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Cablegate: Hazaras Divided by Karzai, United Front Politics

VZCZCXRO6277
OO RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0667/01 0761604
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 161604Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3270
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000667

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, S/CRS
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CG CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IR PGOV AF
SUBJECT: HAZARAS DIVIDED BY KARZAI, UNITED FRONT POLITICS

1. (SBU) Summary: The once united Hazara ethnic group has
politically splintered since the fall of the Taliban; its
fragments are being divided between Karzai and the opposition
United Front. Powerful Hazara leaders' connections to Iran,
or lack thereof, sometimes dictate their affiliation with
Karzai or the reportedly Iran-connected United Front.
Smaller groups, meanwhile, calculate their allegiance based
on their perceptions of the balance of power in Kabul. Some
Hazara leaders have begun to complain their ethnic group is
no longer sufficiently represented in Karzai's government.
Like some other ethnic groups, they claim Karzai's coalition
government has lost its former regard for representative
ethnic balance.

One Politically Fractured Ethnic Group
--------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Hazara ethnic group, once fairly united by
adversity under the Wahdat and Harakat parties, is
politically divided and ripe for recruitment into the
coalitions coalescing around Karzai or the opposition United
Front. After the fall of the Taliban, the Hazaras' brutal
recent antagonist, many Hazara leaders broke from their
dominant power structures. The spine of Hazara politics,
Wahdat, split into four branches, one under the leadership of
Vice President Mohammad Karim Khalili, and three respectively
under the leadership of National Assembly members: Haji
Mohammad Mohaqqeq, Ustad Mohammad Akbari, and Sayed Mustafa
Kazimi.

3. (SBU) The other Shia party that had attracted Hazara
membership, Harakat-e-Islami-e-Afghanistan, divided
similarly. Harakat's founder, the Kandahari Shia Pashtun
Ayatollah Muhammad Asif Mohseni, retired from politics in
2005 to devote himself to his charitable foundation, and his
deputies, Hojatolislam Seyyed Muhammad Ali Jawed and Herat
Governor Sayed Hussein Anwari, divided the party between
them. Harakat director of international relations Murtaza
Negzad later broke from Jawed and Anwari, forming a third
branch of Harakat.

4. (SBU) Up and coming Hazara leaders, meanwhile, further
divided the Hazara political block, presenting the Hazara
political community with additional options. National
Assembly member Fatema Nazari formed a new women's group to
lobby for Hazara issues in Kabul. A young Hazara named Sayed
Jawad Hossaini also formed a new group, the Young Islamic
Party of Afghanistan, which is primarily Hazara, but reaching
out to all religions and ethnicities.

Hazara Parties - Iranian Birth, Afghan Wars
-------------------------------------------

5. (SBU) Eight Hazara political parties were born in Iran
during the anti-Soviet jihad. Known as the "Tehran Eight",
these groups and their Iranian-backed militias formed the
nucleus of all subsequent Hazara politics. Through the
course of the jihad, mujahadeen civil war, and vicious fight
against the Taliban, Harakat and Wahdat came to dominate
Hazara politics. Over time, some Hazara leaders chose to
break with Iran, while some stayed close. These legacy
relationships now help define political allegiances among
Hazara leaders and Hazara relationships with external groups.

Hazaras Divided in Karzai-United Front Struggle
--------------------------------------------- --

6. (SBU) Kabul's political giants, Karzai and the United
Front, are courting the new Hazara parties and groups. Those
powerful Hazara leaders with connections to Iran have proved
generally more sympathetic to the United Front, which is
rumored to depend partially on Iranian funding. Smaller
parties and splinters have coldly calculated their allegiance
based on the benefits they perceive from allying with one
side or the other.

7. (SBU) According to Wahdat International Relations director
Abdul Ali Azad, National Assembly members Akbari and Kazimi

KABUL 00000667 002 OF 002


quickly aligned themselves with the United Front because of
their shared Iranian connections. Azad adds this caused
Mohaqqeq and Khalili, who are not as connected to Iran, to
overcome their differences and explore entry into Karzai's
political orbit. According to Harakat leader Negzad, Harakat
is similarly divided between Karzai and the United Front.
Jawed, who is religious, close to Iran, and has a personal
relationship with Lower House Speaker and United Front leader
Mohammad Yonus Qanooni, held a series of meetings and
publicly announced that Harakat would side with the United
Front. Anwari, who is more secular and not connected to
Iran, resisted, dividing the party between him and Jawed.

8. (SBU) Among smaller party leaders considering with whom to
align themselves, Iranian connections seem less a determining
factor than crude political power calculations. Young
Islamic Party of Afghanistan leader Hossaini, who announced
his allegiance to the United Front at a recent press
conference, said the prospect of a stronger political voice
caused him to align with the United Front. He added he made
the decision despite not agreeing with many United Front
positions. Negzad, meanwhile, said separately he supported
Karzai in the last election but would likely seek another
patron, the United Front, because Karzai promised Negzad a
deputy minister position but never delivered.

Internal Divisions Weaken Perceived Hazara Influence
--------------------------------------------- -------

9. (SBU) While the best known Hazara leaders maintain their
power and authority, weaker Hazara politicians complain the
ethnic group as a whole is losing ground in the government,
which may be a symptom of their current political division.
Harakat leader Negzad complained that Hazaras are
increasingly left out of Karzai's administration. He said
while the better known Hazara personalities, such as
Mohaqqeq, Khalili, and Anwari, maintain their positions,
Hazaras in the ministries have increasingly lost their jobs
to Tajiks and Pashtuns. He claimed Hazaras now represent
less than four percent of the government workforce, too low a
percentage for an ethnic group he said comprises 20 - 30
percent of Afghanistan's population. (Note: We believe the
Hazaras represent less than ten percent of Afghanistan's
population. End Note) While Negzad exaggerates declining
Hazara influence as well as the size of Afghanistan's Hazara
population, the fracturing of the Hazara block has likely
contributed to some decline in Hazara participation in the
government. This perception that they are losing influence
is a partial impetus for Hazara leaders' increased outreach
to larger patrons as they seek to secure political influence.
WOOD

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