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WikiLeaks: 2006-12-18: 06BAGHDAD4613: Political Parties Conference Focuses on Key Themes of Participation, Unity and Security

by WikiLeaks. 06BAGHDAD4613: December 18, 2006.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 07:24 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BAGHDAD4613 2006-12-18 19:54 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #4613/01 3521954
P 181954Z DEC 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BAGHDAD 004613 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/18/2016 
     C) BAGHDAD 04592 D) BAGHDAD 04502 E) ANKARA 
Classified By: Political Counselor Margaret Scobey for reasons 1.4 (b) 
and (d) 
1. (C) Summary. The Ministry of State for Reconciliation and 
National Dialogue hosted the much anticipated political 
parties conference December 16-17 in Baghdad. The GOI intends 
for this conference to be one in a series of political party 
conferences although future dates have not been announced. 
Approximately 250 people attended including ministers, 
parliamentarians, provincial governors and political party 
leaders.  Opposition leaders had been invited to attend, but 
their presence was minimal. The Prime Minister and other 
senior GOI officials opened the conference with speeches 
focused on political participation, national unity and 
improving security. 
2. (C) Summary cont. The speeches welcomed former Baath party 
members into the political process as long they demonstrated 
loyalty to the national unity government and did not "have 
blood on their hands."  The Prime Minister welcomed former 
Iraqi Army (IA) members of any rank back into Iraqi Security 
forces or government agencies.  Those who cannot be 
reinstated will be given pensions, regardless of their former 
rank, the PM said, as long as they did not commit crimes. 
Attendees later divided into working groups to discuss and 
make recommendations on the following topics: federalism and 
constitutional review; Iraqi security forces and militias; 
De-Baathification; and expanding political participation. 
These committees reconvened December 17 and presented 
recommendations to the Prime Minister and Council of 
Representatives (CoR) for implementation. Iraqis throughout 
the country welcomed the supported the conference's goals 
although many expressed doubts that the final recommendations 
will be implemented. End Summary 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
3. (C) The December 16-17 political parties conference hosted 
by the Ministry of State for Reconciliation and National 
Dialogue included representatives from most political parties 
within the GOI, provincial governors and leaders, and a few 
representatives of political groups not currently involved in 
 the political process.  The conference had been postponed 
three times partly due to budget constraints, but mainly 
because conference organizers wanted to ensure participation 
from those both inside and outside of the political process. 
In the end, representatives from the Sadrist party did not 
attend.  From the Sunni political parties, only the Iraqi 
Islamic Party (IIP) sent representatives; the Iraqi People's 
Conference (Adnan al-Dulaymi), National Dialogue Front 
(Khalaf Allayan), and Hewar (Saleh Mutlaq) did not send 
anyone. The most senior IIP leaders were not present because 
they are accompanying VP Tariq al-Hashimi on his trip to the 
4. (C) In conversations prior to the conference, Saad 
al-Muttalibi, advisor to the Minister of State for 
Reconciliation and National Dialogue, and Naseer al-Ani, IIP 
and High Commission for National Reconciliation (HCNR) 
member, explained that conference organizers wanted to 
include opposition groups in this conference.  To that end, 
al-Muttalibi and al-Ani, accompanied by HCNR representatives 
and CoR members Falih al-Fayyad (Dawa)and Yunadam Kena 
(Assyrian Democratic Movement), traveled to Jordan, Egypt and 
the UAE for seventeen days beginning in October to meet with 
opposition groups and encourage them to participate in the 
conference (Ref A).  The conference invited 23 people from 
outside of Iraq, although senior leadership from Sunni 
opposition groups did not attend.  Syrian-based Baath party 
leaders were not invited because they refused to attend the 
conference under a different name (Ref B). 
5. (SBU) The conference began with senior GOI officials 
giving speeches focused on unity, increasing political 
participation, and security.  President Talabani did not 
attend the event due to illness, but through his 
chief-of-staff he conveyed his support for the conference and 
encouraged attendees to continue to work for stability and 
security.  A summary of key speeches follows below. Prime 
Minister Maliki's speech was reported in Ref C. 
--- KRG President Masoud Barzani (KDP) encouraged conference 
BAGHDAD 00004613  002 OF 005 
attendees to make realistic recommendations when addressing 
Iraq's problems.  He warned that Iraq's problems can only be 
solved if there is full participation from all sides and that 
Iraqis will not accept exclusion policies or the domination 
of one political party making all of Iraq's decisions.  He 
stated that federalism is key to Iraq's success.  Moderate 
forces, Barzani said, can lead the country. 
---Shi'a alliance leader Abdulaziz al-Hakim (SCIRI)outlined 
the eight key "facts" that define the current situation in 
Iraq and must be accepted if the political process is to move 
  First, freedom and everything that results from it "cannot 
be relinquished" because this could mean a return to 
  Second, sectarian violence must be rejected and all Iraqis 
must participate in the political process. 
