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WikiLeaks: 2008-11-12: 08BAGHDAD3590: Ninewa Christians Slowly Return

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD3590: November 12, 2008.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 12:44 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD3590, NINEWA CHRISTIANS SLOWLY RETURN

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD3590 2008-11-12 13:52 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO8944
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3590/01 3171352
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121352Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0348
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003590 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2018 
TAGS: KIRF PGOV PHUM PREL IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA CHRISTIANS SLOWLY RETURN 
 
REF: A. BAGHDAD 3538 
     B. BAGHDAD 3424 
     C. BAGHDAD 3454 
 
Classified By: A/DCM Robert Ford for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
Summary 
--------- 
 
1.  (C)  Estimates of the number of Mosul Christians killed 
in early-October attacks range between eight and 15, with 
military sources (ISF and CF) giving lower figures than the 
Christian IDPs who fled the city.  Since then, a 
well-coordinated humanitarian assistance effort has provided 
for approximately 2000 families that sought refuge in 
Christian villages in Ninewa.  The GOI has sought to reassure 
the IDPs it is safe to return by dedicating police security 
units dispatched to Mosul as part of the ongoing "Operation 
Mother of Two Springs" anti-insurgent operation to protect 
Christian neighborhoods.  This has had a positive effect on 
encouraging returns.  The Prime Minister has established 
three high-level investigating committees to determine 
responsibility for the terror campaign, while information 
available to the USG indicates Al Qaeda responsibility. 
There is a risk these committees could serve as vehicles for 
politically-motivated allegations rather than impartial 
appraisals of fact.  End summary. 
 
Fear-Induced Flight, Returns Picking Up 
----------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C) In response to violence and intimation in early 
October, at least 1800 Christian families left Mosul 
primarily between October 9 and 13.  Most remained within 
Iraq, while a few reportedly fled to Turkey, Syria, and 
Jordan.  On October 29, the head of UNHCR in Erbil reported 
that the number of displaced families had reached 2,455 as of 
October 28.  Outflows had "steadied" and it does not appear 
there has been any significant displacement since then.  The 
Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoDM) and the KRG's 
Department of Displacement and Migration (DDM) are reviewing 
their lists to identify errors and duplications.  A 
relatively small number of Christians were personally 
threatened; most appear to have fled owing to reports of the 
murders, the circulation of flyers threatening Christians, 
and the departure of others. 
 
3.  (C) On October 19, USAID/OFDA partner International 
Medical Corps (IMC) reported that 1884 families had taken 
refuge in Christian villages surrounding Mosul.  The IMC 
officer in Mosul reported on October 29 that more than 173 
families had returned to Mosul, but that few had notified the 
MoDM of their return.  From the end of October on, IDP 
reurns began to pick up.  On October 30, MoDM cited a lower 
figure when it "confirmed" to UNHCR that 80 families had 
returned and only 22 of those had actually registered as 
returnees.  Christian parliamentarian Younadam Kanna told 
us the same evening that many Christians were returning; for 
example, 122 of the 192 families that had fled to 
Al-Qosh had returned to Mosul.  On November 6, IMC reported 
that 593 Christian families had returned and on November 8, 
Ninewa PRT's contacts estimate conservatively that between 
700-800 famillies had returned.  All Christian civil servants 
are back at work, as are most teachers and university 
students.  The PRT is reaching out to Christian contacts and 
district and provincial officials to get a more exact figure. 
 On November 10, Hamdaniya village contacts told visiting PRT 
leader that 35-40 percent of the IDP families in these 
communities have returned to Mosul, with many others 
commuting in each day to work or school.  Security was cited 
as the grounds for returning, by both returnees and those who 
have stayed.  Many had heard from neighbors that conditions 
were improving, with more Iraqi Police and Army patrolling 
the streets. 
 
