US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD2906

GARDEN CHATS WITH PAPA JA'FARI AND CREW

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD2906
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD2906 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-07-11 08:34:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Tags: PREL PGOV PINR 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.

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 002906 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2025 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, IZ, Parliament 
SUBJECT: GARDEN CHATS WITH PAPA JA'FARI AND CREW 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Robert S. Ford. 
Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
1.  (S/NF) SUMMARY.  Prime Minister Ja'fari 
unexpectedly sat in on an informal meeting between 
departing PolOff and one of Ja'fari's aides on July 7. 
Revealing insights into his own worldview, Ja'fari 
provided lengthy "love-life" counseling and advice 
while also sharing details about his own family.  On 
the constitution, Ja'fari said he preferred a 
presidential system; he complained that in the current 
structure there are too many ways to block the 
executive power's ability to make decisions.  He 
doubted the constitution committee would accept a 
presidential system and instead establish a 
parliamentary system with more checks and balances. 
He also stated a preference for a Swiss model of 
federalism.  He commented that Kurds pretend to be 
victims while acting like victimizers--always asking 
and pushing for more. The PM's advisors said Ja'fari 
misses being "social" and prefer not to discuss work 
over meals or in the evenings.  Ja'fari's advisor 
complained about the continuing disorganization of the 
PM's office and the state of the Da'wa party.  They 
describe a Da'wa party without strong, effective 
leaders, grassroots support, and funding.  It must 
reform or be irrelevant, said one advisor who hopes 
Da'wa will remain on a ticket with SCIRI in the next 
elections.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (S/NF) Departing PolOff received unexpected 
counseling and advice from Prime Minister Ibrahim al- 
Ja'fari who dropped in on PolOff's July 7 late evening 
meeting with PM advisor Bashar al-Nahar.  PolOff and 
Nahar were meeting in the PM residence's garden, 
replete with a new volleyball net (Ja'fari told us he 
joins in the games; his advisors say he is quite 
athletic.) and the newly arrived geese in the fetid- 
looking pond surrounding the house.  PM Ja'fari was 
still in his suit, but in a relaxed mood.  (We now 
rarely see the PM without a suit and tie as opposed to 
his former customary dishdasha.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
"Papa" Ja'fari's Marital Advice:  Look for "Moral 
Beauty" 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
3.  (S/NF) Knowing PolOff was departing soon, Ja'fari 
asked her about next steps and then began to dispense 
marital advice.  Ja'fari delivered a lengthy lecture 
on the importance of family, which he stressed is the 
cornerstone of Iraqi society.  Choosing a marital 
partner is not like choosing a career or moving 
locations.  It is imperative to choose carefully 
because making a mistake in one's choice of a marriage 
partner negatively impacts women more than men. 
(Note:  Another advisor later told PolOff one of 
Ja'fari's daughters had been married only a short time 
and then divorced.  This may explain the importance he 
placed on wise marital decisions.  End Note.) 
 
4.  (S/NF) Ja'fari emphasized the planning involved in 
finding the right person with the right values and 
qualities and urged PolOff to begin this preparation 
since she was at the age at which she should get 
married.  He said PolOff was the same age as Ja'fari's 
eldest son and his daughters who were younger were all 
married.  Shared values are the most important 
ingredient, continued Ja'fari.  "Physical beauty will 
decline but if there is "moral beauty" in the person, 
then they grow more and more beautiful to you over the 
years", noted Ja'fari.  Ja'fari said he met his wife 
while they were in medical school in 1975; they were 
both 24 years old.  He fell in love with her instantly 
and they get closer and closer each year, Ja'fari 
said.  (Note:  One of Ja'fari's advisors said his wife 
is a very strong woman and very much in charge of the 
household.  End Note.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
PM Stresses Women's Ability to Choose, Defends Islamic 
Identity 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
5.  (S/NF) Ja'fari said the general love and 
compassion he feels towards people was from his 
mother, who taught him to love the good in each person 
no matter how much bad there is.  His mother would 
always point out the positive elements about each 
person she met.  PolOff took the opportunity to raise 
the broader topic of women's issues, including 
accounts NGOs have brought up of the PM's office 
seeking to make women under 40 obtain permission of a 
male relative to travel.  Ja'fari looked slightly 
pained and said, "Don't believe all of the things you 
hear.  What you have heard me say to you is what I 
truly believe and act upon.  For religion and women's 
issues, there must be choice."  Ja'fari said his three 
daughters and wife all wear the hijab because they 
choose to, not because he forces them.  However, 
Ja'fari also said that it would was important to 
respect the "Islamic identity" of Iraq and very 
difficult to remove, for example, the clause in the 
current TAL that "no law can contradict Islamic 
principles". 
 
------------------------ 
Constitution Preferences 
------------------------ 
 
6.  (S/NF) On the constitution, Ja'fari said he 
prefers a presidential rather than parliamentary 
system because it is more effective.  All the 
government would be "of the same mind" in a 
presidential system.  Ja'fari complained that in the 
current structure there are too many ways to block the 
executive power's ability to make decisions.  However, 
Ja'fari said he did not believe the constitutional 
committee would accept a presidential system because 
parties will insist on balancing power and on having a 
greater number of positions for all the various 
factions in Iraq.  On the topic of federalism, Ja'fari 
said he prefers the Swiss model of "geographic 
federalism".  Finally, Ja'fari complained about the 
Kurds, as victims acting like victimizers--always 
asking and pushing for more. 
 
