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WikiLeaks: 2008-10-19: 08BAGHDAD3357: Christian Politicians Cooperate on Article 50 Revision

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD3357: October 19, 2008.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 11:51 AM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD3357 2008-10-19 15:42 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #3357/01 2931542
P 191542Z OCT 08
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003357 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/11/2018 
     B. BAGHDAD 3244 
Classified By: By Deputy Political Counselor Steve Walker for reasons 1 
.4(b) and (d). 
1. (C) Summary:  Iraq's two Christian parliamentarians, 
political bloc leaders, and other minority representatives 
are redrafting Article 50, which was excluded from the 
Provincial Elections Law (PEL) parliament passed on September 
24 (reftel). (Note:  Article 50 would have established 
set-aside seats for minorities on provincial councils in six 
provinces.  End Note.)  The two Christian MPs, who have 
temporarily set aside their differences, want the revised 
Article 50 to guarantee three seats for Christians on the 
provincial councils of both Baghdad and Ninewa and one seat 
on the council in Basrah.  In addition, they hope to allocate 
a single seat on the councils in Baghdad and Amarah for the 
Sabaean-Mandaean community.  They are also pushing for 
separate ballots and voting districts for Christians and 
other minorities.  Led by Acting Speaker Attiyah, opponents 
of this plan propose a quota of one seat only for Christians 
in each of the above-named cities.  End Summary. 
Christian Collaboration 
2.  (C)  In separate meetings on October 10 and 11, Assyrian 
Democratic Movement leader Younadam Kanna and Chaldean 
Democratic Union Party leader Ablahad Afram Sawa told Poloff 
that Council of Representative (CoR) bloc leaders were 
negotiating to redraft Article 50 of the Provincial Elections 
Law (PEL), but that so far nothing had been agreed upon. 
Kanna and Sawa have proposed a reformulated Article 50 that 
would stipulate three seats for Christians on provincial 
councils in both Baghdad and Ninewa (Mosul), and one seat in 
Basrah.  The two also proposed separate ballots and voting 
districts for minorities, so that any one minority would run 
only against candidates of his/her own group.  Sawa said that 
many CoR members support the Christian position, but that 
their bloc leaders do not.  (Comment:  This strikes us as a 
bit optimistic.  End comment.) 
Minority Solidarity 
3.  (C)  While Christians are the largest minority group in 
Iraq, other minority groups seeking representation, such as 
the Sabaean-Mandaeans, Yezidis and Shabak, are struggling to 
be heard in the Article 50 debate.  The energetic Kanna is 
standing up for the tiny Sabaean-Mandaean community, which 
was not allocated any seats under the original Article 50. 
Kanna claims he was promised a seat for a Sabaean-Mandaean in 
Baghdad and said he is lobbying hard to get them a seat in 
Amarah (Maysan). Both Kanna and Sawa dismissed Yezidi CoR 
member Mahma Khalil's (KDP) claim that there are nearly half 
a million Yezidis in Ninewa and call for a four or five seat 
quota for Yezidis on the provincial council.  Kanna believes 
Khalil will back down and settle for less.  Kurdish bloc 
leaders are fighting any seat allocations for the Shabak, 
which they regard as ethnic Kurds.  The Shabak themselves 
disagree as to whether they constitute a separate ethnicity. 
According to Sawa, three Shabak from Mosul (NFI) met with 
Acting Speaker Attiyah and Deputy Speaker Tayfur on October 
11 to assert that they consider themselves Kurds.  Kanna 
believes if the Shabak are allocated seats, they will be 
satisfied with one seat in Ninewa. 
Confronting Minority Quota Opponents 
4.  (C) Both Kanna and Sawa lamented the fact that CoR 
Speaker Mashadani is out of the country.  In their view, 
Acting Speaker Attiyah is inherently hostile toward minority 
quotas and is playing an obstructionist game.  Kanna also 
lambasted the "Baathists" -- meaning Tawafuq -- for trying to 
minimize minority quotas by insisting on not more than one 
seat for any individual minority in any area.  This would 
work out to one seat each for Christians, Shabaks, and 
Yezidis in Ninewa; one Christian and one Sabaean-Mandaean 
seat in Baghdad, and one Christian seat in Basrah. 
5.  (C)  According to Kanna, Attiyah is proposing that the 
CoR Provincial Affairs Committee and minority representatives 
draft a paper on population numbers of each minority and 
propose other mechanisms to grant minorities political 
representation.  Kanna dismissed this as an ad hoc census, 
and a stalling tactic.  He is particularly upset about 
Attiyah's idea that the minority quotas ultimately decided on 
BAGHDAD 00003357  002 OF 002 
for the provincial council elections will be subject to 
revision following a national census currently planned for 
October 2009. 
Personal Differences 
6.  (C) The Assyrian Kanna and the Chaldean Sawa have a cool 
relationship due to what Kanna sees as Sawa's lack of 
political independence (Sawa's party is part of the Kurdish 
Alliance) and Sawa's insistence on applying the 
differentiation among the various Christian sects to 
politics.  On the other hand, Sawa believes joining forces 
with the Kurdish Alliance was his only option for increasing 
Christian representation in the CoR and regards Kanna as 
egotistical and overbearing.  Nevertheless, Kanna and Sawa 
are cooperating to support minority rights with regard to 
inclusion of quotas in the PEL. Sawa noted that he has not 
been able to convince Kanna to join him in a united public 
position on the minorities representation issue.  Sawa 
regards this as evidence of Kanna egotism and selfishness. 
7.  (C)  The negotiations in the CoR to come up with a 
mechanism to guarantee minority representation on the 
provincial councils continue.  There have been a number of 
competing proposals.  Kanna and Sawa's collaboration on the 
Article 50 negotiations is a welcome change from their usual 
avoidance of each other; Kanna's support for other minorities 
is also positive.  Both are attending additional meetings on 
Article 50 and will keep us informed of developments. 


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