WikiLeaks: 2005-02-17: 05AMMAN1357: Iraqi Political Figures Seek Common Ground on Constitution-Drafting
Viewing cable 05AMMAN1357, IRAQI POLITICAL FIGURES SEEK COMMON GROUND ON
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 001357 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2015 TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID PINR IZ JO SUBJECT: IRAQI POLITICAL FIGURES SEEK COMMON GROUND ON CONSTITUTION-DRAFTING Classified By: ACTING DCM CHRISTOPHER HENZEL, REASONS: 1.4 (B &D) Summary ------- ¶1. (C) A two-day, U.S. NGO-sponsored "Iraq Constitution Roundtable" was held at an Amman-area hotel on February 14-15. Twenty-one Iraqis representing most strands of Iraqi political opinion attended the conference, which focused almost entirely on discussion of modalities for drafting Iraq's new Constitution. Despite sometimes heated discussion, Iraqi and NGO sources unanimously praised the event as a valuable opportunity to exchange views and "meet each other face-to-face." The conference approved a set of informal recommendations on the structure and duties of the future Constitutional Drafting Committee; these included authorization by the National Assembly of a Drafting Committee representative of Iraqi society, and the inclusion of both Assembly members and non-members. During a side-discussion at the final dinner, Ibrahim al-Jafari advisor Abdul Amir asked Emboff for help in contacting prominent Amman-based Sunnis, stressed the "differences" between Jafarri and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and said that (presumed) incoming Prime Minister Jafari will need extensive USG political and economic aassistance over the months to come. End Summary. Lively Meeting at the Dead Sea ------------------------------ ¶2. (C) The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) and the American Bar Association (ABA) jointly sponsored an Iraq Constitution roundtable in Jordan February 14-15. The roundtable included 21 Iraqis, as well as several UN officials, a National Democratic Institute (NDI) observer, and USIP/ABA staff. The Iraqi contingent included figures from several parties and factions within Iraq, including prominent advisors to Sistani and Jaffari, six newly-elected National Assembly members, legal experts who are possible members of the Constitution drafting committee, Sunni &boycotters,8 and politically-active representatives of the Kurdish, Turkomen, and Assyrian minorities. The Dawa party, Allawi, and Pachachi groupings each sent two or more representatives, other groups (including SCIRI and the Islamic Party) sent one (see paragraph #13 for a complete list of Iraqi attendees). While not included in the roundtable per se, emboff was invited by the organizers to the final dinner, and used the opportunity to garner reactions to the event and hearattendees' views on political development in Iraq. ¶3. (C) The two-day agenda was designed by USIP/ABA to focus on Constitution drafting procedures only, and we understand that ABA facilitators intervened at points when discussion threatened to shift to the acceptability to Arabs of a Kurdish president and similar substantive issues. Both attendees and organizing staff told us that they found most of the (sometimes heated) discussions extremely useful. ¶4. (C) We also heard that there was extensive give-and-take at the conference on issues relating to the role of the National Assembly vis a vis the constitutional drafting commission. For example, we were told, some Sh,ite attendees argued that the constitutional drafting commission should be made up largely or completely of National Assembly members, to which some Sunni participants riposted by denying any relationship between the two bodies, and warning that it would usurp the rights of Sunnis rights if Assembly is the only source of commision members. The conclusion of this encounter was a consensus that the National Assembly has a role in authorizing the Drafting Committee, but that its actual composition should be a broad-based &hybrid8 of Assembly members and non-members that is recognizably representative of Iraqi society as a whole (see para #12). We also understand that there was some emotional discussion cutting across factional groups over what kind of international advice on constitution-drafting - if any - should be accepted. Several Iraqi attendees reportedly argued for rejecting such assistance, or limiting it to responses to requests for specific comparative information that may emerge from the drafting commission. Approach from Dawa ------------------ ¶5. (C) During our informal conversations with Iraqi attendees at and after the final dinner we were approached with requests by several Iraqis and picked up a mosaic of private views and vignettes. For example, Dr. Abdul Amir Al-Zahid Salih, reportedly advisor to Vice-President Jafari, asked for a side meeting during which he energetically requested emboff's help in putting him into contact with prominent Sunni figures currently in Amman. In this context he stated that Dr. Jafari is notionally willing to personally contact prominent Sunnis and invite them to join and/or identify nominees for the constitutional drafting commission. ¶6. Dr. Abdul also asserted that Jaffari (whom he said will be the next PM) is eager to encourage and facilitate constructive private investment projects in Iraq that might be undertaken by Iraqi entrepreneurs. We told him we are encouraging active political participation by these Sunnis and will be happy to facilitate Dawa and other party contacts with them through Embassy Baghdad, but warned him that while desirous of entering the political process, these Sunnis have many suspicions and political challenges that will need to be addressed. (Comment: Some of our Sunni political contacts here routinely characterize Dr. Jafari as an &Iranian agent,8 citing "inside information" from current Defense Minister and Yawwar list member Sha'alan. Nonetheless, we believe