US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD7

FOREIGN MINISTER ZIBARI SAYS IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS SHOULD STOP WORRYING AND START HELPING

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD7
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD7 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-01-02 17:02:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV KDEM KISL PNAT IZ SY TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 021702Z JAN 05
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3613
INFO WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
CJCS WASHINGTON DC
CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
AMEMBASSY ANKARA 
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
REO HILLAH 0073
REO MOSUL 0069
REO KIRKUK 0070
REO BASRAH 0069
IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L  BAGHDAD 000007 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2025 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KDEM, KISL, PNAT, IZ, SY, TU 
SUBJECT: FOREIGN MINISTER ZIBARI SAYS IRAQ'S NEIGHBORS 
SHOULD STOP WORRYING AND START HELPING 
 
CLASSIFIED BY DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION JAMES F. JEFFREY FOR 
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Iraqi Interim Government Foreign Minster 
Zibari told Deputy Secretary Armitage on December 31 that 
Iraq's Arab neighbors need to worry less about what the 
Shi'a will do in Iraq after elections and think about how 
to help convince Iraq's Sunni Arabs to stop tearing the 
country apart.  Zibari was firm that Iraqi and Kurdish 
interests require the January elections to go forward 
despite the likelihood of low Sunni voter turnout.  Zibari 
said that more American pressure should be applied to 
Syria, which is still giving too much freedom to former 
regime elements.  Zibari asserted that the Turks exaggerate 
the Kurdish issue but he said that Iraq would send a high- 
level delegation to Ankara to discuss the PKK.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) Foreign Minister Zibari received Deputy Secretary 
Armitage, Charge d'Affaires Jeffrey, Assistant Secretary 
Burns, D staff aide Ryu and Embassy Pol note-taker on the 
evening of December 31 at the Kurdistan Democratic Party 
(KDP) headquarters in the International Zone.  (The Foreign 
Minister was unaccompanied except for his security.) 
Zibari was upbeat, back from what he felt was a good trip 
to China.  He stressed Iraqi appreciation for the American 
administration's commitment, praising in particular 
American staying power. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
IRAQ'S ARAB NEIGHBORS WORRY ABOUT THE SHI'A 
------------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) Zibari stressed that Iraq's Arab neighbors are 
nervous about Iraq's way forward.  They perceive the Shi'a 
coming to power and the Sunni Arabs about to be shut out of 
government and the constitution-drafting process.  Zibari 
said that he has explained to the Arab neighbors that Iraq 
will remain an Arab League member and respect its 
obligations.  He has also underlined to them, however, that 
the future Iraqi government will be very different from the 
Saddam regime marked by pan-Arab rhetoric. 
 
4. (C) Zibari said he underlined in Dubai in early December 
that Iraq's Shi'a and Kurds want to work with all Iraqis to 
prepare a good constitution.  Many of Iraq's neighbors 
believe the rhetoric of former regime supporters who say 
that they stand for Iraq's national unity.  In reality, he 
asserted, it is the Sunni Arabs whose rejectionist stance 
is tearing Iraq apart. 
 
5. (C) Zibari said that the January 6 meeting in Jordan of 
neighboring states would help them understand the Iraqi 
elections.  He noted, for example, that even Jordanian 
Foreign Minister Mulki did not understand how minorities, 
such as Iraq's Sunni Arabs, benefit from the Transitional 
Administrative Law's (TAL) provision that 2/3 of the voters 
in any three of Iraq's governorates could block the new 
constitution.  (COMMENT: Prior to the meeting, Zibari told 
PolCouns that he was not sure either Iranian Foreign 
Minister Kharrazi or Syrian Foreign Minister Shara would 
attend.  He thought King Abdallah's remarks about Iran 
might keep the Iranians away.  END COMMENT) 
 
