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WikiLeaks: 2005-08-29: 05BAGHDAD3525: Reaction to new Constitution: Sunnis Express Dismay, Others Measured Satisfaction

Posted: Friday, October 28, 2011 at 04:10 PM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05BAGHDAD3525 2005-08-29 16:42 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 BAGHDAD 003525 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/29/2015 
1. (C) SUMMARY Following the August 28 release of the final 
draft of the new Iraqi Constitution, Poloffs gathered with 
Transitional National Assembly (TNA) members and other Iraqi 
political figures.  The Sunni Arab negotiators' public 
reaction was very negative.  In private, some of the 
negotiators were more ambivalent about the text, although the 
issue of Iraq's Arab identity clearly was a sticking point. 
Our Sunni Arab political contacts affirmed their 
determination to stay in the political process.   Shia, Kurd 
and Assyrian contacts expressed measured satisfaction with 
the text, while pointing to its "shortcomings" with regard to 
de-Baathification and the role of religion.  END SUMMARY 
2. (U) National Dialogue Council member Shayk Abd al,Nasser 
al-Janabi and National Dialogue Spokesman Saleh Mutlak held a 
press conference in which they warned that the Constitution 
was divisive.  They deplored the absence of a sufficiently 
clear assertion that Iraq is part of the Islamic and Arab 
world. In a statement released the evening of August 28, the 
Sunni leaders expressed agreement with many paragraphs in the 
Constitution, but said that "serious points of difference 
remain." They said they could not agree to the text as it is 
and called for the United Nations and the Arab League to 
intervene and stop the draft from going forward. The 
statement also pledged to remain in the political process and 
participate in upcoming elections.  (Comment:  Mutlak has 
taken a harder line on Arabic satellite television, but their 
written statement clearly indicates they hope the text can be 
amended to meet their demands.  End Comment.) 
3. (C) Saleh Mutlak privately told Poloff August 28 that 
voting against the constitution would not harm the Sunni 
political position. He explained a united Sunni community 
could vote down the Constitution and pursue greater Sunni 
representation in December elections for a new National 
Assembly. When PolOff cautioned against the danger of 
creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of a marginalized Sunni 
population, Mutlak said, "I must follow my heart."  PolOff 
stressed that after the recent US efforts to press on Shia 
and Kurds to alter the Constitution to accommodate Sunni 
demands, it was difficult to understand major Sunni 
disagreements with the text. He said that the Dialogue 
members should not expect to be able to publicly oppose the 
Constitution while maintaining a "business as usual" 
relationship with the U.S. Embassy. 
4. (C) Some Sunni Arab contacts took a softer line in 
private.  Dialogue member Sa,adoon al Zubaydi told Poloff 
August 28 he had pushed for Sunni moderation, noting "we have 
made a mistake. We should work within the system."  Saad 
Janabi, the head of the Iraqi Republican Gathering Party, 
told PolCouns August 28 that the text was probably the best 
the Sunni Arabs could get.  He said it was hard to convince 
Dialogue members like Saleh Mutlak to say anything positive 
in public.  Tareq al-Hashimi, the real leader of the Iraqi 
Islamic Party, told PolCouns late August 27 that the deal on 
federalism was a good one.  He added that the Arab identity 
of Iraq remained very sensitive to Sunni Arabs especially. 
(Saleh Mutlak underlined that point with us repeatedly as 
5. (C) In contrast, Shia, Kurd and other non-Sunni contacts 
expressed measured satisfaction with the final draft.  Shia 
Islamist Saad Jawad Qindeel said he was satisfied with the 
text but disappointed over what he characterized as the 
Constitution's weak endorsement of de-Baathification.  Yazidi 
Kurd Khairi Said declared that while the KDP did not get 
everything it wanted, it was still a "great day for Iraq." 
He noted that the Constitution was a living document and 
would be open for amendments in due course.  KDP member 
Khusraw al-Jaf angrily questioned the motivations of Sunni 
Arab critics of the Constitution.   He said that Abdel Nasser 
al-Janabi and Mutlak were "barbarians" rather than 
legislators, who should never have been allowed in the TNA. 
A senior aide to President Talabani told Poloff that it was 
exhausting to have put so much effort into a constitution 
"that still has problems".  In particular, he said that most 
Kurds will be unhappy with the prominent role given to 
religion in the final draft.  Chaldo-Assyrian Constitution 
Committee Member Yonadam Kanna said that he was quite pleased 
with the Constitution's guarantees for freedom of religion. 
6.  (C) 


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