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WikiLeaks: 2006-02-26: 06BAGHDAD609: Jafari Draws Sunni Leadership into Crisis Management at Advisory Group Meeting

by WikiLeaks. 06BAGHDAD609: February 26, 2006.

Posted: Sunday, February 05, 2012 at 11:41 AM UTC


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BAGHDAD609 2006-02-26 16:43 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #0609/01 0571643
P 261643Z FEB 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000609 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/25/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Prime Minister Jafari drew 
leaders from across the political spectrum into his crisis 
management process by convening a new advisory group late on 
February 25.  For the first time since the Samarra tragedy, 
the Sunni Arab leadership directly engaged the top tier of 
the GOI on a joint plan to decrease tensions in Iraq. 
Whereas President Talabani's meeting earlier in the week saw 
a Tawafuq Front boycott and only broad statements of good 
will (reftel), this session had full attendance and a long 
list of specific initiatives.  Jafari said that he will 
increase troop deployments at hotspots around the country and 
deploy Ministry of Interior (MOI) forces away from Sunni Arab 
areas.  The Sunni Arab Tawafuq Front matched that concession 
with an agreement to submit a list of damaged mosques to a 
joint government-chaired committee that will investigate 
conflicting reports on the scope of damage to mosques. 
2. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT CONTINUED: Jafari pledged to 
convene this new advisory group regularly, and he closed the 
evening with a joint press appearance alongside the Sadrists, 
Sunni Arab leaders, and key Shia personalities.  Nobody wants 
a civil war, Jafari announced, and all are united against 
terrorists who wish to incite one.  Jafari also proclaimed 
that the meeting had produced a wide range of proposals for 
the way forward, which will be considered on the agenda of 
its next Ministerial Committee for National Security (MCNS) 
meeting.  The Ambassador had pushed Jafari to convene the 
advisory group in the first place and will encourage it to 
meet again to translate its proposals into actions.  The 
advisory group also saw an unusually blunt push by the 
Kurdish leadership, Allawi, and Adil Abd al-Mehdi for 
redoubling efforts to form a national unity government 
without red lines on any group's involvement.  The Samarra 
crisis cannot be detached from the government deadlock, they 
--------------------------------------------- - 
After Initial Reluctance, A Wide Call for Calm 
--------------------------------------------- - 
3. (C) The PM drew leaders from across the political spectrum 
into his crisis management process by convening an advisory 
committee late on February 25.  The meeting brought the 
Tawafuq Front into the decision-making process after Sunni 
Arab leadership in the past week had appeared to suspend 
participation in such meetings.  The Ambassador had requested 
that Jafari convene this group, and, after considerable 
reluctance, the PM did so.  Jafari nevertheless failed to 
invite Transitional National Assembly (TNA) Speaker Hachim 
al-Hasani, a sign of continuing Shia coalition grudges 
against Sunni leaders and of a sectarian desire to ensure 
that the majority in attendance were from their own 
coalition.  Once convened, all attendees repeatedly denounced 
sectarian violence and emphasized their determination to 
avoid civil war.  Most notably, Sadrist leader Salam 
al-Maliki said that it is un-Islamic to attack mosques and 
denounced as an infidel anyone who undertakes such an act. 
For his part, Tawafuq leader Adnan al-Duleimi told the group 
that he believes only terrorists are benefiting from Iraq's 
strife and only terrorists could have been behind the Samarra 
attack.  Da'wa leader Jawad al-Maliki told the group that 
they need a broad solution to a crisis that was brought on by 
years of "accumulated attacks and a waterfall of blood," not 
just the one attack in Samarra. 
