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WikiLeaks: 2008-07-17: 08BAGHDAD2221: Ninewa: Kurds use Services, Security, and Intimidatiion to Build Support

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2221: July 17, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 03:51 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2221 2008-07-17 08:47 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #2221/01 1990847
R 170847Z JUL 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002221 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2018 
Classified By: Ninewa PRT Leader Alexander Laskaris for reasons 1.4 (b 
and d). 
This is a Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) message. 
1. (C) Kurds make up 15 to 40 percent of Ninewa,s 
population, yet dominate much of the political and security 
apparatus across the province.  Their influence benefits many 
areas, particularly in northern and eastern Ninewa, which 
have better security, economic development, and service 
delivery than the rest of the province.  In some areas, 
particularly in western Ninewa, Kurdish political 
manipulation and intimidation alienate the Sunni Arab 
majority.  Resolution of disputed internal boundaries issues 
is the key issue driving provincial politics, with pro- and 
anti-Kurd factions increasingly seeking allies in the run-up 
to provincial elections.  While Ninewa's residents should 
maintain the right to live in the place of their choosing 
within Iraq, our local policy challenge will be to 
disaggregate voluntary and coerced association with the KRG 
in the context of a national-level agreement.  End summary. 
Kurdish Presence in the Government 
2. (C) Provincial Governor Duraid Kashmoula is a Sunni Arab 
from the small Jahesh tribe.  He does not have a party 
affiliation and is widely seen among the province's Sunni 
Arabs as a tool of Kurdish interests.  Among Kurds, he is 
regarded favorably, largely because his father protected 
Kurdish citizens during waves of violence in Mosul in the 
1950s, and because eight of his close relatives have been 
murdered during his tenure.  Vice Governor Khasro Goran, a 
Kurd from eastern Ninewa, is the province's Kurdish 
Democratic Party (KDP) chief and the real power behind 
provincial administration.  Candidates aligned with the 
Kurdish list won 31 of 41 Provincial Council seats in the 
2005 elections, which many of Ninewa's Sunni Arabs boycotted. 
 The majority of reconstruction projects pushed through the 
council's Municipal Reconstruction Committee address needs in 
Sinjar, Tel Keif, Sheikhan, Hamdaniya and Makhmour districts. 
 Mayors and significant amounts of the district councils in 
each of these districts are Kurdish-aligned, except in Tel 
Keif, where the mayor is from the Assyrian Democratic 
Movement (ADM). 
3. (C) Bureaucrats in the province's directorates general 
largely escaped the anti-Sunni Arab, anti-Baath purges 
following 2003.  As a result, the province has a capable 
cadre of career experts within - and at the head of - the 
technical directorates managing key municipal services, like 
electricity, water, sewer, communications and municipalities. 
Kurdish Military, Intelligence Presence 
4. (C) A Sunni Arab oversees all security operations in 
Ninewa.  Kurdish representation in the officer corps of both 
the Second Iraqi Army and Third Iraqi Army Divisions, which 
cover eastern and western Ninewa, respectively, is 
inordinately greater than their presence in the general 
population.  The enlisted ranks in both divisions are more 
mixed, representing all ethnic and sectarian divisions within 
Iraq.  Kurdish-run checkpoints along the major roads north 
from Mosul to Dohuk and east from Mosul to Erbil ensure that 
all travel beyond 15 miles from Mosul in those two directions 
is checked by Kurdish security services.  Kurdish checkpoints 
also guard the roads into the town of Sinjar and roads from 
the west into Makhmour.  Kurdish Peshmerga militia units 
operate in some parts of eastern and northern Ninewa close to 
the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).  The Iraqi Police is 
generally representative of the local population in which its 
officers are stationed.  The districts of Sinjar, Tel Keif, 
Sheikhan, Al Hamdaniya and Makhmour have active Kurdish 
Assayish secret police officers. 
