US embassy cable - 04BAGHDAD57

USEB 34: FM ZEBARI HERALDS NEW ERA FOR IRAQ

Identifier: 04BAGHDAD57
Wikileaks: View 04BAGHDAD57 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2004-07-06 19:40:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV IZ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 061940Z JUL 04
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0083
INFO SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC
IRAQ COLLECTIVE
ISLAM COLLECTIVE
NATO EU COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 000057 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/04/14 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, IZ 
SUBJECT: USEB 34: FM ZEBARI HERALDS NEW ERA FOR IRAQ 
 
CLASSIFIED BY AMB. JOHN D. NEGROPONTE FOR 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER ZEBARI TOLD THE AMBASSADOR JULY 4 
THAT THE NEW INTERIM IRAQI GOVERNMENT (IIG) MUST DEMONSTRATE ITS 
INDEPENDENCE AND SHOW THE IRAQI PEOPLE THAT THE TRANSFER OF 
POWER WAS GENUINE.  HE HOPED DISBURSEMENT OF U.S. SUPPLEMENTAL 
FUNDS WOULD BE ACCELERATED AND SAID THAT STABILITY AND SECURITY 
HAD IMPROVED IN AREAS WHERE SUPPLEMENTAL MONEY HAD ALREADY BEEN 
SPENT.  ZEBARI WAS PLEASED WITH HIS TRIP TO THE NATO SUMMIT IN 
ISTANBUL AND WELCOMED THE FINAL OUTCOME.  HE TOLD THE AMBASSADOR 
THAT RELATIONS BETWEEN IRAQ AND ITS NEIGHBORS WERE DIFFICULT, 
AND SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED THE RELATIONSHIP WITH SYRIA AS 
PROBLEMATIC.  REGARDING ELECTIONS, ZEBARI ARGUED PROPORTIONAL 
REPRESENTATION WOULD BE QTHE SAVIORQ FOR IRAQ WHILE A WINNER- 
TAKE-ALL SYSTEM WOULD SOW THE SEEDS FOR CIVIL WAR.  END SUMMARY. 
 
TRANSFER OF SOVEREIGNTY 
----------------------- 
 
2.  (C) AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE MET JULY 4 WITH FOREIGN MINISTER 
ZEBARI AS AN INITIAL COURTESY CALL.  ZEBARI WAS POSITIVE ABOUT 
THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND AND JOKED WITH THE AMBASSADOR THAT 
IF HE BELIEVED ONLY THE MEDIAQS INTERPRETATION OF THE STATE OF 
AFFAIRS, HE WOULD TRY TO QSEEK POLITICAL ASYLUMQ ABROAD.  THE 
MINISTER UNDERLINED THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVING TO THE IRAQI 
PEOPLE THAT THE TRANSFER OF SOVEREIGNTY WAS GENUINE AND 
CREDIBLE.  HE ASSURED THE AMBASSADOR THAT IRAQ AND THE UNITED 
STATES WERE QON THE SAME TEAMQ BUT SAID THE IIG WOULD NEED TO 
SHOW ITS INDEPENDENCE. 
 
3.  (C) SADDAM HUSSEINQS ARRAIGNMENT WAS A SUCCESSFUL 
DEMONSTRATION OF LEADERSHIP BY THE IIG, ACCORDING TO ZEBARI.  HE 
SAID THAT ALTHOUGH SOME COLLEAGUES HAD RESERVATIONS THAT SADDAM 
WOULD USE THE OCCASION TO HIS ADVANTAGE, ZEBARI WAS CONVINCED 
THE HEARING HUMILIATED SADDAM AND "SENT THE RIGHT MESSAGE" TO 
THE IRAQI PUBLIC. 
 
