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Cablegate: Media Reaction: Iraqi Government, December 15th

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 004984

SIPDIS

STATE FOR INR/R/MR, NEA/PPD, NEA/PPA, NEA/AGS, INR/IZ, INR/P

E.0. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR KPAO IZ
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: IRAQI GOVERNMENT, DECEMBER 15th
ELECTION, TRANSPARENCY; BAGHDAD

SUMMARY: [Due to a curfew and travel ban throughout Iraq
during the election period, Iraqi newspapers will not
publish from December 14-17.] The major theme in today's
editorials was the upcoming election on Thursday.

Analysis: The KDP's At-Taakhi published a page-three
editorial entitled, "Kurdistan List 730 is the List for All
Iraqis" which again detailed the importance of Iraqis voting
for the Kurdish list because it represents the ambitions of
all sects in Iraq.

SCIRI run Al-Adala published a page-six editorial, "Why I
Should Vote for the UIA's List 555."

Independent Al-Mada's back-page editorial, "On the Way to
the Elections" dealt with the vacuousness of electoral
slogans and how candidates ignore implementing their
promises after they win in the elections.

Both Allawi's newspaper Baghdad and Chalabi's Al-Muatamar
today were devoid of editorials and instead focused on news
items and interviews with candidates on their respective
lists. END SUMMARY.

-------------------------------
TABLE OF CONTENTS
-------------------------------

A. "A Silent Day Among Voters and Candidates" (Ad-Dustoor,
12/13)
B. "Beware of Victory" (Al-Ittihad, 12/13)
C "For Whom Shall We Vote?" (Al-Mashriq, 12/13)
D. "The Important Word is Silence" (Al-Watan, 12/13)

----------------------------------------
SELECTED COMMENTARIES
----------------------------------------

A. "A Silent Day Among Voters and Candidates"
(Ad-Dustoor - independent, no bias, published this front-
page editorial by Bassim Al-Sheikh)

"Tomorrow will be a silent day when media outlets will not
be able to broadcast or publish electoral campaigns for
candidates. The specified period of time that was given to
the candidates was enough to publicize their electoral
advertisings and platforms.

"Before tomorrow, Iraqi voters must decide who to choose in
the election. I think voters have studied and made a
comparison among all platforms and slogans in order to reach
a final decision. We know that the large numbers of
candidates have negatively affected or confused voters'
choices. However, the majority of voters have made their
decisions in advance and electoral campaigns will never be
able to sway their minds. These kinds of decisions have been
made according to sectarian, ethnic or nationalist
affiliations. Hence, this can be considered bigotry which
also means a significant loss for the democratic practice--
democracy does not mean bias towards a specific sect or
group.

"In any case, there is a small group of people who are
calling for the interest of the country rather than their
individual self-interest. This group is working hard to
convey their message to other people but it seems that no
one is listening to them. People should be aware and open-
minded in order to distinguish between the semi-important
and the most important issues. I think our society is not
ready for this stage of democracy because our people need
more training in democracy."

B. "Beware of Victory"
(Al-Ittihad - affiliated with the PUK, led by Jalal
Talabani, pro-coalition, published this page-four editorial
by Abdul Muni'm Al-Assam)

"We must warn here of exacerbating the conflict within
electoral competition that threatens to transcend the rules
of the political process. We have noticed many slogans,
threats, and statements, which were launched during the
electoral campaign that caused much fear in the political
arena. We have started to fear that political parties that
participate in the election had begun to forget that they
function in the framework of the political process.

"The electoral campaign has witnessed practices that are
distant from the principles of democracy. We started to see
threats and revenge among candidates. However, we know that
many of them were friends during the former period of Iraqi
opposition. Most of them had one goal which was to end the
dictatorship and establish a constitutional, federal and
democratic state in Iraq.

