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WikiLeaks: 2006-08-24: 06BASRAH136: The Gathering to Save Basra - A New Political Entity

by WikiLeaks. 06BASRAH136: August 24, 2006.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 06:13 PM UT


Viewing cable 06BASRAH136, THE GATHERING TO SAVE BASRAH -- A NEW POLITICAL ENTITY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06BASRAH136 2006-08-24 04:34 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL REO Basrah
VZCZCXRO9347
PP RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHBC #0136/01 2360434
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 240434Z AUG 06
FM REO BASRAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0435
INFO RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHBC/REO BASRAH 0454
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BASRAH 000136 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  8/24/2016 
TAGS: PREL PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: THE GATHERING TO SAVE BASRAH -- A NEW POLITICAL ENTITY 
 
REF: BASRAH 109 
 
BASRAH 00000136  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Ken Gross, Regional Coordinator, REO Basrah, 
Department of State. 
REASON: 1.4 (b) 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  On August 22, the Regional Coordinator (RC), 
Deputy RC and poloffs hosted three members of the newly 
established Gathering to Save Basrah (GSB) group.  The GSB was 
established by a group of influential politicians, clerics, 
tribal leaders, and educators in Basrah who believe that a new 
political entity is needed to offer Basrah citizens a choice 
besides the religious and secular parties that cater to their 
own interests.  Established in June, a founding committee of 
eleven oversees the participation and activities of various 
subcommittees that are designed to reach out to all elements of 
the community.  The goals of the GSB are to eliminate sectarian 
strife and improve the dismal security situation, give Basrah 
and its people a voice in Baghdad, root out corruption, and 
provide essential city services.  The group plans to contest the 
next provincial elections by endorsing independent candidates 
and hopes to form a political bloc that will establish a new 
balance in the Basrah Provincial Council.  The GSB identified 
Islamic political parties - and their militias - as its 
principal opponents.  End summary. 
 
THE BEGINNING:  AN IDEA BECOMES REALITY 
 
2.  (C) On August 22, the RC, DRC and poloffs met with three 
members of the GSB:  Sheik Mansour al-Kana'an, Sheik Kadhim 
al-Gatrani, and Dr. Abdul Jabbar al-Hadi.  All three are 
established REO contacts.  Sheik Mansour, the GSB's General 
Secretary, explained to the RC that the group formed six months 
 
SIPDIS 
ago to discuss the deterioration of Basrah's security and its 
lack of social services.  This group, comprised of religious, 
political, and tribal leaders, believed that it needed to do 
something to address the rampant political corruption, the 
infiltration of security services by militias, the campaigns of 
assassinations, and the complete absence of essential services 
in Basrah.  After months of discussion and planning, the 
original eleven members launched the Gathering to Save Basrah on 
June 3 with the release of an official announcement.  The 
announcement outlined the group's mission and listed 15 goals, 
including a judicial system that would protect human rights, 
protection of all religious sites and faiths, and the safeguard 
of educational institutions from pernicious influences.  (See 
Reftel for previous discussion of the Gathering.) 
 
THE STRUCTURE OF THE GATHERING 
 
3.  (C) The GSB's original eleven members act as the 
administration core of the group.  Beyond that, the group has 
multiple subcommittees that are chaired by each of the original 
members.  The subcommittees include youth and sports, tribal 
affairs, media, education, financial, scientific, public 
relations, and a soon-to-be established women's subcommittee. 
Membership in the subcommittees is open to the public, although 
Sheik Mansour said that they become full members only after "a 
long discussion" with other members.  Sheik Mansour said that 
six tribal leaders and leaders from various religious faiths 
were members of the Gathering.  He reiterated that the GSB 
wanted members from all walks of life and all backgrounds, 
including Sunni, Shia, Assyrian, and Christian, in order to be 
"truly representative" of Basrah. 
 
BASRAH NEEDS A SAVIOR 
 
4.  (C) Sheik Mansour said that the GSB was founded to help 
relieve the people of Basrah from the miserable condition they 
now suffer from.  All three GSB leaders commented that there is 
no true representation of Basrah in Baghdad and that mistrust 
characterizes the relationship between the local and central 
government.  The goals of the GSB include giving a voice to 
Basrah and its people, ending Basrah's sectarian strife, 
resolving issues without violence, improving the security 
situation, eliminating corruption among local officials, and 
providing essential services through reconstruction projects. 
Sheik Mansour said the GSB's strength is that it is not formed 
around one individual, and important decisions are made by 
committee.  He contrasted this to local political parties that 
revolve around one individual whose judgment is paramount. 
 
5.  (C) The GSB plans to back independent candidates in the 
provincial elections, in effect throwing its backing behind 
candidates that are either members of the GSB or that believe in 
the GSB's philosophy.  The leaders said that by the time the 
elections are held, their membership and influence should have 
grown significantly.  Their goal for the next election is to 
become a strong political bloc that will create a balance among 
the political parties and enable the Basrah Provincial Council 
to take steps to implement real changes.  All of the GSB members 
noted that the Islamic religious parties and their militia 
 
BASRAH 00000136  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
henchmen would be their chief rivals. 
 
LOOKING FOR USG SUPPORT 
 
6.  (C) Sheik Mansour repeated throughout the meeting that the 
GSB would need support from the United States.  He said that the 
GSB is weak compared to the Islamic political parties that have 
backing and strong financial support from neighboring countries. 
 In discussing the type of support needed, Sheik Mansour said 
that it would be extremely helpful if the USG would assist them 
with various infrastructure projects in Basrah and with media 
outreach.  The GSB, he continued, would like to establish its 
own magazine and radio station, and he requested that the United 
States provide equipment and a media headquarters.  Sheik 
Mansour also asked that the United States help provide an 
official headquarters since they currently hold meetings in 
Sheik Kadhim's diwan and Dr. Abdul Jabbar's home.  Sheik Mansour 
stressed the importance of a strong relationship with the United 
States.  The RC promised to stay in close contact and engage in 
ongoing dialogue with the GSB. 
 
COMMENT 
 
7.  (C) Comment:  The idea and intent behind the formation of 
the Gathering to Save Basrah is welcome - politics in Basrah is 
characterized by parties out of touch with the public and with 
agendas that frequently have little to do with providing good 
government.  That said, political parties will recognize the 
potential appeal of the GSB to the average citizen and will 
attempt to limit its influence.  With vastly greater resources, 
national political parties will attempt to snuff out the GSB or 
to characterize it as representative of the elites.  Perhaps 
with the idea of establishing a wider base of support Sheik 
Mansour confirmed that the Noble Council in Maysan, led by Abu 
Hatim, is a similarly styled political organization, and Sheik 
Mansour said that he could envision the eventual establishment 
of a larger Gathering in the south that represented Basrah, 
Maysan, and Dhi Qar provinces.  End comment. 
GROSS

 



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