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WikiLeaks: 2009-03-17: 09VATICAN41: Iraqi Ambassador to Vatican on Christians in Iraq and Barzani-Benedict XVI Meeting

by WikiLeaks. 09VATICAN41: March 17, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 05:56 PM UT


Viewing cable 09VATICAN41, IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN ON CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ AND

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09VATICAN41 2009-03-17 18:10 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
VZCZCXRO1962
PP RUEHBC RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHFL RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP
RUEHSR
DE RUEHROV #0041 0761810
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171810Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1074
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0053
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0045
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 1110
C O N F I D E N T I A L VATICAN 000041 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  3/17/2029 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PREF KIRF IZ VT
SUBJECT: IRAQI AMBASSADOR TO VATICAN ON CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ AND 
BARZANI-BENEDICT XVI MEETING 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 612 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Rafael Foley, A/DCM. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
1.  (C) Summary:  Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See Albert Yelda 
denied to CDA and ADCM rumors that the Kurdish government was 
behind violence against Christians in Mosul.  While recognizing 
that provincial elections were peaceful, Yelda worried about 
rivalries among Christians and tensions between Kurds and Arabs. 
 Kurdish Region President Masoud Barzani's February 27 meeting 
with the Pope was positive. End summary. 
 
2.  (C) During a conversation with Charge d'Affaires and ADCM on 
March 4, Ambassador Yelda (protect), himself a Christian, denied 
rumors that Kurdish leaders were behind violence against 
Christians in Mosul in October of 2008.  Assyrian Democratic 
Movement President Yonadam Kanna spread the rumors, Yelda 
maintained, to advance his own political agenda.  Yelda had told 
Vatican officials not to believe the propaganda either. 
 
3.  (C) While relieved that provincial elections took place 
peacefully last January (reftel), Yelda was pessimistic about 
prospects for the future.  He believed the announced timetable 
for the withdrawal of U.S. troops would encourage insurgents to 
lay low and  resort to violence once the troops are gone. 
Politically, relations between Barzani and Maliki are 
deteriorating, Yelda said, and internal rivalries undermine the 
influence of Christians.  Yelda was particularly critical of the 
Archbishop of Kirkuk, Louis Sako, whom he said was "too 
political and outspoken." 
 
4. (C) Yelda described the Pope's latest meeting with Kurdish 
leader Barzani on February 27  as cordial.  Benedict XVI 
referred to Barzani as "my friend" and thanked him for assisting 
Christians in northern Iraq.  Yelda predicted that the 
willingness of the Pope to see Barzani yet again would lead 
other Iraqi politicians, such as Supreme Council of the Iraqi 
Revolution leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, to seek a meeting with 
the Pope in the future. 
 
5. (C) Biographical note:  Yelda, an Assyrian Christian, has 
been the Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See since 2004.  While 
opinionated, he concedes that he has spent many years out of the 
country and follows developments in Iraq from the distance. 
Before the fall of Saddam, he lived in London, where he 
collaborated with former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi in 
organizing exile groups against the Baathist party.  Embassy 
Vatican officers meet with him periodically, particularly 
following visits of Iraqi officials to the Vatican.  End 
biographical note. 
 
6.  (C) Comment:  The timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. 
troops from Iraq has generated considerable anxiety among the 
Iraqi Christian Diaspora.  As the dates of the U.S. departure 
come closer, Iraqi Christians based in or visiting Rome see the 
Kurdish Regional Government as the best bet for protection of 
Christians in Iraq in the short term.  Apparently sharing this 
analysis, even Vatican officials who had been privately critical 
of Kurdish territorial ambitions have curbed their complaints 
about Kurdish behavior.  End comment. 
 
NOYES

 



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