Cablegate: Dcm Meetings with Kurdistan National Assembly
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2497/01 2091637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281637Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2487
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002497
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IZ KPAL PGOV PREF
SUBJECT: DCM MEETINGS WITH KURDISTAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
(KNA) CHAIRMAN AND KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT (KRG)
MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR
This is a Kurdistan Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) cable.
1. Summary: (SBU) Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Butenis held
separate meetings in Erbil on July 22 with Kurdistan National
Assembly (KNA) Chairman Adnan Mufti and Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) Minister of Interior (MOI) Karim Sinjari.
DCM stressed the need for concrete progress on reconciliation
and other major issues in order to retain Congressional and
US public support. Both Mufti and Sinjari blamed Sunni
intransigence for the inability of the Government of Iraq
(GOI) to move ahead on reconciliation. Mufti's deputy hinted
at possible violence if Article 140 is not implemented on
schedule, while MOI Sinjari indicated that a postponement of
the Referendum may be possible if there is tangible progress
on the process. Mufti and Sinjari called for closer
cooperation between the KRG and the US, but Sinjari rejected
a recent US request to allow 60 Palestinian families to
reside temporarily in the KRG. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) DCM Butenis, accompanied by Office of Provincial
Affairs (OPA) Director Clarke, Regional Reconstruction Team
(RRT) Erbil Deputy Team Leader Baily, IPAO, and EMBOFFs held
meetings with Kurdistan National Assembly (KNA) Chairman
Adnan Mufti and Kurdistan Regional Government Minister of the
Interior Karim Sinjari during a 22 July visit to Erbil.
KNA SPEAKER MUFTI MEETING: KRG WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A US
3. (U) At the Mufti meeting, other KNA members present
included an Assyrian Christian, a Turkoman, and Kemal
Kurkukli, the deputy KNA speaker. Mufti opened by noting
that the KRG wanted to work closely with the US Government,
"in all aspects," and to this end would like to see a US
Consulate established in Erbil.
DCM: CONTINUED US SUPPORT TO IRAQ DEPENDENT ON PROGRESS ON
4. (SBU) The DCM responded hat it is hard to maintain the
American people's support for our work when it appears that
each group in Iraq only wants to maintain its own position )
it is difficult for Americans to understand, she said, why
there is no agreement on the major issues before the
government. Mufti answered that the problems in Iraq go back
to the country's creation, which he called "a mistake"
carried out by foreigners, after which authority remained in
the hands of the Sunnis for 80 years. Now the Sunnis have
lost power, but many ex-Baathists "want to go back" to the
old regime, even though it is impossible.
KRG CONSTITUTION AND ARTICLE 140
5. (SBU) Asked about the status of the KRG Constitution,
Mufti said that the draft has been completed and a 19 member
committee is reviewing public comments on it. The Committee,
he said, is in not in a great hurry to finish. According to
Mufti, ratification of the Constitution will be postponed
until after Article 140 is implemented. Mufti added that
Article 140 "should not be delayed(it is in the
6. (SBU) Deputy KNA Chairman Kemal Kirkukli stated that
Ambassador Negroponte had endorsed in writing a "timely
implementation" for Article 140. Kirkukli also claimed that
the "majority of residents in the Article 140 area,"
including the ethnic and religious minorities, support the
referendum, with the exception of a "tiny pocket of
Turkomans" that was associated with the Baathist Party.
Kirkukli expressed disappointment that former US Ambassador
Khalilizad had proposed a delay in Article 140 implementation
at the UN. If Article 140 is not implemented, Kirkukli said,
it will cause serious problems, "too significant for us to
control," and could lead to "terrorism."
KRG ACTIONS TO STEM HONOR KILLINGS
7. (SBU) DCM Butenis then asked about PM Barzani's recent
condemnation of "honor killings" as murder. Mufti replied
that honor killings of women are an issue in the KRG, and
have been on the rise recently. One reason for this increase
is the increased freedom that women have in Kurdish society,
which is "not accepted by some." He noted that the KRG has
eliminated a Baathist law that absolved perpetrators of honor
killings, and has also made efforts to settle issues "between
families" in order to help avoid honor killings. He added
that Kurdish religious leaders had recently made an
announcement opposing honor killings.
