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Cablegate: Protests Against Military Action in Fallujah Draw

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS MANAMA 001741

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MARR MOPS ASEC BA IZ
SUBJECT: PROTESTS AGAINST MILITARY ACTION IN FALLUJAH DRAW
SMALL CROWDS

REF: MANAMA 1707

Sensitive but unclassified (deliberative process); please
protect accordingly. Not for Internet distribution.

1. (U) Organizers had estimated that the two protests
against U.S. and Iraqi military action in Fallujah would draw
10,000 people. In the end, only 350 people total took part
in the November 19 demonstrations. Though Al Wifaq President
and prominent Shia leader Ali Salman was at the front of one
protest, few Shia participated. Both demonstrations were
peaceful.

2. (U) The first rally immediately followed Friday prayers
at the Al Fateh Grand Mosque. Approximately 200 people (RSO
estimate) including members of parliament marched for an hour
and a half. Al Wifaq President Ali Salman and several Shia
clergymen were present, but very few other Shia participated
despite Salman's calls for Shia to turn out for the
demonstration. Protesters carried signs condemning U.S.
forces and demanding their withdrawal from Iraq. They also
condemned the Iraqi Interim Government as well as Iraqi
insurgents who kill civilians. Protesters stomped on and
burned an American and an Israeli flag. The second
demonstration took place in Muharraq and was attended by 150
people (RSO estimate); few if any were Shia. The leaders and
organizers of the Muharraq demonstration were Sunni Salafis,
including parliamentarian Mohammed Khalid who days earlier
had publicly insulted Bahrain's Shia for not condemning the
Fallujah attack more vigorously (reftel). The Governor of
Muharraq also reportedly participated. Participants accused
the United States of serious human rights violations in
Fallujah and criticized attacks on mosques.

3. (SBU) Comment: Despite the low turnout for the
demonstrations, many Bahrainis are angry about the MNF-I and
Iraqi attack on Fallujah. They are particularly seized with
the media image of the Marine shooting an apparently unarmed
fighter and with press reports that few insurgents in
Fallujah were foreign. This emotion has been on display in
newspaper editorials and cartoons and in sermons in both
Sunni and Shia mosques. But Shia Bahrainis, who are more
likely to take to the streets than Sunnis, have decided not
to do so at this time because of lingering resentment over
Mohammed Khalid's antics in parliament and a real lack of
connection to the insurgents in Fallujah, who many view as
mostly terrorists along the lines of Zarqawi.

MONROE

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