US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD2825

SCIRI LEADER HAKIM OFFERS CHARGE ASSURANCES OF FLEXIBILITY ON SUNNI INCLUSION, CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD2825
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD2825 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-07-05 06:26:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV KDEM KISL IZ IR Sunni Arab Parliament 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 002825 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/04/2015 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, KDEM, KISL, IZ, IR, Sunni Arab, Parliament, National Assembly 
SUBJECT: SCIRI LEADER HAKIM OFFERS CHARGE ASSURANCES OF 
FLEXIBILITY ON SUNNI INCLUSION, CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES 
 
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires David M. Satterfield for 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: The leader of the strongest Shia Islamist 
party, SCIRI's Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, promised rapid progress 
on Sunni inclusion and offered a moderate vision on an array 
of constitutional issues in a July 3 meeting with the Charge. 
 Hakim and Constitution Committee Chairman Humam al-Hamudi, 
also a SCIRI leader, said they have deep suspicions about the 
intentions of some of the Sunni nominees.  Nonetheless, they 
promised the Charge that they would work to see them included 
by July 4.  Hakim said he supported federalism and thought 
the danger of Kurdish secession to be overblown.  He laughed 
at the tortured debate over Iraq's "Arab" identity, 
considering the matter trivial.  He said he supported keeping 
Iraq's provincial boundaries intact through the constitution 
but allowing room for the formation of regional entities that 
he expected to trisect the nine provinces in the Shia south. 
He confirmed a flexible view on the issue of religion and 
state and made clear multiple times that he wanted the 
constitution to be produced successfully, flexibly, and with 
active U.S. support.  Hakim warned that a campaign to kill 
Shia leaders was underway and mused over the idea of 
establishing public security committees.  Charge shot down 
that idea flatly, emphasizing U.S. opposition to any militia 
activity.  Asked for his impressions of Iran's new president, 
Hakim said he thought Mahmud Ahmadinejad would prove a strong 
opponent of terror and an unlikely ally of U.S. efforts in 
Iraq. END SUMMARY 
 
2. (C) SCIRI leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim urged a wider U.S. 
role in Iraqi affairs in a July 3 meeting with the Charge, 
pointing to the emerging constitutional debate and stating, 
"You have a key role -- more important than your role in the 
government formation process or before that."  SCIRI, he 
said, is ready to implement and promote new ideas because 
Iraq needs a wider strategy to fight terror.  "If you like 
it, do it," Hakim said.  "We are not a research center."  He 
elaborated on the following key issues: 
 
-- SUNNI CONSTITUTION INCLUSION MOVING FORWARD: Hakim 
deferred to Constitution Committee Chairman Humam al-Hamudi 
on the issue.  Hamudi said that the TNA would welcome Sunni 
Arab nominees into the constitution-drafting process by 
Monday, July 4.  Hamudi emphasized that he still "had 
reservations" about both the names and the Sunni Arab request 
that the TAL not be considered binding in the negotiations. 
The Kurds remain concerned about Kirkuk's Mujbil Shaykh Issa, 
and De-Ba'athification issues may still apply to Haseeb Arif 
al-Obeidi.  Hamudi has clearly lost confidence in his own 
deputy constitution committee chairman, Adnan al-Janabi, whom 
he blamed for the nomination of both these men and what he 
saw as an unnecessarily small number of Iraqi Islamic Party 
nominees to the committee.  He also made it clear that he 
sees trouble ahead from these delegates.  "We will bring them 
into the process for Bush," he said, "but if they block this 
it's your responsibility." (COMMENT: Constitution Committee 
members Jalal al-Din al-Sagheer, Sami al-Askari, Hamid Majid 
Musa, and Mariam al-Rais all echoed this warning in 
subsequent conversations with Poloff on the margins of the 
July 3 TNA session but said that induction would take place 
July 4. END COMMENT) 
 
-- IRAQ'S IDENTITY: Hamudi said that he expected the 
constitution drafting committee to reach a compromise on the 
issue of Iraq's Arab identity similar to that in the TAL. 
The document would read, "The Arabs of Iraq part of the Arab 
ummah."  Hakim laughed and made it clear he found the whole 
debate ridiculous.  "Do you really need to say it?" he asked. 
"It's like saying all humans are sons of Adam." Questioning 
the importance of the issue, he said, "We do not want to be 
debating whether Iraq is an Arab nation while people are 
being killed in the streets." Constitution Committee member 
and independent Islamist Abd al-Hadi Muhammad Said al-Hakim, 
who also attended the meeting, mentioned that another 
compromise formula under consideration would have the 
constitution declare, "Iraq is part of two worlds, the 
Islamic world and the Arab world." 
 
-- AN EARLY CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE WITH SUNNIS: Hamudi noted 
that he had met with National Dialogue Council leader Salah 
Mutlak under the auspices of a meeting with UN SRSG Ashraf 
Qazi on July 1.  Hamudi said they clashed over the issue of 
federalism.  Mutlak was opposed to the idea, Hamudi said, and 
wanted the committee to draft a temporary document, akin to 
another TAL, rather than a full-fledged constitution.  Hamudi 
said that he and Mutlak were both in agreement that Iraq 
needed a parliamentary system of government.  Mutlak, Hamudi 
said with suspicion, appears to want to join the constitution 
drafting process under any circumstances. 
 
-- RELIGION AND STATE: Hamudi, consistent with past 
statements on the subject, said that the constitution will 
handle the issue of religion and state much like the TAL did. 
 