-------------------------- 
SYRIA: NEEDS MORE PRESSURE 
-------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Zibari told the Deputy Secretary that charges of 
Syrian complicity in Iraq's security problems from 
officials like Iraqi Defense Minister Sha'lan add to Syrian 
concerns.  Zibari perceived that overall, however, the 
Syrians think the U.S. lacks staying power in Iraq, just as 
it lacked it in Lebanon 20 years ago.  Syria aims to be an 
arbiter of Iraqi affairs, he claimed.  Thus, it provides 
far broader freedom to former regime elements in terms of 
money transfers, training and media access than it ever 
granted to the anti-Saddam opposition before.  He urged 
greater U.S. pressure on Damascus.  For example, he 
suggested the U.S. begin helping the Syrian opposition, a 
step he claimed would immediately gain Syrian Government 
attention and modify its behavior. 
 
 
---------------------------------------- 
TURKEY: DO NOT EXAGGERATE KURDISH ISSUES 
---------------------------------------- 
 
7. (C) Zibari said that bilateral relations with Turkey are 
"going well," although he acknowledged ongoing Turkish 
worries about Kurdish independence.  Zibari stressed that 
the Turks ultimately understand that independence is not on 
the agenda of the Iraqi Kurds' leadership.  Occasional 
developments do "agitate" the Turks, such as the referendum 
on Kurdish independence.  Zibari also acknowledged Turkish 
concerns about Kirkuk.  Keeping the current provincial 
council would help allay those Turkish worries as there are 
Turkmen sitting on the council, a fact that reassures the 
Turks. 
 
8. (C) Zibari asserted that the PKK is largely shutdown and 
that the Turkish-Iraq border has been quiet in recent 
years.  He acknowledged that there have been some incidents 
but he said the Turks should not exaggerate their 
importance.  He added that the Turkish Government has 
intelligence operatives and Special Forces in northern Iraq 
and understands the reality on the ground.  Zibari stated 
that the Interim Iraqi Government policy is clear; Iraq 
will not harbor any terror group on its soil.  Zibari said 
an interagency Iraqi team will go to Ankara in January to 
discuss the PKK.  That said, he said the Turkish Government 
must understand that the Iraqi Government's biggest 
priority now is not the PKK. 
 
-------------------------------- 
KURDS MUST SUPPORT THE ELECTIONS 
-------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Zibari, who is close to Kurdish KDP leader Masud 
Barzani, dismissed the Kurdish threat to boycott the 
January elections because of Kurdish dissatisfaction with 
the situation in Kirkuk.  Kurds should not let themselves 
be seen as obstacle, he opined.  Moreover, such a boycott 
would hurt the credibility of the elections and hurt the 
Kurds' friends in the U.S.  The suggestion put forward of 
keeping a provincial council along the lines of the current 
council is not a permanent solution, but it puts the issue 
off past elections.  Zibari concluded that the January 
elections may be messy at times, but they must go forward. 
Deputy Secretary agreed, noting that the U.S. and Iraq have 
started down a path.  Too many Iraqi lives have been 
sacrificed to change that path now.  The U.S., he strongly 
reiterated to Zibari, will not change its stance on 
elections. 
 
----------------------------- 
INTERNATIONAL MONITORS USEFUL 
----------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Zibari opined that the Shi'a United Alliance list 
is strong but he doubted that it would gain 60-65 percent 
of the vote as many think.  Zibari anticipated there would 
be a strong Kurdish turnout.  Looking at the Sunni Arab 
vote, Zibari stated that the Sunnis want to vote; however, 
he anticipated that the voter turnout would not be large 
because of the intimidation campaign.  In addition, none of 
the lists had garnered much Sunni Arab enthusiasm.  The 
resulting Sunni Arab apathy would keep many voters home in 
the face of the risk associated with voting.  Zibari said 
that, while the Sunni Arab vote would be low, the rest of 
Iraqis would vote in big numbers.  It would be useful to 
have international monitors in Iraq to see how open the 
process is and how good the turnout will be. 
 
11. (U) Minimize considered. 
 
 
NEGROPONTE 

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