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Cablegate: Prt Dhi Qar: Conflict Between Gov and Pc

VZCZCXYZ2856
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0662 0660701
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060701Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6082
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000662

SIPDIS

SBU
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR PTER PGOV IZ
SUBJECT: PRT DHI QAR: CONFLICT BETWEEN GOV AND PC
INTENSIFIES

1. (U) This is a PRT Dhi Qar reporting cable.

2. (SBU) Summary: In the past two weeks Aziz Alwan, the
ISCI Governor of Dhi Qar, has openly clashed with non-ISCI
members of the Provincial Council (PC). The PC initially
angered the Governor by refusing to allow funding for a road
project which the Governor considered a priority. The
Governor/PC conflict then spilled over to the security
sector: the PC recently forced the Governor to back down
after he attempted to fire General Hussein, the Chief of
Police (Da,wa). End Summary.

3. (SBU) The power struggle between Governor Aziz Alwan
(ISCI) and members of the other principal Shia factions
within the governing coalition (Fadhila and Da'wa) has
intensified over the past few weeks. The catalyst was a
dispute over funding for an upgrade to the Prophet Ibrahim
road in Nasiriyah. Governor Aziz considered the road a vital
project, but in mid-February, the PC refused to fund the
upgrade. The Governor objected that the PC was halting
funding to an ongoing project that would take several years
to complete. Despite his protests, the project was halted.

4. (SBU) On 25 February the conflict spilled over to the
area of provincial security. The two principal security
agencies in Nasiriyah are the Iraqi Police, headed by General
Abdul Hussain (Da'wa) and the Tactical Support Unit (TSU),
formerly headed by the late Colonel Abu Liq'a (ISCI). The
TSU historically have been loyal to the governor. ISCI

SIPDIS
supporters viewed the Iraqi Police, under Da'wa leadership,
as poorly led, unmotivated and ineffective. The Governor
recently approached the MOI in Baghdad for permission to
remove General Hussain and reportedly gained the Ministry,s
consent. When the Governor attempted to order General
Hussein to stand down from his position, he was openly
opposed by the PC, who refused to acquiesce to his demands.
General Hussein remained as the Chief of Police.

5. (SBU) After the killing of Colonel Abu Liq,a, the
Governor moved quickly to replace him with Colonel Abu
Liq,a,s brother (Major Khalid Jabbery) to ensure that ISCI
retained control over this important security agency. ISCI
opponents on the PC and General Hussein (now in control of
the Provincial Security Committee) blocked Major Khalid's
appointment. Local media reports indicate that the opponents
want to increase the size of the Committee from four to eight
members and to remove the influence of the Governor in
selecting the Committee members. On March 3 Col. Qassim
Obaid (ISCI), Inspector General of the Dhi Qar IP, was
assassinated in Basrah. The PRT suspects, but has no
evidence, that his killing is related to growing tension
between ISCI and its political opponents.

6. (SBU) The infighting between the Shia parties inside the
government has refocused attention on the OMS/JAM in Dhi Qar.
Although the Sadrists remain outside of local government
they could play a crucial role if it decided to back a
particular faction, and this possibility is adding to growing
speculation in Dhi Qar regarding OMS, intentions. With
Moqtada al Sadr having extended his truce, most now assume
that the mainstream OMS/JAM has some interest in further
involvement in "conventional" politics. The more radical JAM
elements remain volatile.

7. (SBU) Comment: Although tension between the Governor and
PC is not new, the aggressive maneuvering on all sides, the
willingness of individuals to publicly oppose the Governor,
attempts to remove key general offices from the security
framework and the resultant breaking of long-standing
alliances between both ISF units and political parties all
constitute increased tensions. PC refusal to accede to the
Governor's wishes on these vital security and budgetary
issues is viewed by ISCI and its supporters as a power play
meant to minimize ISCI power in a province long-viewed as an
ISCI stronghold. Growing ISCI frustration with Da'wa has
fueled local speculation that ISCI may be readying to unseat
Da'wa in Baghdad. ISCI opponents in Dhi Qar may be trying to
undercut ISCI on its home ground to put ISCI on the defensive
and head off such a move. End Comment.
CROCKER

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