"Marginalization and using non-democratic practices during
the electoral competition will damage the political future
of Iraq. I do not think that the next government will be
able to remove these obstacles and restore security and
stability if such things continue in Iraq. Those, who think
that the winners in the next election will be the winners
forever, are wrong. The reality indicates that the battle to
build democracy and the new Iraq is a long-term and risky
fight."

C. "For Whom Shall We Vote?"
(Al-Mashriq- affiliated with the Coalition of Iraqi National
Unity, anti-coalition, Sufi-leaning, published this page-ten
editorial by Shamil Abdul Qadr)

"There is no less than 48 hours left for Iraqis to elect the
new members of parliament. The question is who we will elect
among the tens of blocs and lists. Shall I vote for the one
who is part of my sect, or nationality, or part of my party?
Whom shall we elect for the parliament which will decide
Iraq's course for the coming four years?

"You should elect the one who did not collaborate with the
occupation for any reason; who did not contribute to killing
Iraqis or destroying their houses; who did not destroy Najaf
and Fallujah, or shoot people in Basrah or Karabla; who did
not steal from Iraq; who neither assassinated one scientist
or professor, nor a pilot or officer in the former Iraqi
Army! Elect the one who really belongs to Iraq, who has an
Iraqi mother and father, Iraqi by birth; who did not
cooperate with the intelligence services of neighboring
countries; who lived among his people and suffered with them
for more than 20 years of dictatorship and 13 years of
unjust sanctions. You should elect the one who memorizes the
holy Qur'an and loves God and the prophet Muhammad; who
establishes jihad as a religious duty for himself! Who calls
and insists on a timetable for the withdrawal of the
occupation. Elect the one whose loyalty to Iraq is not
suspect and does not consider sectarianism. Elect anyone
who calls for national unity and puts Iraq at the top of his
interests before his ambitions. Elect the one who puts Iraq
first."

D. "The Important Word is Silence"
(Al-Watan - anti-coalition, affiliated with the (Sunni)
Iraqi National Movement led by Dr. Hatem Mukhlis, published
this page-eleven editorial by Daoud Al-Farhan)

"Iraqis, who were deprived of elections for more than half a
century, voted three times in one year. The first time, they
voted to form a temporary government. The second time they
voted in the referendum for the distorted constitution,
which was passed through forgery. Now, we have the first
parliamentary election to choose a four-year national
assembly. But, does this mean that Iraqis have begun to
enjoy a typical democracy that accompanied U.S. tanks? What
did the Iraqi people gain from the last election? What is
the benefit of a constitution that cares about human rights
while the government is violating human rights?

"When we read the slogans of electoral lists, especially
those that govern the country today, we feel that Iraqis are
living in another country. All electoral slogans speak about
democracy, security and human rights. In addition, all
candidates speak about electoral dreams and promises that
will not be implemented. However, the Iraqi people hope that
the coming election will depose all politicians who call for
sectarianism, sedition, oppression, terrorism and revenge.

"Citizens have the right to freely express their opinions
because this is the beautiful face of democracy. But,
democracy also has an ugly face that is the problem of the
majority and minority, a miserable principle used to form
nations and states throughout the world. We noticed that the
past two-and-a-half years since the American occupation have
been lost. We watched maneuvers, embezzlement, liquidations
and removal [deba'athification] during that period. We saw
how those who condemned mass graves became gravediggers. We
noticed how those who rejected dictatorship and tyranny
became the new dictators.
"What can elections accomplish in such circumstances? What
can politicians do in order to convince people that they are
trustworthy? Citizens do not care about politicians'
electoral slogans because they see only car bombs,
occupiers' tanks, the prisons of the Ministry of Interior,
the bombing of cities, oil smuggling, and the division of
the country. Moreover, they see assassinations, blind
violence, corruption and lack of public services and all of
these issues contradict what candidates speak about. We do
not care about who will win the elections because ethnic
power sharing and sectarianism will continue. But, the Iraqi
people have another silent word to say."

KHALILZAD

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