4.  (C) REGARDING THE MEDIA, THE MINISTER SAID THE IIG WOULD 
NEED TO MANAGE "ITS MESSAGE" AND PUSH MORE OFFICIALS FORWARD TO 
SPEAK WITH THE PRESS.  ZEBARI SAID THAT IT WAS PREDOMINANTLY CPA 
OFFICIALS WHO INTERFACED WITH THE MEDIA FOR THE PAST YEAR.  THE 
AMBASSADOR AGREED WITH ZEBARI AND NOTED THAT HE HAD NOT ONCE 
SPOKEN TO THE PRESS IN THE PAST FIVE DAYS.  THE AMBASSADOR 
EMPHASIZED THAT THE USG WANTED TO TAKE A LOWER PROFILE AND 
SUPPORT THE NEW IRAQI GOVERNMENT HOWEVER POSSIBLE.  THE 
AMBASSADOR OFFERED TRAINING FOR IRAQI PRESS OFFICERS.  ZEBARI 
WELCOMED THE OFFER. 
 
5.  (C) ZEBARI TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT HE WAS "PUTTING THE 
FINAL TOUCHES" ON HIS LIST OF 47 CHIEFS OF MISSION TO BE SENT 
ABROAD, INCLUDING TO WASHINGTON AND NEW YORK.  HE SAID THE LIST 
WOULD BE FINALIZED WITHIN THE NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS. 
 
 
U.S. ASSISTANCE 
--------------- 
 
6.  (C) ZEBARI EXPRESSED CONCERN OVER THE SLOW PACE OF U.S. 
SUPPLEMENTAL FUND DISBURSEMENTS.  HE URGED THE AMBASSADOR TO 
QUICKEN THE PACE AND NOTED THAT IN AREAS WHERE THE USG HAD BEGUN 
PROJECTS, LIKE IN TIKRIT, THE SECURITY SITUATION HAD SHOWN 
MARKED IMPROVEMENT.  THE AMBASSADOR TOLD ZEBARI THAT A LARGER 
PERCENTAGE OF THE SUPPLEMENTAL HAD ACTUALLY BEEN COMMITTED THAN 
THE MEDIA PORTRAYED, BUT HE AGREED WITH ZEBARI THAT FUNDS NEEDED 
TO FLOW AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. 
 
 
INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE 
------------------------ 
 
7.  (C) ZEBARI TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT HIS TRIP TO ISTANBUL FOR 
THE NATO SUMMIT WAS A SUCCESS.  HE WAS PLEASED WITH HIS 
OPPORTUNITIES TO MEET OTHER FOREIGN AND DEFENSE MINISTERS TO 
CONVEY THE MESSAGE THAT IRAQ NEEDED SUPPORT, SPECIFICALLY 
TRAINING AND EQUIPMENT.  THE FRENCH DELEGATION HAD QUESTIONED 
ZEBARI AS TO HOW GENUINE AND REPRESENTATIONAL THE POLITICAL 
PROCESS IN IRAQ WAS.  THE MINISTER TOLD THE AMBASSADOR HE 
WELCOMED THE FRENCH QUESTIONS AS IT GAVE HIM AN OPPORTUNITY TO 
EXPLAIN THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY.  [NOTE: THE FRENCH 
CHARGE IN BAGHDAD HAS YET TO SUBMIT HIS CREDENTIALS.  HOWEVER, 
THE CHARGE ENCOURAGED ZEBARI TO WRITE A LETTER TO THE FRENCH 
FOREIGN MINISTER REQUESTING THAT DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BE RE- 
ESTABLISHED.  HE SAID THE FRENCH SIDE WOULD RESPOND QUICKLY IN 
THE AFFIRMATIVE.  END NOTE.] 
 
8.  (C) ZEBARI HAD TRAVELED TO ISTANBUL ONE WEEK PRIOR TO THE 
NATO SUMMIT FOR AN ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC CONFERENCES (OIC) 
MEETING.  HE ALSO VIEWED THIS MEETING AS A SUCCESS AND WAS 
PLEASED WITH THE OIC FINAL RESOLUTION, WHICH SUPPORTED THE IIG 
AND UNSCR 1546.  DURING THE OIC MINISTERIAL, SRSG BRAHIMI SAID 
THE MEETING WAS GOOD AND HE LOOKED FORWARD TO THE NEXT SUCH 
GATHERING, WHICH EGYPT PLANNED TO HOST IN LATE JULY. 
 
