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WikiLeaks: 2005-06-09: 05BAGHDAD2456: Sunni Arab Constitution Committee Outreach Hits a Snag Over Numbers

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 04:51 PM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BAGHDAD2456 2005-06-09 18:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
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 02 BAGHDAD 002456 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/08/2015 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires David M. Satterfield for 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Despite promising signs earlier this week, 
negotiations over expanding the Constitution Drafting 
Committee deadlocked on June 9 over the number of Sunni Arabs 
who should be added.  Some Sunni Arabs are demanding 25 
additional representatives of their community on the 
55-member committee while Shia and Kurdish leaders say they 
will allow no more than 15.  The Shia want to preserve their 
majority on the committee and the Kurds do not want the Sunni 
Arabs to outnumber them.  Even if the numbers argument were 
resolved, further landmines remain: some Shia and Kurdish 
committee members say they want to vet the nominees for 
Ba'athist ties and make them publicly denounce violence.  All 
parties want this dispute resolved quickly and say they are 
at least open to USG mediation.  A strategy for such 
mediation is laid out at the end of this cable.  END SUMMARY. 
2. (C) Negotiations over Sunni Arab inclusion in Constitution 
Drafting committee hit a snag on June 9 over the question of 
how many Sunni Arabs should be added.  Sunni Waqf leader 
Adnan al-Dulaymi announced publicly on June 8 that he 
believed there should be 25 Sunni Arabs added to the body. 
President Talabani also indicated PUK support for 25 
additional Sunni Arabs in a June 8 meeting with the Charge. 
That partial consensus fell through June 9 when KDP and Shia 
leaders both rejected the number as too high.  The PUK may 
also have retrenched.  Sunni Arab leaders are sticking to 
their call for twenty-five additional representatives. 
Dulaymi, in a conversation with Poloff on June 9, shouted 
over the phone, "No compromise!" 
3. (C) Poloff's conversations with negotiators on all sides 
of this dispute reveal the following set of conflicting 
-- SHIA RATIONALE: Shia leaders wants to maintain the same 51 
percent majority on the Constitutional Committee that they 
hold in the TNA and, they say, in the country.  They 
currently hold 28 seats on the 55-member committee. (NOTE: 
They can count on independent Shia Islamist Sami al-Askari 
siding with them on most issues, so some might say they hold 
29 seats.  END NOTE) 
-- KURDISH RATIONALE: Kurdish activists, particularly from 
the KDP, believe they outnumber Sunni Arabs in Iraq and 
should outnumber them on the committee.  The Kurdistan 
Alliance List holds 15 seats on the committee (NOTE: They can 
count on independent Shia Communist Hamid Musa siding with 
them on most issues, so some might say they hold 16 seats. 
-- SUNNI ARAB RATIONALE: Sunni Arabs promoting the 
appointment of 25 representatives, in addition to the two 
Sunni Arabs already on the committee, say they would be 
accepting less than their share.  Many of them say they 
represent over 40 percent of the population, which would 
entitle them to 32 seats on an 80-member body.  Instead they 
are accepting 27 seats, which is only 34 percent of the 
seats.  Some have more moderate ambitions but have rejected 
the previously publicized idea of adding 13 members because 
they believe the number is being forced on them. 
4. (C) Even if the numbers dispute were resolved, other 
obstacles to Sunni Arab inclusion may lie on the horizon. 
All key committee leaders have told us that they accept the 
notion that added Sunni representatives would act as equal 
members on the committee.  Senior politicians have told us 
they accept the principle of consensus, not voting, as the 
means of decision-making on the Committee.  They also agree 
that Sunni Arab representatives have to be chosen by Sunni 
leaders.  Hamudi and others say to emboffs they want a 
vetting process to insure that they are clean of Ba'athist 
ties.  Here they cite the same law that regulates who may 
serve as a member of the Transitional National Assembly. 
This vetting process could proceed without incident, but it 
could easily lead to personal disputes. 
5. (C) Chaldo-Assyrian committee member Yunadam Kanna told 
Poloff June 9 that he thinks it might be appropriate to make 
all Sunni Arab inductees to the committee publicly foreswear 
violence.  Kanna also warned that he would sooner have the 
constitutional committee choose its Sunni Arabs additions 
itself rather than accept nominees that are likely to 
obstruct the process.  TNA Deputy Speaker and leading KDP 
member Arif Taifur argued to Poloff that the Sunni demand for 
25 seats is deliberately excessive and represents an early 
effort to obstruct the process. 
6. (C) All parties to the dispute want this dispute resolved 
quickly, within days.  Faced with a dispute that may be 
beyond the authorities of Adnan al-Janabi's low-level Sunni 
outreach committee, leaders from all sides have been talking 
and gathering intermittently but without progress so far. 
Representatives of all sides to this dispute have said that 
U.S. pressure might help in brokering a solution.  Even Sunni 
Waqf leader Adnan al-Dulaymi told Poloff he saw value in such 
7. (C) Allowing this dispute to fester would endanger efforts 
to meet the August 15 deadline and spread doubt about the 
legitimacy of the constitution drafting process.  Even if 
these leaders resolve the dispute over representation, they 
still have major constitutional debates ahead of them.  In 
short, this dispute could cost time, spread rancor, and bring 
us no closer to a draft constitution. 
8. (C) Compromise appears possible based on the addition to 
the Constitutional Committee of some 15 additional Sunni 
Arabs.  KDP leader Arif Taifur, committed to 13, told Poloff 
after a lengthy conversation that he might consider going to 
15 as a stretch.  SCIRI leader and Constitution Committee 
Chairman Hamudi begrudgingly made the same concession in a 
separate conversation.  We have heard from Vice President Abd 
al-Mehdi that Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party leaders are willing 
to settle for 15-20 added members.   Sunni Arab outreach 
leader Adnan al-Janabi previously told the DCM that he 
thought 15 additions would be a reasonable number.  Adnan 
Dulaymi, when Poloff sounded him out, is going to be an 
obstacle, as will his allies on the National Dialogue 
Council, but if Janabi can be prevailed upon, they are likely 
to settle as well. 
9. (C) Embassy is engaging with all parties to press for a 
rapid resolution based on inclusion of an additional 15 Sunni 
members, with no "loyalty" pledge. 
minimize considered. 

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