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WikiLeaks: 2008-06-05: 08BAGHDAD1705: Ninewa Plain: Diverse Communities Want Joint Projects

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD1705: June 05, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 02:22 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD1705 2008-06-05 07:25 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #1705/01 1570725
P 050725Z JUN 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 001705 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2018 
     B. BAGHDAD 1571 
This is a joint Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team 
(PRT)/USAID message. 
1. (C) Summary and comment: May 27-30 meetings by USAID and 
Senior Advisor Krajeski in the Ninewa Plain area, home to 
significant Christian, Yezidi, Shia Shabak, Turkmen, Kurdish 
and Arab populations, focused on the state of internally 
displaced persons (IDP) in Ninewa, the possible uses by USAID 
of the $10 million fund for the Ninewa Plain authorized by 
Congress, and resolution of disputed territory issues.  The 
consultations revealed that singling out certain minority 
groups for assistance could cause resentment among community 
members, particularly during the ongoing resolution of 
disputed territory issues.  The contrast between the living 
conditions of the Herki IDPs and Christian IDPs living in al 
Hamdaniya could not have been more startling.  Christians 
throughout Ninewa appear relatively well off and secure; they 
appear to have no immediate requirements for emergency 
humanitarian assistance on a large scale.  Based on this 
visit, USAID and the PRT are exploring infrastructure 
improvements, such as electricity, sanitation and water 
supply, and employment generation activities. 
2. (SBU) Summary, cont: PRT Ninewa facilitated a series of 
meetings May 27-30 in the Ninewa Plain.  The Ninewa Plain 
includes portions of the Tel Keif, Sheikhan and al Hamdaniya 
districts east and north of Mosul.  The meetings were with a 
USAID Baghdad delegation that included USAID Iraq Acting 
Mission Director Denise Herbol as well as representatives of 
the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and the 
USAID Iraq Program Office.  In addition, the PRT facilitated 
a separate set of meetings with Special Advisor on Northern 
Iraq Ambassador Thomas Krajeski.  End Summary and Comment. 
Background on Ninewa Plain IDPs 
3. (SBU) IDPs are a significant issue facing Ninewa 
Governorate. Iraq-wide, Ninewa is second only to Baghdad in 
IDP population. There is only one formally recognized camp 
and few other concentrated settlements. The majority of IDPs 
in Ninewa are spread throughout the communities of the 
Governorate. Similar to other Governorates, the IDPs in 
Ninewa face difficulties concerning access to basic services 
and support. Final disposition of the IDP population is a 
concern for the Provincial Government and settled population 
alike, as IDPs are perceived to cause a security concern and 
economic stress for the communities in which they settle. 
There is also a general concern that IDPs in disputed areas 
will be used to affect the Article 140 referendum. 
4. (SBU) The Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) 
monitors approximately 12,118 displaced families, or 66,924 
individuals, throughout Ninewa Governorate. The majority of 
these are located within Mosul (n.b. these numbers reflect 
IDPs registered with MoDM; the Ninewa PRT is unaware of any 
evidence that there are a large number of unregistered IDPs). 
 IDP populations are comprised of the following ethnic 
groups: Herki (a clan of formerly pro-Saddam Kurds), 
Christian (Chaldean, Assyrian, and Armenian), Shabak 
(Shiite), Turkmen (Sunni and Shia), Yazidi, and Kurds. 
Herki Kurds are Most Pressing IDP Issue 
5. (SBU) The USAID Baghdad delegation traveled on 28 May to 
several IDP locations on the outskirts of Bartalla, a large 
town in the ethnically and religiously mixed district of al 
Hamdaniya.  At the first stop, the delegation visited a camp 
populated by individuals from the Herki tribe and other 
Kurdish groups.  According to reports from 
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the area, in 
1991 a number of Kurdish IDPs from the Herki tribe began to 
settle in five military forts in the vicinity of Bartalla. 
Many other Kurdish people came from different 
parts of Ninewa province starting in 2003.  As of mid-2007, 
the five forts and surrounding areas hosted approximately 
12,000 Kurdish IDPs.  Approximately 65 percent of this total 
arrived in 1991, with the remainder joining them since 2003. 
