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Cablegate: Allawi Criticizes Pm Maliki's Authoritarian

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHGB #0290/01 0351317
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 041317Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6448
INFO RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL//CCJ2// PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC//NSC// PRIORITY

O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 000290

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/04/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM LE IR IZ
SUBJECT: ALLAWI CRITICIZES PM MALIKI'S AUTHORITARIAN
TENDENCIES AND DENOUNCES IRANIAN INTERFERENCE

REF: A. BAGHDAD 278
B. BAGHDAD 285
C. BAGHDAD 153

Classified By: MINISTER-COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS GARY A. GRAPPO
FOR REASONS 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY AND COMMENT: Iraqiyya coalition leader Ayad
Allawi told A/DCM on February 2 that the Accountability and
Justice Commission's (AJC) effort to eliminate candidates on
de-Ba'athification grounds was symptomatic of a broader
problem of intimidation in the Iraqi political system. He
attributed this intimidation to PM Maliki's "centralizing,
authoritarian" tendencies, citing as proof the PM's recent
intervention in the Salah ad-Din provincial dispute and
widespread arrests of political rivals over the last year.
Allawi shared details of his recent meeting with Iran's
ambassador to Baghdad and worried about the impact of an
Iranian-sponsored "resistance" conference in Lebanon in late
January on Iraqi and broader regional stability. In light of
recent polls that show Allawi and Maliki as top contenders
for the premiership, we anticipate that they will use the
upcoming campaign to attack each other's track records. END
SUMMARY AND COMMENT.

DE-BA'ATH PART OF A BROADER INTIMIDATION CAMPAIGN
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (C) Former PM and Iraqiyya coalition head Ayad Allawi told
A/DCM on February 2 that the de-Ba'athification process was
destabilizing Iraq. He claimed this was part and parcel of
PM Maliki's "campaign of intimidation" to alter the political
atmosphere in his favor, including by targeting political
rivals in widespread arrest operations. Allawi underscored
the "irrationality" of the Accountability and Justice
Commission's (AJC) list of disqualified candidates, pointing
to the inclusion of Iskander Witwit, deputy governor of Babil
and one of Iraqiyya's candidates, as a particularly egregious
example. Allawi's ally, MP Maysoon al-Damlougi, explained
that Witwit was a leader of the Shi'a Shaabaniya uprising
against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and had lost several brothers
who opposed the previous regime. (NOTE: A complete readout on
the de-Ba'athification discussion from this meeting was
provided in ref A. END NOTE.)

3. (C) Allawi thanked the USG for staying engaged on the
de-Ba'athification issue, and encouraged the Embassy and
Washington to underscore the repercussions of an illegitimate
election. Although the United States was "losing muscle"
with the drawdown of military forces, he commented, it should
still act firmly to uphold democratic principles so as not to
allow Iran to capitalize on its diminished presence. A/DCM
emphasized that the United States would push the Independent
High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ensure that the ballot
printed on February 6 did not exclude candidates who had not
had their legal appeals finalized by the Cassation Chamber.
(NOTE: Per ref B, the Cassation Chamber issued a legal
decision February 3 ordering IHEC to allow all candidates who
had appealed their de-Ba'athification disqualifications to
run in the elections. Details septel. END NOTE.)

MALIKI AS "AUTHORITARIAN CENTRALIZER"
------------------------------------

4. (C) Allawi faulted PM Maliki for his tendency to "overly
centralize" power in Baghdad, either in his own hands or
those of his allies, comparing it to Saddam's heavy-handed
tactics. He told A/DCM that the PM's direct intervention in
the conflict between the Provincial Council and the ousted
Qthe conflict between the Provincial Council and the ousted
governor of Salah ad-Din was tied to his deal with Parliament
Speaker Sammarrai'e to attain the Iraqi Islamic Party's (IIP)
support in government formation. (NOTE: Details septel. END
NOTE.) Allawi asserted that Maliki's efforts to concentrate
power would have wide-reaching implications for national
security, due to the PM's patronage appointments in the
intelligence services. (NOTE: This subject will be addressed
septel. END NOTE.)

PRESSURE ENGULFS IRAQI-IRANIAN RELATIONS
----------------------------------------

5. (C) Allawi shared that, at President Talabani's behest,
Iraqiyya's leaders, including Iraqi Front for National
Dialogue (IFND) head Saleh al-Mutlaq, met with Iranian
Ambassador Qomi in late January to discuss the
de-Ba'athification situation. Allawi reportedly challenged
Qomi to prove Iran's good intentions in Iraq by making a
public statement calling for fair, transparent elections in
Iraq and by telling his "friends" in Iraq, including senior

officials in Shi'a-dominated Iraqi National Alliance (INA)
and State of Law coalitions, to respect the democratic
process and not violate the Iraqi Constitution in order to
promote their own electoral chances. He said that the
Iranian Ambassador did not respond to these suggestions.
Allawi noted that he stressed the danger of disproportionate
Iranian interference and influence in Iraq during his recent
meetings with Egyptian, Saudi and Emirati leaders, and asked
those Arab states to engage more closely with Iraq.
President Mubarak reportedly promised Allawi that he would
raise this issue with a high-level UK and U.S. delegation
visiting Egypt.

6. (C) Expressing his concern about a late January
"resistance conference" organized by Iran in Lebanon, Allawi
told A/DCM that it brought together Lebanese Hezbollah,
Hamas, other terrorist organizations with a number of
legitimate political actors like Ammar al-Hakim (ISCI
chairman) from across the region. Characterizing Hakim as
"stupid" for attending the conference, Allawi said that Hakim
was pressured at the meeting to drop the political solution
he and INA partner Badr chief Hadi al-Amiri had developed to
resolve the de-Ba'ath crisis (ref B). Allawi confided that
Nabih Berri, Lebanon's speaker of parliament, asked him to
make a brief trip to Lebanon in late January to discuss the
conference. Berri's representative reportedly told Allawi
that Iran had spent USD 70 million on the conference and used
the event to direct proxy groups in Lebanon to "cause
trouble" between the Israelis and Egyptians by provoking
actions on the Sinai or along the Gaza border.
HILL

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