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WikiLeaks: 2009-02-05: 09BAGHDAD305: Article 23 Committee Finally Visits Kirkuk, But Slow Progress May Not Allow Provincial Elections There in 2009

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD305: February 05, 2009.

Posted: Monday, December 30, 2013 at 03:13 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD305 2009-02-05 12:26 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #0305/01 0361226
O 051226Z FEB 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000305 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/28/2009 
Classified By: Classified By: Senior Advisor Thomas Krajeski; Reasons 1 
.4 (b and d). 
1. (C)  SUMMARY:  The seven members of Parliament's Article 
23 Committee traveled to Kirkuk February 2 and had a mostly 
positive, and somewhat productive, series of meetings with 
local officials.  The Committee was facing a March 31 
deadline, and had done little since the establishment of the 
committee in November to negotiate a power-sharing plan in 
Kirkuk, resolve demographic issues, and settle property 
disputes prior to conducting the postponed provincial poll 
(as mandated by the Provincial Election Law passed in 
September).  In meetings with frustrated Kirkuki leaders, 
committee members admitted they have been slow to produce 
results but pledged to listen to all voices, to meet with all 
ethnic communities, and to include local opinions in their 
final report to the Council of Representatives (CoR).  Having 
wasted four months of their mandated study period already, it 
is highly unlikely that the Committee will issue its report 
by the March 31 deadline, and most observers in Kirkuk do not 
think that provincial elections can be held there before the 
end of 2009.  The Committee did pledge to meet again in 
Baghdad February 5, however, and agreed on an agenda that 
includes discussion of some important committee modalities. 
End Summary 
2. (SBU) At UNAMI's invitation, Senior Advisor Krajeski 
accompanied members of the parliamentary "Article 23" 
committee, established by the Provincial Elections Law, on 
their initial trip to Kirkuk on February 2.  The Article 23 
committee includes:  Mohamed Tamim (Arab, National Dialogue 
Front); Omar Jabouri (Arab, Independent); Sadaddin Ergec 
(Turcoman, Iraqi Turcoman Front); Mohamed al-Bayati 
(Turcoman, United Iraqi Alliance); Khalid Shwani (Kurd, 
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan); Sardep Kekaie (Kurd, KJA); 
Yonadam Kanna (Christian, Assyrian Democratic Movement).  The 
trip was organized by UNAMI's Political Deputy Andrew 
Gilmour, who accompanied, as did UNAMI's representative in 
Kirkuk Stephanie Koury. 
3. (C) Committee members paid a courtesy call on the governor 
and the deputy governor at the beginning of the day and again 
at the end.  The Governor, Abdurrahman Mustafa (Kurdish, 
independent), commented that the group was late in coming to 
town, but said he would do everything possible to help them 
succeed.  The Deputy Governor, Rakan Saeed al-Jiboury (Arab), 
complained that the committee had wasted valuable time, but 
said that he too was glad to see them and wished them 
success.  The Committee met with the Directors General of 
seven federal government offices in Kirkuk -- including the 
DG,s for residency registration, food distribution, identity 
documentation, and planning -- who pledged complete support 
for the Committee,s tasks and agreed to instruct their 
staffs to cooperate fully.  They also met with 
representatives from IHEC (the Iraq High Electoral 
Commission) and CRRPD (the Commission for the Resolution of 
Real Property Disputes).  The Committee also met with a 
phalanx of senior police and security officers who agreed to 
provide security to Committee members when they visit areas 
in the province during their research phase. 
- - - - - - - - - 
Discussing Committee Modalities 
- - - - - - - - - 
3. (C) To begin the day, the committee's two Turcomans, two 
Kurds, two Arabs and one Christian met privately -- for only 
the second time since November -- to hash out administrative 
Qthe second time since November -- to hash out administrative 
issues and adopt a plan of action.  Gilmour, who had arranged 
for the group to fly to Kirkuk in UN aircraft, began the 
session by declaring UNAMI,s willingness to provide 
administrative, expert, and secretariat support.  He advised 
the members to be flexible and to listen to everyone, 
especially local voices, and he reminded them of the nearness 
of their deadline.  (Note: The committee had already 
considered requesting a postponement of the deadline beyond 
March 31.  Gilmour and S/A Krajeski, asked to accompany the 
group to demonstrate USG support, both told members it was 
premature to ask for an extension and that committee members 
need to show a good faith effort to fulfill their mission 
before we would support such a request.  End note.) 
4. (C) The committee agreed to establish an office in Kirkuk, 
a proposal endorsed by the Governor and supported by UNAMI 
(which has a suite available in the Kirkuk Government 
Building).  The committee decided that MP Yonadam Kanna (the 