The Herkis are known as a tribe that supported Saddam Hussein 
and thus have not been welcomed by government officials from 
BAGHDAD 00001705  002 OF 004 
Ninewa province or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). 
Unwelcome and ostracized, they remain displaced and live in 
difficult conditions in the forts and surrounding houses. 
6. (SBU) Conditions for the IDPs in the forts and surrounding 
homes are basic, but adequate. They have some 
access to water, sanitation, education, and health care, 
although significant improvements could be made to 
essential services and access to social services.  They live 
in crowded, spartan quarters with few amenities, as is 
typical for many urban and rural poor in Iraq.  Those IDPs 
interviewed by the USAID team indicated that they received 
the Government of Iraq-sponsored Public Distribution System 
ration basket (PDS).  A report from an international NGO 
indicates that many of the IDPs in the forts and surrounding 
area work as day laborers, migrant laborers in other parts of 
northern Iraq, farm nearby land or serve in the Iraqi Army. 
Christian IDP Facility Spacious, Clean 
7. (SBU) The USAID Baghdad delegation also visited a 
Christian IDP facility to view the living conditions of these 
Christians and assess any potential assistance that could be 
provided by USAID.  The Christian IDPs live in a 
walled-off apartment complex built with funding from KRG 
Minister of Finance Sarkis Agjahan.  The apartments were 
spacious, clean and full of quality furniture and appliances, 
including air-conditioners and refrigerators.  The Christian 
IDP apartment complex included a lighted soccer field. 
Sarkis also provides the Christian IDPs with 
a monthly stipend, food rations and health care. 
8. (SBU) The Christian IDPs interviewed at the impressive IDP 
facility came mainly from Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. 
Most said they fled due to fear of violence directed at them 
from Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists.  Fearing 
for their lives, they traveled to Ninewa, their historical 
homeland.  They have found security and support in the form 
of financial and material assistance from Sarkis and the KRG. 
 The Christians have manned their own security force of more 
than 2,000 guards with financial support from Sarkis. 
9. (SBU) Following the tour, USAID met with a leading 
Bartalla businessman who is Chaldean Catholic and very 
pro-Kurdish but well respected across the community.  Several 
prominent leaders of various Christian sects, Shia 
Shabak and Yezidi minorities suggested areas for USAID 
intervention.  Some highlights included: funding for NGOs 
(to support women's centers, agricultural centers, 
social/cultural centers, etc.); a fish farm that has fallen 
idle that could be restarted; a tomato paste factory that 
could be rehabilitated; and an aluminum factory that 
requires refurbishment.  Another idea was the extension of a 
higher education facility into Bartalla, where residents said 
about 160 professors from the community could serve as 
Christians' Views of Politics, Security Vary 
10. (C/REL ACGU) When asked specifically about the $10 
million authorized by Congress, one Al Hamdaniya leader 
said the Christians in his area would instead be willing to 
put in $20 million of their own financing for development, if 
only the USG would assist their aspirations to join the KRG. 
In a separate meeting on May 30, Ambassador Krajeski met with 
Tel Keif district mayor and Ninewa Assyrian Democratic 
Movement (ADM) head Basem Belo.  Yezidi and Christian Tel 
Keif district council members also joined the meeting.  Belo 
questioned the need to press ahead quickly on resolution of 
disputed territory issues, pointing out that Tel Keif does 
not need to constitutionally be decided through the Article 
140 process.  He argued from his party's script for the 
creation through Article 125 of an autonomous Christian 
homeland within Iraq as a whole, rather than within the KRG. 
11. (C/REL ACGU) Christian leaders in Al Hamdaniya district 
expressed concern over a late May order that they said came 
from the Prime Minister disbanding the more than 2,000 
security guards who assist with protection of towns in some 
Ninewa Plain towns.  Some of those guards, currently funded 
by Sarkis, may be absorbed by the Iraqi Security Forces, 
according to the Al Hamdaniya leaders, who said they have 
been in contact with Ninewa's Provincial Director of Police 
about the guards.  The bulk of the Sarkis-funded guards 
BAGHDAD 00001705  003 OF 004 
operate in al Hamdaniya and Mosul, with few operating in the 
anti-Kurdish ADM areas of Tel Keif. 
