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WikiLeaks: 2006-06-29: 06KIRKUK121: Assyrian Leaders on Article 140, Security

by WikiLeaks. 06KIRKUK121: June 29, 2006.

Posted: Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 05:03 PM UT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06KIRKUK121 2006-06-29 16:21 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL REO Kirkuk
DE RUEHKUK #0121/01 1801621
R 291621Z JUN 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIRKUK 000121 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  6/29/2016 
CLASSIFIED BY: Jim Bigus, PRT Team Leader, Kirkuk, DOS. 
REASON: 1.4 (d) 
1. (C) Summary:  PRT team leader met with Assyrian Democratic 
Movement Kirkuk Chairman Sargon  Lazar on June 20 and Assyrian 
Archbishop Louis Sako on June 21 to discuss implementation of 
Article 140.  Lazar said there were rumors of a falling out 
between President Talabani and PM Maliki over Article 140 
implementation.  Both Lazar and Sako believed violence could be 
avoided if the Kurds managed the Article 140 implementation 
process transparently and reached out to the Arabs and Turkmen. 
The Arabs would be the hardest to win over.  Involving the UN in 
the census and referendum would give the process credibility 
with non-Kurds.  Lazar saw the recent uptick in violence in 
Kirkuk as related to maneuvering over Article 140 but Sako 
blamed it on terrorists who had been pushed out of other areas. 
Sako claimed more young Muslims were expressing interest in 
Christianity as a reaction to the violence of Muslim extremists. 
 End Summary. 
Article 140 
2. (C) Lazar opened the meeting by saying people were tired of 
talking about Article 140 and wanted the process to begin so 
they could start shaping the negotiations.  After two years of 
talking people had lost faith in Baghdad and Kirkuk officials. 
Just getting some sort of process started would restore faith 
and possibly reduce tensions, which were growing while the 
process was on hold. The exact structure of a process was not as 
important as transparency.  UN supervision would contribute 
greatly to peoples' faith in the process and Lazar hoped the 
government would request it.  Getting an accurate census was 
also critical. 
3. (C) Lazar said he had heard there was a falling out between 
President Talabani and PM Maliki over the composition of the 
committee Maliki had called for to implement Article 140.  One 
controversial choice was Communist Party leader Hamid Majid 
Musa, whom the Turkmen objected to because of his role in 
killing Turkmen in 1958.  Lazar said he did not know if the 
falling out was serious or simply part of the initial bargaining 
process.  He predicted forming a committee acceptable to all 
sides would be difficult and take some time. 
4. (C) Another problem, Lazar said, was that the ethnic groups 
in Kirkuk suffered from internal division.  The Kurds were the 
best organized but even they were split between PUK and KDP.  If 
there could be one representative speaking authoritatively for 
the Turkmen, Arabs, and Kurds a solution would be found 
relatively quickly.  Asked if there was any appeal to non-Kurds 
to Kirkuk's joining the KRG because of improved security, Lazar 
said the "Arabs will not be ruled by Kurds and will not think 
about it any further than that."  For others, continuing KDP-PUK 
tension did not give confidence that incorporation into the KRG 
would guarantee security.  Turkmen might be more willing to 
compromise.  Their neighborhoods were geographically distinct 
and perhaps they would accept some sort of special autonomous 
status for their regions within the KRG or some other special 
status arrangement.  If they were to accept it, perhaps the 
Arabs could be persuaded to accept something similar. 
5. (C) Sako said he was optimistic about the Article 140 
implementation process.  People were tired of violence after 35 
years.  The Kurds, who were "now the majority," were smart 
enough to manage the process though they were making mistakes. 
They should be careful not to make provocative speeches, not to 
say on TV that Kirkuk was Kurdish.  They especially should not 
talk about expelling anyone but rather offer more attractive 
compensation packages.  "They have the money. Everybody knows 
the Kurds will do everything to win.  It all depends on the 
manner."  The Coalition could help with public information 
campaigns about the census and referendum.   Winning over the 
Arabs was the key element and most difficult.  The Kurds were 
already working privately with the shaykhs and Turkmen factions 
to divide the opposition.  The Turkmen Front had already changed 
its position to favor the referendum. 
6. (SBU) Lazar said business life in Kirkuk had not yet fully 
recovered from the series of VBIED attacks following the death 
of al-Zarqawi.  There were rumors of more VBIEDs being prepared 
and many shop owners and markets were staying closed.  Lazar 
believed the VBIED activity was related to Article 140.  "Why so 
many here, why not Salah ad-Din?"  Kirkuk was experiencing a 
"security vacancy, no one is in charge, there is no loyalty of 
the citizens to each other."  Lazar said there were only 5,000 - 
6,000 Assyrians left in Kirkuk, the majority having moved to 
Europe, the U.S. and Australia.  Any Assyrian who had the means 
to do so would leave because of security and "no trust in a 
government that does not represent them." 
KIRKUK 00000121  002 OF 002 
7. (SBU) Like Lazar, Sako said that business in Kirkuk had 
slowed following the series of VBIED attacks but attributed the 
upsurge of violence to terrorists who had been pushed out of 
other areas.  He noted that Kirkuk was suffering a brain drain 
because of the security situation, especially kidnappings, with 
30,000 USD being the average ransom price.  Nonetheless Sako was 
optimistic on the security front, saying the death of al-Zarqawi 
was the beginning of the end of the insurgency and that he 
expected terrorism in the Kirkuk area "will finish after one 
more year." 
Young Muslims Interested in Christianity 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
8. (C) Sako said the churches recently were being approached by 
young Muslims asking for literature on Christianity and 
sometimes asking to be baptized.  These requests were refused so 
as not to upset the Muslims.  He thought many of these young 
people were appalled by the violence done in the name of Islam 
and were looking for alternative paths to spirituality.  He 
noted that a bumper sticker showing the shahada (profession of 
the faith) with a sword, taken to be an endorsement of Muslim 
religious violence, was becoming more popular in town.  Muslims 
needed more education about their own religion so as not to be 
manipulated by extremist religious leaders. 
Bio Notes 
9. (SBU) Luis Sako is the archbishop of the Chaldonian Catholic 
Church in Kirkuk.  He has good relations with all the 
communities of Kirkuk.  He has a PhD in Philosophy and Theology 
and is a specialist on Islam.  He participates in academic 
conferences abroad and in interfaith conferences with Muslim 
religious leaders.  He is editor-in-chief of Najmat-Al-Sharq 
Magazine (Christian, cultural). 
10. (SBU) Sargon Lazar is a leading member of the Assyrian 
Democratic Movement.  A political moderate, he has good 
relations with all of Kirkuk's ethnicities.  He was forced to 
flee to Iran in the 1980s because of his role in opposition to 
the Saddam Hussein regime. 
11. (C) The Christian community works well and closely with the 
Kurds and their views are colored accordingly.  Both Lazar and 
Sako saw the Kurdish takeover of Kirkuk as inevitable and not 
necessarily a bad thing for the city as long as the Kurds 
managed it properly and avoided violence.  The idea of UN 
participation in the Article 140 implementation process, however 
unrealistic, is very popular with non-Kurd Kikukis.  Sako is 
optimistic by nature -- we do not know anyone else who expects 
terrorism to end in Kirkuk after one year.  We cannot judge to 
what extent young Muslims are interested in Christianity but 
Sako's comments come a few weeks after local press reported the 
Bishop in Sulaymaniya said was "destabilizing" for people to 
change their traditional religions.  End Comment. 


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