US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD2872

TALABANI TO CODEL LEVIN: CONSTITUTION CAN BE READY ON TIME

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD2872
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD2872 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-07-08 13:40:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Tags: PREL PGOV MOPS PTER IZ Parliament
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 02 BAGHDAD 002872 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/08/2025 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MOPS, PTER, IZ, Parliament 
SUBJECT: TALABANI TO CODEL LEVIN: CONSTITUTION CAN BE READY 
ON TIME 
 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Ford. 
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY.  In his July 6 meeting with CODEL 
Levin, President Talabani predicted that the 
constitution could be completed on time as long as the 
constitution committee uses the Transitional 
Administrative Law (TAL) as the basis.  He also 
favored using the same single-district electoral 
system for the next elections.  Talabani noted 
detainees in U.S. and Iraqi custody continue to pose 
problems; he opined that many are innocent and 
languishing in prison.  Talabani will decline Syria's 
invitation to visit Damascus unless Syria first takes 
concrete steps to condemn terrorism, control 
infiltration, and seize Iraqi Ba'athist's financial 
assets in Syria.  Talabani underscored the need for a 
comprehensive agreement to draw down Coalition troops 
as Iraqi troops stand up.  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Constitution Must Be Based on TAL To Make Deadline 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
2.  (C/NF) President Talabani told Levin July 6 the 
constitution could be completed on time as long as it 
is based on the Transitional Administrative Law. 
Although he praised the process as now more inclusive 
with the additional Sunni members, Talabani feared the 
Sunnis would push for a greater emphasis on Islam--as 
the "main source" rather than "a source" of law. 
Federalism is accepted by all and will likely be 
applied to other parts of Iraq besides the North, 
noted Talabani.  He said Ayatollah Ali as-Sistani 
reportedly prefers a strong, single federal region in 
the south to guard against Iranian interference. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Prefers Single District Electoral System 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C/NF) Talabani said he favored a single district 
vice multiple district structure for the next 
elections, thus keeping the system used in the January 
2005 elections.  Talabani believed minorities, such as 
the Yezidis and Christians (and arguably the Kurds, 
although he did not mention them) would fare better in 
a national list so they could pool their votes. 
Talabani also opined that elections are the best way 
to redress the limited Sunni Arab participation in the 
process.  Sunni Arab community cleavages make it 
difficult to discern representative leaders.  The only 
established representative is the Iraqi Islamic Party, 
continued Talabani, however not all Sunnis not accept 
them.  Further, the government's discussions and 
negotiations with the newly formed National Dialogue 
Council had raised the ire of many tribal shaykhs and 
various groups who complained the group does not 
represent Sunni Arabs.  Sunni Arabs constantly 
complain about the needs of ex-military officers, 
observed Talabani.  He added that Sunnis needed jobs 
programs and other assistance. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Languishing Detainees, Poor Coordination 
---------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C/NF) Talabani noted the detainee issue was a 
frequent problem coming to his attention.  British 
Parliamentarian and human rights envoy Ann Clywd often 
sends him letters of the status of various detainees. 
Talabani complained many detainees are innocent and 
languishing in prison.  Talabani averred the Minister 
of Justice is new and learning, but the processes of 
detainee transfers from the USG to ITG and of trials 
are slow and require better coordination.  Talabani 
said he met yesterday with Janabi tribal leaders and 
subsequently requested the release without trial of 
the tribal leaders' list of 150 individuals.  To 
Levin's expression of concern about the issue of a 
release without proper trial, Talabani replied, "There 
is nothing against these individuals". 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Talabani on Syrian President's Invitation 
----------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C/NF) Talabani said Syrian President Bashar 
invited him to Damascus, a proposal he is considering. 
He explained that he would not make such a trip unless 
Syria promised to deliver in three areas.  First, 
Syria must change the tune of its media to one that 
condemns terrorism and supports the Iraq's democratic 
process.  Second, Talabani wants "deeds, not words"; 
Syria must take concrete steps to control infiltration 
from along the border.  Third, Syria must cooperate 
and seize financial assets (e.g., funds in the hands 
of Baathists) belonging to the Iraqi government that 
are in Syria.  Talabani mentioned the large amount of 
Ba'thists working from there.  The Syrians are 
pledging to take action and issue a joint communiqu7 
of cooperation.  (Note:  Talabani's Chief of Staff 
later told PolCouns that he was dubious Syria's verbal 
commitment would translate into actions.  End Note.) 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
Need for Comprehensive Plan for Transition to ISF 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
6.  (C/NF) Responding to Levin's question about the 
presence of Coalition troops, Talabani said that a 
transition to Iraqi security forces must be done 
according to Iraqi readiness and not pressure from 
terrorists.  Talabani admitted to not knowing the 
status of Iraqi forces or their ability to take over 
security in cities, but opined it would be better for 
Coalition troops to leave the cities.  Talabani 
believed a real status of forces agreement should wait 
until the next government, but he acknowledged there 
must be a comprehensive plan to stand up Iraqi troops 
as Coalition troops stand down. 
 
7.  (C/NF) Talabani preferred the U.S. remain in Iraq 
to ensure the continuation of the democratic process 
since many Sunni Arabs are hoping to bring back a 
dictatorship.  Coalition troops help prevent 
international interference, he added.  "The neighbors 
are already interfering; imagine how much worse it 
would be if you left?"  However, Talabani appealed for 
Coalition troops to be more careful in dealing with 
the people.  The President cited the case of a recent 
prominent individual and friend of Talabani's, who was 
shot at a Coalition checkpoint, but they had avoided 
publicizing the incident to avoid embarrassing the 
Coalition. 
 
8.  (C/NF) Finally, Levin sought Talabani views on 
capital punishment.  Talabani admitted he was 
personally opposed to the death penalty--which would 
almost certainly cause him a problem with the Saddam 
trial.  Talabani added that he had been a lawyer who 
had worked extensively with the International 
Committee for the Red Cross. 
 
9.  (U) REO HILLA, REO BASRA, REO MOSUL, and REO 
KIRKUK, minimize considered. 
 
 
Satterfield 

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