12. (C/REL ACGU) In a meeting with the USAID group, Ninewa 
Provincial Council Member Bassima Isa Suleiman, a 
Christian, focused on attracting refugees back to Ninewa with 
agricultural programs, jobs and housing, as well as 
ensuring that aid was distributed in a fair manner to benefit 
all groups within the Ninewa Plain rather than a 
specific minority group.  In a meeting with the USAID 
delegation, Belo stressed the need for job creation, 
encouraging entrepreneurship and infrastructure improvement, 
specifically water pumping stations. He also expressed a 
strong interest in learning more about Community 
Stabilization Program activities in his district. 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Governor Sees Agriculture Helping Minority Areas 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
13. (SBU) On May 27, the USAID Baghdad delegation met with 
Ninewa Governor Duraid Kashmoula to inquire as to what 
USAID could do to assist the religious minorities in the 
Ninewa Province.  Agriculture figured prominently in the 
Governor,s request for assistance, citing the need for 
technical assistance and funding to re-start the Al Jazeera 
Water Project.  This project has been off-line for over three 
years as a result of GOI negligence with respect to 
the maintenance of pumps at the Mosul Damn that were 
refurbished by GRD in 2004.  Coupled with a drought that 
has plagued the Ninewa plain for over four years, the 
agricultural sector in this Province has been decimated. 
Given Ambassador Crocker's request to USAID to consider a 
potential role for the Department of Defense's Business 
Transformation Agency (BTA), the team identified potential 
areas for assistance related to this issue. 
Business Center Reaches Into Ninewa Plain 
14. (SBU) The USAID delegation also met with representatives 
from the Ninewa Economic Development Center, which 
collaborates with USAID's partner Tijara to provide loans to 
entrepreneurs.  The center requested additional capital to 
grant more loans, suggesting that some of the $10 million 
fund could be channeled through its already established Al 
Hamdaniya branch office, which is run out of a women's center 
in the district's capital of Qara Qosh. 
Comment: Joint Possibilities 
15. (C/REL ACGU) Throughout the meetings on how the $10 
million Congressional fund might be spent, the message of 
community-wide involvement across ethnic and sectarian lines 
was consistent. Singling out certain minority groups 
for assistance could cause resentment among community 
members, particularly during the ongoing resolution of 
disputed territory issues.  Other ethnic groups in Ninewa 
could be potentially disaffected by programs specifically 
targeting Christian communities, raising security concerns 
for that population.  For the Herkis inhabiting the forts 
around Bartalla, a political solution may be required to 
allow them to return to their areas of origin.  The 
contrast between the living conditions of the Herki IDPs in 
the military fort and the conditions of Christians also 
living in al Hamdaniya could not have been more startling. 
Christians throughout Ninewa appear relatively well off and 
secure; they appear to have no immediate requirements for 
emergency humanitarian assistance on a large scale.  There 
may be some vulnerable families that could benefit from 
additional support, but, as a group, the Christian IDPs 
visited in Ninewa appear to be relatively privileged. 
Sarkis's largesse among the al Hamdaniya Christian 
community appears to be an attempt to win support for the 
16. (C/REL ACGU) Based on this visit, USAID and the PRT are 
exploring infrastructure improvements, such as electricity, 
sanitation and water supply, and employment generation 
activities.  Some projects of particular interest may be 
computer and vocational training programs with stipends for 
participants, youth/sports programs, hiring IDPs to do 
cleaning projects, sewing/tailoring workshops for women, and 
improving a currently existing fish farm.  Other projects may 
include employment and credit demand surveys, refurbishment 
BAGHDAD 00001705  004 OF 004 
of the Al Jazeera irrigation system, increased support for 
the Ninewa Business Center, and an expansion of conflict 
mitigation programs. 


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