Kurdish Political Presence 
5. (C) The KDP is the province's most active and 
well-organized party.  Its main provincial office, on the 
east bank of the Tigris in downtown Mosul, is on prime 
commercial real estate and well-protected by high blast walls 
and multiple checkpoints.  Other KDP offices exist throughout 
BAGHDAD 00002221  002 OF 003 
the province.  The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan also has 
offices in Mosul and some outlying towns.  Kurdish flags fly 
across the districts of Sinjar, Tel Keif, Sheikhan, Al 
Hamdaniya and Makhmour, sometimes without an accompanying 
Iraqi flag the farther north and east one travels.  As for 
Sunni Arabs, the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) is the strongest 
party, while the Ninewa-specific Hedba Gathering of secular 
ex-Baathists and minority groups is increasingly popular. 
Ninewa,s Demographic Makeup 
6. (C) The right of Kurds and other ethnic and sectarian 
groups to live in various parts of Ninewa is a topic of great 
political concern to much of the provincial constituency. 
Nonetheless, basic facts of where various groups currently 
live are generally accepted.  Mosul is a majority Sunni Arab 
city, with a large population of Kurds on the east bank of 
the Tigris as well as small populations of Shia Arabs, Sunni 
Turkmen and Christians throughout the city.  Areas to the 
north and east of Mosul are generally a mix of non-Sunni Arab 
minority groups.  Tel Keif, to the north, is a mix of 
Christians, Yezidis, Sunni Arabs and Kurds.  Sheikhan, to the 
northeast, is a mix of Yezidis and Kurds.  Al Hamdaniya, to 
the east, is a mix of Christians, Shia Shabak, Shia Turkmen, 
Kurds, Yezidis and Sunni Arabs.  Makhmour, to the southeast, 
is a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs.  Southern Mosul district, 
around the city of Qayyara, is Sunni Arab.  Al Hadr and Baaj 
districts, to the southwest of Mosul, are Sunni Arab. 
Sinjar, to the west, is a mix of Kurds, Yezidis and Sunni 
Arabs.  Southern Tal Afar, in the central west part of the 
province around the city of Tal Afar, is Sunni Turkmen, Shia 
Turkmen and Sunni Arab.  Central and northwest Tal Afar 
districts, on the south side of the Mosul Lake and around the 
border city of Rabia'a, are a mix of Sunni Arab and Kurd. 
Kurds Demonstrate Better Security and Services 
--------------------------------------------- - 
7. (C) Areas under Kurdish political and security control 
(Sheikhan, Tel Keif, Al Hamdaniya, Makhmour and Sinjar), 
irrespective of the demographic reality on the ground, 
generally feature better security and service provision.  The 
incidence of murders, suicide attacks and car bombs in 
Kurdish-controlled areas is much less than in areas that do 
not have a strong Kurdish political and security presence. 
Economic conditions are also generally better. 
8. (C) Some of Sinjar's and Tal Afar's public distribution 
system food and fuel rations are delivered through Dohuk, 
ostensibly because security and bureaucratic support for 
distributions from Mosul are non-existent.  KRG Finance 
Minister Sarkis funds a guard force of more than 2,000 local 
Christians that guard Christian towns and facilities, mostly 
in Al Hamdaniya.  Many Christians in Al Hamdaniya, led by 
prominent Christian businessman George Kako, say they are 
happy with Kurdish protection of their business interests and 
rights as a minority group. 
9. (C) Since 2003, small numbers of Ninewa residents from the 
Sunni Arab, Kurdish, Christian and Yezidi populations have 
sent their families and businesses to live in Dohuk and 
Erbil, citing security, commercial opportunities and 
protection of minority rights. 
Intimidation of Non-Kurd Groups in Kurdish Areas 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
10. (C) Vice Governor Goran said in December that Sinjar 
would be the most contested district in the resolution of 
disputed internal boundary issues.  Sinjar KDP chief Serbast 
uses many methods, some of them heavy-handed, to cultivate 
support for the Kurds in this district.  He refused Sunni 
Arab aid to Yezidi victims of massive truck bombs in August 
2007 and tried to use his influence as a political party 
leader to forcibly evict Sunni Arab families from the 
district later last year. 
