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WikiLeaks: 2008-07-23: 08BAGHDAD2296: KRG President Barzani Pledges Cooperation on Provincial Elections Law, SFA, Turkey/PKK, Hydrocarbons, Article 140

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2296: July 23, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 04:10 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2296 2008-07-23 19:05 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #2296/01 2051905
O 231905Z JUL 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002296 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2018 
Classified By: Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary:  During Ambassador's July 20 trip to Erbil, 
Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani 
said he is ready to travel to Baghdad within the week to 
discuss the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) with PM 
Maliki.  Ambassador noted the KRG's improved relations with 
Turkey, but called for further KRG action to restrict PKK 
movement.  Masoud noted negotiators in Baghdad may be close 
to a deal on the draft Provincial Elections Law, and gave 
assurances the KRG will help solve the impasse.  On the draft 
Hydrocarbons law, Ambassador and EconMin argued that holding 
up the law is not in the KRG's interest and that time is not 
in their favor.  Masoud said KRG negotiators would show 
"maximum flexibility," although he and KRG Prime Minister 
Nechirvan Barzani remain deeply suspicious of attempts by 
Baghdad to reduce the region,s power and authorities.  On 
Article 140, Masoud pledged KRG support for the UNAMI process 
on disputed territories.  Senior Advisor Krajeski pressed 
Masoud to instruct local officials not to impede UNAMI's work 
or intimidate those who want to talk to the UN.  End summary. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Masoud Willing to Discuss SFA with Maliki in Baghdad 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
2. (C) The Ambassador told President Masoud Barzani that PM 
Maliki appears now to favor parallel U.S.-Iraq negotiations 
on three security-related documents:  the strategic framework 
agreement (SFA); the "short protocol" (the bridging document 
to cover the period starting January 1, 2009); and the "long 
protocol" (the long-term SOFA-type agreement).  Ambassador 
explained it is unrealistic to think we can solve all the 
technical issues that must appear in a long term agreement by 
the end of the year.  He suggested Masoud consider traveling 
to Baghdad to reinforce with Maliki the need to get some kind 
of authorities/immunities agreement in place by December 31. 
3. (C) Barzani assured Ambassador he would be willing to 
travel whenever needed.  Ambassador said we would provide an 
update on the ongoing discussions in Baghdad, but noted that 
a Barzani visit and meeting of the Presidency Council (the 
"3 1 1") some time between July 25 (when the PM returns from 
Italy and Germany) and July 31 (when President Jalal Talabani 
departs for the U.S.) might be necessary.  Masoud blamed Iran 
for forcing Maliki to take a harder line and said outside 
interference in this sovereign Iraqi decision is 
unacceptable.  Masoud reiterated the KRG,s complete support 
for a SOFA (and a U.S. base in the KRG), to which Ambassador 
responded that it was in the interest of the KRG and U.S. to 
ensure strong U.S.-KRG ties are replicated in other parts of 
the country. 
4. (C) KRG Senior Advisor Rowsh Shaways, who has been in 
close contact with Maliki recently, said he believes the PM 
may have changed his mind on the timetable of the SFA in 
response to pressure from Iran.  Maliki reportedly asked in a 
July 16 meeting "how, if the strongest U.S. presidential 
candidate is talking sixteen months, can I speak about three 
years?"  Masoud said that Maliki seems to be ready to accept 
it will be 2010 before the "evacuation" (jalaa', in Arabic) 
of U.S. troops.  Ambassador responded we have told Maliki we 
know that word was used to describe post-colonial and 
post-Suez withdrawals of French and British troops and we 
find it offensive.  Ambassador noted that Maliki said in an 
interview with Der Spiegel magazine that the SFA will include 
a short timetable for transitioning out of U.S. combat 
forces, but Maliki has told us he agrees that such decisions 
on the timetable would be made based on security conditions. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Improving KRG Relations With Turkey, But Need Stronger 
Anti-PKK Action 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
5. (C) Ambassador noted the evolution of the Turkish 
government position on the KRG (i.e., that Ankara will now 
deal directly with KRG officials) and said the decision is 
welcome.  He noted that KRG assistance in anti-PKK efforts -- 
like better traveler screening at airports and strengthened 
internal checkpoints -- sends an important signal, but he 
called for more robust KRG efforts to further restrict PKK 
movement.  Masoud agreed there has been a "positive change" 
in Ankara and expressed gratitude for U.S. assistance in 
improving KRG-Turkey relations.  He regretted that PM 
Nechirvan Barzani had been unable to meet Turkish PM Erdogan 
on the latter,s recent trip to Baghdad.  Ambassador 
encouraged them to take advantage of the next opportunity. 
