US embassy cable - 08BAGHDAD3211

PRT SALAH AD DIN: POLITICAL TENSIONS INCREASE AS ELECTIONS APPROACH

Identifier: 08BAGHDAD3211
Wikileaks: View 08BAGHDAD3211 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2008-10-05 06:49:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PTER PINS IZ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO8612
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3211/01 2790649
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 050649Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9794
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003211 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/04/2018 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, PINS, IZ 
SUBJECT: PRT SALAH AD DIN: POLITICAL TENSIONS INCREASE AS 
ELECTIONS APPROACH 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 1684 
 
Classified By: Richard Bell for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (U) This is a PRT Salah ad Din reporting cable. 
 
SUMMARY 
------------ 
 
2. (C)  As provincial elections approach, the PRT is hearing 
more complaints of political infighting, and accusations 
against provincial officials in Salah ad Din (SaD).  One key 
duel is between two of the most powerful figures in the 
provincial government, Deputy Governor Abdullah Hussein 
Jebara and his political rival, the Governor's Assistant for 
Technical Affairs, Qahtan Hamada Saleh (strictly protect 
throughout). The rivalry is fueled by the disproportionate 
power of Juboori tribe members in the SaD Provincial 
Government and by possible intra-tribal rivalries between 
Abdullah and Qahtan.  Abdullah allegedly uses his good 
relationship with Iraqi Police (IP) and Coalition Forces (CF) 
to manipulate the political scene.  Other potential rivals of 
Abdullah in the upcoming provincial elections also report 
threats and intimidation from him.  The PRT has witnessed an 
increase in abuses of power and expects that accounts of such 
abuse will increase elections approach.  So far, the 
jockeying does not appear to be spilling over into violence. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
3. (C)  The Sunni Arab boycott of the last elections led to a 
disproportionate share of power in the provincial government 
for Juboori tribe members, who did vote.  Deputy Governor 
Abdullah, whose late brother was the top Juboori sheikh in 
SaD, is indisputably the leader of the Juboor (plural of 
Juboori) in the Tikrit area, especially Al-Alam sub-district. 
 All provincial security departments are under Juboori 
control.  This has caused resentment among other tribes, who 
accuse the Juboor of hijacking the provincial government to 
enrich themselves and target their political rivals.  It has 
also produced claims that Abdullah has resorted to threats 
and intimidation to retain control.4. (C) Qahtan told the PRT 
that Abdullah attempts to have potential rivals removed by 
making accusations against them to the police or Coalition 
Forces (CF), with which Abdullah enjoys good relations. 
Deputy Governor Abdullah allegedly controls the police and 
other security elements in the province.  Qahtan accused 
Abdullah and Colonel Jasim Hussein Jebara, Abdullah's younger 
brother and director of National Security for SaD, of using 
their positions to extort kickbacks from projects throughout 
the province. 
 
INTRA-TRIBAL RIVALRIES 
---------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  Other tribes consistently make accusations against 
the Juboor, and the Juboor make accusations against each 
other.  Ra'id Khutab (strictly protect throughout), a Juboori 
from the same hometown (Al-Alam) as the Deputy Governor, 
recently approached the PRT and accused Abdullah of abusing 
his power to enrich himself and his close circle.  Ra'id also 
provided what he said was a copy of a fraudulent letter from 
Ahmed Chalabi exempting Abdullah from de-ba'athification. 
(NOTE: As a former firqa-level Ba'ath Party member, Abdullah 
is vulnerable to losing his job or being barred from running 
for political office, according to the 2008 Accountability 
and Justice Law, which replaced the previous 
de-ba'athification law. END NOTE). 
 
6. (C)  Abdullah and his power clique, Qahtan, Raid, and 
Bara'a Salih (protect throughout), editor of a PC-funded 
local newspaper, all represent different rival groups.  The 
PRT has seen accusations and infighting increase as these 
groups jockey for position prior to the elections.  Several 
PRT contacts have reported that Deputy Governor Abdullah has 
attempted to intimidate them into not running against him. 
This includes Qahtan, who has emerged as the key figure 
handling reconstruction and directing the work of the various 
Directors General.  He told the PRT that Abdullah has been 
accusing him of being a terrorist and is threatening to 
arrest him.  Qahtan also said that Abdullah and Jasim have 
pressured contractors to falsely accuse Qahtan and threatened 
to have him arrested.  Qahtan, who is also a Juboori, told 
the PRT that Abdullah is suspicious of everyone and sees 
Qahtan as a political rival (NOTE: Qahtan has registered to 
run for Provincial Council (PC) on a list separate from 
Abdullah's, and expressed confidence that he would do well in 
the elections. END NOTE.) 
 
OTHER ACCUSATIONS AGAINST ABDULLAH 
---------------------------------- 
 
7. (C)  Bara'a Salih (protect throughout), Editor of the 
 
BAGHDAD 00003211  002 OF 002 
 
 
PC-funded newspaper, Al Muntasf, told the PRT that Abdullah 
proposed at a closed PC meeting in August that Bara'a be 
fired.  While Bara'a was not present, he claims to have five 
separate reports of the meeting, according to which Abdullah 
was the only PC member to vote in favor of his own proposal. 
As Bara'a tells it, "the Deputy Governor kept his hand raised 
for about five minutes and during that time no other hands 
raised to join his."  Bara'a said that the reason Abdullah 
gave for wanting to fire him was that "people have been 
coming to Bara'a to get contracts signed" (i.e., that Bara'a 
was corruptly influencing the project contracting process). 
Bara'a suspects Abdullah's actions are intended to intimidate 
him.  Bara'a intends to run for the PC and thinks Abdullah 
believes that firing him would cause him to drop out of the 
race.  (NOTE: Bara'a successfully ran for PC during the last 
election.  He gave up his seat due to the assassination of 
someone close to him. END NOTE.) 
 
8. (C)  The PRT has heard rumors of political intimidation 
before.  In May, the Governorate Election Officer (GEO), 
Hatim Abdulhamid (strictly protect), told the PRT that 
provincial leaders, including Governor Hamad Hamood Shekti 
and Deputy Governor Abdullah, were threatening him in the 
hopes that he would resign.  He said they hinted that he 
could suffer the same fate as the former GEO, who was 
arrested in May 2007 on theft and corruption charges (reftel). 
 
COMMENT 
------------ 
9. (C)  That Qahtan seemed genuinely afraid for his safety is 
an indication that tensions have risen beyond their normal 
levels, which we attribute to the run-up to elections.  It 
also suggests that the Deputy Governor is not confident of 
being able to rig the elections (assuming he wished to). 
From our extensive contacts, it seems clear that all segments 
of society in SaD see provincial elections as a watershed 
event.  It is not unexpected that abuses of power could 
increase as elections approach.  At the same time, there is 
evidence that politicians (in and out of power) will try to 
manipulate the Coalition against their rivals.  So far, the 
jockeying for position does not seem to be spilling over into 
violence, but the PRT will be watching closely. (END COMMENT) 
 
CROCKER 

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