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WikiLeaks: 2008-10-05: 08BAGHDAD3219: Ambassador Discusses Way Forward on Minorities

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD3219: October 05, 2008.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 11:35 AM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD3219, AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WAY FORWARD ON MINORITIES

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD3219 2008-10-05 15:41 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO8719
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3219/01 2791541
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 051541Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9806
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 1951
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003219 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2018 
TAGS: PGOV KIRF PHUM PREL IZ
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES WAY FORWARD ON MINORITIES 
REPRESENTATION WITH PAPAL NUNCIO 
 
REF: A. BAGHDAD 3160 
     B. BAGHDAD 2326 
 
BAGHDAD 00003219  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: By Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d 
). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  According to the Papal Nuncio to Iraq, 
Iraq's Christian religious leadership is stunned and 
distressed over the exclusion of Article 50 from the 
Provincial Elections Law (PEL), which would have guaranteed 
minority quotas in provincial councils (Ref A). He noted that 
Christian leaders have expressed their dismay to the highest 
levels of the GOI, but admitted that they should have lobbied 
harder for inclusion of Article 50 before the September 24 
vote.  He hopes the situation can be saved by having the 
Council of Representatives (CoR) vote to reinstate Article 50 
and asked for Embassy and the Department's support.  The 
Ambassador assured the Nuncio that supporting the political 
rights of Iraq's minorities is a top U.S. priority.  He 
recommended ensuring minority representation through 
implementing regulations issued by Iraq's electoral 
commission or through a separate vote only on Article 50.  He 
urged against a Presidency Council veto of the PEL, as this 
would delay elections. 
 
2.  (C)  Chullikatt raised the issue of the Chaldean Church 
receiving compensation for religious sites and facilities 
used by MNF-I since 2006 (Ref B).  He is particularly keen to 
restore Babel College and Seminary as part of his efforts to 
draw back to Iraqi Christian clergy currently in Amman, as 
well as ordinary Christians.  End Summary. 
 
Was the Election Law Setback Preventable? 
----------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  In a October 2 meeting with the Ambassador, Papal 
Nuncio Archbishop Francis Chullikatt said that Iraq's 
Christians had assumed, since no formal objections had been 
raised during parliamentary debate, that Article 50 would be 
included in the PEL passed by the parliament on September 24. 
 He believes the lack of public parliamentary discussion of 
the minority quotas issue contributed to its being struck and 
hopes the issue can be addressed by having the parliament 
vote now to reinstate Article 50.  Chullikatt asserted that 
Iraq's minorities will not disappear and will insist on 
having their rights recognized; ignoring their right to 
political representation will only create larger problems in 
Iraq's nation and institution-building process.  He asked for 
the Embassy's and Department's support at this critical 
juncture. 
 
4.  (C)  Chullikatt told the Ambassador that Chaldean 
Patriarch Cardinal Emmanual Delly has written letters to 
express his dismay to Prime Minister Maliki, President 
Talabani, Vice Presidents Mehdi and Hashemi, and CoR Speaker 
Mashadani.  He said Delly also wrote to PM Maliki on behalf 
of the Council of Christian Leaders of Iraq.  Chullikatt 
agreed with the Ambassador that such energetic action in 
support of Article 50 before the vote might have prevented 
this setback, and noted he has said as much to Christian 
leaders.  He expressed hope that the public attention now 
focused on the issue, including supportive statements issued 
by PM Maliki and CoR Speaker Mashadani, would work in the 
minorities' favor. 
 
Two Options for the Way Forward 
------------------------------- 
 
5. (C)  The Ambassador assured Chullikatt that supporting the 
political rights of Iraq's minorities is a top U.S. priority. 
 The U.S. is focused on finding a solution that does not 
unravel the entire law and delay the elections.  The 
Ambassador stressed that the PEL should not be vetoed by the 
Presidency Council, as called for by some minority 
representatives.  He proposed two options:  implementing 
regulations promulgated by the Independent High Electoral 
Commission (IHEC) that would establish provincial council 
seat quotas for minorities, or having a separate vote only on 
reinstating Article 50.  The Ambassador pointed out that the 
public attention now focused on the PEL and the minority 
quotas would make it difficult for anyone to oppose redress. 
 
Initiatives to Bring Christians Back 
------------------------------------ 
 
6.  (C)  Chullikatt raised the issue of the financial 
compensation the Chaldean Church leadership wants from the 
U.S. military to restore religious facilities used by 
Coalition Forces since 2006. (Note:  Chaldean Bishop Shlaimon 
Wardouni, assistant to Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, 
 
BAGHDAD 00003219  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
recently raised this issue directly with U.S. military 
authorities in Baghdad's Doura neighborhood.  End note.) 
Chullikatt said that he had told Chaldean Patriarch Delly 
that the amount of compensation requested should be submitted 
to the military authorities, adding that Delly wrote a letter 
to the U.S. Army specifying religious facilities requiring 
renovation as a result of being used as MNF-I quarters. 
Chullikatt himself is chiefly interested in renovating and 
reopening Babel College and Seminary as an incentive for 
teaching staff and seminarians to return. 
 
7.  (C)  Convinced that Christianity must stay alive and 
flourish in Iraq, Chullikatt has asked Franciscan sisters and 
Carmelite monks currently in Amman to come back to their 
Baghdad convent and monastery.  His efforts to encourage 
ordinary Christians to return to their homes, whether in 
Baghdad or in northern Iraq, include plans for the Jesuit 
Refugee Services organization to visit Christian refugees in 
Amman and eventually, northern Iraq.  Chullikatt is also 
arranging for the Catholic National Migration Delegation to 
visit Amman, and hopes that they will be able to meet with 
Ambassador Beecroft. 
CROCKER

 



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