GOI Vows Tough Action to Determine Responsibility 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
4.  (C) On October 15, PM Maliki sent a high-level delegation 
to Mosul to assess the IDP situation, coordinate 
security reinforcement, and initiate an investigation to 
determine responsibility for the attacks on Mosul's 
Christians.  PM Maliki's Advisor on Christian Affairs, 
Georges Bakoos, told us on October 27 that three GOI 
committees were investigating the attacks: one led by the 
ISF, one by Iraqi intelligence agencies, and one by MoD 
Abdul Qadir on behalf of the CoM.  The findings of the 
investigations are not yet complete.  Bakoos intimated to 
us that Kurdish politics lay behind the attack, but did not 
provide evidence.  (Comment:  Given the Prime Minister's 
cool relations with the Kurds, we fear the committees' work 
might not be an impartial investigation but a search for 
facts that support a predetermined outcome -- i.e., that the 
 
BAGHDAD 00003590  002 OF 002 
 
 
KRG is responsible.  Bakoos takes AQI's disclaimer of 
responsibility at face value.  End Comment.).  The MoHR sent 
a team to investigate the situation in October and concluded 
in its fact-finding report, a copy of which was shared with 
Poloff,  that the crisis was "pre-planned by criminal groups" 
and was the result of a "deterioration of the security 
situation."  The report claimed that the KRG had built three 
villages before the crisis and used these villages to house 
over 100 displaced families, and that most families moved to 
disputed areas between the KRG and GOI.  The MoHR report 
noted that the security forces' initial response to the 
attacks against Christians was slow and inadequate. Many IDP 
families, it stated, told the MoHR fact-finding team that 
they do not trust Mosul governorate's security institutions. 
 
5.  (SBU) On October 30, UNHCR Erbil reported at the UN/OCHA 
Coordination meeting that the emergency phase is now 
considered over.  UNAMI met with the National Operations 
Center (NOC) of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and had the 
following to report:  NOC has issued instructions to not 
refer to the situation in Ninewa as "displacement," but 
rather as "departures."  The Iraqi police has mapped where 
the displaced originate from and the Army has been tasked to 
protect property and individuals.  According to the NOC, it 
appears that "terrorists" have moved into Ninewa from Diyala, 
in the course of anti-terrorist operations there.  Locations 
of the Ninewa IDPs are considered safe.  Two key Embassy 
Christian contacts, Kanna and Chaldean Bishop Shlaimon 
Wardouni, praised the GOI-provided security reinforcements to 
the Ambassador during a November 5 meeting (Ref A); Wardouni 
added that he hoped they would remain in place. 
 
Strong, Prompt Humanitarian Response 
------------------------------------ 
 
6.  (C)  On October 9, IMC received a request from the MoDM 
to provide food and non-food items to the IDPs.  OFDA 
approved and purchased the items the same day and began 
distributing them on  October 10.  GOI contacts told us 
they would do everything possible to encourage Christians 
from Mosul to return to their former residences.  The KRG 
Ministry of Interior immediately began distributing 250,000 
Iraqi dinars to each displaced family registered with local 
authorities.  The MoDM announced shortly afterward that it 
would disburse 300,000 Iraqi Dinars ($256.00 a month for six 
months) to displaced families.  It has set up an office in 
Bashika to process the monthly stipends.  MoDM is also 
offering payments of one million Iraqi Dinars ($855)to 
families that return to Mosul.  (Note: The stipends and 
lump-sum returnee payments are standardized country-wide.) 
Compensation for property and looting damages will be paid 
separately.  UNAMI and PRT reporting assesses the assistance 
efforts as strong and adequate, although long-term 
displacements could stress the water, sanitation, health, and 
education systems of host communities.  According to UNHCR, 
the distribution of non-food items has essentially ended and 
humanitarian workers are beginning to shift their focus to 
longer terms needs of the displaced. 
 
Culpability and Politics 
------------------------ 
 
7.  (C)  Assyrian news sources and anti-Kurd politicians such 
as Osama al-Nujaifi accuse the KRG of responsibility for 
attacks on Christians, as part of an underhanded effort to 
gain Christian support for an autonomous Christian enclave in 
the KRG, which the KRG could then control.  These charges are 
being reproduced more broadly, including in an NPR broadcast 
and Washington Times op-ed.  Some in UNAMI seem inclined to 
believe that so many allegations against the Kurds must have 
merit.  (Comment:  We believe that the charge of KRG 
involvement is politically motivated, but allegations of KRG 
responsibility have been repeated so widely they are gaining 
currency merely on the basis of repetition.  End Comment.) 
During our October 15-16 interviews with displaced families, 
PRT heard more compelling testimony that the attacks were 
carried out by AQI or sympathetic terrorist or criminal 
enterprises.  The Ambassador told four Christian leaders 
during a November 5 meeting that AQI, taking advantage of a 
complicated political landscape in the north, bore 
responsibility. 
 
CROCKER

 



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