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WikiLeaks: 2007-05-17: 07BAGHDAD1607: Chaldean Patriarch Agrees to Extend Combat Outpost Presence at Religious College

by WikiLeaks. 07BAGHDAD1607: May 17, 2007.

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 04:57 PM UT


Viewing cable 07BAGHDAD1607, CHALDEAN PATRIARCH AGREES TO EXTEND COMBAT OUTPOST

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD1607 2007-05-17 02:06 2011-08-30 01:44 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO7927
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1607/01 1370206
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 170206Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1196
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC// PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001607 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2017 
TAGS: MOPS PHUM PGOV PREL KIRF IZ VT
SUBJECT: CHALDEAN PATRIARCH AGREES TO EXTEND COMBAT OUTPOST 
PRESENCE AT RELIGIOUS COLLEGE 
 
REF: A) BAGHDAD 1190 B) BAGHDAD 1425 C) BAGHDAD 1173 
 
BAGHDAD 00001607  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: DEPUTY POLITICAL COUNSELOR CHARLES O. BLAHA FOR REASONS 
1.4 (B,D). 
 
1. (S) SUMMARY:  During a May 14 meeting with MNF-I and 
Embassy representatives, Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III 
Delly and Vice Patriarch Bishop Shlemoon Wardoni requested 
that Coalition Forces (CF) continue to maintain Combat 
Outpost (COP) Amanche at the Chaldean Church's Babel College 
of Philosophy and Theology in Doura until at least June 30. 
MNF-I representatives agreed to honor the request, which was 
a change from the Church's previous decision that the CF 
should withdraw by the end of May (ref A).  The Patriarch 
explained that extending the CF's presence would prevent 
insurgents from destroying the building before he could make 
arrangements to remove valuable Church property.  He 
emphasized that his request must remain secret to avoid 
reprisals against the Church; for now, the public should only 
know that MNF-I is continuing to seek another location for 
the COP.  The Patriarch said he would brief Monsignor Philip 
Najim -- the Patriarch's representative in Rome -- on the 
outcome of the meeting.  He also requested a follow-up 
meeting in June with MNF-I and Embassy representatives.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
PATRIARCH: CHURCH CONSENT ON COP EXTENSION MUST REMAIN SECRET 
--------------------------------------------- ---------------- 
 
 
2. (S) On May 14, during a meeting with EmbOffs and Colonel 
(COL) Ricky Gibbs, the commander overseeing combat operations 
in the Rashid area of Baghdad including the Doura district, 
Chaldean Patriarch Delly requested an extension of the CF 
presence at COP Amanche until at least June 30.  COL Gibbs 
said that he had been ready to withdraw from the COP by the 
end of May as previously agreed, but having received the 
Patriarch's permission, he would operate the COP until at 
least June 30.  The Patriarch indicated that maintaining 
plausible deniability regarding the Church's position on CF 
presence at the College was needed to prevent more reprisals 
against Christians by insurgents.  The Patriarch said that 
COL Gibbs should "keep looking" for another place to relocate 
the COP.  The Patriarch and COL Gibbs agreed to meet again 
June to reevaluate whether conditions have improved enough 
for the CF to withdraw. 
 
3. (S) Bishop Wardoni also requested and received COL Gibbs' 
consent for the Church to put on the wall of the seminary a 
banner stating that Church did not give permission to the CF 
to occupy the building and the CF should look for a place to 
relocate. (Note:  To discourage attacks, Iraqi church leaders 
had placed banners near churches to announce that they were 
not responsible for Pope Benedict XVI's reading of 
controversial statements concerning Islam in September 2006. 
End note.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
SECURITY, PROPERTY DAMAGE CONCERNS BEHIND EXTENSION 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
3. (S) While lauding the security benefits the CF provides, 
the Patriarch noted that the Church could not publicly state 
its approval of continued CF presence in Babel College.  Both 
the Patriarch and the Bishop expressed repeated concerns 
about the fate of the College building and the property 
within it were the CF to withdraw from the College at this 
time.  The Patriarch and Bishop Wardoni said they preferred 
not to remove property from the College, because the Church 
hopes to reopen Babel College eventually and vehicles seen 
moving Church property from the College may draw attacks by 
insurgents.  In addition, the Church does not have another 
place to house the large quantities of property remaining in 
the building.  The Patriarch said that if necessary, the 
Church could arrange to remove the most valuable items, such 
as precious manuscripts; however, the present security 
situation would make removing any property a dangerous 
operation. 
 
-------------------------------- 
PATRIARCH REQUESTS MORE SECURITY 
-------------------------------- 
 
4. (S) The Patriarch and the Bishop asserted that perhaps the 
Baghdad Security Plan had not reached Doura, since in the 
last two weeks at least 75 Christian families fleeing Doura 
had sought shelter in Baghdad churches (ref B).  He pointed 
out that all five churches in Doura had closed.  The 
 
BAGHDAD 00001607  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
Patriarch said that insurgents hide when CF are present, but 
return when they depart.  COL Gibbs acknowledged the problem, 
saying that when he previously provided information to Iraqi 
forces about impending operations in West Rashid, due to a 
leak, within 24 hours the insurgents left the area.  He also 
informed the Patriarch that the Coalition had recently 
doubled its troop strength in Doura. COL Gibbs told the 
Patriarch three out of five the combat battalions based in 
East and West Rashid were in Doura -- and 13 US soldiers from 
these battalions had been killed in the last two months.  He 
also informed the Patriarch that recently the number of 
murders the area had been cut down from roughly 500 to 200 
per month, several senior Al-Qaeda and Jaysh Al-Mahdi (JAM) 
leaders had been captured, and 85 insurgent caches had been 
seized in vacant homes. 
 
5. (S) The Patriarch also requested that the Coalition 
provide security for the 14 guards at the seminary across the 
street from Babel College.  COL Gibbs said that while he 
cannot post soldiers at the seminary, he would take the 
guards' names and provide them contact numbers to call in 
case they are threatened.  In response to the Patriarch's 
concerns about the security of the Saint John the Baptist 
church near the Doura Market )- which recently had the 
crosses removed from its front door and cupola -) COL Gibbs 
said that there are 100 US soldiers and 60 Iraqi soldiers 
living in the Doura Market (soon to be augmented by two 
additional companies of US forces) and he would provide the 
Patriarch with contact numbers for those units in the event 
there are further threats. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
PATRIARCH BRIEFED ON COLLEGE'S CONDITION 
---------------------------------------- 
 
6. (S) COL Gibbs gave the Patriarch a full briefing on Babel 
College's status that included photographs and diagrams 
depicting Babel College's current condition.  (Note: Babel 
College is not a seminary.  The Saint Peter's Chaldean 
Seminary building is located across the street. End note.) 
Bishop Wardoni, who had visited the facility with Emboffs on 
April 4, provided comments throughout the presentation (ref 
C).  The Bishop and the Patriarch raised no complaints about 
the condition of the college and said they would report the 
outcome of the meeting to Monsignor Philip Najim, the 
Patriarch's representative in Rome. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7. (S) Post will continue to coordinate meetings between 
Chaldean and MNF-I representatives to resolve issues arising 
from the presence of CF in the Babel College of Philosophy 
and Theology and the security situation in Doura.  Post will 
explore contingency plans to assist the Church in removing 
property from the college, should the need arise.  END 
COMMENT. 
CROCKER

 



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