Jafari Government Harshly Criticized 
4. (C) The meeting began with mutual recriminations when 
Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) leader Tariq al-Hashemi delivered a 
scathing criticism of the government's handling of the 
crisis.  He said that he had told Jafari to impose a curfew 
immediately after the tragedy but that the government 
demurred from a decision and then failed to protect Sunni 
religious sites when attacks on them were predictable.  He 
looked at Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, who was sitting 
directly across the table from him, and said, "Our people 
have no confidence in your forces."  Hashemi accused the MOI 
of assassinations and raids against the Sunni Arab community 
and then called for all MOI forces to be kept away from Sunni 
areas.  Hashemi gestured down the table to Defense Minister 
Sa'adun Duleimi and denounced him for failing in an earlier 
press conference to present to the media a full and accurate 
picture of the damage to Sunni holy sites.  Lastly, he 
denounced Shia media outlets that he said have broadcast 
BAGHDAD 00000609  002 OF 003 
incitement since the attack.  Assyrian leader Yunadam Kanna 
added to the complaints against the government by questioning 
why the Samarra Chief of Police has not yet resigned after 
this catastrophe.  Even SCIRI leader Muhammad Taqi al-Mawla 
criticized the government for failing to implement recently 
passed laws for counter-terrorism and the protection of holy 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
Sunni Arabs and Shia Coalition Leaders Trade Insults 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
5. (C) Hashemi's remarks provoked the strongest reaction, and 
by the end of his harangue the leadership around the table 
was visibly uncomfortable.  Bayan Jabr,  openly rolling his 
eyes and throwing his hands up in frustration during 
Hashemi's remarks, forcefully defended the MOI and denounced 
the Sunni Arab community for failing to acknowledge 
terrorists in their midst.  "Mosques are being used to hold 
weapons and explosive belts and when they are raided all we 
hear are condemnations that we are raiding religious sites," 
Jabr said.  Jabr then referred to a recent MOI raid on IIP 
headquarters that had netted illegal weapons.  Jafari 
defended his decision not to impose a curfew immediately 
after the Samarra explosion, stating that the vast majority 
of the cabinet opposed a curfew, believing that holding back 
the public would lead them to turn on the government. 
6. (C) Da'wa Tanzim al-Iraq leader Khudeir al-Khuzai 
denounced incitement in the media and referred to Hashemi in 
his criticism of leaders who "work in a brotherly fashion in 
some meetings and then transform into ranting generals on the 
satellite networks."  By that point, Hashemi had denounced 
Khuzai for media incitement of his own.  Jafari cut Hashemi 
off and asked him to wait his turn to speak.  When that turn 
came, Hashemi rejected the implication that anyone in his 
office had attacked a U.S. soldier and defended his 
possession of heavy weaponry. 
A Heated Debate Over Raids and Detainees 
7. (C) Hashimi and Adnan al-Duleimi sparked a lengthy 
argument when they called for the government to halt 
nighttime raids and to release detainees in order to defuse 
the crisis.  Hashemi denounced conditions in the prisons and 
said that the Ambassador and others had failed to follow 
through on repeated promises that detainees would be 
released.  Mithal al-Alusi denounced the call for a complete 
prisoner release as totally unreasonable given the number of 
criminals and terrorists in detention.  Jabr admitted that an 
overburdened judiciary is failing to try cases and acquit the 
accused with enough speed.  Talabani said he is mystified by 
the complaints over nighttime raids because he personally had 
ordered a halt to such operations weeks ago.  The only raids 
taking place should be based on a judicial order, he said. 
Jabr did not explain the nighttime raids but claimed that 
judicial orders sometimes need to be obtained ex post facto 
for actions against an imminent threat. 
--------------------------------------------- - 
A Renewed Push for a National Unity Government 
--------------------------------------------- - 
8. (C) Several leaders used the meeting to renew the push for 
a national unity government.  Leading SCIRI figure Adel Abd 
al-Mehdi told the group that Iraq is in the midst of a crisis 
of confidence that can be solved only by a national unity 
government.  He urged the quick formation of one so that all 
groups can be in positions of responsibility.  "No red lines" 
should be allowed to hamper that process, Mehdi added. 