  Third, Iraq's unity gives it strength and any division of 
Iraq must be rejected; the principles of a federal system are 
assets which can unite rather than divide the country. 
      Fourth, Iraq's true enemies are Saddamists and 
takfiris.  To combat terrorism there must be code of honor 
agreed upon by all political parties to confront terrorism. 
      Fifth, rule of law must be respected including the fact 
that government authorities are the only ones who should have 
weapons since they are the ones mandated to provide security. 
      Sixth, Iraq is an independent country and foreign 
interference will not be tolerated.  He said Iraq will live 
in peace with regional neighbors at the same that they reject 
foreign intervention in Iraq's affairs. 
      Seventh, the national unity government has the 
responsibility to provide services to its citizens and 
protect natural resources. 
      Eighth, administrative reform, anti-corruption 
measures, reconstruction projects and infrastructure 
development should continue in order to protect everyone,s 
-- CoR member Salim al-Juburi (IIP), representing the Tawafuq 
coalition, called on political forces to include those with 
reservations about the political process and those who feel 
they have been marginalized.  According to open source 
reporting, he listed seven requirements in order for the 
political parties conference to succeed: 
      First, militias must be disbanded and terrorists and 
criminal gangs confronted. 
      Second, displaced persons must be repatriated and 
forceful displacements stopped. 
      Third, everyone must be allowed to participate in the 
reconciliation process 
      Fourth, members of the Iraqi Security Forces who were 
"marginalized" or removed from their positions should be 
reconsidered and reinstated. 
      Fifth, a national balance needs to be reestablished and 
everyone needs to be allowed to participate. 
      Sixth, national resistance should be recognized and 
disassociated from terrorism. 
      Seventh, a meaningful constitutional review process 
should be undertaken. 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
6. (C) Following the conference, news reports cited 
interviews with Hussam al-Azzawi a member of Ayad Allawi's 
party, the Iraqi National Accord (Wifaq).  Al-Azzawi stated 
that the party will withdraw from all future political 
parties conferences because "political forces in Iraqi arena 
have been excluded and due to the failure to extend 
invitations to them to attend the conference."  Safia 
al-Suhail, a COR member from Allawi,s Iraqiyya list, told 
poloff she was surprised by Wifaq's announcement stating that 
she "had seen Allawi yesterday (December 15)" in Amman for a 
three hour meeting and he had not mentioned withdrawing from 
BAGHDAD 00004613  003 OF 005 
future conferences.  Hamid Majeed Mousa, Iraqiyya's CoR bloc 
leader and chairman of the Communist Party, told poloff that 
he &had been sitting next to Hussam al-Azzawi "throughout 
the conference had not been told that Wifaq would make this 
statement." (Note. While al-Suhail and Mousa both belong to 
the Iraqiyya alliance, they are not members of Allawi's 
party. The withdrawal of the Iraqi National Accord will not 
impact other Iraqiyya members. End Note) 
7. (C) The conference was respectful in tone until 
immediately prior to the lunch recess.  At that point, a 
Shi'a attendee claiming to represent tribal leaders asked why 
they had been called to Baghdad to attend a conference in 
which they could not participate and where all they could do 
was listen to speeches.  A Turkomen attendee followed by 
shouting that while the Turkomen support the conference's 
concept, they condemn its program.  Why, he shouted, have the 
Turkomen not been allowed to make a speech? 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
8. (SBU) Following lunch the conference attendees divided 
into working groups.  Each group was assigned one of four 
topics ) constitutional review and federalism; Iraqi 
Security Forces and militias; De-Baathification; or expanding 
political participation ) and asked to discuss the issue and 
prepare recommendations to be presented to the Prime 
Minister, the CoR and the Ministry of State for 
Reconciliation.  The four groups reconvened December 17 to 
continue discussions and draft suggestions. 
9. (C) According to al-Muttalibi, the working groups produced 
approximately 20 "workable recommendations."  He said the 
Ministry has rejected some of the recommendations, including 
calls to dissolve Parliament or hold new elections, as 
"unrealistic."  He noted that some of the recommendations 
will require new legislation to be passed through the Council 
of Representatives, while other ideas can be implemented by 
government decree.  One of the better ideas, he said, was to 
facilitate distribution of pension checks to former Iraqi 
Army officers living abroad who might now qualify by allowing 
them to collect checks in Iraqi Embassies.  Many of the 
working groups called for creating new committees to resolve 
issues such as de-Baathification and reinstating former IA 
members.  In an effort to broaden political participation, 
one group suggested that the future national Electoral 
Commission consists of Commissioners not belonging to the 
ruling political party. 
