Cablegate: Karbala and Anbar Security Dialogue

DE RUEHIHL #0109/01 2000756
O P 190756Z JUL 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

HILLAH 00000109 001.2 OF 003

1. (U) This is a PRT Karbala and PRT Anbar reporting cable.

2. (U) SUMMARY: The governors of Anbar and Karbala provinces met
at the Regional Embassy Office (REO) in al-Hillah on July 17 to
talk about security concerns along their provinces' shared
border. By the conclusion both governorates signed an agreement
of cooperation establishing a joint security committee through
which they will eventually share intelligence on terrorist
activities, orchestrate joint border patrols and establish a
Hajj pilgrim security strategy along the road to Mecca, Saudi
Arabia. Both Governors were extremely pleased about the outcome
and look forward to a future meeting, to be held at the REO or
possibly a location in Anbar. END SUMMARY


3. (U) Anbar Governor Ma'amoun Sami Rasheed and Karbala Governor
Aqeel Mahmoud Al-Khazali agreed to establish a joint security
committee and to boost intelligence sharing at a July 17 meeting
at the US Regional Embassy Office at Hillah, Babil Province.
During the two-hour meeting the governors discussed ways to
improve security along their common boundary. The security
committee will be co-chaired by the governors and have
representation form each provincial council and both police
forces. Principally tasked with orchestrating joint border
patrols, the committee is also the channel for cross border
intelligence sharing. Both governors agree that Al-Qaida in
Iraq is a common enemy threatening security in both provinces,
and this committee is expected to improve counterterrorist
efforts by both security forces. Governor Aqeel also mentioned
last year's incidents involving the assassination of Shi'a
pilgrims on the Hajj route in Anbar between the Saudi Arabian
border and Karbala Province. This inspired the Anbar Governor
to task the committee with developing a joint security plan to
protect all Hajj pilgrims later this year. The committee will
begin functioning effectively immediately.


4. (U) Governor Aqeel offered Ma'amoun, the opening remarks in
which he focused on the historic nature of the meeting.
Ma'amoun highlighted national unity, the need for all sects in
Iraq to work together, and the example this meeting and future
meetings like it will set for the country as a whole. (NOTE:
these two Governors have never before met to discuss joint
security issues.) Ma'amoun offered to host the next meeting in
Anbar, highlighting that this meeting is not a confrontation of
Sunni versus Shi'a but is representative of one nation
overcoming sectarian divides and foreign terrorist
manipulations. Ma'amoun used Anbar and Karbala's boundary to
exemplify unified and peaceful cohabitation in the face of
foreign terrorists seeking to divide the nation.

5.(U) Aqeel's opening remarks were issue oriented, focusing on
trouble spots along the lake and the border crossings between
Karbala and Anbar. He named several checkpoints, the coastline
of Lake Razzaza, and routes around Ain Tamur where Karbala
travelers have encountered problems with suspected Sunni
terrorists. Aqeel drew attention to last week's incident
involving suspected Sunni terrorists killing six Karbalans,
including a local council member. That incident and a recent
operation near the southern border of Anbar that ostensibly
pushed fleeing terrorists into Karbala province provided the
impetus for Aqeel to ask both the Anbar security forces and
Coalition Forces to provide advance warning of future
operations. He then added that increased intelligence sharing
between the two provinces' security forces will lessen each
province's vulnerability. In closing, Aqeel informed the Anbar
delegation of an invitation by the Karbala government and the
Holy Shrines to host a Sunni and Shi'a tribal sheikh conference
later this month. (SEPTEL)


6. (U) Although the topic of commerce between the two provinces
surfaced late in the meeting, it was not overlooked. Both
governors agreed that the joint security committee should also
identify areas of joint economic development and reconstruction
that will benefit residents from both provinces. The Mayor of
Ain Tamur drew attention to the importance of further
strengthening the business linkages between the Ain Tamur
district and the al-Rajhalyia area to the north in Anbar. He
asked if there was any credibility to a rumor warning Anbari
residents away from visiting Ain Tamur. Ma'amoun denounced the

HILLAH 00000109 002.2 OF 003

rumor going on to respond that all Iraqis, meaning both Sunni
and Shi'a, should have access to important centers of commerce
and religious activities. Ma'amoun then drew the parallel
between the importance of Ain Tamur to al-Rajhalyia residents as
the Saudi border crossing town is Hajj pilgrims. He then
emphasized the need for both sects to have equal access and
security in reaching that Anbari city during the Hajj.


