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WikiLeaks: 2006-10-30: 06BAGHDAD4057: VP Advisor Hannah, President Talabani assess the State of Iraq

by WikiLeaks. 06BAGHDAD4057: October 30, 2006.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BAGHDAD4057 2006-10-30 06:12 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #4057/01 3030612
P 300612Z OCT 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 004057 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2016 
Classified By: Political Counselor Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) 
and (d) 
1. (C)  SUMMARY:   In a wide-ranging discussion on October 
18, President Jalal Talabani and the Vice-President's 
National Security Advisor John Hannah discussed the 
internal political divisions both within the Sunni Arab 
groups and between the Shia, Sunni Arab, and Kurdish 
factions within the new Government of Iraq.  As expected, 
security issues were the focus of the discussion, with 
Talabani suggesting that troops should be stationed in 
areas recently cleared of terrorist elements to maintain 
order.  Talabani noted that there were also positive 
stories - for example, the Presidency Council's increasing 
unity and the potential formation of a more reasonable 
Sunni Arab religious group - but that Iraq still lacked the 
support of neighboring Arab countries in bolstering their 
fragile democracy.  END SUMMARY. 
Turmoil Within the Iraqi Cabinet 
2. (C)  In a meeting on October 18, President 
Talabani told the Vice President's National 
Security Advisor John Hannah that there was 
some discontent with the cabinet ministers. 
For example, Minister of Interior Jawad al- 
Bolani is "a good man surrounded by many 
difficulties," Talabani claimed.  Both the Shia 
Coalition and other parties are pressuring him 
to take action in their favor, and all are 
complaining that he is not responding. 
Talabani noted, however, that Bolani had 
inherited a ministry full of internal problems. 
Bolani was trying to clean up the Iraqi Police 
(IP), but it is increasingly difficult to find 
quality recruits for the service, Talabani 
3. (C)  Talabani claimed that Sunni Arab 
Speaker of the Council of Representatives (CoR) 
Mahmud al-Mashadani is also in trouble. 
According to Talabani, the Sunni Tawafuq bloc, 
including even his own party the National 
Dialogue Council, has come to the decision to 
remove Mashadani as Speaker and the National 
Dialogue was prepared to make a public 
declaration of their intent.  (NOTE:  There 
have been several rumors of Mashadani's 
impending removal from office during the past 
few months, but the National Dialogue has 
consistently told the Ambassador that they 
fully support Mashadani.  END NOTE.)  Mashadani 
is not a serious politician, Talabani 
complained, and his behavior both within the 
CoR and in foreign trips was unprofessional and 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Sunni Arabs Needs Internal Unity, Cooperate 
with Others 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
4. (C)  The debate over Mashadani reflected the 
overall disunity within the Sunni Arab 
political community, Talabani said.  Warming up 
to a common theme in recent months, Talabani 
noted that the Sunni Arabs needed to learn how 
to cope in a democratic government.  For 
example, their preferred method of 
demonstrating their disagreement in debates in 
the CoR was to walk out of the proceedings.  In 
addition, it was difficult to understand what 
was the "Sunni Arab position" on any key issue, 
given the ongoing chaos within the main Sunni 
Arab Tawafuq bloc. 
5. (C)  Aside from the politicians, the Sunni 
Arab religious community was also making 
national reconciliation more difficult, 
Talabani said, citing the leader of the "Sunni 
naysayers," Harith al-Dari of the Association 
of Muslim Scholars.  However, there might be 
hope for more cooperation with the Sunni 
religious community:  according to Talabani, 
two groups are trying to revive the defunct 
Dara al-Ifta (roughly translated as "House of 
the Religious Ruling").  The Kurd who had lead 
BAGHDAD 00004057  002 OF 003 
this organization had recently died, and it was 
decided to replace him with an advisory group. 
The first group is led by Sheikh Jamal al- 
Dabbagh, and the second by Muhsin Abd al-Hamid 
(who was fired from the Iraqi Islamic Party). 
The two groups are not united, Talabani 
lamented, and Talabani himself pledged to find 
a way to help bring them together.  According 
to Talabani, this group had the potential to be 
the "Marja'iyah of the Sunni Arabs," and both 
groups have told him they are committed to 
fighting sectarianism and terrorism.  Talabani 
stated that he was financially assisting this 
group, in particular by finding them housing in 
Baghdad.  The Dara al-Ifta is currently based 
in Tikrit, and is seeking to move to the 
relative safety of Baghdad. 
Presidency Council Pulling Together 
6. (C)  On a more positive note, Talabani 
stated that the Presidency Council was working 
very well together.  There was full agreement 
between himself, Shia Vice President Adil Abd 
al-Mahdi, and Sunni Arab Vice President Tarik 
al-Hashimi on key issues during the most recent 
Presidency Council meeting last week: the need 
to secure Baghdad, end sectarianism and the 
ensuring violence, etc.  Talabani reported that 
he had tasked Abd al-Mahdi and al-Hashimi to 
draft two position papers each, one on how to 
improve Shia-Sunni cooperation, and one on how 
to secure Baghdad. 