one Christian member) would be their first chairman with a 
plan to rotate the chair among other members.  They agreed to 
BAGHDAD 00000305  002 OF 003 
meet in Baghdad next on Feb 5.  The only point of contention 
at this organizational meeting was an attempt by an Arab 
member, Omar al Jaboury, to force the Committee to adopt a 
power sharing formula in the province immediately, before 
they issue a final report.  Other members, including Khalid 
Shwani (Kurd) and Mohamed Tamim (Arab), fended off Jaboury, 
declaring that the committee's mandate requires a 
comprehensive and not a piecemeal approach. 
- - - - - - - - - 
Spirited Discussion with PC, Local Article 23 Committee 
- - - - - - - - - 
5. (C) The committee's most productive session was organized 
by Rizgar Ali (Kurd, PUK), the Provincial Council (PC) 
Chairman.  The first meeting was a large informal discussion 
between Committee members and the entire PC over two tables 
laden with Kurdish and Arabic dishes.  After that, Rizgar 
invited the local Kirkuk &Article 23 Committee8 (that he 
had formed after weeks of waiting for the national committee 
to begin its work), to the table with the Baghdad MPs. 
(Note:  Earlier in the day, the Baghdad-based committee 
members had complained to Gilmour and S/A Krajeski that 
Rizgar,s committee was illegal and had no authority.  They 
refused to meet with them until Gilmour threatened them with 
withdrawal of UNAMI support.  Both Gilmour and Krajeski 
strongly advised them to meet with Rizgar and the local 
delegation and hear their views.  End note.) 
6. (C) Yonadam Kanna, the one Christian on the Committee, 
chaired sessions with a professional and firm hand, rapping 
his large ring on the table to restore order whenever the 
discussion wandered.  He began by apologizing to Rizgar and 
PC members for the delay in their visit to Kirkuk and 
acknowledged Kirkuki frustration over central government 
dawdling.  &The Committee is here today,8 he said, &and we 
promise to work hard in cooperation with all Kirkukis, 
including those at this table, to come up with a plan for 
Kirkuk.8  Rizgar responded )- at considerable length 
*-noting that Kirkukis are very frustrated, felt left out of 
provincial elections unjustly, and refuse to let Baghdad or 
anyone else, (&including New York and Washington,8 he said, 
glancing at the UNAMI and U.S. Embassy representatives seated 
on a back bench) impose a solution on them.  The Committee 
members are all Kirkukis too, said Rizgar, so &we need to 
work together.8 
7. (C) Omar al-Jaboury couldn,t refrain from offering again 
a proposal to establish a power sharing formula immediately, 
and referred to the December agreement brokered by Iraqi 
President Talebani, but once again he was fended off by the 
Kurds.  Mohamed Tamim stipulated that the national Article 23 
committee is the only legally mandated committee, but said 
committee members will listen to everyone before filing their 
report.  All participants agreed that any solution needs the 
support of each of Kirkuk,s communities if it is to have any 
chance of success.  Rizgar repeated, on behalf of the Kurds, 
that they would not permit a Baghdad-imposed solution. 
- - - - - - - - - 
All's Well That Ends Well (With an Agenda for the Next 
- - - - - - - - - 
8. (C) In a wrap-up session at the end of the day, the 
Committee agreed on an agenda for their next meeting 
(February 5 in Baghdad), to include:  1) establishment of an 
office in Kirkuk (UNAMI showed them an available suite in the 
Kirkuk Government Building); 2) discussion of possible 
Qelection scenarios in Kirkuk; 3) establishment of working 
principles including a method of consultation; 4) agreement 
that four members (one from each group, with special 
dispensation allowing the single Christian member to nominate 
a stand-in, if necessary) are needed for a quorum; 5) pledge 
to study Rizgar Ali,s documents on power-sharing; 6) a 
commitment to request experts needed from UNAMI; and 7) 
exploring a committee visit to a European city with analogous 
ethnic issues. 
- - - - - - - - - 
Exceeding Low Expectations 
- - - - - - - - - 
9. (C) Comment:  We set the bar low for this Committee field 
trip.  After nearly four months of torpor, the committee's 
only decision to date had been to request an extension of the 
March 31 deadline, a request refused by UNAMI.  So the 
February 2 meetings in Kirkuk were somewhat of a pleasant 
surprise, as all parties at least demonstrated a willingness 
BAGHDAD 00000305  003 OF 003 
to pursue the Article 23 process.  UNAMI is committed to 
supporting the group logistically and substantively by 
providing offices, note-takers, transportation, and expert 
advisers.  While it is very unlikely the committee will 
complete their work by March 31 (in fact, most Kirkukis we 
spoke with do not think that elections in Kirkuk can be held 
before the end of the year, partly because national 
parliamentary elections will take political precedence), 
there were no walk-outs or fists thrown, and the Committee 
has produced an agenda for its next meeting.  End comment. 


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