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WikiLeaks: 2009-03-17: 09BAGHDAD719: Ninewa Provincial Election Results Not Directly Relevant for Resolution of DIBS; Credible Sub-District Elections May Require Agreement on Census

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD719: March 17, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 06:07 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD719 2009-03-17 12:51 SECRET Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #0719/01 0761251
O 171251Z MAR 09
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 000719 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2019 
Classified By: PMIN Robert S Ford for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1.  (C) Summary:  Ninewa's January 31 provincial election 
results may be a starting point for discussions on the 
resolution of the disputed internal boundaries issue but 
should not be considered a de facto Article 140 
referendum.  The largest minority in the DIBs region, the 
Yezidis, returned a mixed result:  support for the Kurdish 
"Fraternity" list, but also a clear preference for Yezidi 
candidates over Sunni Kurds.  Only some 51,000 voters cast 
ballots for the three quota seats (Christian, Yezidi and 
Shebak); the political preferences of the second largest 
confessional minority, Christians, cannot be discerned from 
the available data; the same applies to the Shebak. 
Ninewa Turkmen clearly identify politically with the Iraqi 
Turkman Front (ITF), which fell just short of winning a 
seat.  Highly successful provincial elections 
notwithstanding, conditions in Ninewa Province are not, 
and likely will not be, in place for similarly credible 
district and sub-district elections in the middle of 
2009.   The voter registration system based on ration cards 
is an inadequate basis for the process; limits on free 
political activity in areas of the province where single 
parties dominate (Sheikan, West Mosul, Rabiya, Sinjar)  is 
an as-yet unaddressed impediment; and IDP voting remains 
highly problematic. 
2.  (C) While the net impact of all the alleged fraud on 31 
January - even if all true - would not significantly alter 
the results, similar election irregularities would have a 
magnified effect in many of the district and sub-district 
elections in the DIBs region.  We need IRI and NDI working 
directly in Ninewa to build political and governance 
capacity.  While some Ninewans have participated in their 
training activities, their absence from Ninewa itself so far 
has resulted in a lost opportunity to make a greater 
contribution to political process strengthening in the 
province.  We need their expertise in Mosul.  End summary. 
The Geography of the Ninewa DIBs region 
3.  (S) The disputed internal boundaries (DIBs) region in 
Ninewa stretches from Sinjar in the west, along the 
northern portion of the province, down to Makhmour in the 
east.  The exception is the western Ninewa Rabiya region, 
which is inhabited by Shammar Arabs.  By our estimate, some 
500,000 to 750,000 people live in the DIBs region, to 
include Yezidi, Christians, Shebak, Kurds and Arabs.  Not 
even the most ardent Sunni Arab politicians who vow to 
defend the borders of Ninewa can actually describe them; some 
GOI maps show Agrah (east of Shaykhan) and Faida 
(north of Mosul Lake) as part of Dahuk; some maps show 
Makhmour as part of Irbil.  For its part, the KRG practices 
cartographic aggression by disseminating maps that lay claim 
to the entire DIBs region, including parts that are a 
surprise to many Kurds.  Areas inhabited by Kurds and ethnic 
and religious  minorities are entirely under the de 
facto control of the KRG, an authority exercised in some 
places via Iraqi Army units whose leaders answer to Irbil, 
in others by the Peshmerga militia and the Asa'ash secret 
police.  Although security and social services tend to be 
better in the KRG-administered areas, our sense is that there 
are limits on freedom for political activity and 
major barriers to free movement by Arab Iraqis, just as there 
Qmajor barriers to free movement by Arab Iraqis, just as there 
are limits on political activity in homogeneous 
ethnic Arab areas like West Mosul and Rabiya. 
The Demography of the DIBs region 
4.  (C) The last census whose results are broadly accepted by 
all in Ninewa took place in 1957; given the social 
disruptions caused by forced relocations and arbitrary 
gerrymandering at the provincial and district level, 
current population ratios cannot be extrapolated from those 
data.  The 2009 provincial elections, in which the 
overwhelming number of voters voted for parties that 
represent their ethnic/religious group, may be a more 
useful indicator.  Of Ninewa's estimated total population of 
2.5 to 3 million, the ethno-sectarian components follow: 
A.  Sunni Arabs account for some 55-60 percent of the 
population, a figure borne out by the combined vote totals 
of Al Hudba Gathering (AHG) and the Iraqi Islamic Pary (IIP). 
BAGHDAD 00000719  002 OF 004 
B.  Some 25 percent of the population identify politically 
with Kurdish parties, but of that figure, some two-thirds 
are Yezidi, most of whom maintain a distinct social as well 
as confessional identity. 
C.  Christians of all denominations make up 5-8 percent of 
the population; Shebak and Turkmen probably account for 
another 3-5 percent each. 