some prominent Amman Sunnis may be willing to give Jafari and Dawa a hearing. End Comment.) Jafari Wants Our Help ---------------------- ¶7. (C) During this side chat Dr. Abdul also stressed that Dr. Jaffari is very different from SCIRI leader Hakim, in that Jaffari is pro-growth, pro-modernization, and &pro-American.8 He added that Dr. Jafari (unlike Hakim) left Iran because he didn,t agree with its system. In this context, he asked that the USG support Dr. Jaffari and specifically help him in providing and upgrading basic utilities and services, without which maintenance of stability in Iraq in coming months may be difficult. We assured Dr. Abdul that the USG looks forward to working closely and constructively with whomever the Iraqis choose to be the next Prime Minister. Iraqi Secularists: Cognitive Dissonance? ---------------------------------------- ¶8. (C) Our dinner companions included successful Allawi list candidate (and secular Sh,ia) Rajaa Habib al-Khuzai; current Minister of Women,s Affairs Narmin Othman; and Legal Advisor to the Ministry, Faiza Babakhan (both Kurds). Al-Khuzai, the leading woman on Allawi,s list, expressed general optimism abou the future and related several instances of Allawi,s efforts since the election to promote reconciliation among political groups. For example, she said that she was present at an &outreach8 meeting in Allawis office the day after the election that included Dr. Jaffari, leaders from the Islamic Party, Adnan Pachachi, and other prominent Sunnis "including several boycotters.8 She related that the next day Allawi had lunch with Sunni rejectionist figure Harith al-Dhari and two Dawa representatives. Al-Khuzai regretted Sunni non-participation in the election, but underlined that, despite having &every advantage,8 the Sistani list was unable to obtain even 50 percent of the vote. ¶9. (C) In seeming contradiction to her otherwise upbeat outlook, al-Khuzai confidently asserted that the Sistani list is led by &people who will work for Iran because they love Iran more than Iraq8 and claimed that Iran had spent $700 million on the election and sent about 500,000 Iranians to vote in it. The listening Kurdish women said nothing but nodded at al-Khuzai,s remarks. Al Khuzai then asserted as something sinister that in addition to the PM position, the Sistani list is requesting the Ministries of Health, Education, Youth, and Women,s Affairs. Alleging that the Sistani group is &too clever8 to get bogged down in the security, trade, or services Ministries, she argued that this (alleged) request reveals that their &true8 goal is social control. At the same time, al-Khuzai confidently predicted that the Dawa and SCIRI factions will soon become absorbed in their own mutual power struggle. Request for Help on Federalism Issues ------------------------------------- ¶10. (C) We were also approached by head of the &Iraq Constitution Society8 Mo,amer al Kubaisi. We understand that Al Kubaisi is a prominent jurist and Pachaci associate who participated in the writing of the TAL and is a member of a well-known al-Anbar family. ABA organizers described him as a probable &Constitution-drafter.8 Al-Kubaisi noted that the Federalism issues will play a prominent role in the upcoming Constitutional discussions, and asked for help in accessing U.S. and other relevant foreign legal theory and history relating to this topic. Constitution Roundtable: Closing Recommendations --------------------------------------------- --- ¶11. (C) The ABA staff (protect) has provided us with their unofficial internal summary of the two-day event and including the &closing recommendations8 approved by the Iraqi attendees. We will forward the complete text by email to Embassy Baghdad and NEA/I; key points are summarized in para #12 below. ¶12. (C) According to the summary, the Iraqis agreed that the Constitution-making process should be open, transparent, and inclusive; that the National Assembly should appoint a constitutional drafting commission to include Assembly members representing its various political factions &as well as members of civil society and from those constituencies not represented in the National Assembly.8 Pursuant to this, the &closing recommendations8 text provided by ABA states that the task of the constitutional drafting commission should be to: -- Conduct a widespread public education program on the constitutional process; -- Broadly consult the Iraqi public to solicit their views and suggestions; -- Receive drafts of the Constitution or relevant papers submitted by any individual or organization; -- Prepare a consolidated draft of the Constitution for consideration by the National Assembly; and -- Following adoption of a draft by the National Assembly, conduct a program of public education so that the Iraqi people can understand the proposed constitutional text prior to the national referendum. ¶13. (SBU) The following is a list of Iraqi attendees at the Constitution-Drafting roundtable: Haniy Adris - (Iraqi National Accord; Sunni, Pachaci) Taleb Abood Alshara (Dawa) Saleem A. Ahmed (Iraqi Islamic Party) Faieza Mohammed Babakhan (Kurd) Abbas Bayati (Turkomen Islamic Union) Judge Dara Nur al-Din Bahauddin (Interim National Council) Muneef Fallaj (The Iraqis) Feisal Istrabadi (Deputy Representative of Iraq to the UN) Ibraheem Janabi (Iraqi National Accord - Sunni, Pachaci) Saad Jawad (Bagdad University Law School;Pro-boycott Sunni) Fadel Jawad Kadhum (Allawi advisor) Sallama al-Khafaji (United Iraqi Alliance) Sheikh Fatih Kashif al Gitta (independent, Sistani advisor) Rajaa al Khuzai (Allawi List) Mo'amar al Kubaisi (jurist and Pachaci associate) Wamidh Jamal Omar Nadhmi (political scientist, pro-boycott) Srood Najib (Iraqi MFA official) Narmin Othman (Minister of Women's Affairs - Kurd) Abdul Amir al-Zahid Saleh (Jaffari advisor) Safa Aldeen Abdulhakim al-Safi (United Iraqi Alliance) Ala'a Traej (Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - SCIRI) HALE