8. (SBU) The meeting closed with Mufti asking that the US
"not get too caught up in security in Kurdistan(you need to
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get out and be seen in the media(just going to see President
Barzani is not enough."
MEETING WITH MOI SINJARI: SECURITY SITUATION
9. (SBU) The day's second meeting, with KRG Minister of the
Interior Karim Sinjari, was also attended by Minster Falah
Mustafa Bakir, head of the Foreign Relations Department.
Minister Sinjari opened by repeating a common KRG theme, that
people think "all of Iraq is like Baghdad," when in fact the
KRG is "stable and okay." He added, however, that terrorist
operate openly in Kirkuk and Mosul, and that terrorists have
been leaving Diyala and other areas under heavy Coalition
Forces' pressure and moving to locales such as Bayji and
Hawija, the "Zab area" where the US and GOI presence is less.
10. (SBU) The terrorists, he said, continue trying to
infiltrate the KRG. Despite the KRG's success in combating
them, they are still sometimes successful, and the KRG would
like more assistance to counter them. Sinjari described
Mosul as an especially good operational base for terrorists
due to its population's Arab Nationalist and Wahabiist
sympathies, and its proximity to Syria and the corridor south
to Tikrit and Anbar.
KRG NIXES PRM REQUEST FOR TEMPORARY STAY BY PALESTINIANS
11. (SBU) The DCM asked Sinjari if the KRG had responded to
a recent request from the State Department's Refugee (PRM)
Bureau to allow a group of 60 Palestinian families from other
parts of Iraq to reside temporarily in the KRG until their
processing for third country resettlement is completed.
Sinjari stated that the KRG had "answered this question
several times" and had not changed its earlier negative
responses. He cited security and political reasons for this
decision, claiming that the Palestinians are closely
associated with "Sadr and former Baathists."
ARTICLE 140: POSTPONEMENT POSSIBLE
12. (SBU) Concerning Article 140 and the possibility of
postponement, Sinjari said that he wants Article 140
Implementation to happen, but if everything "stays like now"
and no progress is made on the preparatory work, "it will be
a big problem." Postponement would only be a possibility if
the people can at least "see some progress" being made toward
an eventual referendum, he said.
US BASES IN KURDISTAN AND PROGRESS ON BENCHMARKS
13. (SBU) The DCM asked how Sinjari saw Iraq and the KRG a
year from now. Sinjari responded that the "best outcome"
would be a federal state. The Sunnis, he said, were spoiled
by their earlier monopoly on power ) they want to get power
back. They must come to understand that the old situation is
finished. When they understand that, then they can
reconcile. He added that the US is talking to the wrong
people ) the US typically forgets tribal leaders and other
traditional leaders, he said, who "often have influence with
the Sunnis and want normal lives." Minister Bakir added that
the US should change its strategy to focus on securing a few
bases, "in Kurdistan, and Central and Southern Iraq," to let
keep Iraq's neighbors in check, while the Iraqi forces did
the "street fighting."
14. (SBU) DCM closed by noting that the future role of US
forces depends not only on President Bush's policy, but also
on continued Congressional and public support. Concrete
evidence is needed, she said, of political reconciliation,
especially since the various benchmark formulations have
entered the US public consciousness. She noted that we do
not think, for example, that a Kurd-Shia alliance excluding
Sunnis is a good idea. Sunnis must be included.
15. (SBU) COMMENT: Although most of Sinjari and Mufti's
comments reiterated positions we had heard before, Sinjari's
refusal to consider State/PRM's recent resettlement request
for a small group of Palestinians was surprising, since
Sinjari had seemed receptive during an earlier meeting when
this proposal was originally presented. Sinjari's position
on a possible postponement of Article 140 is another sign
that some parts of the KRG leadership may be willing to
consider an Article 140 postponement in the right
circumstances. END COMMENT.