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WikiLeaks: 2009-05-17: 09BAGHDAD1288: Minority Quotas in Upcoming Iraqi Elections

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD1288: May 17, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 07:39 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD1288 2009-05-17 13:41 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #1288/01 1371341
P 171341Z MAY 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001288 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/15/2019 
REF: A. A.) BAGHDAD 612 
     B. B.) BAGHDAD 235 
     C. C.) 08 BAGHDAD 3538 
     D. D.) 08 BAGHDAD 3506 
     E. E.) 08 BAGHDAD 3357 
     F. F.) 08 BAGHDAD 3222 
     G. G.) 08 BAGHDAD 3160 
Classified By: Acting Political Counselor John Fox for reason 1.4 (d). 
1.  (C)  Iraq's minority communities will have mandated 
representation in the Iraqi Kurdish Parliament following the 
KRG elections, currently scheduled for July 25.  For the 
first time, Kurdish electoral law stipulates that Christians, 
Turkmen, and Armenians will receive 11 seats of the total 111 
seats.  Despite this success, Iraqi minorities Members of 
Parliament are pessimistic about the prospects for minority 
quotas in Iraq's upcoming national elections.  They believe 
the Kurds, angered that the minority set-aside seat winners 
in the provincial elections joined the Arab political bloc on 
the Ninewah provincial council, will not support minority 
quotas at the national level despite the new set-asides in 
the Kurdish Parliament and their support for quotas in the 
January 2009 provincial elections.  However, Iraqi political 
parties associated with the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish blocs 
may add minorities to their lists in order to draw support 
from these communities, thereby guaranteeing minority 
representation even if there are no set-aside seats.  End 
KRG Election Minority Quotas 
2. (U) On March 25, the Kurdish Regional Government enacted 
legislation to govern the next election for the Iraqi Kurdish 
Parliament (IKP), currently planned for July 25.  Under this 
legislation, minority representation in the IKP will for the 
first time be codified by law.  According to Article 36 of 
the implementing legislation, five seats will be allocated to 
Christians (Chaldean, Syrian, and Assyrian), five seats for 
Turkmen, and one seat for an Armenian.  No allocation was 
made for the Yezidi community.  In sum, ten percent of the 
KRG Parliamentary seats being contested in the election (11 
out of 111) have been allocated to minorities.  (Note:  In 
the 2005 elections, the Kurdish Democratic Party ran as a 
group list called the "Kurdish Alliance."  While not required 
to by law, the KDP divided up seats following the elections, 
and apportioned many to minorities, including four seats each 
to Christians and Turkmen, one to an Armenian, and three to 
Yezidis.  End note.) 
3. (U) The codification of minority quotas in the KRG was the 
second time in the past year that political representation 
for minorities has been guaranteed by law.  During the 
January 2009 provincial elections, six seats were set aside 
for minority candidates:  three in Ninawah (one for 
Christians, one for Shabaks, and one for Yezidis), two in 
Baghdad (one for Christians and one for Sabean-Mandeans), and 
one in Basra for Christians.  Although this number was far 
lower than minority communities had wanted or expected, the 
inclusion of the six seats was a partial victory as the 
original implementing legislation for the provincial 
elections had guaranteed no seats for minorities. 
What About the National Elections? 
4. (C)  Despite their success in the Kurdish region and in 
provincial elections, Baghdad-based minority politicians are 
pessimistic about securing minority quotas in the national 
elections expected to be held in January 2010.  The 2005 
parliamentary elections had no set-aside seats for 
minorities.  Despite this, four minority candidates (two 
Qminorities.  Despite this, four minority candidates (two 
Christians, one Shabak and one Yezidi) were elected.  Three 
of these -- Younadan Kanna (Assyrian), Hunein al-Qaddo 
(Shabak), and Yamin Farhan (Yezidi) -- in recent separate 
meetings told Poloff that, perhaps ironically, Kurdish 
politicians had told them that the Kurds would not support 
minority quotas in the national elections.  The reason they 
were given for Kurdish opposition to minority quotas was the 
Kurds' displeasure following provincial elections in Ninawah 
Province that the minority candidates who won the province's 
three set-aside seats chose to join with the Arab political 
bloc over the Kurds on the provincial council.  Dissenting 
from the opinion of the other minority politicians, Ablahad 
Sawa (Chaldean) told Poloff that he believed the Kurds would 
support minority quotas (Note:  Sawa was elected in 2006 as a 
candidate with the Kurdish bloc.  End note.). 
5.  (C)  Kanna, Farhan, Qaddo and Sawa each indicated that, 
BAGHDAD 00001288  002 OF 002 
despite the challenges, they would push for quotas to be 
included in the legal framework for the national 
parliamentary elections in January 2010.  Farhan told Poloff 
that the minority communities, negotiating strategy would be 
to ask for three seats each for the Christians, Yezidis and 
Shabaks, with the understanding that, at the end of the 
negotiations, each community would probably only receive one. 
 Poloff also asked each MP about the possibility of minority 
candidates winning seats without the assistance of quotas by 
running independently or on the lists of other political 
parties.  The four MPs were unanimous in the assessment that 
their communities were too small and too fractured 
politically to be able to win seats without the help of 
quotas.  Hunein Qaddo was more blunt, saying that the other 
major political parties in Iraq (Dawa, ISCI, Sadrists, KDP, 
etc.) were recruiting supporters from within the minority 
communities, creating further divisions. 
Are Quotas Necessary? 
6.  (C)  Another prominent minority official, Alex 
Terchanian, an Armenian Christian who serves as a national 
security advisor to the Speaker of Parliament, told Poloff 
that he also believes Iraq's other major political parties 
are already seeking to add minority candidates to their own 
lists rather than support specific set-asides for minorities. 
 Terchanian did not view this as a problem.  Rather, he 
believed that this trend could help Iraq's minority 
communities as it would allow them to be allied with larger 
political blocs that could wield more power on their behalf 
in order to protect their constituents and garner votes in 
the future. 
7. (C)  Along with the January 2009 provincial elections, the 
codification of minority representation in the upcoming 
Kurdish Parliamentary elections is the second instance this 
year in which political representation for Iraq's minority 
communities has been guaranteed by law.  The political 
struggle over the implementing legislation for the next 
national Iraqi elections is only now just beginning.  It 
remains to be seen whether the minority MPs have reason to be 
pessimistic about their chances for securing minority quotas 
but, if the past is any guide, Iraq's minority communities 
may come out better than they now predict.  Terchanian's 
comments echo what we heard from several contacts after the 
provincial elections:  that quotas actually may have reduced 
minority representation because they created a disincentive 
for the larger political parties to include minorities on 
their lists, as they had in the 2005 parliamentary elections. 
 End comment. 


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