 
-- DIVIDING RESOURCES UNDER FEDERALISM: Hakim said he saw no 
problem with any of several approaches to dividing state 
resources, all as long as the process were done in a way that 
is "balanced."  Regions could own their resources, the 
central government could own them, or a percentage could be 
worked out to divide them.  Hakim wondered whether opening 
the ownership of resources up to the provinces might create 
more disputes than it resolves, particularly as multiple 
provinces move to claim assets that overlap their borders. 
We asked how the system could be balanced if not all parts of 
the country have the same resource base or even regional 
governments yet.  Hakim took the point and did not argue. 
(COMMENT:  we sense the issue of natural resource revenues is 
one that requires considerable additional thought and 
discussion among Iraqis.  END COMMENT) 
 
-- LEAVING INTERNAL BORDERS OPEN TO DEVELOPMENT: Echoing 
Hamudi's view on the subject, Hakim said he believed that 
Iraq's new internal borders should not be drawn by the 
constitution.  Instead, Iraq should continue to be governed 
according to its provincial system, allowing the three 
Kurdish provinces in the north to continue their arrangement. 
 The remaining 15 provinces would be free to form regional 
entities with the agreement of parliament and their 
populations.  Asked for his vision of such entities, Hakim 
said he expected southern provinces to form three regional 
entities of three provinces each.  For instance, one entity 
might include Najaf, Karbala, and Babil.  Another could 
include Basra, Muthanna and Dhi Qar.  A third might join 
Wasit, Maysan, and Qadisiyya. 
 
-- HOLDING FUTURE ELECTIONS BY PROVINCIAL LINES: Hakim said 
he hoped future elections would divide the 275 seats of the 
National Assembly among the provinces to ensure proper 
regional representation.  Using the population statistics 
from the food-ration card system could provide at the 
proportion of seats for each region. 
 
-- ON KURDISH SECESSION: Hakim said he was not worried about 
the possibility of Kurdish secession from Iraq.  Speaking as 
if the Kurds were in front of him, he said, "If you want to 
secede, secede.  We the Shia have nothing to lose.  Starting 
a country unaccepted by the Islamic world would be a problem, 
however." (Note:  PUK leader and Deputy Constitution 
Committee Chairman Fu'ad Ma'asum has also made of point of 
clearly dismissing the possibility of Kurdish secession in 
conversations with Poloff about the constitution process. 
"How could we withdraw?" he has said. "If we had a port it 
would be another story, but we are a landlocked nation."  End 
Note) 
 
-- LOOKING FOR MORE PROVINCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hakim complained, 
with the support of his colleagues, that the U.S. has not 
taken sufficient action to provide provincial councils with 
resources.  Hamudi specifically recommended moving forward 
with development in stable provinces as a way of showing 
restive areas the price of terrorism.  Abd al-Hadi al-Hakim 
noted that, contrary to such an approach, electricity is 
currently better in strife-ridden Ramadi than it is in the 
comparatively calm province of Najaf.  Charge and PolCouns 
described the major steps being taken in the PRDC process to 
address these concerns. 
 
-- RAISING THE IDEA OF PROVINCIAL PROTECTION COMMITTEES: 
Hakim complained that a major effort was underway to target 
senior figures in the Shia community.  The two most recent 
examples of this campaign were the assassination last week of 
TNA member Shaykh Dhari al-Fayad, a SCIRI ally and important 
tribal leader, as well as the killing of Sistani 
Representative Kamal al-Din al-Guraifi.  Hakim said books 
were being distributed in the country defaming the Shia 
religion, declaring both its practitioners and those who do 
not denounce the Shia as "infidels."  Hakim said he supported 
the formation of public security committees and he claimed 
was modeling the idea on British public defense programs. 
Charge responded flatly that the U.S. rejected any militia 
formation and activity in the country.  Hakim protested that 
these would not be militias but he did not pursue the point. 
 
-- IRAN'S NEW PRESIDENT: Hakim described the newly elected 
Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad to be a "good, 
well-known man."  Hakim noted in passing he had quickly 
dispatched an envoy to Teheran and subsequently spoke on the 
telephone with Ahmadinejad on July 2.  Hakim said he was not 
personally acquainted with Ahmedinejad because the man had 
risen to prominence following his own departure from Iran in 
2003.  Hakim said Ahmedinejad's election took place in 
circumstances similar to Khatami's:  both men were elected 
because the public rebelled against the candidate perceived 
to be the "government's choice."  In Khatami's case the 
citizens rebelled against Shaykh Natiq Nuri, and in 
Ahmadinejad the rebellion was against Rafsanjani.  Hakim said 
he was pleased with what he had heard form Ahmadinejad's 
point of view so far, noting that the man "does not have a 
complex about the people of Iraq."  He has made clear, Hakim 
said, that he opposes terrorism in Iraq.  Hamudi jumped in to 
state that Ahmadinejad would not cause problems for the U.S. 
in Iraq.  Hakim said all sides would do well to focus on the 
shared American-Iranian interests in Iraq rather than allow 
disputes in the American-Iranian bilateral relationship to 
put the two sides in conflict here. 
 
3. (C) COMMENT: Al-Hakim was relaxed and cordial but 
interestingly Hamudi spoke almost as much as he.  Hakim's 
desire to see the U.S. and Iran find a modus vivendi was 
evident; he and Hamudi recognize the hazards to them and 
their freedom of maneuver should American-Iranian conflicts 
be played out in Iraq.  END COMMENT 
 
4. (U) REO HILLA, REO BASRA, REO MOSUL, and REO KIRKUK, 
minimize considered. 
Satterfield 

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