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Cablegate: Prt Muthanna: Rental Sheiks and Lost Iranian

VZCZCXYZ0018
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0167/01 0221650
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 221650Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6243
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

S E C R E T BAGHDAD 000167

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2020
TAGS: PGOV KISL KCOR
SUBJECT: PRT MUTHANNA: RENTAL SHEIKS AND LOST IRANIAN
WEEKENDS

REF: A. 08 BAGHDAD 3492
B. 08 BAGHDAD 3654

Classified By: xxxxx for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
)

1. (U) This is a xxxxx reporting cable.

2. (S) SUMMARY: xxxxx met with local leader Sheikh xxxxx. During our lengthy discussions the
Sheikh shared his belief that the USG has poorly utilized its
influence in Iraq, leaving the way open for Iran to advance
its agenda at USG expense. He went on to describe Iranian
government attempts to buy his influence on a recent trip he
made to Iran. End Summary.

A new twist on &what happens in vegas, stays in vegas8
--------------------------------------------- ---------
3. (S) Sheikh xxxxx on January 13 to
discuss his recent trip to Iran. He told the xxxxx that he has
been courted by Iranian officials in an effort to garner more
support and influence among well-placed Iraqis in the middle
Euphrates area. He noted that the &handler8 for the tribal
leaders in this area is xxxxx, who has long
family ties locally.

4. (S) The public reason for xxxxx trip to Tehran
was for a medical check-up. He privately told xxxxx that his trip was more for pleasure
than medical treatment and included one or more short-term
&marriages8 (i.e. with state-sanctioned prostitutes) and
other entertainment. xxxxx shared that other (unnamed)
tribal leaders had enjoyed similar privileges while guests of
the Iranian regime recently.

Dashed expectations
-------------------
5. (S) The Sheikh suggested that some Iraqi figures are more
susceptible to Iranian influence because of disillusionment
with the United States. During the meeting with xxxxx asked repeatedly, &Why have the Americans let us
down?8 After he and other tribal sheikhs visited the White
House and met then-President Bush in 2008, he expected to
benefit financially from the Americans. Instead, he
suggested that the Americans did nothing for him, even after
he reported on Iranian activities in Muthanna (Ref A). &The
United States did not secure their friends, the sheikhs,
financially, and has left them vulnerable to Iranian
temptations.8

6. (S) xxxxx also complained that while tribal leaders
in fairly stable areas used their influence to help minimize
insurgent activities over the past several years, they have
received nothing for their efforts. Cooperative sheikhs in
insurgent hotbeds like Anbar, in contrast, received benefits
from the Americans. xxxxx cited Abu Risha as an
example, noting he received money, projects, and other
perquisites for his cooperation. He finished by noting that
several of the White House-invited tribal leaders have been
quietly grumbling. He states that he has had conversations
on this perceived inequity with parliamentarian xxxxx from Diwaniyah.

7. (S) Additionally, xxxxx was frustrated with
the current regime in Baghdad. He stated that the United
States' support of the Maliki government has only increased
Iran's influence in Iraq, enabling operatives to influence
political decisions and diminish national sovereignty. The
Iraqi government has not made progress in fighting poverty,
it has failed to provide essential services, and it is full
of corruption. He asked if the United States is supporting
Iran. &Why? Because you have American troops on the
ground, but you are advancing Iranian interests without
costing them anything.8

Comment
-------
8. (S) PRT COMMENT: Southern Iraqi sheikhs are well known
Q8. (S) PRT COMMENT: Southern Iraqi sheikhs are well known
for shifting their loyalties based on financial
considerations. PM Maliki's Isnad/Tribal Support Councils
are particularly noteworthy in this regard. Susceptible
sheikhs will trade their influence for financial support
especially if the sheikh is not independently wealthy.
(Note: xxxxx and
does not independently enjoy a large bankroll. End note.)
In turn, the sheikh can mobilize supporters, when needed
(e.g. Ref B). The influence, however, is rented and not
bought. If the financial contributions suddenly stop, much
of the support may also cease. xxxxx considers this true
for Iranian influence in the region as well. If Iran
continues to pay for support among influential sheikhs, the

Islamic Republic will likely increase its influence. If and
when the money dries up, so will the cooperation among these
rented sheikhs. End Comment.
Hill

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