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Cablegate: Progress in Adhamiyah

VZCZCXRO2265
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #4000 3571143
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 221143Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0968
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 004000

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IZ PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: PROGRESS IN ADHAMIYAH

1. (U) This is an EPRT Baghdad reporting cable.

2. (SBU) As many as 1857 families have returned this year to
the once strife-torn district of Adhamiyah, according to GOI
figures available at the end of November. (Coalition figures
differ slightly.) The overwhelming majority of returnees are
Shi,a and by far the majority of them have re-occupied
family property or otherwise found housing in the district,s
Sunni-dominated areas. That said, CF elements of late have
noticed an uptick in the number of Sunni returnees to Shi,a
majority areas. With a few isolated exceptions -- notably a
killing and firebombing last sumer in the Shi'a Sha,ab area
-- this steady stream of returnees has encountered little in
the way of violence or trouble beyond the norm of
administrative fumbling. Even the administrative problems
appear to be few, thanks to the efficient support provided by
local government and the ISF. National ministries are
playing only a limited role.

3. (SBU) There are several other signs of progress. One of
the most important, and celebrated, was the re-opening two
weeks ago of a Shi,a-owned restaurant in the heart of &Old
Adhamiyah,8 once an epicenter of AQI-inspired violence. The
decision to reopen was purely a business one: unlike some of
the smaller entrepreneurs in the area, the restaurant owners
have not received a cent from either the Coalition or the
GOI. Just as encouraging has been the quiet opening of links
between Shi,a sheikhs from Sadr City and the group of Sunni
sheikhs linked to Old Adhamiyah,s paramount leader, Sheikh
Azawi.

4. (SBU) Local people are at long last taking the lead in
promoting stability. After months of wrangling, the
Adhamiyah District Council decided on December 17 to begin
meeting at a site in Qahirah, a mixed neighborhood on the
border between the Sunni-dominated western and the Shi,a-led
eastern area. (Note: The Army canal is the rough boundary
between the two areas.) This action will end the
increasingly embarrassing situation of meeting at a neutral
site -- FOB War Eagle. Other local leaders are working to
organize a &fun run8 through the district that starts at
the Imam Bridge re-opened in early October. The EPRT
provided encouragement and NGO contacts, but minimal material
support. The EPRT also is supporting another tangible sign
of progress, an effort by the Shi,a Qai Makam, a kindly
gentleman from Sha,ab, to launch a soccer league in the
western part of the district. If all goes well, a
representative of this league will soon be competing for the
&Adhamiyah Cup8 against rivals from the east.
CROCKER

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