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WikiLeaks: 2007-03-20: 07BAGHDAD978: Assyrian Patriotic Party Wants Homeland

by WikiLeaks. 07BAGHDAD978: March 20, 2007.

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 04:24 PM UT


Viewing cable 07BAGHDAD978, ASSYRIAN PATRIOTIC PARTY WANTS HOMELAND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD978 2007-03-20 13:50 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO0209
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0978/01 0791350
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201350Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0281
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000978 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/17/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREF PHUM IZ
SUBJECT: ASSYRIAN PATRIOTIC PARTY WANTS HOMELAND 
 
REF: A. A) KIRKUK 004 
     B. B) BAGHDAD 559 
 
Classified By: PRT LEADER JIM BIGUS FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  IPAO recently met with three members of the 
Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP), to discuss the Party's 
program, especially their proposal for an Assyrian Homeland 
in Ninewa Province.  One APP rep said the Party differs in 
"all subjects" from the larger Assyrian Democratic Movement 
(ADM), and said the APP is more willing to form alliances 
with a wide range of other parties.  The APP is satisfied 
with Article 140's progress and expects it to help correct 
the ethnic situation in Ninewa, where a large Assyrian 
population lives.  The APP wants an "Assyrian Homeland" that 
provides for autonomous rule and is linked to the KRG. 
Assyrian Christians would only be truly safe, they said, 
under a democratic secular government such as that in 
Kurdistan.  They have received an especially positive 
reception, they said, from the Kurdistan Democratic Party 
(KDP).  The APP reps say that their homeland would protect 
the rights of all minorities in the area, including Yezidis 
and other minorities, and would include non-contiguous 
villages and towns within the existing KRG, which would give 
these communities autonomous status and "guarantees" of their 
rights.  The APP proposal mirrors Kurdish proposals described 
in REFTEL to annex portions of Ninewa Province to the KRG. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- - 
BACKGROUND ON THE ASSYRIAN PATRIOTIC PARTY 
--------------------------------------------- - 
2.  (SBU) IPAO met with members of the Assyrian Patriotic 
Party (APP) leadership, including Manuel Khoshaba from the 
APP,s Irbil office, Mary Hashim an Assyrian-American, and 
Albert Geiso who is the APP's Kirkuk director.  Manuel 
described the origins of the APP, saying that after its 
founding in 1973, it spent its early years as an underground 
organization in Baghdad.  Later, it became more focused on 
the Assyrian expatriate community with headquarters moved in 
the 1990s to the Kurdistan autonomous region.  In 2003, the 
APP became a formal political party and became a player in 
Iraqi politics.  The party has one member in the Ninewa 
Provincial Council and one, Sylvana Bouya Nasir, in the 
Kirkuk Provincial Council.  In the KRG, an APP member is the 
Minister of Tourism, but the party holds no seats in the KRG 
Assembly.  Manuel said that the APP's general program calls 
for changes in the Iraqi Constitution, specifically 
guarantees of Assyrian rights, the right to "autonomous 
governing," and additional guarantees of Women's Rights. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
DIFFERENCES WITH ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT 
--------------------------------------------- 
3.  (SBU) Khoshaba noted that the APP "differed in all 
subjects" from the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) (For 
information on ADM see reftel A)the .  Manuel claimed that 
the APP "stands in the middle of everything"8 and can make a 
partnership with Kurds, Arabs or Turkomans. "We accept the 
others and we talk with others," said Manuel, adding that the 
ADM "doesn't do this."  The ADM, he said, &talks one way" 
with you PRTreps but "a different way with Iraqis."   Manuel 
stated that the APP can build partnerships with "all parties 
in Iraq, but we need friends." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
SUPPORT FOR ARTICLE 140 PROCESS AS WAY TO ADDRESS PAST WRONGS 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
4.  (SBU) Concerning Article 140, Manuel said that the APP 
views it as a "constitutional process, approved by a 
referendum of the people." In addressing the Arabization 
Program, Manuel asserted that it must be addressed, but noted 
"it will take time", to reverse these mistakes.  When asked 
whether the APP believes the Article 140 process is moving in 
the right direction, Manuel responded that in terms of 
normalization, the current steps are correct and will help to 
correct the situation in "our part of the country," (the 
Ninewa Plains) where a large concentration of Assyrians live. 
 He said that this area has the same issues as Kirkuk, 
specifically  various types of displaced people and property 
claims. 
 
------------------------------- 
ASSYRIAN HOMELAND LINKED TO KRG 
------------------------------- 
5. (C) Manuel was asked about the proposal for an "Assyrian 
Homeland" and what it would constitute.  Because Assyrians 
occupy a unique position as a small Christian group in an 
overwhelmingly Muslim country, he said,  only a secular 
society would be "supportive for us.8  This sort of 
"democratic secular picture" is present in Kurdistan, he 
said.   He emphasized the Assyrian demand that those areas of 
the Ninewa plains that are predominantly Assyrian be linked 
 
BAGHDAD 00000978  002 OF 003 
 
 
to Kurdistan.  Five Assyrian political groups have endorsed 
this program, he said, and its details have been sent to  the 
US Secretary of State.  Until now, however, he noted, "we 
haven't heard from anyone other than the Kurds about 
creating an autonomous area or homeland."   This link of the 
Assyrian plains to Kurdistan "would give us a chance to be 
ourselves and protect our rights." 
 