7. (C) On a related note, Talabani also 
mentioned his desire to form a "National 
Front," which would be composed of moderates 
from the Shia Coalition (specifically, SCIRI), 
Tawafuq (Iraqi Islamic Party), and the Kurds. 
This National Front would form a strong front 
in the CoR and the Cabinet to work toward 
ending the sectarian conflict and providing 
much-needed leadership in Iraq.  (NOTE: 
Talabani has been pushing for the creation of 
this moderate National Front ever since his 
preferred candidate for the Prime Ministry, 
SCIRI's Abd al-Mahdi, lost to Nuri al-Maliki of 
the Dawa Party.  END NOTE.) 
But Security Still a Problem... 
8. (C)  Despite the improving dialogue in the 
Presidency Council, and the recent agreement 
within the Policy Committee on National 
Security (PCNS) by both Shia and Sunni Arab 
politicians to Prime Minister Maliki's 4-Point 
security plan, Talabani noted that the overall 
security situation in Iraq is still dire. 
Talabani suggested that military forces needed 
to remain to secure areas that have recently 
been cleared of terrorist elements, otherwise 
the terrorists and insurgents would just return 
after the Coalition Forces have moved on.  As 
for Baghdad's security, Talabani suggested a 
mixed force of Shia, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds to 
maintain order in Baghdad.  This group would 
have one uniform, one type of weaponry, one 
type of vehicle, and one commander - a unified 
look and a unified purpose - to secure the 
city.  This unit would select from within 
itself a contingent to clear out different 
parts of the city - a majority Shia unit to 
clear Sadr City, for example. 
9. (C)  According to Talabani, there are two 
main problems:  Terrorists and militias, and a 
lack of a unified Iraqi identity.  The first 
issue is primarily the problem with the Jaysh 
al-Mahdi (JAM).  JAM needs to be punished, 
Talabani stated, and the PCNS had been 
pressuring Maliki to do something about the 
Sadrist-affiliated militia.  Maliki claimed 
that he wanted to give the JAM until the end of 
Ramadan to change their ways, and the PCNS had 
grudgingly agreed.  In addition to the JAM, the 
BAGHDAD 00004057  003 OF 003 
multitude of private militias - ministry 
protection units, private bodyguard groups, etc 
- is contributing to the chaos in Baghdad, 
Talabani complained.  There is no way of 
maintaining control over so many different 
organizations, Talabani said, and no 
centralized method of ensuring quality, 
training, or accountability for these extra- 
governmental groups. 
10. (C)  The second issue is the lack of an 
"Iraqi identity," Talabani said.  Right now, 
there was no sense of a national community - 
people defined themselves in terms of their 
sectarian, ethnic, or tribal identities. 
Talabani hoped that as sectarian violence 
declined and the political groups could work 
more effectively together, the people of Iraq 
would begin to define for themselves what it 
meant to be an "Iraqi." 
As Are the Neighbors 
11. (C)  Talabani complained that the 
neighboring Arab countries were doing little to 
assist Iraq in quelling sectarian divisions. 
The Saudis, for example, are encouraging the 
negative attitudes of Sunni Arabs like Harith 
al-Dari and others who openly speak of killing 
Americans, he said.  Syria continues to support 
elements of the former Baathist regime, and 
Iran continues to interfere in the internal 
affairs of Iraq through training militia 
elements and providing materials for insurgency 
activities.  Talabani noted that he had seen 
Syria's foreign minister in New York, and told 
him that rapprochement should begin by the 
foreign minister visiting Baghdad and 
committing Syria to end its support for 
terrorists attacking Iraq and pledging its 
support for the new government. 
UNSCR Extension, PKK, and Minority Rights 
12. (C)  Talabani also discussed with Hannah 
several current issues during the meeting: 
-- UNSCR Extension:  While Talabani understood 
the need to extend the UNSCR as soon as 
possible, he noted that Maliki needed to have 
some control as well.  Talabani argued that 
Maliki should have the authority to move units 
of his Iraqi Army, and the right to more 
information-sharing from the Coalition Forces. 
-- PKK:  Talabani stated flatly that the 
Government of Iraq had become involved in the 
PKK issue as a favor to the head of the Turkish 
National Intelligence Office (TNIO).  However, 
Talabani believed it was a reasonable demand 
that the Government of Turkey try to work with 
the legitimate Kurdish political party in 
Ankara as well as its trilateral efforts. 
Talabani reminded Hannah that many groups had 
tried to eliminate the PKK over the past 25 
years - including both the Kurdish parties - 
without success. 
-- Minority Rights:  Hannah raised the issue of a separate 
administrative region for Assyrian Christians and other 
ethnic or religious minorities in Iraq.  Talabani stated 
that, while he did not know much about the subject, he was 
personally in favor of supporting the special 
administrative areas or safehavens for minority groups in 
the Kurdistan region.  The situation of the Assyrian 
Christians in places such as Ninewa, for example, was a 
separate issue since the Shia and Sunni Arabs were not yet 
ready to discuss these issues. 


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