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WikiLeaks: 2009-03-04: 09BASRAH12: Basra Christian Community Enthusiastic About Election Results, New Provincial Council

by WikiLeaks. 09BASRAH12: March 04, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 05:47 PM UT


Viewing cable 09BASRAH12, BASRA CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT ELECTION

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BASRAH12 2009-03-04 13:06 CONFIDENTIAL REO Basrah
VZCZCXRO9110
PP RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHBC #0012/01 0631306
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041306Z MAR 09
FM REO BASRAH
TO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0418
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0835
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHBC/REO BASRAH 0872
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BASRAH 000012 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  3/4/2019 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KIRF IZ
SUBJECT: BASRA CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT ELECTION 
RESULTS, NEW PROVINCIAL COUNCIL 
 
REF: A) BAGHDAD 003929; B) BASRAH 0006 
 
BASRAH 00000012  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Mark O'Connor, Deputy Director, Regional Embassy 
Office Basrah, Department of State. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
 
 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  In two separate meetings, REO discussed local 
Christian-minority issues with Chaldean Father Emad Aziz 
al-Banna.  Emad, de facto leader of the Christian community in 
Basra, expressed great satisfaction that Christians now have a 
designated seat on the Provincial Council (PC).  The second 
meeting with Emad, held at his Christian kindergarten in Basra, 
included Dr. Saad Matti Potrous, the newly-elected Christian PC 
member.  Matti and Emad embraced the newly-elected Council, 
characterizing its new members as secular and nationalistic, and 
did not anticipate any antagonism toward the Christian community 
by the incoming PC.  Matti speculated that Da'wa PC member Dr. 
Chaltag Abu Sharad would become the next PC Chairman.  On 
security, Emad saw an important continuing role for the United 
States in Iraq, most notably through economic support and 
educational programs.  End summary. 
 
Christian Representation 
--------------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Father Emad, the de facto leader of Basra's Christian 
community, expressed his satisfaction with the recent provincial 
elections during an initial meeting at the REO on February 12. 
Commending the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and 
the Iraqi Security Forces for a job well done, he was 
particularly enthusiastic about the new Christian-designated 
seat on the PC, remarking that Christian participation in the 
government was long overdue.  Referencing the modern plight of 
Basrawi Christians (See ref A), he explained that government 
connections were necessary for securing jobs and economic 
programs.  He hoped the new PC, in collaboration with the 
Christian representative, would work to improve his community's 
circumstances and encourage many internally-displaced Christians 
to return home. 
 
Praise for New PC, Especially "State of Law" 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
 
3. (C) Emad was optimistic about Basra's future and 
characterized the new PC members as "open-minded, secular, and 
nationalistic."  Emad noted that the nationalist spirit promoted 
a popular dedication to improving the country and a resistance 
to foreign influence.  He voiced particular approval for Da'wa's 
"State of Law" coalition, which he said did not have sectarian 
interests.  Emad hoped that the pattern of corruption and 
domination by an over-powering Chairman or Governor would not be 
repeated. 
 
4. (C) On February 22, the REO Acting Director traveled to Saint 
Efram Christian Kindergarden in downtown Basra to meet with Emad 
and newly-elected Christian PC member Dr. Saad Matti Potrous of 
the Chaldean National Council (657).  Matti shared Emad's 
enthusiasm for the new PC.  He described the State of Law 
coalition as non-sectarian and capable of improving living 
conditions in Basra.  Fresh from a meeting with 18 newly-elected 
PC members on February 20, Matti stated that he expected a 
cooperative relationship with the new government, because all 
the PC members - including those from the Islamic parties - 
"trust the Christians."  He repeated this several times during 
the meeting. 
 
Da'wa for PC Chair, Governorship Uncertain 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
5. (C) Matti said he was nearly certain that local Da'wa party 
leader Dr. Chaltag Abu Sharad would soon get the nod for PC 
Chairman, and Emad enthusiastically agreed.  (See ref B) Matti 
believed Chaltag to be very qualified for the job.  Matti had no 
suggestions as to who the next governor would be, however. 
 
Security Relationship 
---------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Touching on security issues, Emad stated that for the 
foreseeable future Iraq will need and value US support - if not 
necessarily military, then at least educational and economic. 
In the short term, Emad reckoned that US troop involvement would 
be required until Basra Province was strong enough to stand on 
its own, although he would not speculate as to how long that 
might be.  Like most Basrawis, he identified security as the 
Province's primary concern - without which economic development 
would be impossible. 
 
7. (C) Comment:  Emad is a very active community leader and he 
appears particularly insightful on political issues.  His 
 
BASRAH 00000012  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
positive appraisal of the new Provincial Council in general and 
of Dr. Chaltag in particular is encouraging.  His emphasis on 
the non-sectarian aspect of the State of Law coalition and his 
concern about corruption and executive dominance offer striking 
positive comparisons with his opinions on the outgoing PC and 
Governor Mohammad Wa'eli, who are associated with religious 
extremism, incompetence, and corruption.  Father Emad has been 
serving as an acting Bishop for some time and will be formally 
ordained by Baghdad-based Chaldean Patriarch Cardinal Emmanuel 
III Delly during Sunday Mass on March 8.  End comment. 
O'CONNOR

 



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