Cablegate: Karbala: Sermon Focused On Government Responsiveness

DE RUEHIHL #0100 1881517
R 071517Z JUL 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: 000097

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

2. (U) Again this week Sayed Ahmed al-Safi, Head of the Al Abbas
shrine office, conducted the Friday sermon at Karbala's
al-Husain shrine. There is no official word about the absence
of Sheikh Abdul Mehdi al-Karbalae at this time. This sermon
focused on the role of honest press reporting, government
officials extending the "green zone" to other parts of Baghdad
and public access to the government. This was a quieter sermon
than the last. Local media coverage included Karbala Radio, and
the following television channels; Karbala, Al-Iraqya, Al-Furat,
and Al-Salam.

3. (U) Al-Safi focused on security in and around Baghdad and the
growing gap between government officials and the public they
represent. He called for government officials to move out of
the "green zone" and to move back to the neighborhoods in
Baghdad. The security situation in Baghdad is not good, he
highlighted, and that seven out of ten residents would echo that
opinion. Al-Safi encouraged the government officials, probably
referring to the elected officials, to move out of the
international zone and back to the neighborhoods of Baghdad. He
explained that the relocation would likely bring greater
security to those neighborhoods. He also urged the media to
report the truth, accusing them of being disorganized and
unclear about their facts and unreliable as sources of
information for the people. Lastly, al-Safi called for the
government officials to get from behind their desks and the
protection of their assistants to answer the hard questions
directly and go into the field to see the people they represent.

4. (SBU) Comment: This sermon called the government officials
to task on being accessible to the voting public. The portion
about the media remains unclear; however it appears that al-Safi
is calling on them to get their facts straight. Chatter among
the congregation focused on a recent military operation in
Karbala City and a noticeable increase in Iraqi Army presence at
check points within the city and patrolling the streets.
Regarding the absent al-Karbalae , rumor on the street says that
he may be in Iran for medical treatment or meetings.

5.(SBU) Comment continued: PRT Karbala with the support of 3ID
expects to start posting an electronic version of the audio
portion of the sermons on Tuesdays (or when available) for those
interested in hearing the original sermon. As soon as that is
available the PRT and 3ID will make the website available.(End


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