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Cablegate: Kirkuk Prt: Lion Day Market-Walk Restores Kirkuk Leaders

VZCZCXRO9698
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0581 0591204
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281204Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5950
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000581

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER IZ
SUBJECT: KIRKUK PRT: LION DAY MARKET-WALK RESTORES KIRKUK LEADERS
TO FORMER AQI TURF

REF: 07 Baghdad 4008

1. This is a PRT Kirkuk cable.

2. (SBU) Summary: The Kirkuk Brotherhood List (KBL) and the Arab
Bloc continue to work together to identify mechanisms for the
implementation of the last of the 13 points cited in the agreement
between the two blocs that resulted in the Arab bloc's return to the
Kirkuk Provincial Council (PC). To publicly demonstrate the
agreement, provincial officials, the Governor, the Deputy Governor
and the PC Chair toured the District seat of Hawija, an area in
which AQI recently operated openly. The success of the recent
Concerned Local Citizens (CLC) contracts there provided the
opportunity for the visit, a demonstration of Kurdish-Arab unity.
During the market-walk, local residents frequently appealed for the
processing and release of detainees. End Summary.

3. (U) The KBL and the Arab Bloc continue to work together to
identify mechanisms for the implementation of the last of the 13
points cited in the agreement between the two blocs that resulted in
the Arab bloc's return to the Kirkuk PC (reftel). Meanwhile, the
Turkman bloc continues its boycott of the PC.

4. (U) Provincial officials made two recent trips to Hawija
District, a region primarily populated by al Jaburi Sunni tribesmen.
Terrorists, particularly AQI, have been active there; the al Jaburis
have strong ties with the insurgency. The PRT accompanied Governor
Abduhl Rahman Mustafa, Deputy Governor Rakan Said, and PC Chairman
Rizgar Ali on February 14 to the celebration of Lion Day, an Iraqi
Army (IA) awards ceremony recognizing heroism in recent operations
and celebrating last year's major defeat of insurgents in Hawija.
The trip included a market walk and open-air tea social in a
sidewalk cafe. Notably, the market street in Hawija was cleaner
than similar markets in Kirkuk City. Another trip on February 12
involved the Provincial Director General of Health inspecting the
Hawija hospital. The hospital has operated since 2005 without
provincial oversight. The Director General identified many
shortcomings that he plans to help address.

5. (U) No Governor had visited Hawija since 2002; no PC Chairman had
visited the city since 1982. Only two months ago the city was
considered too dangerous for the Hawijah Council to hold its weekly
session there. The Hawijah Council has now decided to hold the
majority of its sessions in Hawijah. Governor Mustafa, a Kurd,
while not an explicit supporter of the CLC program, recognizes that
the CLC contracts have been the basis for improved security in the
District.

6. (U) During the walk, Hawija residents most often raised the
issue of "illegally seized" detainees, some of whom they claim are
being held outside the province in the Kurdish region. Hawijans
cannot visit them as the KRG holds them in seclusion. Hawijans
pressed the Provincial Leaders to negotiate their release and
return. For those detainees held by ISF, Hawijans wanted them
processed under the new amnesty law.

7. (SBU) Comment: The improving security situation is allowing more
visits to an area once considered so "hot" that none of the
provincial representatives would dare visit, nor would local
officials hold Hawijah local council meetings in the district.
Bring leadership figures to the people is helping to build
confidence that their leaders are actually paying attention to the
needs of the populace. High visibility market walks have also
allowed the Arab population to see the Governor and the Provincial
Council Chair, both Kurds, in public company with the new Arab bloc
Deputy Governor. These public events demonstrate the ethnic unity
emerging from the 13-point agreement. The increased attention from
Provincial officials will increase pressure on the Turkman bloc to
resume negotiations if they want to avoid losing out on the
opportunity for changing resource-allocation priorities. The
market-walk allowed the people to voice their concerns directly,
increasing local public vesting with the Provincial government.
Hawijans await the ratification of the amnesty law in order to
defuse an inter-ethnic issue in a District where virtually every
family has one or more relatives currently being held in custody.
End Comment.

CROCKER

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