Cablegate: Kurdistan Islamic Union in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan

DE RUEHGB #1399/01 1141421
R 241421Z APR 07





E.O. 12958

This is a Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) Cable.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The small Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) party has
established a platform in favor of reform of the political party
system in the Kurdistan Region to promote openness, a stronger
economy, and broader political participation, according to several
of its members. As a marginal party that has had difficulty
obtaining office, it also seeks greater USG involvement in
advancing democratic reform of the electoral process in Kurdistan
and political institutions. The KIU stated it would like to see the
government separated from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the two dominant political
parties. The KIU also states it desires to end the influence of the
KDP and PUK in the economy, the educational system and the labor
market. In any event, the KIU is not in a position to challenge
the dominance of the PUK in Sulaimaniyah Province. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) On March 29 and April 22, RRTOff met with members of the
KIU,Sameer Salim Ameen, KurdoR.S. Seucani, and Poekhal A.B. Hussein
in Sulaimaniyah. Sameer Salim Ameen is a member of the Politburo of
the KIU. KurdoR.S. Seucani is also member of the Provincial Council
of Sulaimaniyah Province. Poekhal A.B. Hussein is a member of the
Kurdistan Islamic Sisters Union (KISU) which is not a political
party but an association of women. The KIU, founded formally in
1994, is based in Erbil with offices in all three provinces of the
Iraqi Kurdistan region. Its predecessor, the Islamic Union, has
existed since 1951 and started having members in the Kurdistan
Region in the late 1970s and 1980s. The current KIU leader is
Saladdin Muhammad Bahaddin (Secretary General) who was born in
Halabja in 1950.

3. (SBU) During the Iraqi legislative elections in December 2005,
KIU offices were the target of civilian protesters from the KDP.
The protests were in response to the KIU pulling out from the
Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan, a coalition which
included the KDP. Following the party's withdrawal, KIU leaders
were assassinated and the KIU headquarters building in Dohuk was
burned in January 2006, in the presence of the KDP chief of police
and governor.

4. (SBU) In the December 2005 elections, the KIU obtained nine
seats in the Kurdistan National Assembly and five seats in the Iraqi
Council of Representatives (18 percent of the vote). The party is
active among students and in building mosques, clinics and schools
in rural areas. KIU interlocutors said they also have a strong
following among the workers.

5. (SBU) KIU interlocutors noted that the party receives funding
from the Islamic Relief Organization located in Saudi Arabia and
Islamic Unions based in Machnester, U.K. through the influence of
Dr. Ali Qaradaghi, a Kurd and senior member of the IU. They also
said they receive no funds from foreign governments.

5. (SBU) The KIU has used public positions to attempt to present
itself as an ethical, non-corrupt, non-violent, responsive
alternative to the KDP and PUK, clearly targeting the perception
among many in Kurdistan that the KDP and PUK are corrupt and have
failed to deliver jobs and essential services. One KIU member told
RRT Off that they cannot support either the KDP or the PUK because
of its corrupted ways and internal divisions. The KIU interlocutors
claim that their party is now the fastest growing one in Iraqi


5. (SBU) According to the KIU members, the KIU was appreciative of
the USG for having assisted with the downfall of Saddam Hussein.
They said their expectation remained that the US presence in Iraq
would result in a fair and just government for the Iraqi people.

6. (SBU) A small party that has found itself cut out of much of the
political process by the two larger parties, the KIU does not favor
the practice in Kurdistan of deciding in advance how many seats will
be allocated to each party on the electoral list and the rank order
of candidates within the list. KIU representatives underscored to
RRTOff their belief in the important of the role of the USG in
promoting democratic governance and reform of the electoral


7. (SBU) The KIU members told RRTOff they want to be on an
independent list and be a national party (without changing their
name). They said they do not support a sectarian classification and
seek to go beyond an Iraq based on divisions of Shia, Sunnis and
Kurds. KIU members did acknowledge the Iraqi constitution
recognizes the autonomy of the Kurdistan region. However, they
stressed their aim is to promote an Iraqi national citizenry with

BAGHDAD 00001399 002 OF 002

members having equal rights and duties, thereby differentiating the
KDP and the PUK, which have promoted the strengthening of the
Kurdistan region. The KIU interlocutors said KIU has no members
outside the Kurdistan region but that they believe in federalism.
They wish all Kurds will exercise their full civic rights and
promote the freedom of Kurds in Kirkuk to decide on their political
future via Article 140 procedures.


8. (SBU) The KIU representatives expressed particular concern about
Kurdish youth because they have "accumulated problems from the
Saddam Hussein era but lack a vision for the future." The youth
have lost their feeling of being citizens but instead are focused on
the economic benefits (fuel, housing) of richer social groups in
Iraq and in the U.S., the KIU members added. Focused on economic
opportunities, the youth have become weak citizens and are attracted
to the better social services abroad, the KIU members noted.

7. (SBU) They see two major challenges for the youth: security and
income/unemployment. Jobs seem to go to members of the ruling
parties as well as educational opportunities. The ruling parties
(PUK in Sulaimaniyah Province, KDP in Erbil and Dahuk Provinces)
dominate much of the economy in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and
membership in these parties is often a condition for a higher
income. KIU members expressed their belief that the US should make
it a priority in Kurdistan to achieve open access to the labor
market and a university education free from party influence. For
instance, selection for the Fulbright Program of the US should be
free from PUK-KDP political considerations, they said.

8. (SBU) RRTOff encouraged the KIU members to contact the Public
Diplomacy section of the RRT for further information on educational
and cultural exchange programs.


9. (SBU) Members of the KIU told RRTOff it is necessary to free the
government from the ruling parties. They support an independent
administration with separate legislative, executive and judiciary
institutions. The US can be of assistance in this objective, they
added. The US should give money and assistance funds to the
government, they continued, not parties. RRTOff replied that the
USG does not give money to political parties.

10. (SBU) KIU members are against offering assistance projects to
corrupt leaders in the KRG and the government of Iraq. They
asserted that the current "corrupt regime" in the Iraqi Kurdistan
Region does not help citizens prepare for their future life and
civic responsibilities. The KIU encouraged USG representatives to
meet with the students and understand their views. They noted,
however, that the US could not replicate a Western political system
in Iraqi Kurdistan.


11. (SBU) The KIU's platform for political reform and greater
openness in the political process and in the economy in the KRG has
earned the party a strong following among youth and in rural areas
in Sulaimaniyiah Province. This is likely due in part to increasing
public cynicism about KDP-PUK party politics and disillusionment by
many about the failure of these parties to deliver on promises of
essential services.

12. (SBU) The KIU appears to be a well-respected by the working
classes and intellectuals in Sulaimaniyah Province and is likely to
attract more members if the youth in Iraqi Kurdistan become
disenchanted with and lack access to the upper ranks of the dominant
Kurdish political parties and denied opportunities in the labor
market and the educational system. The KIU could also attract more
women as the party has seven of them in the politburo as compared to
zero in the other local parties. Nevertheless, , the KIU is not in
a position to challenge the dominance of the PUK in Sulaimaniyah
Province, given the PUK's powerful hold on patronage, the provincial
budget and the security forces.

© Scoop Media

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