Fadhila Leader Nadim al-Jabiri told the group that he thinks 
they can turn the Samarra tragedy into a push toward unity -- 
a remark seconded and praised by  Hashemi, Ayad Allawi, and 
Masud Barzani.  Barzani spoke emotionally in his pitch for a 
unity government, warning the group that civil war would be a 
disaster, to which he and Talabani could attest. 
A List of Key Recommendations 
9. (C) Jafari closed the gathering by reading the list of 
suggestions that he had heard and noted.  He promised to use 
the ideas as a basis for discussion in his next MCNS meeting 
and pledged to reconvene the advisory group within days.  He 
listed the following ideas from the meeting, each followed by 
its proponent: 
BAGHDAD 00000609  003 OF 003 
-- Declare all those killed in the violence since the Samarra 
tragedy martyrs.  They would be eligible for all related 
benefits. (Adnan Dulaimi) 
-- Immediately set aside money and bring together engineers 
to rebuild damaged shrines and offices.  The Sunni and Shia 
Waqf offices could potentially lead this effort. (Yunadam 
Kanna and others) 
-- Create a broad National Security Council, potentially 
drawn from the group gathered, to meet continually to fill 
the leadership void until a new government is formed. (Mithal 
-- Release prisoners who have been found innocent or have no 
evidence against them, focusing on those arrested or 
kidnapped illegally during the recent violence.  Increase the 
number of judges to process the cases of those who remain 
incarcerated. (Tareq al-Hashemi, Jalal Talabani, Bayan Jabr, 
and others) 
-- Deploy Iraqi Army and MNF-I to hot spots around the 
country to preserve calm and protect other shrines.  Use 
MNF-I and MOD forces in areas where there is sensitivity 
about the presence of MOI forces. (Jafari, Hashemi, and 
-- Contact neighboring states and inform them that Iraq is in 
a critical situation and that they all need to play a role in 
securing the borders. (Ayad Allawi) 
-- Draft an honor code forbidding attacks on religious sites 
or sectarian groups. (Salam al-Maliki) 
-- Appear regularly and jointly in the media to emphasize 
national unity. (Khudeir al-Khuzai and others) 
-- Form a committee to review all detainee files and 
recommend appropriate releases. (Bayan Jabr and Tariq 
-- Form a committee to review the work of the MOI and MOD 
through a comprehensive review of actions and documents. 
(Bayan Jabr) 
-- Enforce the counter-terrorism law and the law for the 
protection of holy shrines. (Muhammad Taqi al-Mawla) 
-- Convene the Council of Representatives to demonstrate 
unity and progress. (Adnan al-Duleimi) 
-- Extend the curfew to prevent further deterioration. 
(multiple proponents) 
-- Form an investigative committee to determine who was 
behind both the Samarra explosion and the attacks that 
followed.  This committee also will determine the extent of 
the property damage that has resulted from the violence. 
(multiple proponents) 
10. (C) COMMENT: This nearly three-hour session, for all its 
tense moments, expanded Jafari's crisis management team at a 
crucial moment and may have produced the frankest discussion 
among between Shia and Sunni Arab leaders that we have seen. 
It is indicative of the moment that leaders like Hashemi are 
condemning the Iraqi security services even as they call for 
them to play a greater role around the country.  The PM needs 
national unity and a clear program of action to lead Iraq 
away from the brink; both began to crystallize at this 
meeting.  Jafari's agreement to keep MOI forces out of 
sensitive areas could be the basis for a broad modus vivendi 
between the Sunni Arab leadership and the Iraqi Security 
Forces, particularly the National Guard.  The Sunni Arab 
leadership still may boycott meetings in their rhetoric, but 
now they have joined openly the search for a way forward. 
The Ambassador's pressure was needed to get this meeting 
convened, and he will keep applying it to make sure the ideas 
put forward find their way onto the agenda at the next MCNS 
session.  This group needs to keep convening, and we will 
ensure that it does.  END COMMENT. 


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