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WikiLeaks: 2009-01-29: 09BAGHDAD235: Upbeat Minority Leaders Encourage Participation in Elections

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD235: January 29, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 03:07 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD235 2009-01-29 13:33 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #0235/01 0291333
P 291333Z JAN 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000235 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2018 
Classified By: Acting Political Counselor Timothy Lenderking for reason 
s 1.4 (b) and (d). 
1.  (C) While Christian and other minority leaders still 
smart over the single-seat minority quotas in the Provincial 
Elections Law (PEL), they no longer talk of a boycott and are 
encouraging their constituents in the north and other regions 
to vote in the provincial elections on January 31.  Christian 
leaders expressed satisfaction about the IA security 
reinforcements sent to Mosul after the October attacks on 
Christians, which remain largely in place.  They blame the 
Kurds for the October violence -- allegations which the 
Embassy and MNF-I believe are politicized and incorrect. 
They accuse the Kurds of harassing and intimidating 
independent minority leaders, harboring expansionist aims, 
and minority vote-buying.  By all accounts, most of the 
Christian IDPs from the October attacks have returned to 
their Mosul homes.  Christian leaders all emphasized the need 
to stop Christian emigration and criticized efforts to 
facilitate it.  Minorities are concerned about election 
security, just like all Iraqis.  End summary. 
Not All Doom and Gloom for Christians 
2.  (C)  Assyrian Democratic Movement leader and Council of 
Representatives (CoR) member Yonadam Kanna recently assured 
Poloff that the security situation in the north is quite 
stable and that 70-90 percent of the Christians who fled 
Mosul during the October attacks have returned.  Some have 
decided to continue living with relatives in villages around 
Mosul, so they can rent out their Mosul homes. (Note:  This 
is consistent with PRT reporting.  End note.) Kanna claimed 
the KDP may try to assassinate Christian candidates.  He, 
like most Christians, blames the Kurds for the October 
attacks on Christians in Mosul, and alleged they are now 
trying to co-opt Christian provincial council candidates. 
(Comment:  Kanna did not provide evidence to support his 
assertion.  He and other anti-KRG Christian politicians 
continue to repeat these charges, which the Embassy, PRT 
Ninewa, and MNF-I regard as unfounded and politically 
motivated.  End comment.)  Kanna emphasized the normalcy of 
life for Iraqi Christians and praised GOI security 
reinforcements in and around Mosul.  He further pleaded, 
"Stop accepting Christian refugees in the U.S.; we want to 
keep Christians here!"  (Note:  Kanna participated in a 
November 17 VTC with the United States Commission on 
International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which subsequently 
recommended that Iraq be designated a "Country of Particular 
Concern."  Referring to his exchanges with USCIRF 
Commissioners during the VTC, Kanna said he found them 
"aggressive" and "extreme."  He added:  "Iraq is not Darfur." 
 End note.) 
A Better Future for Christians Who Stay 
3.  (C)  Kanna's CoR colleague, Chaldean Union Democratic 
Party leader Ablahad Afram Sawa, told Poloff on January 18 
that he is no longer part of the Kurdish Alliance (KAL) due 
to what he believes is KAL two-timing over the minority quota 
issue in the Provincial Election Law (PEL).  Sawa described 
the situation in Ninewa as peaceful, noting that Christians 
had celebrated Christmas joyously and openly.  While Sawa 
supported, with Kanna, an election boycott immediately after 
November 3 passage of the PEL, he now travels frequently to 
the north to encourage Christians to vote and conceded there 
Qthe north to encourage Christians to vote and conceded there 
was nothing to gain from a boycott.  Sawa said that in 
addition to fielding independent candidates, Christians are 
running on other lists, including the Hadba and Kurdish 
lists.  While Sawa is satisfied with security preparations 
for the election and that voting will be orderly and fair, he 
expects widespread fraud during vote counting. 
4.  (C)  Sawa also confirmed that most Christian IDPs had 
returned to Mosul.  He too blames the Kurds for the October 
violence, but, like Kanna, offered no evidence in support of 
his contention.  He differentiated between two kinds of "bad" 
Kurds -- extremists in Mosul, who want to drive out 
Christians, and those in Kurdistan.  On the other hand, he 
acknowledged that it was not in the Kurds' interest to force 
any minority out of the region, because that would only 
increase Arab influence.  Regarding the future of Iraqi 
Christians, Sawa cited four demands:  Stop emigration ("Those 
BAGHDAD 00000235  002 OF 002 
who encourage emigration are wrong!"); improve general 
security; effectively implement laws (Sawa noted that Iraqi 
law does not prohibit sale of alcohol, but rogue militias 
harass and kill Christians who do.); and provide economic 
Shabak Identity Split 
5.  (C)  CoR member and Shabak activist Hunain al-Qaddo 
recently told Poloff that the KAL was promoting a Shabak 
candidate, Salam Juma' Khudr, who claimed he was Kurdish. 
Al-Qaddo also accused the KAL of distributing cash to small 
minority parties in order to buy their loyalty and alleged 
the Kurds were blatantly trying to "Kurdify" the Shabak. 
Al-Qaddo was confident, however, that Shabak, especially in 
the villages of Bartalla and Bashiqa, will support his 
candidate, Qusay Abbas.  Al-Qaddo, too, believes the Kurds 
were "directly or indirectly" involved in the October 
attacks, because they hoped the murders would make Christians 
distrust Arabs and ask to be joined to the KRG.  He 
estimated 70-80 percent of Christian IDPs had returned to 
Mosul because of improved security.  With regard to election 
security, Al-Qaddo pleaded for MNF-I assistance to Iraqi 
security forces (ISF).  (Note: MND-N is indeed coordinating 
election security with the ISF, and offering assistance where 
needed.  End note.) 
Mandaeans Prepare for First Election 
6.  (C)  The Sabaean-Mandaean community is not unhappy over 
its allocation of one seat on the Baghdad Provincial Council, 
although they had hoped for seats in Maysan and Nasiriyah as 
well.  Mandaean Council President Nidam Fizaa and his 
brother, Non-Muslim Endowments Mandaean Director Zahroon 
Tomah, told Poloff that the sole Mandaean candidate, Ali 
Hussein Zahroon, a cousin of Tomah's, had a Russian 
engineering degree and had been a deputy director general in 
the Ministry of Industry during Saddam Hussein's regime. 
Thomah noted that Mandaeans had printed 5000 election 
posters, which were being distributed privately, and added 
that the Mandaean candidate also had Muslim and Christian 
supporters.  Both Fizaa and Tomah predicted low election 
turnout, citing voter indifference and disgust with religious 
parties' lack of political programs. 
7.  (C)  The attitude of minority leaders toward the 
provincial elections has evolved positively over the months, 
to the point these leaders are now advocates of minority 
participation in the January polls.  As a result, we 
anticipate good participation by Iraq's minorities in the 
elections.  Although the low number of seats afforded to 
minorities by the PEL may still rankle, minority leaders have 
wisely concluded, as urged by the Ambassador and emboffs in 
numerous meetings over the months (reftel), that the 
interests of their communities are best served by 
participation in the electoral process rather than 


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