US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD2536

SUNNI LEADERS ON CONSTITUTION DRAFTING

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD2536
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD2536 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-06-16 07:02:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV KDEM PTER IZ Parliament Sunni Arab National Assembly
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002536 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2015 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KDEM, PTER, IZ, Parliament, Sunni Arab, National Assembly 
SUBJECT: SUNNI LEADERS ON CONSTITUTION DRAFTING 
 
Classified By: Classified by David M. Satterfield, Deputy Chief of Miss 
 
ion, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: Sunni Arab leaders will meet members of the 
TNA constitution committee on June 16 but appear unprepared 
to settle the dispute over their inclusion.  Both UNAMI SRSG 
Ashraf Qazi and embassy pushed for 15 additional 
representatives in separate meetings with Sunni Arab leaders 
June 15, but no agreement has yet been reached on numbers. 
The Iraqi Islamic Party and National Dialogue Council are 
leading two rival blocs of Sunni Arab delegates, but at the 
moment only the former group is signaling seriousness about 
joining the process.  More hopefully, a group of leaders 
allied with the Sunni Waqf told PolOff they were ready to 
present a unified list of nominees immediately if the USG 
would meet them halfway.  They dropped their demand from 25 
to 20 additional representatives.  They took no solace from 
U.S. support for "consensus" decision-making in the 
committee.  They were convinced that the constitutional 
commission would deadlock on federalism and they said they 
needed to have the votes when it did.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) Embassy continued rounds of contacts with Sunni Arab 
leaders on the principle of inclusion in the constitution 
drafting process.  Sunni Arab leaders met together on the 
evening of June 14 and 15 and one delegation also visited 
Muslim Ulema Council leader Harith al-Dari.  They are set to 
meet at 1000 local time on June 16 in an expanded meeting 
with Adnan al-Janabi and other representatives of the 
constitution committee to review their progress.  Substantive 
arguments aside, much of what we are seeing now is 
intra-Sunni jockeying for position pre-election.  That's all 
for the good.  But it greatly complicates our ability to move 
the Sunnis to a coherent and acceptable "yes" on the 
constitutional drafting process. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Sunnis Allied with Waqf Make a Stand at 20 
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3. (C) A group of Sunnis allied with the Waqf and Islamic 
Party would not accept less than 20 additional 
representatives in a two-hour long meeting with PolOff June 
15.  The three men represented the leadership of the "United 
Iraqi Congress," an umbrella group of 30-plus smaller Sunni 
parties and tribal shaykhs that actually participated in the 
January elections.  The group, running as the United Assembly 
of Mosul Tribes, won 2 seats on the Ninewa Provincial Council 
and 18,000 votes in the national elections, about the 
equivalent of half a seat in the body.  They are close to 
Hatem al-Mukhlis and stated their allegiance to Sunni Waqf 
head Adnan al-Dulaymi, warning that his removal would be a 
mistake at this moment.  Mosul Shaykh Anwar al-Nada lead the 
group, accompanied by his deputy Muhammad Shahab al-Dulaymi, 
of Ramadi, and political advisor Farman Aziz, also of Mosul. 
 
4. (C) All three men -- sounding a theme we are hearing from 
others -- were wracked with anxiety that the Shi'a and Kurds 
are conspiring to all but divide Iraq under the guise of 
federalism in the constitution.  They said they wanted to 
work by &consensus8 and appreciate U.S. support for the 
principle, but they believe consensus will be impossible to 
achieve.  Therefore, they said, the constitutional debate is 
bound to come to vote inside the committee/commission, and 
they want to make sure they have the votes when that day 
arrives.  They say the Kurds are already forbidding Arabs 
from entering northern Iraq -- a claim our Kirkuk RC has 
found valid on occasion.  These Sunni Arab leaders also 
believe that they represent 40 percent of the population -- 
six provinces -- and are already compromising by dropping to 
25. 
 
5. (C) PolOff offered them three paths to a compromise, but 
they were not biting: 
 
 -- PolOff pointed out that the U.S. is committed to the 
principle of consensus and is determined that no party be 
left out or ganged up on in the drafting process.  The U.S. 
is also opposed to the division of Iraq and committed to a 
pluralistic, unified and democratic new Iraq.  The United 
Iraqi Congress members urged the U.S. to find a way to make 
its commitment to Iraq's unity more public.   They suggested 
that President Bush make remarks to that end to allay Sunni 
Arab fears heading into the drafting process.  However, they 
still wanted 25 additional representatives. 
 
-- PolOff offered that the U.S. is interested in finding a 
compromise within this compromise.  If the Sunnis compromise 
on 15 additional full members, perhaps a greater number can 
then be brought in as experts and advisors on subcommittees. 
Perhaps the Sunnis can call for a constitution that is 
especially open to amendment in its early test years. 
Perhaps higher-level U.S. officials could make assurances on 
consensus and integration for all additional members.  Here 
too, the audience reacted with interest but said that they 
would not risk going to a vote without the numbers.  In a 
slight compromise, they offered to make sure that Shi'a and 
Kurds were on their list of additions to the committee, not 
only Sunnis.  However, they seemed to know as they said this 
that the Shi'a and Kurds would not trust those delegates any 
more than the Sunnis would trust delegates chosen for them. 
 