5.  (C) The Yezidi are likely the largest confessional 
minority in Ninewa, numbering more than 300,000, and 
centered around Shaikhan and Sinjar Districts.  Others live 
in homogenous villages, including in Tal Kayf, Tal Afar and 
Hamdaniya Districts; there are few if any left in Mosul city. 
  The election results suggest to us that, among 
Yezidi, confessional identity is stronger than their 
linguistic and kinship ties to Sunni Kurds.  The Ninewa 
Fraternity List (NFL) has 12 seats in the new Council, of 
whom eight are Yezidi, some of whom owe their election to 
attracting votes for their individual candidacies rather than 
their prominence on the NFL list.  (The rest are an 
Arab woman, a Shia Kurd, and two Sunni Kurds.)  Of the Al 
Hudba Gathering's (AHG) 19 seats, none will be held by 
Yezidi.  The winner of the quota seat, was an AHG-affiliated 
candidate.  What is clear is that most 
Yezidi opted for the NFL, but selected individual Yezidi 
candidates rather than the NFL's preferred slate. 
6.  (C) We believe there are 150-200,000 Christians of all 
denominations in Ninewa Province, an historic community of 
some 3,000 families in Mosul plus Christian towns and 
villages mainly in Tal Kayf and Hamdaniya Districts. 
(Note:  Our interlocutors tell us that some 90 percent of the 
Moslawi Christian families who fled have since 
returned.)  Christians are divided over several key issues. 
Many, such as Assistant Governor Yussuf Lalo and 
Hamdaniya Mayor Nisan Karumi, believe that the security and 
welfare of the Christian community rests on avoiding 
partisan politics altogether.  To their thinking, Iraqi 
Christians are a professional white collar elite who have 
been imperiled by both the US invasion and subsequent 
sectarian-based political organization.  On the other side 
are officials such as Tal Kayf Mayor Basim Belo and others in 
the Assyrian Democratic Movement who maintain the need 
for a discrete Christian political identity.  The Christian 
community is also divided on whether its interests lie with 
the KRG or with Ninewa/Baghdad. 
7.  (C) Absent data on individual polling stations (which we 
are trying to obtain from the GEO), we cannot 
characterize Shebak political sentiment.  One surprise in the 
election was the emergence of the Iraqi Turkman Front 
(ITF), which fell just short of enough votes to claim a seat 
on the Council, as the clear favorite among Ninewa 
Turkmen, most of whom live in, or are displaced from, Tal 
Afar.  Our Turkmen interlocutors invariably stress their 
combined Turkic-Arabic identities and distinguish their 
political agenda from the Kirkuki Turkmen. 
Election results 
8.  (C) A total of 995,169 Ninewa voters cast their ballots 
in election day, some 60 percent of registered voters. 
Results (based on informal documents shared with us, please 
keep close hold) of the popular vote were: 
AHG: 435,595 --  This figure is combined votes for the party 
list and individual candidates.  Athiel el-Nejefi, 
likely the future governor, received 262,539 votes, the most 
Qlikely the future governor, received 262,539 votes, the most 
of any individual in Ninewa and some 14 times more 
than the second-place finisher.  This translates into 19 
seats awarded to AHG; our in-house calculation, confirmed 
by IFES, reveals an error in IHEC's initial  third round of 
apportionment that (if final results match the preliminary 
ones) could cost AHG one seat mistakenly awarded to the Iraqi 
Islamic Party (IIP). 
NFL: 273,458 votes -- This translates into 12 seats, of whom 
eight are Yezidi.  The NFL is a group of seven political 
parties, including the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), 
but the dominant element is the Kurdistan Democratic Party 
IIP: 60,191 votes -- This should translate into two seats, 
but an apparent IHEC error (if not fixed) could award them 
an extra seat as discussed above. 
ITF:   The electoral divider was 27,777 (2.94 percent of 
BAGHDAD 00000719  003 OF 004 
valid votes cast for the 34-seat general election); 
although we do not yet have the final vote total, the ITF 
received 2.8 percent per IHEC's February 5 press release. 
Based on our imprecise demographic data, we believe that this 
result shows an overwhelming Turkman identification 
with the ITF. 
Minority quota seats:  There were 50,761 votes cast for the 
three minority seats, but we do not have the vote totals by 
community.  The pro-KRG Ishtar List won the Christian seat by 
a two-to-one majority over the Assyrian Democratic 
Movement (ADM), affiliated Al Rafadin list.  The anti-KRG 
Shebak Democratic Assembly affiliate won that seat by a 
greater than two-to-one margin.  Although the vast majority 
of Yezidi voted in the general election, the anti-KRG 
Yezidi Movement for Reform and Progress won the quota seat 
with just over half the votes. 