6.  (C)  Manuel said that the "five-sided agreement" 
submitted to the Secretary of State was signed by the APP, 
the Chaldean Cultural Community, the Chaldean-Assyrian 
Organizaiton, the Democratic Party, and the "Democratic 
Chaldean Stage."  The proposal had been discussed with the 
Kurds: officially with the Kurdistan Democratic Party 
leadership, and unofficially with the PUK and the Kurdistan 
Communist Party.  Manuel noted that the APP has received 
considerable encouragement from the KDP concerning the 
homeland proposal, but there was still "no official plan." 
He added that they hope to meet with Barzani soon to further 
discuss the matter. 
 
7.  (C)  Concerning the Ninewa portion of this "Homeland," 
Manuel said that this would be an area east of the Tigris 
River currently constituting two districts with villages and 
agricultural land controlled by Assyrians.  Other parts of 
what would become the Assyrian Homeland are various villages 
and smaller areas in the KRG.  These, however, he said, are 
not geographically contiguous. The APP is not asking, he 
said, for complete control of the Assyrian villages currently 
in the KRG, but wants guarantees concerning respect for 
Assyrian traditions and other specific rights. 
 
8.  (C )  Asked if creation of the Ninewa Homeland would mean 
seceding from Ninewa Province, Manuel responded that Iraqi 
Constitution provides for autonomous governing for certain 
ethnic groups.  The APP would like to see a new 
administrative system for local government that would provide 
autonomy for the Assyrians and other such groups.  He again 
stressed the need to "link" to Kurdistan because the "the 
religious political parties" that dominate the rest of Iraq 
will not guarantee Assyrian rights like Kurdistan will. 
 
-------------------- 
NUMBERS OF ASSYRIANS 
-------------------- 
9.  (SBU) Manuel described the Assyrian community in Iraq as 
about 500,000 people, of whom just 6000 to 7000 are in 
Kirkuk.  He noted that as many as 5000 Assyrian families have 
settled in Ninewa Province in the last year (NOTE: 
Representatives of the Assyrian Democratic Movement have 
given us a similar figure, see REFTEL A.  END NOTE), and, he 
added, "we believe that our people in neighboring countries 
would return here" if an Assyrian homeland was established. 
 
------------------------------- 
HOW TO ESTABLISH A "HOMELAND" 
------------------------------- 
10.  (C) Manuel was asked about whether the creation of this 
homeland would come under the aegis of the Article 140 
boundary adjustment process.  He did not give a clear answer, 
only noting that no matter how the Homeland was established, 
it would require "discussions" with and an okay from the GOI 
to attach the Ninewa districts to the KRG.  He added that it 
would also be necessary to convince the Kurds to allow these 
districts to "associate" with the KRG.  (NOTE: Baghdad 559 
indicates that the Kurds may not take much convincing.  This 
program seems to be part of ) or plays into ) a KDP program 
to expand the KRG's borders. END NOTE).  Manuel noted that 
the people to be included in the Homeland area, even where 
they are not Assyrians, are non-Arabs, "more than 90 
percent." "Our plan," he said, "can be called a proposal 
giving rights to all minorities in the area, including 
Yezidis" (NOTE:  there may be problems convincing Yezidis 
that association with the KRG is in their best interests. 
See REFTEL B.  END NOTE). 
 
11.  (C) Asked if the Ninewa Provincial government would 
cooperate with the Homeland proposal, Manuel said that the 
APP had not yet officially submitted this plan to the Ninewa 
authorities.  They have had unofficial discussions with the 
Ninewa PC and, he claimed, the APP had presented the concept 
to the Department of State in Washington (apparently through 
Assyrian expatriates). 
 
----------------------------- 
MORE DIFFERENCES WITH THE ADM 
----------------------------- 
12.  (C) Manuel criticized the Assyrian Democratic Movement's 
position on the homeland proposal, saying that the ADM was 
not interested in the homeland proposal and wanted to 
maintain the status quo, with strong links to the GOI in 
Baghdad.  The ADM, said Manuel, "reflects abnormal political 
ideas" supported by "other" political parties.8  Manuel 
 
BAGHDAD 00000978  003 OF 003 
 
 
accused the ADM's leader and Council of Representatives 
member, Yonadam Kanna, of links with Baathist intelligence 
services and alluded to questionable aspects of ADM's 
financing. 
 
----------------- 
APP AND KIRKUK PC 
----------------- 
13.  (SBU) Asked about the APP's role in Kirkuk, Manuel said 
that their representative on the PC, Sylvana Nasir, was 
elected under the auspices of the Kirkuk Brotherhood List, 
the Kurdish-affiliated list, in the last election.   This 
was, he said, the only way that the APP could get a 
representative on the Council in an election that was 
dominated by ethnic politics. 
 
14.  (C) COMMENT: Manuel, the head of the APP's Irbil office, 
dominated the meeting.  Given that the meeting's two other 
attendees, Hashim and Geiso, represent the APP,s Kirkuk 
branch, this perhaps indicates the Kurdocentric position of 
this party and its minimal role in Kirkuk.   There appears to 
be a clear difference in the position of the APP, and the 
Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), with the ADM showing 
little apparent interest in the idea of a homeland linked 
with Kurdistan.   The APP's description of its 
Assyrian/Ninewa proposals is in some ways a mirror image of 
the KRG expansion moves in Ninewa outlined in REFTEL (B). It 
seems likely that the relationship between the APP and the 
Kurds, especially with the KDP, is closely than what Khoshaba 
described to us.  END COMMENT. 
KHALILZAD

 



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