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WikiLeaks: 2003-03-07: 03ANKARA1483: Northern Iraq: PUK "PM" Barham Salih on Turkish Intervention/Multi-Party Talks, Unification with KDP, Kirkuk, and Badr Corps presence in Northern Iraq

Posted: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 10:44 AM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
03ANKARA1483 2003-03-07 16:26 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Ankara
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001483 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/06/2013 
REF: A. ANKARA 1391 
     B. ANKARA 1374 
     C. ANKARA 1360 
Classified by Political-Military Affairs Counselor Stuart 
Brown.  Reasons 1.5 b and d. 
1. (S/NF) Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) "Prime Minister" 
Barham Salih met with Operation Northern Watch POLAD March 7 
in Ankara.  Salih planned to raise with Turkish MFA and 
military officials later in the day what he characterized as 
the strong, grass-roots objections of the vast majority of 
northern Iraq's people to any Turkish intervention there, and 
to note that Turkey was, by planning a cross-border move and 
discussing it in public, making Kurdistan Democratic Party 
(KDP) leader Masoud Barzani a local hero.  Salih also planned 
to tell the Turks that Turkey's humanitarian assistance plan 
needed to be coordinated and shared with the KDP and PUK, who 
administer the area, in order to harmonize efforts, avoid 
duplication and waste resources, and to avoid 
misunderstandings.  So far, he told us, no such effort has 
been made.  When we asked him if there were plans for 
follow-up to the TGS-KDP-PUK-Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) 
meeting on military planning that took place Feb. 17 in 
Silopi, Turkey, Salih said the Iraqi Kurds would only agree 
if the USG sent a representative to the next round.  On 
Kirkuk, Salih said that the PUK could prevent displaced Kurds 
from rushing back to Kirkuk if Washington made a public 
commitment to the return of all the displaced through a 
legal, political process.  Salih briefed us on his detailed 
proposal to unify KDP and PUK administrations now being 
considered by the KDP.  End summary. 
Ideally, Zero Turkish Troops 
2. (S/NF) In Ankara for talks with Turkish MFA and military 
officials, PUK "PM" Salih met with ONW POLAD March 7.  Salih 
said he would leave Turkey for Washington March 8 and that he 
would be in Washington for a week, and asked for assistance 
in getting as many appointments in Washington as possible. 
We asked Salih how he would like to see Turkish involvement 
in northern Iraq during possible US military operations. 
Salih replied, "Ideally, there would be zero Turkish military 
involvement.  If push comes to shove and the coalition needs 
Turkey to be involved, we will need assurances that our 
political rights will be protected, that Turkey will not get 
involved in Iraqi Kurd-Turkoman politics, and that we will 
have the right to tell the Turks to go home.  We will need to 
have clearly defined and agreed to Turkey's mission, rules of 
engagement and depth of presence." 
--------------------------------------------- - 
Military and Humanitarian Coordination Lacking 
--------------------------------------------- - 
3. (S/NF) We asked Salih if there were plans for another 
round of Turkey-KDP/PUK-ITF military talks to follow up the 
Feb. 17 Silopi meeting.  Salih said the Iraqi Kurds were only 
interested in such a meeting if the US were represented as 
well.  He said the US needed to tell the Turks and the Iraqi 
Kurds at the same time "the way it was going to be."  He 
noted that Turkey still had not shared with the KDP or PUK 
Turkish plans for humanitarian assistance, which Turkey 
claimed was why its troops needed to cross the border.  Salih 
planned to say to the Turks that such plans must be shared 
and harmonized with KDP and PUK humanitarian assistance plans 
to maximize effectiveness, minimize waste and duplication and 
avoid misunderstandings.  He said this was not a political 
matter, but one of common sense and careful use of limited 
Turkey Making Barzani a Hero 
4. (S/NF) Salih, who met with KDP leader Masoud Barzani March 
5, said he had never seen Barzani so angry, emotional and 
irreconcilable about anything as he was about the prospect of 
Turkish military intervention.  Salih told us he could not 
overstate the depth of anger among the people - not just the 
