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WikiLeaks: 2007-02-15: 07BAGHDAD538: PRT Kirkuk: Article 140 Committee Member Mohammed Khalil Protests Arab Relocation Plan

by WikiLeaks. 07BAGHDAD538: February 15, 2007.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 08:48 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD538 2007-02-15 08:18 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad

DE RUEHGB #0538/01 0460818
P 150818Z FEB 07 ZDK ZUIAA RUEHCB 9378
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000538 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/13/2017 
Classified By: PRT Leader Jim Bigus for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
This is a PRT Kirkuk reporting cable 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  Kirkuk Provincial Council (PC) and Article 
140 Commission member, Mohammed Khalil, a Sunni Arab, says 
the Article 140 Commission,s approval of a proposed Arab 
relocation program came after a "strife-filled" debate over 
whether the program would be voluntary.  The final wording 
was an ambiguous statement that Kirkuk Arabs are interpreting 
as indicating the program will involve involuntary 
relocation.  Khalil is threatening to withdraw from 
participation on the Commission if the program is not 
specifically declared voluntary.  Furthermore, Arab and 
Turkoman PC members will refuse to engage in any further 
negotiations about ending their boycott of the Kirkuk 
Provincial Council if the change is not made.  Khalil said 
about 50,000 of the 261,000 persons subject to possible 
relocation are willing to go, although other sources give a 
much lower total for potential relocatees.  Public assurances 
of a voluntary relocation program would only be effective if 
given by Commission Chairman and Minister of Justice, Hashim 
Al-Shibli (Sunni Arab, Iraqiyya list).   The question of 
whether the program should be voluntary or involuntary may be 
symptomatic of ambiguities in the Arabic and Kurdish versions 
of TAL Article 58.  Completing normalization by the March 
deadline is unlikely, even though proposing boundary changes 
has been removed form the Commission,s responsibilities. 
Mohammed Khalil defended his attendance at a recent Ankara 
conference promising a delay in implementing Article 140, 
saying his critics have a "psychological complex" about the 
conference.   Khalil alluded to apparent assassination 
threats in the wake of the Ankara event.  END SUMMARY. 
2.  (C ) PC and GOI Article 140 Commission member Mohammed 
Khalil met on 4 February with IPAO to discuss current 
developments in the Article 140 implementation process and 
related issues.  Mohammed Khalil had dropped out of sight in 
the past few weeks, after reportedly making inflammatory 
statements at a conference in Ankara that called for 
postponement of Article 140 implementation.  There were local 
reports that he had been threatened with arrest or worse by 
Kurdish authorities.  In this latest meeting, he appeared 
relaxed and convivial. 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
3.  (C)  He opened by stating that the press and other 
reports about the Article 140 Commission's newly announced 
relocation program were incomplete, lacking the "strife" in 
the Committee leading up to the approval of the program. 
Khalil claimed he was the "only one" who disagreed with the 
provisions, arguing, he said, that there must be a specific 
provision in the program stating that it was voluntary. 
4.  (C) Khalil said that he objected to the basic idea of 
returning the "Wafidain" (i.e. "beneficiaries" of Saddam,s 
Arabization policies) to their original homes, and had hoped 
to get support from Article 140 Chairman, Minister of Justice 
(MOJ) al-Shibli, since he is an Arab, for addition of the 
voluntary clause.  Khalil said the MOJ "seemed" to support 
him during Committee discussions, but the final approved 
version of the program did not contain his requested 
language.  Therefore, Khalil is now demanding that the 
wording of the program recommendation be clarified to 
specifically state that it is voluntary.  If this wording is 
not added, said Khalil, he "will withdraw from the 
5.  (C)   Khalil was especially incensed at Kurdistan 
Minister of External Affairs/Article 140 Commission member 
Mohammed Ihsan, claiming that Ihsan had "talked 
unprofessionally and insulted the Arabs in front of the 
Commission."  Asked about the insult, Khalil said Ihsan had 
called the Wafidain "dishonest."  Khalil added that during 
the dispute over the wording of the program he was the only 
Commission member who insisted that the program should be 
made voluntary.  The other members remained silent and did 
not get involved. 
