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WikiLeaks: 2008-08-12: 08BAGHDAD2539: Papal Nuncio Claims Decreasing Support for Autonomous Zone

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2539: August 12, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 04:54 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2539 2008-08-12 06:48 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #2539/01 2250648
P 120648Z AUG 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002539 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2018 
Classified By: Pol MinCouns Robert Ford for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  In a meeting with Special Advisor Krajeski 
and PolOffs on August 7, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Chullikatt 
claimed that there is decreasing support within the Christian 
community in northern Iraq for an autonomous zone as the 
solution to problems of security and marginalization.  From 
his recent trip up north, he said the Christian community 
feels security is improving but is seeking more local 
autonomy, whether as part of the KRG or GOI.  Chullikatt 
claimed that if the USG can build some more schools, create 
new employment opportunities, and help provide basic services 
such as fixing water pumps, then the Christian communities 
would stay in Iraq.  He said the security situation has 
improved for Christians in the last two years, but there 
needs to be additional work.  He highlighted the importance 
for the communities of local autonomy and Christian 
representation in both local security teams and police 
forces.  He visited Christian IDPs, whom he said have been 
integrated and welcomed into the local communities. 
Regarding an upcoming minorities conference, the Papal Nuncio 
was unsure whether it should be in the framework of a larger 
interfaith conference or be a separate conference.  END 
Improved Security 
2.  (C)  Papal Nuncio Archbishop Chullikatt told Special 
Advisor Krajeski and PolOffs on August 7 that, based on his 
observations during his recent travel, the Christian 
community in north Iraq feels security is improving.  The 
Papal Nuncio traveled to Qara Qosh in Hamdaniya on August 5 
for a church opening ceremony and spent several days visiting 
Christian towns in the Ninewa Plain and in the KRG.  He 
characterized overall conditions as "positive," and said the 
towns are safe due to local Christian security forces.  He 
was impressed that local Christian security officials in each 
town coordinated visitor movements between towns, which 
helped them effectively assess security threats.  He added 
that these Christian forces coordinate with Kurdish 
Peshmerga.  S/I Krajeski added that Christians have joined 
the Iraqi Police, which the Papal Nuncio said was an 
important development.  He said the situation was different 
in Mosul, which is still an unsafe area for Christians and 
the threat of kidnapping persists. 
Self-Government, Not Autonomous Zone 
3.  (C)  The Papal Nuncio said that, unlike in previous 
visits, he heard no one in the Christian community discuss 
forming an autonomous zone within the KRG, an idea advanced 
by KRG Finance Minister Sarqis.  His impression is that the 
"Sarqis plan is being phased out."  Instead, the communities 
are asking for a form of self-government in their towns, 
either as part of the KRG or GOI.  He said the priority for 
the Christian community is improving their quality of life 
through the building of schools, improving basic services 
such as water supplies, and providing more job opportunities. 
 He asked for USG aid in areas such as Qara Qosh, Bartella, 
and Accra; and said that "if you help the minorities, they 
will stay in Iraq."  He emphasized that although the 
situation has improved for Christians in the last two years, 
there still needs to be additional support for the 
Christian IDPs 
4.  (C)  During his visit, the Papal Nuncio visited Christian 
IDP camps, which he said had been integrated into local 
communities and could not be easily identified as IDP camps. 
He said that the local Christians made the IDPs feel welcome 
in the communities and helped them find homes and employment. 
 He added that the IDPs are only aware of support coming from 
Sarqis and asked for aid from the USG. 
Interfaith Conference 
5.  (C)  PM Malik told the Ambassador July 29, a few days 
after his return from the Vatican, that he plans to host an 
"Islamo-Christian" conference in Iraq.  The DCM followed up 
with Maliki's Chief of Staff on July 30; he confirmed that 
Maliki had met with Chaldean Patriarch Emmanual Delly and 
publicly announced that the conference would take place, and 
that the PMO is forming an interfaith committee to plan it. 
BAGHDAD 00002539  002 OF 002 
The Papal Nuncio said he had not heard many details about the 
conference, but agreed with S/I Krajeski that it should be 
sponsored by the GOI and take place in Iraq.  He said Iraq 
needs intercommunal dialogue to address misunderstandings 
between Muslims (including Kurds from the KRG) and 
Christians; he was unsure whether a minorities conference 
should be part of a larger interfaith conference or be a 
separate conference. 
6.  (C)  COMMENT:  The Papal Nuncio's report that the 
autonomous region idea is not the best solution for Christian 
communities conforms with the views of the Vatican and Iraqi 
Christian leader Cardinal Delly.  Previous reporting has 
shown conflicting viewpoints among Christian communities 
about establishing an autonomous zone.  His description of 
Christian IDPs was more positive than is sometimes described 
by U.S.-based Christian and minority organizations; as has 
been reported by Ninewa PRT, the Christian IDP camps fare far 
better than IDP camps of other groups, such as Kurdish 
minorities.  We will work with the Papal Nuncio in 
identifying projects that can be aided by USG support. 


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