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Cablegate: Prt Diyala: Unity Party Requests Engagement With

VZCZCXRO1697
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #1338/01 1210902
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300902Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7104
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 001338

SIPDIS

SBU
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAGR ECON ETRD EAID EFIN IZ
SUBJECT: PRT DIYALA: UNITY PARTY REQUESTS ENGAGEMENT WITH
COALITION IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN ELECTION

1. (U) This is a PRT Diyala reporting cable.

2. (SBU) Summary: PRT Diyala met with Hazber al-Azawi, a
representative of the Sahwa (awakening) Party in Diyala, on
April 17. Hazber identified himself as the lead candidate
for the Sahwa Party in Diyala and expressed concerns over
Sahwa's ability to participate in the upcoming elections. He
detailed what he viewed as missteps by the Coalition in
Diyala and requested closer engagement, support, and
protection for his party. Hazber claimed the Sahwa is
supported by citizens disappointed by the current government
and said this support base far outnumbers those of other
political parties. He further requested a American support
for the tribal awakening, similar to Anbar province, to bring
stability to the region. He warned that his supporters, if
excluded from the election, have nothing to lose and would
oppose the elected government. End Summary.

----------------------------------------
THE AWAKENING LEADER INTRODUCES HIS BASE
----------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Hazber al-Azawi is currently the Chief of the Diyala
Bureau of the Independent Political Prisoners Institution, an
organization for persons formerly imprisoned for political
crimes under the Saddam regime. Hazber is also the lead
candidate for the Sahwa Party in Diyala. He explained in
great detail the tremendous frustration expressed by
intellectuals, military, sheikhs, technocrats, and members of
the media about the level of corruption and general
lawlessness in Diyala. He claimed that the Sahwa party
represents all of these disaffected citizens in Diyala.

-------------------------------------
DIFFICULTIES IN GETTING ON THE BALLOT
-------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Hazber explained that Sahwa is dedicated to ridding
the province of Iranian and AQI influence, but warned that if
his party becomes disenfranchised they will have nothing to
lose and will resist the elected government and those that
support it. According to Hazber, the Sahwa party is
committed to participating in the upcoming elections on a
national level and feel that they can prevail, but are
concerned for the safety of the party leadership as they are
targeted by other political groups supported by the
government. He said that his party faces harassment and
arrest when attempting to meet or organize on spurious
charges they are terrorists. Given these threats, he
requested CF support in 4 areas.

A. Hazber claimed that the representatives on the Sahwa
election slate face the threat of possible arrest at any time
by members of the IA or IP on manufactured charges designed
to ensure that they cannot participate in the election
process. Sahwa is requesting protection/recognition from the
CF to ensure that they will not be harassed, arrested
arbitrarily, and held indefinitely.

B. The Sahwa Party wants the CF to "know their party and
know their headquarters" and visit at will to observe that
they are a peaceful political group. Hazber indicated that
CF attention would provide de facto protection for their
party.

C. The Sahwa Party claims broad support but acknowledges
that it cannot compete financially with either the IIP or
Iranian supported parties, both of which are cash heavy with
the proceeds from corruption. Hazber requested financial
support akin to that which he stated was given to Sheikh Abu
Risha in Anbar Province. According to Hazber, the
organizational charter and mission statement of the Diyala
Sahwa party was developed in consultation with Abu Risha
after a Sahwa delegation was rebuffed by the Prime Minister,
who Sahwa sees as corrupt and an agent of Iranian influence.
He suggested that U.S. support to the Sahwa was the solution
to stabilizing Diyala and ridding it of foreign influence.

D. Finally, the Sahwa wants to be friends with the
Coalition. Hazber detailed a long list of errors and poor
judgment in choosing friends on the part of the CF. The
Sahwa seems to view the US as a stabilizing force in the
region at the present time and expressed no opinions about
U.S. withdrawal from the province.

8. (SBU) Comment: It impossible to accurately gauge popular
support for any political party. Anecdotally, ongoing
meetings among local villagers, sheikhs, and other citizens
indicate widespread dissatisfaction with the government's
provision of essential services. Prevalent corruption
clearly affects the attitudes of local citizens and might

BAGHDAD 00001338 002 OF 002


motivate them to get behind this previously unknown party.
The success of Anbar seems to be a strong motivating factor.
Hazber claims support from Sunni, Shia, Turkomen, and Kurd
communities, but he stated that the only officials that
support his group are low level provincial officials, none of
whom can effectively protect party members. A broad base of
the disaffected forming a voting coalition to take back their
province, could be just what Diyala needs. End Comment.
BUTENIS

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