6.  (C)  Asked if any Commission member raised the question 
of whether the Commission had the legal power to order an 
involuntary return of the Wafidain, Khalil said that he made 
two points during the discussion.  First, that TAL Article 
58, which authorizes the Commission to deal with relocation 
issues, does not say that "Arabs" have to return to southern 
provinces but only refers to those who benefited from ethnic 
cleansing (NOTE: this seems to be an opening for claiming 
that Kurds who do not have roots in Kirkuk but have settled 
there since liberation should also return to their origin 
point. This idea has been raised a number of times recently 
by Sunni Arabs and ITF Turkomans.  END NOTE).  Second, he 
said, TAL Article 58 does not authorize the involuntary 
return of the Wafidain. 
7.  (C)  Asked if he expected the Prime Minister to sign off 
on the relocation program as recommended by the Commission, 
Khalil said that the recommendations has been passed to the 
office of the PM, where there are "a number of legal 
advisors" who will review it.  Khalil hopes that the "Council 
of Ministers will see these mistakes" but he would not 
provide an opinion on what the Prime Minister,s position 
would be on the Relocation Program. 
8.  (C) Khalil then described the makeup of the Wafidain 
community, dividing it into two groups: (1) those willing to 
move back to their original homes; and (2) those not willing 
to do so.  Khalil said that "we should support and help those 
that want to go."  Those who want to remain, he continued, 
"should not be penalized in any way."  He said that papers 
that he has from the Passport and Nationality Department 
indicate that there about 363,000 people in Kirkuk who came 
to the province between 1968 and 2003 and who could be 
classified as Wafidain.  Of these, about 102,000 people have 
left Kirkuk and returned to their original homes.  Of the 
remaining 261,000, about 50,000 are willing to move back to 
their original homes while the rest, about 211,000 people, 
want to stay. 
9.  (C)   NOTE:  this figure for Wafidain willing to leave 
approximately tracks with the figures supplied to us by the 
National Solution Commission (reftel).   Khalil,s figure for 
those wishing to remain, however, is much larger.  The NSC 
said that many people had already returned home and that they 
estimated that there were only a few thousand families who 
had not registered with them to return to the Southern Iraq. 
NSC representatives expected that most of these would also 
agree to relocate once they saw money actually being 
dispersed.  END NOTE). 
10.  (C) Khalil was asked how long it would take before 
relocation funds began being disbursed, "assuming that all 
problems (e.g. the voluntary/involuntary question) were 
resolved."   He replied that it was unclear, and cited the 
difficulties that the Commission had in getting the Ministry 
of Finance to turn over their initial funding, USD 20 
million, out of a total compensation/operations budget of USD 
200 million.   He expects more problems with follow-on 
allocations that will be needed like, for example, the 
relocation program. 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
11.  (C) Khalil does not believe that the Article 140 
Normalization Process will finish by its planned mid-March 
completion date.  He also noted that the boundary adjustment 
question has in essence been moved out of the purview of the 
Commission and will be handled entirely by the Presidency 
Council, even though, he said, it is still considered part of 
normalization.  (NOTE:  we have heard reports such as this 
about the boundary adjustment process several times over the 
last week. MOJ Al-Shibli confirmed the role of the Presidency 
Council in the boundary adjustment question, and indicated 
that this would be separate from normalization. Al-Shibli 
said that the boundary changes could happen "anytime the 
Council decides," even after the Referendum.  This is a 
deviation from the original procedure as defined by several 
Article 140 Commission members in September and October.  In 
those meetings the explained that the Commission would 
develop boundary change recommendations to be presented to 
the Prime Minister for his action, as is the case with other 
normalization requirements, and that this would conclude by 
March 2007.  END NOTE). 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
12.  (C) IPAO noted that in the past week, PC Chairman Rizgar 
Ali has privately and publicly stated that no one will be 
forced to move involuntarily under the terms of the 
relocation program.  Asked if he thought it would be useful 
for Rizgar or the Governor to on go television to explain the 
relocation program and allay concerns about it being 
involuntary, Khalil declined, saying "any comment Rizgar made 
would only be 'anesthesia' to placate local residents." 
