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Cablegate: Babil Political Parties Lobbying Tribal Councils

VZCZCXRO0134
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0062 1551603
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031603Z JUN 08
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1095
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1161

UNCLAS HILLAH 000062

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR IZ IR
SUBJECT: BABIL POLITICAL PARTIES LOBBYING TRIBAL COUNCILS

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

2. (U) SUMMARY: With mosques and religious entities all but out
of play in the upcoming provincial election campaign, several of
Babil's competing political parties are courting local tribal
councils. Senior representatives from the Islamic Supreme
Council of Iraq (ISCI) and Sayyid Rassul's (SR) independent
Shia-based political entity are pursuing alternatives to
promoting their slates through religious leaders and are
actively courting Babil's tribal councils. END SUMMARY.

3. (U) Anticipating that the pending provincial election law
will ultimately quash the ability of parties to campaign by way
of mosques, specifically Friday afternoon sermons, two of
Babil's established political entities are wooing the province's
tribal councils for campaign support and influence. ISCI and
SR, which are competitors, are pursuing parallel paths.

4. (SBU) According to Communist Political Council (PC) member
Qusay Nadi ali Hummadi, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim appointed Sayyid
Shihab al-Yassiri to serve as the ISCI regional coordinator. IN
this role, Sayyid Shihab not only represents the al-Hakims in
Babil, he is also charged with composing all of the province's
ISCI slates for the upcoming elections. [Note: PRT Staff has
learned that ISCI may run as many as seven slates comprised of
ISCI members and "independents." In order to qualify for the
lists, everyone must verify their religious piety and
affiliation with ISCI, including the so-called "independents."
End note.] Sayyid Shihab in turn designated Abddullah
al-Zubaidi, a Babil teacher, to form the province's main ISCI
slate, while Shihab focuses on garnering support from the
community, according to Qusay.

5. (SBU) Babil PC member Ahmad Hashim al-Amidi told PRT staff
that SR has his own provincial party coordinator, Hussayn
Rashid. [Note: Ahmad al-Amidi is a current PC member, the
former PC Chairman and a former SR party member. In 2005 SR's
party secured seven PC seats, including Ahmad's. Sistani
removed Sayyid Rassul as his personal representative in Babil
several months after the 2005 elections, reportedly because
Rassul was using his political party for personal gain. End
note.] Hussayn Rashid is not well known in the province, but he
is the brother of Khazal Rashid, the former SR-slate PC member
who organized a sit-in protest at the PC in late 2007 in an
effort to unseat five members who did not meet minimal
educational requirements for membership on the council,
including Babil Governor Salam Salih Mahdi al-Muslimawi. Unlike
Sayyid Shihab, Hussayn focuses primarily on the tribal councils
in the southern part of Babil from the City of Hillah south to
Kifl and as far east as Hashimiyah.

6. (U) According to both PC members, the two parties'
coordinators have the same modus operandi. They attend
gatherings at the tribe's respective receiving halls [al-Mudif],
where they offer moral support to the tribesmen in addition to
distributing gifts, money, and cars on behalf of their
respective parties. Sayyid Shihab is even known to involve
himself in inter and intra-tribal disputes. He attends the
tribal hearings and upon the judges' decrees steps in and
assumes the fine on behalf of the defendant, noting that he is
paying the fine on behalf of the defendant as a gesture from the
al-Hakim family. A Hillah contractor recently told PRT staff
that he was involved in a physical altercation which was settled
at a tribal council on June 1. Before he could pay the
judgment, Sayyid Shihab, unknown to the contractor at the time,
stood up and said, "I'm talking on behalf of Abd al-Aziz
al-Hakim, and I'm here to pay any fines associated with this
claim."

HILLAS

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