCE 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 

8.  (C) Muharam said SDA has been working with major Shia and 
Sunni parties in Ninewa to build a coalition to "take control" 
of the provincial government.  He said the move was necessary to 
"protect the voices" of non-Kurds, whom he believed were unable 
to speak out for fear from reprisal.  He claimed, for example, 
that SDA leader and national assemblyman Dr. Haneen Al Qaddo 
received numerous threats from Peshmerga and Asayesh for 
speaking his mind when he was a member of the provincial 
council.  Muharam said the poor performance of the provincial 
government was another reason for outside groups to band 
together.  He also said security issues and the lack of basic 
services could be attributed to Kurdish inaction and inability 
to lead. 
 

------- 
COMMENT 
------- 

MOSUL 00000025  003.2 OF 003 

9.  (C) While tensions are high between Sunnis and Shias in 
central and southern Iraq, a less visible but significant 
anxiety has been rising among the Kurds and their non-Kurdish 
neighbors in Ninewa.  There are numerous theories to explain 
Kurdish actions in Ninewa.  Many speculate that the presence of 
Kurdish military units, schools, flags, and Asayesh offices have 
all been part of a concerted effort by the KRG to control many 
strategic areas of the province for a future "Kurdistani state." 
 Others claim that KRG control of parts of Ninewa could be used 
down the road as bargaining chips once Article 58 and the 
"Kirkuk" issue was finally settled, where the Kurds could 
"exchange" pieces of Ninewa for more of Kirkuk.  What seems 
undeniable, however, is how such actions highlight the very 
powerful symbolic nature of Kurdish presence in the area, which 
has done nothing more than increase concern among some groups. 
On the other hand, the PRT has met with non-Kurdish mayors and 
district governments that have praised the KRG for its 
assistance, given the low-level of support many have received 
from the Ninewa provincial government.  It is uncertain, 
however, how willingly the Kurds would retreat and remove 
Kurdish articles of symbolism if they were to lose control of 
the provincial government.  What is clear is this: The current 
Kurdish-led leadership of Ninewa has no stake in early 
provincial elections, where this pent-up concern of non-Kurds 
could sweep them from office. 

MUNTER

 


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