Acknowledging that there have been differences of opinion 
BAGHDAD 00002296  002 OF 003 
between KRG and Turkish leaders on how best to address the 
PKK threat, Masoud said no one should doubt the KRG's 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Pressing KRG to be Flexible on Provincial Elections Law 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
6. (C) Ambassador laid out for Masoud our current 
understanding of the negotiations in the Council of 
Representatives (CoR) on the Provincial Elections Law.  He 
stressed the importance to the U.S. and to Iraq of swift 
passage of a compromise text, saying it would be "close to a 
disaster" if the parties fail to bridge their differences on 
this.  Noting there has been progress towards an agreement 
that would establish a division of provincial administrative 
positions, Ambassador asked KRG negotiators to show 
flexibility wherever possible.  Masoud said he had instructed 
his people to show "maximum flexibility" on the 
administrative positions issue and that the parties are close 
to agreement.  Calling Speaker Mashadani "either half-wise or 
half-crazy," Masoud commented that democracy is good but 
complicated.  Ambassador thanked Masoud for directing his 
people to be flexible and said passage of the law would send 
an important signal to the international community. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Urging KRG to Seize Opportunity to Pass Compromise 
Hydrocarbons Law 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
7. (C) Ambassador expressed disappointment with the KRG 
position on the draft hydrocarbons legislation, calling for 
additional Kurdish flexibility.  EconMin Ries stressed the 
importance to the KRG itself of moving ahead quickly to help 
pass a law, in terms of increasing national revenue, raising 
the value of oil contracts already signed with the KRG, and 
in order to facilitate the export of oil discovered under the 
KRG contracts.  He told Masoud that time is not on the KRG,s 
side and the need for progress is urgent. 
8. (C) Masoud said he left the technical details up to the PM 
and others and was not aware of the current state of 
negotiations.  He noted, however, that the KRG wants to 
ensure that in terms of revenue, they will not "be at the 
mercy of Baghdad" or "strangled" by Oil Minister Shahristani. 
 Later, Nechirvan reiterated that the KRG could not allow 
Baghdad to control all KRG revenue and possess the ability in 
the future to shut off the flow.  As did Masoud, Nechirvan 
said the hydrocarbons legislation must be made consistent 
with the protections for regions built into the Constitution. 
 EconMin Ries said KRG leaders need to be careful when 
expressing concern publicly that legislation could threaten 
the Constitution, lest others who don't like elements of the 
Constitution be tempted to use legislation to try to 
undermine it.  In any case, Ries observed, the Constitution 
is the supreme law and cannot be amended by simple 
legislation.  Shaweys acknowledged that, in any conflict 
between Constitution and legislation, the former should 
prevail, but said lawmakers' first responsibility is to 
ensure draft legislation is consistent with the Constitution. 
9. (C) Nechirvan said that in their last conversation, PM 
Maliki admitted that Oil Minister Shahristani had made some 
mistakes and (reportedly at Nechirvan's suggestion) said he 
will form a political level committee to work this out and 
chair it himself.  The KRG is ready to be absolutely 
transparent about its oil dealings, in order not to 
complicate the talks, he said.  Increasingly animated, 
Nechirvan said "We realize Baghdad is trying to reduce the 
power, authorities, and prestige of the regions.  Having won 
substantial autonomy, we don,t want to lose this final 
battle."  Shaways added that the hydrocarbons law has little 
stand-alone value without a revenue sharing agreement, which 
is another reason a political level meeting will have to 
address this. 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Masoud Critical of Aspects of UNAMI's Article 140 report, but 
Willing to Stay Engaged 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
10. (C) Ambassador asked for Masoud's assessment of the 
article 140 process.  Senior Advisor Krajeski acknowledged 
some KRG criticism with the first round of UN findings but 
said KRG support for the UNAMI-led process is crucial. 
Krajeski stressed strong U.S. political and logistical 
support for UNAMI, which "represents the best opportunity" to 
BAGHDAD 00002296  003 OF 003 
solve long-standing territorial issues.  Masoud acknowledged 
the UN process would give the results international 
legitimacy and pledged KRG support.  He said "we are serious; 
we want a solution," but complained that other parties make a 
solution more difficult by proclaiming Article 140 dead. 
11. (C) Masoud criticized the UN for not using standard 
criteria in making determinations.  In the first phase 
report, he said, the UN disadvantaged Kurdish interests by 
putting a premium on protecting the territorial integrity of 
administrative units in some areas (e.g., recommending 
against splitting Mandali from Baladrooz) while splitting off 
non-Kurdish sub-districts from Kurdish majority districts in 
others (e.g., Makhmour).  Masoud told a story we had heard 
from him before that SRSG de Mistura had spoken to Arab 
tribal groups in northern Ninewa Province who want to join 
the KRG.  In Masoud,s telling, de Mistura told Masoud he 
asked them to make that point in Baghdad.  Masoud said UNAMI 
should try to gauge popular opinion by examining the 2005 
election, holding a referendum, or dividing villages based on 
12. (C) Special Advisor Krajeski told Masoud we have heard 
reports that some individuals have been prevented by local 
officials from speaking to the UNAMI assessment teams.  He 
asked Masoud to make clear to local officials that no one is 
to be prevented from talking to the UN and no one is to be 
intimidated for doing so.  Masoud agreed, pledging "serious 
cooperation."  He complained, however, that some Assyrian, 
Yezidi, and Shabak leaders are always making such charges. 
Among the Assyrians, he said, there are significant 
differences of opinion.  Regarding Yezidis and Shabaks, 
Masoud said people should be free to choose their identity 
(i.e., whether they are Kurds or not) and not be dictated to 
by their leaders. 


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