11. (C) In Hamdaniya district, the Shia Shabak say local 
Kurdish authorities restrict their use of Arabic language 
signs and implement an unequal distribution of services and 
reconstruction projects. 
12. (C) In Sheikhan, the Yezidi population say that they feel 
intimidated by Kurdish political, security and intelligence 
forces, are not able to speak their minds publicly, and fear 
losing some of their &Yezidi identity8 under Kurdish 
domination.  Nonetheless, they say they generally support the 
BAGHDAD 00002221  003 OF 003 
Kurdish presence and governance of the district because of 
security umbrella the Kurds provide. 
Political manipulation 
13. (C) The Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) in Tel Keif 
reported earlier this year that Christians in the district 
are being forced, under threat of violence, to sign pledges 
to support Tel Keif becoming part of the KRG under the 
Article 140 process.  Rather than seeking protection for the 
Tel Keif Christians under the KRG, the ADM is angling for an 
autonomous Christian region within the larger Iraq, based on 
Article 125. 
14. (C) Sunni Arabs in western Ninewa, led for the most part 
by Shammar sheikh Abdullah al Yawr, have regularly complained 
to the PRT since 2005 of aggressive KDP actions against the 
Sunni community.  The complaints include arbitrary arrests, 
detention of Ninewa residents in the KRG, blocked access to 
medical care and manipulation of local government posts. 
Abdullah is always careful to point out that he has no 
problem with Kurds in general, but rather with the KDP, which 
he sees as a tool of control over Sunni Arabs in western 
IIP-KDP Alliance? 
15. (C) The Kurds, political, economic, security and 
intelligence strength in Ninewa, coupled with anti-IIP 
attacks by insurgents and terrorists, prompted IIP leadership 
in the last eight months to reach a truce with the KDP rather 
than directly contest disputed boundaries and elections.  The 
IIP and KDP signed a basic political agreement in early 2008 
and pledged to continue to find areas of common interest in 
the following months.  Vice Governor Goran predicts that, 
after provincial elections, an IIP-KDP governing coalition 
would be possible, with the Governor coming from the IIP 
(likely provincial IIP leader Dr. Mohammed Shakir), and the 
Vice Governor remaining with the KDP. 
Hedba Gathering-Shammar 
16. (C) With the IIP growing politically closer to the KDP, 
Ninewa's majority Sunni Arabs who reject Kurdish control of 
the province are gravitating toward a growing alliance 
between the secular, former Baath-supporters of the Hedba 
Gathering and Shammar sheikh Abdullah Al Yawr.  The Hedba 
Gathering, led by prominent Ninewa businessman and horse 
trader Atheel al-Nujaifi, brother to Council of 
Representatives member Osama al-Nujaifi, seeks to gather 
secular Sunni Arabs, non-allied minority parties and western 
Ninewa's Sunni Arab tribesmen.  While Atheel al-Nujaifi and 
Ninewa IIP head Mohammed Shakir are old friends, the two 
Sunni Arab parties will likely be splitting the Sunni Arab 
vote in the coming elections. 
17. (C) Areas under Kurdish control clearly enjoy several 
benefits, such as better security, more services, and 
efficient reconstruction projects.  While these advantages 
encourage stability and prosperity, the perception of harsh 
Kurdish methods has antagonized large blocks of the majority 
Sunni Arab population, particularly in Western Ninewa. 
Continuing friction between these two groups not only 
facilitates insurgent recruiting among the Sunni Arab 
population but also threatens to subsume the interests of 
weaker minority groups, with Ninewa's Christians divided on 
whether they trust the Kurds to protect their rights. 
Legitimate provincial elections offer the possibility for a 
negotiated settlement of Kurdish-Sunni Arab tension.  The PRT 
will continue to monitor the actions of all parties closely 
in the run-up to the elections.  If Kurdish groups seek to 
build support across sectarian lines through demonstrating 
security and economic benefits to potential allies, that is 
good politics.  If, however, they try to use intimidation, it 
will fuel tensions on the ground and complicate our policy 
goals of effective provincial government and reconciliation 
among groups. 


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