10. (SBU) At the end of the conference al-Suhail, the 
chairperson of the working group on broadening political 
participation read a prepared statement from the group.  The 
recommendations included continuing to invite those not 
participating in the political process to future meetings and 
conferences, emphasized the need to review de-Baathificaiton 
legislation, and expanding the HCNR to include 
representatives of the "parties, political forces, and 
figures supporting the new political process in Iraq."   The 
HCNR has 20 members including parliamentarians, political 
party members, and GOI ministers with various political, 
ethnic, and religious affiliations.  (Note: The formal 
recommendations from the conference have not been released. 
Post will report septel. End Note). 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
11. (C) Ambassador of the Permanent Arab League Mission to 
Iraq, Mokhtar Lamani, told poloffs December 18 that he did 
not believe the reconciliation conference would have 
significant impact.  Lamani defined two key problems, namely 
that the various political parties disagree when "diagnosing" 
Iraq's problems and, more significantly, they do not trust 
each other. 
12. (C) Reactions from various provinces are included below. 
While there was support for the conference's ideas, most 
Iraqis noted they are waiting to see if these ideas translate 
into meaningful action: 
--Anbar: Anbar Governor Ma'amoun Alawani and two Anbari 
sheikhs, including the leader of the Anbar Salvation Council 
Abdulsattar al-Rishawi (Ref D), attended the conference. 
Ma'amoun praised the overall tone of the PM's speech and 
pointed with approval to his comments on former Baathists. 
However, he appeared more interested in the conference's 
motion to form a committee to explore changes in the 
constitution than in the status of former Baathists.  In 
general, Anbari Sunnis tend to welcome any liberalization in 
BAGHDAD 00004613  004 OF 005 
re-integrating former Baathists as a matter of Sunni 
solidarity, but the issue is not typically at the top of 
Anbari grievances towards the central government. 
Al-Rishawi conveyed disapproval of the PM's comments on 
former Baathists.  While speaking to PRToffs his body 
language indicated that he did not welcome a resurgence of 
Baathist influence as it would potentially challenge his 
rising position. (Note: The difference between Ma'amoun and 
al-Rishawi is due to their respective positions in Anbari 
society.  While the re-integration of former Baathists would 
give the provincial government much-needed capacity and 
managerial skills in the security forces, al-Rishawi would 
himself be a potential loser if former regime personalities 
began to assume leadership positions. End Note). 
--Baghdad: PolFSN collected reactions to the conference from 
Baghdad district and neighborhood council members. Sabeeh 
al-Ka'abi (Shia), Rasheed District Council member asserted 
that Rasheed district residents generally believed "this 
conference, like the others, was useless."  He asserted that 
the general sentiment in the district was that the conference 
was pure propaganda pushed forward by politicians who say one 
thing but thought another.  He opined that the two most 
important people who should have been there weren't: 
Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) leader Harith 
al-Dari(Sunni) and Muqtada al-Sadr.  "As long as the 
activities of these two parties continue, reconciliation will 
never occur," he lamented. Dr. Haider Jabr Zedan (Shia) from 
Sadr City DAC repeated this same theme saying that without 
al-Sadr and al-Dari the conference was essentially useless. 
"To the residents of Sadr City, this conference was like any 
other session of CoR," he said.  Dr. Haider said that remarks 
Adnan al-Dulaymi, leader of the General Council of Iraqi 
People, made at the Istanbul conference (Ref E) as well as 
the inflammatory statements on the part of Saudi Arabia made 
of mockery of any hope of reconciliation. 
Three neighborhood council members, Mohammed al-Samaraii, 
Basil al-Kateb, and Mohammed Fathi, from the Sunni-dominanted 
Khadra neighborhood commented separately that the conference 
did not represent any positive step for the government.  They 
said that Sunnis during government formation had been 
promised lots of things, none of which ever materialized. 
"Sunnis may have leadership positions," they said, but they 
remain excluded from government.  As a result all three 
agreed that the reconciliation conference was another 
"promise" that would reap no rewards. 
--Salah ad Din: Deputy Governor Abdullah Ejabara (Sunni, 
former Baathist, retired General) and other contacts (all 
Sunni former Baathists) bemoaned that no one from Salah ad 
Din province had been invited to attend the conference, 
noting that many national-level Sunni leaders were not 
present and that widely popular in SaD ousted Parliamentarian 
Mishaan al Jabouri was reportedly denounced for sectarianism 
during the conference.  The Deputy Governor said he does not 
believe any former Iraqi Army members from SaD would be 
re-incorporated in the new IA and that these statements were 
just "made for the media so it looks like something is being 
done."  Other contacts suggested that with the careful 
wording of the statement, it was likely that if any group 
benefits it would be more Shia than Sunni. If Sunnis from SaD 
are re-admitted to the IA, it will likely be a very welcomed 
initiative in spite of the initial skepticism surrounding it. 