----------------------------- 
PM's Office Still in Disarray 
----------------------------- 
 
7.  (S/NF) In a separate conversation with former 
Chief of Staff Adnan Ali al-Kadhimy July 8, Kadhimy 
told PolOff he had heard from Ja'fari of his 
counseling and advice to PolOff and smiled at 
Ja'fari's nostalgia at playing the fatherly role. 
Kadhimy then proceeded to tell PolOff "off the record" 
of the problems in the PM's office and how he had 
distanced himself from them when he saw that it was 
clear Ja'fari would fail.  Kadhimy noted he had 
developed a plan of how to organize the PM's office to 
be a team--the most important characteristic in his 
view for the success of the government.  Kadhimy had 
hired Laith Kubba and Emad Diya, which required 
convincing a reluctant Ja'fari who did not know them 
well.  Kadhimy had planned to hire about 15 more 
advisors as capable as Kubba and Diya. 
 
8.  (S/NF) Kadhimy said he had told Ja'fari the PM's 
role is strategic and visionary; he should be able to 
come in to a clean desk in the morning and let his 
staff handle the details.  Kadhimy said Ja'fari just 
was not comfortable with that arrangement and takes 
every decision seriously because he knows it will 
reflect on him if it fails.  Ja'fari instead 
surrounded himself with loyal, highly moral people and 
long-time Da'wa members who have never managed and who 
know little about organization or generating results. 
Kadhimy mentioned that July 7 he had been in the PM's 
office and a senior advisor was signing a stack of 
files that he could have assigned to an administrative 
assistant.  PM advisor Nahar separately complained to 
PolOff July 7 of the hopeless disorganization of the 
PM office and his desire to get various consulting 
companies to help them operate better.  Nahar said the 
British Adam Smith consultants did not provide the 
practical assistance the office needed. 
 
------------------------------- 
Diminishing Power Base of Da'wa 
------------------------------- 
 
9.  (S/NF) "Da'wa is in trouble", observed Kadhimy, 
and must reform in order to stay relevant.  The party 
is becoming out of date with the "old guard" 
leadership who lacks energy and organization.  The 
party elders, such as Ja'fari, Ali Adeeb and Jawad al- 
Maliki are more suited for writing treatises than 
running a party, he complained.  Da'wa also lacks the 
grassroots support and the funding of SCIRI.  Kadhimy 
said he would prefer Da'wa run on a joint ticket with 
SCIRI in the next elections to not only benefit from 
SCIRI's ground support but also to dilute the Iranian 
influence in the government.  Da'wa could keep better 
tabs on SCIRI's activities and power if it were in a 
coalition with them.  Kadhimy opined that going it 
alone would hurt Da'wa such that it could drop to 
third or fourth of the major parties. 
 
10.  (S/NF) Despite the party's quandaries, Kadhimy 
said he would never leave Da'wa and knows that because 
of its long history, many other Iraqis feel the same. 
Da'wa also has the advantage of a defined ideology and 
political writings.  SCIRI, on the other hand, could 
dissolve at any time; there is no one keeping the 
various entities within the council together.  Kadhimy 
confided that Vice President 'Adil 'Abd al Mehdi had 
approached him to join SCIRI but he declined, saying 
any alliance must await Da'wa party approval and that 
he would not break with the party. (Comment:  SCIRI 
bested Da'wa in nearly every provincial council 
contest in the January 2003 elections.  Kadhimy said 
he believed 'Abd al Mehdi would be Iraq's next prime 
minister.  End Comment.)  Kadhimy said he had met with 
Ali Adeeb and Jawad al-Maliki, who are frustrated with 
Ja'fari and blame him for many of the problems Da'wa 
is facing.  However, they both acknowledge their fate 
is tied to Ja'fari's within the Da'wa party, and they 
must face the party's predicament together. 
 
11.  (S/NF) Comment:  While Kadhimy was criticizing 
the disorganization in the PM's office, Ja'fari aide 
Bachar Nahar was lecturing PolCouns July 9 on 
Kadhimy's shortcomings and warning that Kadhimy cannot 
speak for Ja'fari.  Our sense is that the immediate 
aides around Ja'fari are still jockeying for influence 
and portfolio assignments are still fuzzy.  The one 
thing they all agree on is that the PM's office is not 
well managed.  Meanwhile, Ja'fari's advisors say 
Ja'fari misses being "social" and do not like to talk 
business over meals, preferring philosophical topics 
in general.  Although it is not surprising Ja'fari 
would dispense such advice given what we know of his 
genuinely compassionate personality, it is telling 
that the Prime Minister would take two hours out of 
his evening for an informal chat with an Embassy 
Poloff mostly about personal issues.  The 
organizational problems in his office and the already 
widespread sense of unease among Da'wa leaders do not 
bode well for Ja'fari's prospects in the elections or 
next government.  Moreover, Kadhimy's comments of the 
problems besetting the Da'wa party itself, such as 
lack of strong leadership and funding base, echo 
comments we have heard about its diminishing power 
base. 
 
12.  (U) REO HILLA, REO BASRA, REO MOSUL, and REO 
KIRKUK, minimize considered. 
 
 
Satterfield 

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