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WikiLeaks: 2008-07-07: 08BAGHDAD2096: Practical Responses to Urgent Minority Concerns

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2096: July 07, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 03:03 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD2096, PRACTICAL RESPONSES TO URGENT MINORITY CONCERNS

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2096 2008-07-07 06:48 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO0659
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2096/01 1890648
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 070648Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8168
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002096 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2018 
TAGS: KIRF PGOV PHUM PREL IZ
SUBJECT: PRACTICAL RESPONSES TO URGENT MINORITY CONCERNS 
 
REF: A. BAGHDAD 1953 
     B. BAGHDAD 1962 
     C. BAGHDAD 2060 
     D. 07 BAGHDAD 2682 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Post is stepping up efforts to galvanize Government 
of Iraq (GOI) attention on the needs and vulnerabilities of 
non-Muslim minorities as part of a longer-term effort to 
ensure their secure and prosperous future in Iraq.  While USG 
economic assistance has long benefited minority communities, 
especially in northern Iraq, we are identifying ways to 
increase U.S. aid through existing programs.  We are pressing 
the GOI to release funds already designated for minority 
causes, but whose disbursement has been delayed.  Senior 
Embassy staff will sound out minority political and religious 
leadership about their most urgent concerns, pursuing the 
dialogue in the field through joint visits to sites and 
communities in peril, as appropriate.  With PM Maliki and 
senior GOI officials we are proposing targeted actions they 
could take to visibly demonstrate and enhance their support 
for minorities.  We will also offer advice and assistance to 
GOI initiatives which seek to promote minority interests. 
END SUMMARY 
 
GETTING MORE OUT OF MALIKI 
-------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) Maliki's initiative to establish a committee charged 
with addressing the urgent needs of the Iraqi Christian 
community (Reftel A) is a good step.  We are encouraging him 
to be even more pro-active by undertaking visits to 
vulnerable non-Muslim religious sites and communities, 
launching cultural events that highlight the heritage of 
Iraq's ethnic and religious minorities, and appointing a 
prominent religious minority figure (possibly Minister of 
Human Rights Wijdan Mikhail) to a high profile position, such 
as GOI spokesperson for religious minority issues. 
 
MALIKI AT THE VATICAN 
--------------------- 
 
3.  (C) We understand that Pope Benedict will receive PM 
Maliki at Castel Gandolfo on July 22.  We are urging Maliki 
to use the occasion to manifest his concern for the welfare 
of all Iraqis, including its Christian minorities, and his 
recognition of their contributions to Iraqi civilization.  A 
GOI invitation for a papal visit to Iraq would set in motion 
a dynamic requiring Maliki and others to make good on their 
pledges to ameliorate the plight of Iraqi minorities.  The 
Vatican is likely to welcome a papal visit.  The late John 
Paul II was uanble to realize his widely publicized 
aspiration to visit Iraq, in particular Ur, the birthplace of 
Abraham. 
 
LINKING UP THE GOI WITH WASHINGTON 
---------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) We are seeking a dialogue with Minister of Industry 
and Minerals Fawzi Hariri, in his new capacity as the chair 
of Maliki's new Minorities Committee.  We will encourage 
Fawzi to establish transparent communications with United 
States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 
members in order to explain how the Committee will execute 
its mandate to assist Iraqi minorities.  A video 
teleconference between the Committee members and USCIRF 
commissioners will be an opportunity for Fawzi to elicit 
support and advice; it will also pressure the committee to 
articulate an action plan and establish near-term goals. 
 
INCREASING GOI, USG FINANCIAL AID 
--------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) The Embassy is pressing the Ministry of Finance (MoF) 
to release funds urgently needed by the Non-Muslim Endowments 
Office for church restoration in Baghdad, church construction 
in Ninewa province, and restoration of other non-Muslim 
religious sites (Reftel B). The Ambassador will also raise 
this with PM Maliki and propose he issue an executive order 
to expedite release of the funds. (Note: The funds in 
question are actually the Endowment's 2008 budget, but have 
been held by the MoF contingent on the passage of a law 
pertaining to Christian sects.  An Executive Order by the PM 
would by-pass that requirement, in principle.  End note.)  In 
addition, we are identifying ways through existing programs 
to meet the soft earmark in Supplemental report language for 
$10 million for assistance to Christian communities. 
 
MEETINGS WITH MINORITY LEADERS 
------------------------------ 
 
6.  (C) Senior Advisor for Northern Iraq Thomas Krajeski will 
 
BAGHDAD 00002096  002 OF 002 
 
 
continue to visit minority populated areas of northern Iraq 
to sound out concerns with representatives from all minority 
groups (Christian, Yezidi, Shabak).  Senior Advisor for 
Southern Iraq Gordon Gray will gain visibility on southern 
Iraq's Christian community, specifically in Basrah, and reach 
out to members of the mostly southern-based Mandaean 
community.  Such visits will signal USG interest to GOI and 
KRG officials and further flag the importance of Iraqi 
engagement in safeguarding its diverse religious and cultural 
heritage. 
 
HELPING THE NUNCIO ASSESS THE STATUS OF THE CHALDEAN AND 
ASSYRIAN MINORITY 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
7.  (C) The Embassy has offered Papal Nuncio Archbishop 
Francis Chullikatt its logistical support to facilitate joint 
visits to religious sites in jeopardy.  The Archbishop had 
recently expressed his regret to Senior Coordinator for 
Refugees and IDPs at not being able to visit Chaldean and 
Assyrian sites in the Doura quarter of Baghdad for security 
reasons.  These sites include seminaries in a state of 
disuse; the Nuncio would like to assess the feasibility of 
restoring operations and bringing seminarians back to Baghdad 
instead of working through an alternate site in Erbil (Reftel 
C).  A joint visit with the Nuncio, in his diplomatic 
capacity, would foster greater dialogue, highlight areas of 
concern, and elicit further leads in addressing the 
vulnerability of religious minorities in Iraq.  The Embassy 
also plans to facilitate Papal Nuncio visits to Christian 
communities outside of Baghdad. 
 
NON-CHRISTIAN MINORITIES 
------------------------ 
 
8.  (C) The Embassy and PRTs continue to deepen contacts with 
Shabak and Yezidi communities.  We are seeking outreach to 
the Mandaean population (which, while not strictly Christian, 
does maintain lines of communication with the Christian 
churches in Iraq).  Embassy continues to be vigilant with 
regard to the individual concerns of the few remaining 
members of Iraq's once flourishing Jewish community (Reftel 
D). 
CROCKER

 



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