 
-- PolOff urged the group to prioritize its goals and not 
sacrifice more important causes over a minor dispute over 
numbers.  The real keys to the future of the Sunni community 
are holding new elections on time, avoiding a six-month 
delay, and deepening the U.S. relationship.  Finding a 
compromise on the constitution committee would allow them to 
achieve those other goals.  They nodded, smiled, and said 
they would simply have to withdraw if given less than 25. 
 
-- Lastly, PolOff questioned the group,s attachment to 
numbers when the referendum, not the commission or the TNA, 
will ultimately determine the fate of the constitution.  If 
the Sunnis control six provinces, as they claimed, then they 
will always have the ability to vote down a draft they do not 
like.  They might as well participate to try to avoid that 
scenario.  Here it was clear that our interlocutors were not 
so sure they could marshal the numbers to vote down the 
document.  They were also convinced that voter fraud and 
militia groups would prevent Sunnis from getting to the polls 
to vote down a constitutional referendum. 
 
6. (C) The closest thing to a movement came as the final cups 
of coffee were served and the meeting approached its last 
half-hour.  Sunni figures said they would drop their demand 
from 25 to 20, aligning themselves with a compromise we have 
already heard from the Iraqi Islamic Party and Sunni Waqf. 
They promised to convey the USG ideas to their committee but 
said they would settle the deal on the spot for 20 additions 
and want a "green light" to go forward.  PolOff offered no 
green light and said that, with a difference so narrow, the 
group should make the final step rather than sacrifice a 
historic drafting process and revived US-relationship over a 
few names.  The men only nodded sadly and responded that the 
Sunnis already have prepared a joint list of 20 candidates 
that could be put forward immediately.  They said that every 
group participated in its formulation except the National 
Dialogue Council, which they doubted would participate in any 
event.  (PolOff has, in fact, seen a copy of the list of 25 
names that was prepared by Adnan al-Dulaimi). 
 
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Only A Non-Interference Pledge from the Dialogue Council 
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7. (C) EmbOff held a separate meeting with Salah Mutlak of 
the National Dialogue Council and won only a pledge of 
non-interference if other groups bow to the number fifteen. 
Mutlak said he would not block other groups from supporting 
that number but would not participate in the process in that 
case.  Instead, he would work on a political campaign for the 
next elections that would sell his party as one unsullied by 
what he believes will be a disappointing constitution 
drafting experience.  Mutlak's mind was already clearly on 
the next elections and he laid out a plan to join forces in 
the next government with Iyad Allawi after running separately 
in the elections.  Mutlak said he planned to explore ways to 
make sure that the constitution is open to amendment at a 
time when politics are less sectarian. 
 
8. (C) Despite his assurances of non-interference, Mutlak was 
still contemplating ways to influence the Sunni 
representation in the process.  He recommended the idea of UN 
mediation to resolve the dispute on numbers, a non-starter 
for Shi'a Arabs.  He also said that, whatever number is 
chosen, the delegates should be nominated in two concurrent 
processes.  Major Sunni groups meeting in Baghdad should 
choose 60-70 percent of the names and quick conferences in 
the provinces could produce the remaining 30-40 percent. 
Mutlak was clearly convinced that his allies would fair well 
in provincial conferences.  He claimed that he himself had 
been welcomed with fanfare and elected "chairman" at such an 
assembly in Diyala on June 14.  He said other such 
conferences were in the works in the near future in Ramadi 
and Mosul, and he expected both to produce victories for his 
party and defeats for the Iraqi Islamic Party. 
 
- - - - 
Comment 
- - - - 
 
9. (C) Clearly, we are still not at a deal.  The National 
Dialogue Council is presenting itself as not interested in 
inclusion, but our Shia and Kurd interlocutors believe the 
Council will ultimately join -- if we continue to work over 
Mutlak.  The Sunni Waqf group is serious but fears that the 
Shi'a and Kurds are conspiring on a federalism plan that will 
divide Iraq.  More significantly, Sunni Waqf leader Dulaymi 
is ready to move if PM Jafari - now approved by the Cabinet 
to remove him office.  Dulaymi, we are told is outbidding his 
Sunni rivals over the issue of numbers to demonstrate his 
"Sunni" credentials and thus make his removal more difficult. 
 Indeed, we believe much of the debate on numbers 25-20-15 
Sunnis (or points in between) has far more to do with the 
struggle for leadership within the Sunni community than it 
does genuine moves related to the constitution.  The good 
news here is that virtually all of the key Sunni figures we 
are dealing with believe elections are coming and are 
maneuvering to position themselves for the vote.  The bad 
news is that this maneuvering greatly complicates our ability 
to get them to a "yes" on joining the constitution drafting 
process that in acceptable to their Shia and Kurdish 
partners.  Our best course for now is to stay focused on 
pressing for 15 as a reasonable outcome, and avoid entering 
the Sunni political souq.  We will consider other options if 
this directive strategy does not achieve success in the near 
future.  End comment. 
 
10. (U) REO HILLA, REO BASRA, REO MOSUL, and REO KIRKUK, 
minimize considered. 
 
JEFFREY 
Jeffrey 

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