Instead, he recommended that Article 140 Commission Chairman 
MOJ al-Shibli appear on television and make such a statement. 
That, he said, would carry some force of law and would commit 
the Commission to following a voluntary approach. 
13.  (C) Asked about the current situation with the 
Arab/Turkoman boycott of the Kirkuk PC, Khalil said that 
there had been practically no movement on either the Kurdish 
or Turkoman/Arab side.  Although PC Chairman Rizgar Ali had 
recently sent a memo asking the Turkomans and Arabs to end 
the boycott and also made a televised appeal, he followed 
this, said Khalil, with a public statement blaming the 
boycott on "personal issues," referring specifically to Iraqi 
Turkomen Front leader Ali Mahdi's anger over the incident in 
which he was allegedly "roughed up" while trying to protest 
the visit of the Article 140 Commission to Kirkuk in October 
2006.  According to Khalil, the Arabs and Turkoman had taken 
this statement as demeaning, and had therefore disregarded 
Rizgar's latest overtures (NOTE:  When the boycott first 
started, the Turkomans themselves offered the Ali Mahdi 
incident as a cause of the boycott and demanded an apology 
and investigation.  Later they substituted more 
policy-focused demands, such as ethnic parity in government 
employment as a precondition to their return to the PC.   END 
14.  (C) Khalil stated emphatically that if the "voluntary" 
wording were not added to the Commission's relocation 
proposals he would withdraw from further activity with the 
Commission, adding that there would also not be any 
negotiations over the boycott until the voluntary nature of 
the relocation was officially recognized.  The Arabs and 
Turkomans, he said, were in agreement about this. 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
15.  (C) IPAO then asked about Mohammed Khalil's presence at 
the Ankara conference and about his statements which seem to 
have off such a firestorm in Kirkuk.  Khalil claimed that 
"certain groups" in Kirkuk seem to have a "psychological 
complex" about the Ankara conference, and had overreacted. 
He described the Ankara gathering as just a meeting of "civil 
society groups."   He complained that a few days earlier KRG 
Minister Kemal Kirkukli had attended a conference in London 
during which he said, according to Khalil, that the "Arabs 
must move" from Kirkuk, yet, "no one was angry at him."  He 
evaded further questions about what exactly he had said at 
the conference, claiming that it was just "his presence" 
there that had set off the storm of criticism in Kirkuk and 
the KRG. 
16. (C) Khalil concluded the meeting by noting that he would 
not be intimidated and would continue working for Kirkuk 
unless "we are assassinated," alluding to threats that had 
been made against him. 
17.  (C) COMMENT:  Khalil's local standing has been brought 
into question since his appearance and statements at the 
Ankara conference, but he showed no uncertainty with us 
during this meeting.  His linking of the "voluntary" 
relocation issue and the Arab/Turkoman PC boycott further 
complicates the boycott question.   Like the Arabic and 
Kurdish versions of TAL Article 58, the Commission,s 
finalized proposal uses ambiguous language that could be 
taken to mean either that the program is voluntary or 
involuntary.  Clarification as to how this process should be 
understood is needed.  Another Article 140 Commission member, 
Assyrian lawyer Ashur Benjamin told us the same day that from 
the "legal standpoint," he believes the law provides for 
mandatory relocation of Wafidain, but  because of political 
considerations, it will be considered a voluntary program and 
mandatory relocation will not be enforced.  END COMMENT. 


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