politically involved - in northern Iraq toward Turkey, and 
that Barzani was dangerously playing on that anger.  Salih 
planned to tell the Turks that they were making Masoud 
Barzani a local hero by threatening military intervention in 
northern Iraq.  Salih believed there was potential for a "war 
within a war" between the Iraqi Kurds and the Turks.  Such a 
situation, he said, would help Iran, and the Iranians would 
play that card to complicate things for the US.  He suspected 
the recent movement of SCIRI's Badr Brigade forces into 
northern Iraq may have been designed in part by Iran to draw 
in the Turks. 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
Badr Brigade: Iranian Surrogate or Opposition Fighters? 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
5. (S/NF) Turning to the Badr Brigade presence, Salih 
confirmed that approximately 1,000 troops were now located 
near Darbandikan in northern Iraq.  They were there, he said, 
under the terms of a 1996 SCIRI-PUK agreement to coordinate 
military activity against Saddam Hussein.  When we asked what 
he thought their motivation was for deploying into northern 
Iraq, he replied, "everyone wants a piece of the pie."  Salih 
said the PUK leadership was split on whether they represented 
an Iranian surrogate or a legitimate Iraqi opposition force, 
but the PUK's hand against Iran was too weak to resist them, 
given the 1996 agreement.  Salih said he expected the Badr 
troops to cooperate against Saddam during the fight, be a 
possible source of pro-Iranian trouble-making during the 
transition period, but to assume a legitimate Iraqi role in 
post-Saddam Iraq. 
Need US Commitment on Returnees to Kirkuk 
6. (S/NF) When we asked Salih if he thought the PUK could 
ensure that displaced Kurds would not storm back to Kirkuk as 
soon as it was liberated (which could trigger a major 
complicating Turkish response), Salih said that to do so, the 
PUK would need a public statement from the US guaranteeing a 
political/legal process of restitution and repatriation that 
committed to getting people back to their original homes. 
KDP-PUK Unification Plans 
7. (S/NF) We asked Salih for details on Ref A plans to unify 
KDP and PUK administrations and peshmerga forces.  Salih said 
that for now, the two parties have agreed to have a joint 
political-military committee comprised of Masoud Barzani and 
Jalal Talabani plus four reps from each side.  The PUK reps 
will be Salih, Khosrat Rasul Ali, Dr. Fuad Masoum, and 
Nushirwan Mustafa.  Salih did not know who the KDP would 
propose for their reps.  Salih said he had sent a letter to 
Masoud Barzani proposing the following unification plan: The 
administration would have a single "PM" (the KDP had the 
option of deciding who that would be); a unified cabinet 
including at least one Arab minister; two "Deputy PM's" - one 
Turkoman and one Assyrian (with the ITF to be given first 
chance at the Turkoman slot - if they refuse, the slot would 
be offered to another Turkoman); and ministries and 
subordinate offices would be integrated slowly, one at a 
time.  Salih's plan keeps regional finances separate until 
resolution of differences over revenue-sharing can be 
8. (S/NF) Salih argued that rapid implementation of this plan 
would allow the KDP and PUK to consolidate their position and 
place them in a powerful spot to advocate federalism, 
including their areas as one geographic federal unit in the 
post-Saddam environment.  Masoud Barzani told Salih that the 
two sides needed to sit down and discuss the proposal, and 
Salih believed Barzani was unenthusiastic, in part because he 
is riding on a ground-swell of popularity for opposing 
Turkey.  Salih said KDP "PM" Nechirvan Barzani was unhappy 
with offering a "Deputy PM" slot to the ITF.  Still, Salih 
said, unification could move quickly if it were pushed. 
A US-KDP-PKK Plot Against the PUK? 
9. (S/NF) Salih told us that a few days ago the local Turkish 
liaison in Sulaymaniyah had come to him and suggested that 
the US, the KDP and the PKK/KADEK were working together on a 
secret plan to marginalize the PUK.  We assured him this was 
not true.  He said he knew it was not, but wondered what the 
Turks were up to in suggesting it.  Finally, he offered the 
comment that if the Turks thought ITF Chairman Sanan Aga was 
the man to protect Turkey's interests, the Turks were sorely 


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