--Babil: Ali al-Rubaee, editor-in-chief of Babil's weekly 
newspaper, al-Fayhaa, assessed that re-enlisting former Iraqi 
army officers could reduce terrorism by fifty percent.  Those 
officers, he said, have great experience which are now being 
used to the terrorists' advantage.  However, he continued, 
the religious parties will not accecpt suspending the 
de-Baathification process.  Ali Hassam Hamza, Babil 
Provincial Council member(SCIRI), said that former military 
officers with the rank of major and below have already been 
permitted to return to the army.  He claimed there would be 
no objection to their return as long as they prove loyalty to 
Iraq and do not have "their hands stand with the blood of the 
Iraqi people." 
--Ninewa: PRToff spoke with both Ninewa provincial governor, 
Duraid Kashmoula, and the Provincial Council Chairman, Salim 
Hajj Issa. Kashmoula said that he approved of the idea of 
reintegrating some of the former military members into the 
current Iraqi Security Forces. His primary concern was that 
any such reintegration should be coordinated with provincial 
leadership. Issa was even more enthusiastic about the idea of 
encouraging former regime soldiers to reenter the military. 
He, too, emphasized the need for coordination with provincial 
leadership. Issa specifically noted the issues of fraudulent 
BAGHDAD 00004613  005 OF 005 
enlistment and inadequate background screening as areas that 
bear scrutiny. 
--Qadisiyah: Saad Abdullah Madhloum, head of the Independent 
Electoral Committee in Diwaniyah, said most people support 
bringing back former army officers since they have 
experience, although certain higher-ranking levels should not 
be allowed to return.  Reconsidering the entire 
de-Baathification process, he said, is not acceptable and 
will not improve the security situation.  He recommended 
moving the de-Baathification process from a political issue 
) as it is now ) to a legal issue addressed through the 
judiciary system. 
--Wasit: Hazim Mihsen Yaseen al-Khudairy (Shia), head of the 
Iraqi Council for Peace and Solidarity, said that readmitting 
former Iraqi Army (IA) members was like "blowing smoke in 
people,s eyes," for two reasons. First, he said, the PM 
knows that almost all new IA leaders are from the SCIRI or 
Da'wa parties who used to be prisoners of war, suggesting 
that they will not accept the return of former IA leaders. 
Second, al-Khudairy continued, it will be impossible for the 
new IA to rehire the huge number of former officers ) he 
estimated more than 700,000 - with senior ranks.  He 
differentiated between Baathists and Saddamists, concluding 
that faithful, nationalistic, "good" Baathists could be 
reconsidered for certain positions.  When asked about the 
PM's statements that militia members should be absorbed into 
government organizations, al-Khudairy scoffed that the PM 
knows the militia members have already infiltrated these 
organizations and there is nothing he can do. 
--Erbil: Local Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) press has 
given limited coverage to Maliki's speech, instead continuing 
to criticize the Iraq Study Group report. Falah Mustafa 
Bakir, KRG Director General for External Relations, said that 
the PM's speech covered "sensitive issues" and that Shia 
reactions to his statements need to be considered.  He said 
de-Baathification could be reconsidered, but people who had a 
high rank in the army should not be reinstated.  Lower 
ranking officers could be "re-brainwashed," he said, and 
allowed to serve. 
--Diyala: During meetings with Senator Kerry following the 
conference, Governor Ra'ad al Timimi (Shia) mentioned that 
former Ba'athists needed to be brought back into the army and 
government and that this would help the security situation. 
Both General Ayad (Deputy Chief of Police, Sunni) and Khaled 
al Sanjary (Mayor of Baquba, Sunni) nodded in pleased 
agreement and later emphasized the point.  Given their strong 
support in many prior conversations for bringing former 
Ba'athists into the mainstream their reaction was not 
surprising.  Only Major General Hulail Hussain Shaker (Shia), 
leader of the Iraqi Army's 5th ID, seemed unhappy with 
bringing back former military leaders. 
13. (C) Comment. This conference's success will ultimately be 
judged by whether the political leaders present follow 
through with recommendations and ideas for reconciliation 
raised there.  Indeed, the principal problem at similar 
events in the past -- including those hosted by the GOI, OIC, 
and many other organizations -- has been a lack of follow 
through.  A number of Embassy contacts have expressed hope 
that PM Maliki's speech (ref b), which laid out ideas for 
including former Ba'athists in the political process, could 
provide some new momentum.  Although a number of participants 
pointed out that key political voices such as Shia extremist 
leader Moqtadda al-Sadr and Sunni hardline cleric Harith 
al-Dari were not present, there is also hope that through the 
conference the GOI has set in motion a process to broaden the 
political dialogue.  The second day of the conference was 
marred by a mass kidnapping in the Baghdad office of the 
Iraqi Red Crescent Society, an occurrence that reminded 
participants of the fundamental importance of the conference 
goals of unity, stability, and peace.  End Comment. 


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