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WikiLeaks: 2005-02-18: 05AMMAN1358: Iraqi Political Figures Seek Common Ground on Constitution-Drafting at Jordan Meeting

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 04:14 PM CT


Viewing cable 05AMMAN1358, IRAQI POLITICAL FIGURES SEEK COMMON GROUND ON

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05AMMAN1358 2005-02-18 11:02 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 001358 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2015 
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID IZ
SUBJECT: IRAQI POLITICAL FIGURES SEEK COMMON GROUND ON 
CONSTITUTION-DRAFTING AT JORDAN MEETING 
 
Classified By: CHRISTOPHER HENZEL, CHARGE D'AFFAIRES,
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.  Approximately twenty Iraqis including prominent 
behind-the scenes political figures and 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."  A set of informal 
"recommendations" on the structure and duties of the future 
Constitutional Drafting Committe was approved by the 
attending Iraqis and is summarized in paragraph #12 below). 
Key aspects include authorization by the National Assembly of 
a Drafting Committee representative of Iraqi society, and 
including Assembly members and non-members.  During a 
side-discussion at the final dinner  Jaffari advisor asked 
Emboff for help in contacting prominent Amman-based Sunnis, 
stressed the "differences" between Jafarri and Hakim, and 
said that (presumed) incoming Prime Minister Jaffari 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 ABA 
jointly sponsored an Iraq Constitution roundtable in Jordan 
from February 14-15.  The roundtable included 21 Iraqis, as 
well as several UN officials, an 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 likely members of the 
Constitution drafting committee, Sunni &boycotters,8 and 
politically-active representatives of the Kurdish, Turkomen, 
and Assyrian minorities.  The DAWA, Allawi, and Pachachi 
groupings sent two or more representatives, other groups 
(including SCIRI and the Islamic party) sent one (see 
paragraph # for a complete list of Iraqi attendees and 
related comments).  While not included in the roundtable per 
se we were invited by the organizers to the final dinner, and 
used the opportunity to mix with attendees and organizers to 
garner reactions to the event and informally discuss Iraq 
political development with the attendees. 
 
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 off-focus topics.  Both 
attendees and organizing staff told us that they found most 
of the (sometimes heated) discussions and ability to meet 
face-to-face extremely useful, and all of the 9-10 Iraqis 
that we spoke to said that they valued the experience and 
looked forward to participating in future such gatherings. 
 
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 
Committee.  For example, we were told, some Sh,ite attendees 
argued that the Constitutional drafting commission should be 
made up largely or completely by National Assembly members, 
to which some Sunni participants riposted by denying any 
relationship between the two bodies, and warning that it 
would usurp (non-participating) Sunni rights if Assembly 
members try to create one.  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 paragraph #12).  We also 
understand that there was some emotional discussion cutting 
across factional groups over whether and what kind of 
international advice or assistance on Constitution drafting 
should be accepted.  Several Iraqi attendees reportedly 
argued for rejecting such assistance should be rejected, or 
limiting it to responses to requests for specific comparative 
information that may emerge from the Drafting Committee. 
 
 
Approach from DAWA 
------------------ 
 
5.  (C) During our informal conversations with 9-10 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 a close friend and advisor to 
Vice-President Jaffari, asked for a side meeting during which 
he energetically requested our help in putting him into 
contact with prominent Sunni figures currently in Amman.  In 
this context he stated that Dr. Jaffari is notionally willing 
to personally contact prominent Sunnis such as the above and 
invite them to join and/or identify nominees for the 
Constitutional Drafting Committee. 
 
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 whilwe 
desirous of entering the political process these Sunnis have 
many suspicions and political challenges that will need to be 
addressed.  (Comment: In the past the al-Gaaod,s and other 
Sunnis here have frequently characterized Dr. Jaffari as an 
&Iranian agents8 who frequently withholds comments in 
government meetings pending instructions from Iran.  They 
cite current Defense Minister and Yawwar list member as their 
source for this supposed &insight.8  Nonetheless, we 
believe they may be willing to give Jaffari and DAWA a 
hearing.  End Comment.) 
 
Jaffari 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, tolerant, and 
&pro-American.8  He added that (unlike Hakim) Dr. Jaffari 
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 
the disparate 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 noted 
as a hopeful sign that despite having &every advantage,8 
the Sistani list 
was unable to receive 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 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 their &true8 goal, social control.  At the same 
time as painting this seemingly scary monolithic picture, 
al-Khuzai confidently predicted that the DAWA and SCIRI 
factions will soon become absorbed by 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 provide 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 
paragraph #12 below. 
 
12.  (C) According to this document, the Iraqis agreed that 
the Constitution-making process should be open, transparent, 
and inclusive; that the National Assembly should appoint a 
Constitutional Drafting Committee 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 Committee 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. 
HALE

 


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