What does this all mean? 
9.  (S) The first implication of these preliminary results is 
that with the possible exception of Makhmour, which is 
an overwhelming non-Yezidi Kurdish district, we cannot 
extrapolate Art 140 attitudes on the part of the 
communities in the DIBs region based on these results.  The 
results could be a starting point for discussions.  They 
should not, however, be given excessive weight in our own 
thinking, or UNAMI's reporting, on the future 
delineation of the Ninewa provincial boundary.  (Comment: 
UNAMI officials agree.  Election results are only one of 
more than a half-dozen "lines of inquiry," and will not be 
accorded disproportionate weight, not least because UNAMI 
has concerns about ballot box integrity in Kurdish dominated 
DIBs areas, including northern Diyala.  End Comment.) 
10.  (S) The second implication is that while provincial and, 
later this year, national elections can take place 
in Ninewa under conditions of ballot integrity and 
statistically irrelevant levels of fraud, conditions are 
not in place to replicate this at the district or 
sub-district level.  For example, the late addition of 
25,000 Kurdish IDPs to the voters' list was still shy of the 
electoral divider in an election where AHG won an 
outright majority in the new council.  Manipulation of local 
elections of that magnitude, however, would skew the 
results at the local level.    There are limits on political 
freedoms in KRG dominated areas, but the Yezidi 
election is evidence there is also substantial latitude to 
campaign and win contests against KRG-supported 
candidates.  It is harder to assess political freedoms in 
Sunni Arab and Turkmen dominated areas like West Mosul, Tal 
Afar, and Rabiya -- because they are dangerous, because the 
international community was focused on the potential for 
Kurdish irregularities, and because international observers 
have a hard time distinguishing local social pressures that 
produce political monocultures. 
11.  (S) The third implication is that while the PDS 
ration-card based system of voter registration can produce 
a statistically valid provincial or national result, an 
updated census that also accounts for IDPs is necessary for 
credible local elections.  The current voter list will not 
suffice for local elections; to get a legitimate result 
based on a credible process, a census is essential.  And for 
that, there must be a national-level political 
agreement on the rules for governing residence and voter 
registration in areas that have been wholly or partially 
Qregistration in areas that have been wholly or partially 
ethnically cleansed.  (Comment:  It is not clear whether 
there can be a political agreement on rules governing a 
census prior to local elections, although we hope there will 
be. Waiting for such an agreement could significantly 
delay elections. End comment.). 
The Need for IRI and NDI in the Province 
12.  (SBU)  Comment:  If the GOI decides to proceed with 
local elections this summer and if the USG wants to help 
the process, we need the resources and expertise of 
USG-funded NGOs, especially IRI, NDI and IFES.  While NDI 
and IRI have conducted trainings with Ninewans in Erbil, 
neither has visited Mosul or Ninewa in the last nine 
months; NDI has worked with several political parties, but 
the impact has not been sufficient in our view.  IRI staff 
members have not worked in the province, at least within the 
last nine months.  IFES visited the FOB twice: once to 
meet the local GEO and once as part of a briefing to USG 
personnel on the elections process.  (USAID comment:  IFES 
BAGHDAD 00000719  004 OF 004 
works with IHEC and its GEOs but lacks the resources to 
travel the country and visit the more than 15 IHEC offices. 
Instead, it works with the GEO office of IHEC and provides 
training, capacity building, and systems design and 
development from Baghdad.  End Comment).  Our work in the 
field of democracy and governance has been handicapped 
by IRI and NDI's inability to work inside Ninewa Province. 
We believe, for example, that  USG-funded NGOs could make 
much more robust contributions to political party capacity 
building in Ninewa.  These critical  organizations cannot 
do this Ninewa work in Erbil.  Although it is only 50 miles 
away, it may as well be the dark side of the moon for many 
parties.  PRT Ninewa has a standing offer to IRI, NDI and 
IFES:  we will transport them to the FOB on the same air 
and ground assets that we use.  We will house and feed them 
on the FOB; we will fold them into our own military 
movement team; and we will provide office space with internet 
connectivity.  We will use our political capital 
with all parties to get them to work with the NED 
organizations, although we will be pushing on an open door. 
We are not asking IRI, NDI and IFES to take any risks beyond 
that which the PRT takes on a daily basis; however, if they 
insist on taking less and staying in Erbil, it robs us of the 
tools needed to do our job.  (Embassy comment:  we have 
spoken to NDI and IRI about the importance of expanding links 
with Ninewa.  Both organizations have limited their direct in 
Ninewa for security reasons, but we anticipate that 
representatives from both will visit Mosul in the coming 
weeks to explore opportunities to meet the PRT's concerns. 
End Comment). 


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