7. (U) The Provincial Council Chairman of Anbar anxiously
drafted notes and key points throughout the meeting which
culminated in the following agreement that both governors, both
provincial council representatives and police chiefs signed:

BEGIN QUOTE: In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Gracious
"Help ye one another in righteousness and piety, but help ye not
one another in sin and rancor", Holy Quran

Joint Statement of Karbala and Anbar Provinces

With the help of Allah, a meeting was held today, July 17, 2007,
between Karbala and Anbar provinces. It included the governors
and the representatives of both provincial councils. The purpose
of the meeting was to start a blessed conversation, in which we
lay the foundation for cooperation between the two provinces as
they have a lot in common: their administrative borders, their
tribal relations, and their Islamic brotherhood. All considered
it a platform for keeping Iraq unified, and to defeat the
attempts by others to create conflict in this country.

The two partners agreed on mutual collaboration to deal with
issues that affect adjacent areas through forming a joint
security committee. It will include representatives from the two
governor's offices, the provincial councils, and their security
forces. The committee will work in collaboration with the
coalition forces. It will study the current situation and the
means to improve it. It will work on securing the administrative
borders and following up the implementation of all agreements.
It will demand the central government to help and support this
intention and provide all that it takes to succeed in this
collaboration, facilitate the communications and mutual visits
between the two provinces, and secure the highways for the
pilgrimage to Mecca as well as the visitors to the holy shrines
in Karbala. In addition, it will seek joint investment projects
that serve the best interest of both provinces and our beloved
country. END QUOTE


8. (U) The dialogue was made possible through the efforts of
MNF-W Deputy Commanding General John Allen, MND-C Deputy
Commanding General Edward Cardon, James Soriano, Team Leader of
PRT Anbar; and Robert Reed, Team Leader of PRT Karbala.
Governor Ma'amoun was accompanied by the Anbar Provincial
Council Chair Dr. Abdulsalam Abdullah, the Anbar Police Chief
General Abdulsalam al-Ubeidi, Ministry of Interior official for
Anbar Province, Tariq Yussef Al-Thiyabi, the Governor's advisor
Dr. Aboud, and Sheikh Lawrence al-Anaiza who represents a
prominent tribe from al-Nukhayb, a town on the road to Mecca.
The Karbala delegation consisted of Governor Aqeel Mahmoud
al-Khazali, Ain Tamur Mayor Mahfoud al-Sattay, Provincial
Council Member Qasid Kareem Riyah, Provincial Police Chief Raid
Shakir Jawdat, Iraqi Army Commander General Imad Majhool, and
Sheikh Ahmed Faisal Hameed Al-Roakan from the Ain Tamur district
which lies along the Anbar border.


9. (SBU) Comment: The meeting had brief moments of tension but
was overall collegial and productive leaving both governors
pleased. They both made statements about national unity and
setting an example for the rest of the country. Aqeel
recommended that Ma'amoun should hold a similar meeting with his
Najaf counterpart.

10. (SBU) Possibly in an effort to win favor with Prime Minister
Maliki, Ma'amoun came with the intention of recording the
outcomes of the meeting so they could be shared with the central
government. The governors agreed that the issue their provinces
face is not sectarian in nature, but efforts by terrorists to
discredit their governments, and their ability to secure their
citizens. Early on in the meeting both governors agreed to
throw out talk of blaming one another in exchange for focusing

HILLAH 00000109 003.2 OF 003

on ways to work together.

11. (SBU) Aqeel appeared hesitant about signing the agreement
drafted by the Anbari side. One sticking point may have been
the mention of cooperation with Coalition Forces. Where the
Anbar Government is bolstered by its relationship with MNF-W,
most south central provincial governments are under pressure to
repel the Coalition Force presence in the country. As word of
the agreement leaks to the public, it may create future pressure
for the local governor.

12. (U) On a positive note, Aqeel reminded his interlocutors
that the sermons at the shrines are given in all three of the
Islamic traditions. He then invited the tribal sheikhs and
Anbar Government to the Sunni-Shi'a Tribal Sheikhs Conference at
the Holy Shrines later this month. No more details were
available regarding the meeting other than it is co-sponsored by
the Holy Shrines. If successful, the security logistics alone
will be evidence of the GOI's ability to address internal
security issues. (SEPTEL) End Comment

© Scoop Media

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