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Cablegate: Babil Sadrists Hold "Reconciliation" Conference

VZCZCXRO4619
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0048 1131335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221335Z APR 08
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1074
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1140

UNCLAS HILLAH 000048

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV IZ IR PTER
SUBJECT: BABIL SADRISTS HOLD "RECONCILIATION" CONFERENCE

1. (U) This is a PRT Babil cable.

2. (SBU) Office of the Martyr Sadr (OMS) Babil leader Shaykh
Sadiq al-Isawi and Council of Representatives (COR) Member Ahmad
al-Massudi invited tribal shaykhs, governmental officials, and
political party representatives to the Provincial Artist Union
meeting hall on April 19 for what was coined a "reconciliation"
conference. The meeting was organized in response to the tribal
gathering called by Governor Salim Salah al-Mahdi and Abu
Muhammad al-Issawi during the clashes in Basra. Although
described as a reconciliation gathering, the meeting was more a
recap of the violent events of early March/early-April and the
perceived mistreatment of Sadr trend followers by the government
of Iraq.

3. (SBU) Despite the approximately 250 invitations disseminated
to the provincial political community, the conference was
primarily attended by Babil tribal leaders. Shaykh Sadiq and
COR member al-Massudi criticized the dominant political parties,
specifically ISCI and Dawa, who refused to send representatives
to the meeting. Abu Mohammad al-Issawi was the governor's only
unofficial representative and he left the meeting visibly
frustrated after less than an hour. Sadrist provincial council
members Kadhum Majid Tuman and Hassan Mihrij attended, but did
not speak. Common themes included: criticism of al-Furat news
for portraying all Sadrists as criminals; concerns that the
current political players are instigating Shia on Shia violence
to better position themselves in upcoming elections; and the
possibility of OMS negotiations with the USG.

4. (SBU) At the close of the three-hour meeting the delegation
announced several demands. First, they request that the
government respect the human rights of all the provincial
players. Second, they seek the current leadership's adherence
to the rule of law. Third, they demand tribal support.
Finally, Shaykh Sadiq announced the establishment of several
committees; one to look into recent assassinations, one to visit
detainees in local prisons, and one to assess the damage to
buildings and infrastructure as a result of the March and
early-April violence.

5. (SBU) Following the meeting, provincial political players
told the PRT that they were in fact invited, but refused to
attend. Dawa Babil party head Abu Ahmed al-Basri told the PRT
that he had to decline the invitation in order to follow the
Prime Minister's directive not to have any dialogue with OMS
unless Jaysh al-Mahdi elements turned in their arms. PC member
Tuman praised the gathering and encouraged USG interference in
"cleaning up" the Iraq Security Forces (ISF). Tuman criticized
the Provincial Director of Police General Fadhil Raddad for
kowtowing to the political leaders in the province and expressed
concern that IA Commander General Abdul Amir Kamal would follow
a similar path thus leading to rampant corruption throughout the
ISF.

HILLAS

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