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WikiLeaks: 2009-07-20: 09BAGHDAD1965: RRT Erbil: Minority Politics Ahead of the KRG Elections

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD1965: July 20, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 08:45 AM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD1965 2009-07-20 16:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #1965/01 2011644
P 201644Z JUL 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001965 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/19/2019 
     B. BAGHDAD 1785 
Classified By: Deputy Political Counselor Steve Walker for reason 1.4 ( 
1.  (SBU)  Small ethnic and religious groups in the Kurdistan 
Region are struggling to decide whether special seat 
allocations in the Iraqi-Kurdistan Parliament (IKP) will be 
preferable to token inclusion within the alliance of the 
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of 
Kurdistan (PUK), as occurred in 2005 for some minorities. 
Still others question whether relinquishing their minority 
group identification in favor of joining the KDP or PUK is 
the best means to increase their political power.  End 
How Will Minority Quotas Affect the IKP Race? 
2.  (U)  The revised electoral law of the Kurdistan Region 
designates seats in the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament (IKP) to 
certain minority communities (one for Armenians, five for 
other Christians and five for Turkomen) but not to others, 
such as Yezidis (Ref A).  This allotment of seats has 
received mixed reviews from the affected communities.  RRTOff 
recently met with representatives of the Christian and Yezidi 
community to learn about how the quota seats will affect the 
upcoming IKP elections. 
3.  (C)  Father Philippe Khoury, head of the Dohuk Diocese of 
the Assyrian-Christian Church, believes that having a 
dedicated number of seats for Christian parties is preferable 
to being a part of the Kurdistani list.  He says that there 
will be four Christian parties running for the five seats, 
but that all will have the same goal -) to fight to defend 
the rights of the Christian community in Kurdistan. 
According to Father Khoury, there are ultimately two ways to 
defend the rights of the Christian community:  either the 
community could receive a type of territorial autonomy, or 
municipalities that are predominantly Christian in 
composition could have Christian public administration 
officials, such as mayors and police chiefs.  Father Khoury 
believes that the second option is more pragmatic.  (Comment: 
There is no territory in the KRG where minorities make up a 
majority of the population, thus making the first option 
highly implausible. End Comment.) 
4.  (SBU)  Father Khoury believes that these five members 
will be better positioned to advocate for the needs of the 
community than the current Christian representatives in the 
IKP.  He says that two of the three current representatives 
who are affiliated with the KDP and PUK must yield to those 
parties, but under the new format, the members will be able 
to set the agenda for themselves.  But he does not believe 
the soon-to-be-elected Christian members of the new IKP will 
carry enough weight to achieve these goals in the coming four 
years. "Because there are four parties instead of one, they 
will spend time competing with one another rather than 
unifying their message.  If we are not unified, we will not 
be successful.  A political entity can accomplish more than 
one person alone." 
5.  (SBU)  Taking a different tack, the influential Chaldean 
Bishop, Raban Al-Qas, Bishop of the Dohuk and Erbil Dioceses 
of the Chaldean-Christian Church, disagrees with the 
assumption that a Christian politician will offer better 
public administration of a Christian municipality than 
another.  He says that the issues that concern the Christian 
population, particularly those who live in the villages and 
rural areas of the Kurdistan Region, concern all residents 
regardless of their religious identity.  As such, candidates 
Qregardless of their religious identity.  As such, candidates 
should be elected based on their qualifications and their 
effectiveness in meeting the needs of the people, not on 
their religious or ethnic affiliation alone.  He said that 
many in the Christian community believe the same, and for 
this reason, many of them will continue to support 
non-Christian party lists. 
The Yezidi Situation 
6.  (SBU)  Pir Khider, head of the Yezidi Lalish Cultural 
Center and an independent representative to the IKP, is 
unhappy that Yezidis, who are considered to be ethnically 
Kurdish, were not given a special seat allocation.  Of the 
three Yezidis currently serving in the IKP, one is affiliated 
with the KDP, one with the PUK, and one is independent; the 
Yezidis do not have a separate political party.  For the 
BAGHDAD 00001965  002 OF 002 
coming IKP contest, there are only two Yezidi candidates on 
the KDP-PUK Kurdistani list, and only one of them -- the son 
of Meer Tahsin Beg, High Prince of the Worldwide Yezidi 
Community -- has a number on the party list that is high 
enough to guarantee inclusion into the list.  This matter is 
related to a sensitive debate in the Yezidi community:  who 
is their official representative?  According to Khider, 
Prince Tahsin Beg can care for the Yezidis' religious needs, 
but the Prince does not speak for all Yezidis.  He is worried 
that people will think that if the Prince agrees on something 
then all Yezidis agree; Khider says this is not the case. 
7.  (C)  Khider and the intellectual community of Yezidis -- 
of which he believes he is the leader -- are considering 
forming their own political party in order to end the 
perceived marginalization of the Yezidis under the Kurdistani 
list.  In Khider's view, the Yezidis have their cultural 
rights, but they do not have political rights.  He said that 
the PUK-KDP coalition is shrinking the Yezidis, and that they 
have allotted them just one seat, "as if it were a donation." 
 According to Khider, the Yezidis want to be able to have a 
mayor that leads all of the administrative areas that are 
predominantly Yezidi; more than one Yezidi Director General; 
and "a real Yezidi minister in the KRG; not just a Minister 
of the Region who does nothing."  (Note:  Khider refers to 
the token "Minister of the Region" positions that the KDP/PUK 
have granted to each opposition political party and/or 
minority group.  End Note.)  Khider added that the Yezidis do 
not want to go the way of religious group-based parties, but 
it seems that the PUK-KDP coalition are pushing them in that 
8. (C) The planned minority seat allocation in the Iraqi 
Kurdistan Parliament represents the KRG's attempt to 
recognize the special rights of the religious minorities in 
the region.  But a carve-out that limits the number of seats 
dedicated to each community seems to have resulted in a 
squabble over who has the right to speak for the minority 
community.  This becomes a major problem when the minority 
communities are already rife with internal divisions. 
Ultimately, a move that appears to give the communities a 
stronger platform from which to advocate for their needs may 
actually agitate these underlying divisions.  Then again, 
this process may push minorities to develop unified internal 
positions, consensus leaders, and a common agenda with other 
minorities, which would be a healthy development in the long 


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