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Cablegate: Prt Basra: Round-Up of Recent Political Meetings

VZCZCXRO3702
RR RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHBC #0047/01 2281500
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161500Z AUG 09
FM REO BASRAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0904
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0482
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHBC/REO BASRAH 0942

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BASRAH 000047

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER EAID SOCI PHUM IZ IR
SUBJECT: PRT BASRA: ROUND-UP OF RECENT POLITICAL MEETINGS

BASRAH 00000047 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) This cable provides summaries of PRT meetings held since
July 13 with various Iraqi officials. These meetings have not
been the subject of front-channel reporting. Complete reports
of all these meetings are available by email by contacting
MalloryJL@state.gov with a request for specific reports.

Waleed Ketan (July 13, 2009)
============================
Chair of the Basra Provincial Council Planning Committee

2. (SBU) Ketan was our initial interlocutor from the PC to
discuss USG-funded infrastructure projects. Much of the meeting
dealt with the status of various proposals and issue of whether
the PC had to approve all existing and future USG reconstruction
projects in Basra. (See Basra 045 for a full report on the
discussions with Ketan, and subsequent meetings with the PC
Chair, and other PC members on this issue.) On the political
front, Ketan (a member of Iraqi National Accord) saw a steep
decline in the popularity of national secular parties, and
thought the upcoming national elections could be a death knell
for some of the smaller parties.

Sheikh Kadim Abud Shehab Rivat al Gatrani (July 18, 2009)
============================================= ============
Head of Kutarna Tribe and Noble Man Council in Basra

3. (SBU) The sheikh requested USG assistance in getting
approval to set up tribal-led security operations along the
Iraq-Iran border to reduce smuggling and terrorist attacks. He
singled out the Abu al-Khasid region as the main smuggling point
for oil in the Basra region. We responded that the Iraqi
government, not the USG, was in charge of border security.
Sheikh Kadim lamented Iraq's reliance on Iran for even the most
basic commodities, and criticized Iraqi leaders for not stopping
Iran and Kuwait from reportedly stealing Iraqi oil through
diagonal drilling.

Mohammed Mosbeh Wa'eli (July 25, 2009)
======================================
Former Governor of Basra Province

4. (SBU) Wa'eli faulted the current government for failure to
follow up on reconstruction projects begun during his tenure and
slowness in initiating new projects. He spoke about the
political ambitions of the PC Chair to unseat the current
governor and take his place. He characterized Governor Shiltagh
as an inexperienced and ineffective politician, and said that
the central government was unhappy with the performance of the
Basra government. The one bright spot Wa'eli saw was the
inauguration of construction for a massive "Sports City" in
Basra that he believed would boost employment and attract
investment.

Shiltagh Abud (July 29, 2009)
=============================
Governor of Basra

5. (SBU) In a bid to attract foreign investment, Governor
Shiltagh sought USG assistance to help change the negative
perceptions of Iraq among American business people. He stated
that his top priorities were improving essential services
(electricity water, sewage, trash removal), but said that the
previous government's commitment to fund a large number of
projects had drained the government's coffers. The governor
took on board information on how the USG might offer assistance,
and raised the idea of building a lock system on the Shat
al-Arab waterway to prevent salt water from flowing up river.

Sa'ad Mati Potrous (August 5, 2009)
===================================
Member of the Basra Provincial Council (United Democratic Party
of the Chaldeans)

6. (SBU) Potrous, the only Christian member of the Provincial
Council, has suspended his membership over frustrations that the
PC is disregarding Christian interests. He list of grievances
included lack of PC movement on his two proposals -- funding a
Christian community center and buying mini-buses to transport
small children to school -- and its lowering of the percentage
of government jobs reserved for Christians from 10% to 5%.
(NOTE: Christians actually comprise less than 5% of Basra's
population.) Potrous told us that unless the PC approved at
least one of his projects, he would -- with the backing of
Basra's Christian community -- resign from the PC. Potrous
informed us of his interest to serve in the Council of
Representatives if another reserved seat for Christians is
created by its expansion.

Major General Mohammed Huweidi (August 6, 2009)
============================================= ==
Commander of the Iraqi Security Forces in Basra Province

BASRAH 00000047 002.2 OF 002

7. (SBU) Major General Mohammed highlighted the importance of
attracting foreign investment to Basra to provide employment and
reduce recruitment of terrorists. The general attributed his
recent success in capturing three major terrorist targets to
good U.S. intelligence combined with good Iraqi Army execution.
He proposed a program to pay locals for information on terrorist
targets, and suggested creating a joint committee of the Iraqi
Army, Iraqi Police, and U.S. Military to improve intelligence
and targeting operations.

Jalal Thiyab Thijeel (August 10, 2009)
======================================
Secretary of the Movement of Free Iraqis

8. (SBU) Thijeel informed us of his three-year-old movement to
improve the political, legal, and social standing of Iraq's
estimated two-million-strong black community. He outlined what
he saw as a pattern of ongoing discrimination based in a
1400-year history of slavery and treatment as second-class
citizens. Thijeel said he was seeking USG and international
support for his cause, and has had some success in getting his
message out to the international media.
NALAND

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