9.  (C) THE MINISTER CHARACTERIZED RELATIONS BETWEEN IRAQ AND 
ITS NEIGHBORS AS DIFFICULT.  ZEBARI SPECIFICALLY RAISED THE 
ISSUE OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS ENTERING IRAQ FROM SYRIA AND IRAN.  HE 
WOULD NOT ACCUSE EITHER GOVERNMENT OF AN OFFICIAL POLICY TO SEND 
FOREIGN FIGHTERS, BUT ZEBARI TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT BOTH 
DAMASCUS AND TEHRAN COULD CERTAINLY DO MORE TO STOP IT. 
 
10.  (C) WHENEVER ZEBARI RAISED THE ISSUE WITH HIS SYRIAN 
INTERLOCUTORS, THEY WOULD ASK ZEBARI FOR EVIDENCE OF SYRIAN 
INVOLVEMENT.  THE MINISTER TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT EVIDENCE 
EXISTED; SYRIAN MEDIA "AGITATED" THE SITUATION AND FOREIGN 
FIGHTERS WITH SYRIAN IDENTIFICATION PAPERS HAD BEEN CAUGHT IN 
IRAQ.  FURTHERMORE, ZEBARI REPORTED THAT FORMER IRAQ BAQATH 
PARTY MEMBERS AND INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS WERE IN SYRIA ORGANIZING 
ACTIVITIES TO UNDERMINE THE IIG.  ZEBARI SAID THE IIG WAS 
EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITY OF CLOSING THE BORDER WITH SYRIA, BUT 
NOTED THE SIGNIFICANT ECONOMIC IMPACT IT WOULD HAVE ON IRAQ. 
 
11.  (C) ACCORDING TO ZEBARI, SAUDI ARABIA AND TO A LESSER 
EXTENT EGYPT WERE SYMPATHETIC TO THE SYRIAN POSITION.  ANOTHER 
ARAB FOREIGN MINISTER HAD TOLD ZEBARI THAT IRAQI FREEDOM 
QTERRIFIEDQ SYRIA, IRAN, AND OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE REGION. 
 
ELECTIONS 
--------- 
 
12.  (C) THE AMBASSADOR TOLD ZEBARI THAT UN OFFICIALS PLANNED TO 
RETURN TO IRAQ SHORTLY, BOTH TO HELP WITH THE NATIONAL 
CONFERENCE AND TO WORK ON ELECTION PREPARATIONS.  REGARDING 
ELECTIONS, ZEBARI ARGUED THAT PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION WAS 
QTHE ONLY SAVIORQ FOR IRAQ.  PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION WOULD 
LEAD TO NATIONAL RECONCILIATION AND QVERY LIVELYQ ALLIANCES 
BETWEEN ETHNIC AND SECTARIAN GROUPS.  ZEBARI CONTINUED THAT A 
WINNER-TAKE-ALL SYSTEM WOULD LEAD TO LARGE POLITICAL BLOCS 
FORMING AND POSSIBLE CIVIL WAR.  HE SAID THAT IF THE SHIQA WON 
AN OUTRIGHT MAJORITY THROUGH PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION Q "SO 
BE IT."  THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT SOME PEOPLE HAD EXPRESSED 
FEARS THAT PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION WOULD LEAD TO ISLAMIC 
EXTREMIST DOMINATION.  ZEBARI DISCOUNTED THOSE FEARS. 
 
13.  (C) THE AMBASSADOR THANKED ZEBARI FOR SHARING HIS THOUGHTS 
ON ELECTIONS, AND AGREED THAT WHEN IRAQ DRAFTED ITS 
CONSTITUTION, IT WOULD BE IMPORTANT FOR THE ALL VOICES, EVEN 
THOSE OF SMALL MINORITIES, TO BE HEARD.  A SYSTEM OF 
PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION SHOULD ALLOW FOR THAT OPPORTUNITY. 
 
 
NEGROPONTE 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04