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WikiLeaks: 2005-02-17: 05AMMAN1357: Iraqi Political Figures Seek Common Ground on Constitution-Drafting

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 04:08 PM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05AMMAN1357 2005-02-17 18:07 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Amman
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 AMMAN 001357 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2015 
REASONS: 1.4 (B &D) 
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) 

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