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WikiLeaks: 2009-10-14: 09BAGHDAD2758: Christians Recruited for Shi'a-led Electoral Coalitions

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD2758: October 14, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:42 AM UT


Viewing cable 09BAGHDAD2758, CHRISTIANS RECRUITED FOR SHI'A-LED ELECTORAL

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD2758 2009-10-14 10:26 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO9569
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2758 2871026
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141026Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5065
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 002758 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/14/2019 
TAGS: KIRF KDEM PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: CHRISTIANS RECRUITED FOR SHI'A-LED ELECTORAL 
COALITIONS 
 
Classified By: Acting Political Counselor William V. Roebuck for Reason 
s 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Two prominent Christian leaders, Minister of Human 
Rights Wijdan Selim and the Prime Minister's Advisor for 
Christian Affairs Georges Bakoos, tell us that the Prime 
Minister's State of Law Alliance (SLA) has recruited six 
prominent Christian candidates, including themselves, to run 
in the January elections.  On October 5, Pol M/C met with 
Bakoos who said that the Christian candidates running with 
SLA were selected from the various denominations of Christian 
churches in Iraq (Chaldean, Assyrian, Syriac) and that they 
were geographically diverse as well with representatives from 
Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Basra.  On October 12, Minister 
Selim told Poloff that the PM himself had wanted to include 
independent Christians in his coalition and that he had asked 
Cardinal Emmanuel Delly and other church leaders for 
candidate recommendations.  (Note: At the October 1 ceremony 
when the PM announced his coalition, several church leaders 
including Chaldean Bishop Shlaimon Wardouni, Syriac Catholic 
Archbishop Matti Matouka, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Soryous 
Hawa, and Armenian Archbishop Avak Asadourian were in 
attendance.  End note.) 
 
2. (C) According to Selim, the PM's move to reach out to 
church leaders upset the traditional Christian political 
parties whose leaders expressed concern that the church 
should not involve itself so directly in politics.  These 
leaders also seemed fearful that an open endorsement from 
church leaders could potentially swing a large number of 
Christian voters toward the SLA (and away from their 
parties).  However, Selim opined that church leaders would 
likely refrain from any public endorsements and that in fact 
Archbishops Matouka and Hawa had already spoken to the media 
to say that they supported any political party with a 
nationalist, as opposed to sectarian, political platform. 
Both Selim and Bakoos also noted that other political parties 
were recruiting Christian candidates and that leaders of the 
ISCI-led Iraqi National Alliance (INA) had successfully 
brought Dr. Khaled Mirza, a prominent Christian and former 
City Council member from the Karrada neighborhood of Baghdad 
into their coalition. 
 
3. (C) COMMENT: The recruitment of Christians into the SLA 
and INA coalitions (the two largest political entities in the 
January elections) represents a continuation of the trend 
away from political entities focused on sectarian identity 
and toward broad-based movements with national appeal.  While 
a final decision on whether minority quotas will be included 
in the national elections law remains outstanding, it appears 
that regardless, Iraq's Christian community will gain greater 
representation in the next Parliament (there are currently 
only two Christian MPs) by virtue of their inclusion with 
popular coalitions.  Perhaps more importantly, any Christian 
MPs elected as part of the SLA or INA will be allied to 
larger political blocs that may be in a better position to 
address the concerns of their community.  END COMMENT. 
HILL

 



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