US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD2994

DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK'S JULY 12, 2005 MEETING WITH IRAQI PRESIDENT JALAL TALABANI

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD2994
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD2994 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-07-19 12:08:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV MOPS PTER KDEM IZ Parliament Sunni Arab Iran Security
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 002994 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/19/2015 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MOPS, PTER, KDEM, IZ, Parliament, Sunni Arab, Iran, Security 
SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK'S JULY 12, 2005 MEETING 
WITH IRAQI PRESIDENT JALAL TALABANI 
 
REF: A. BAGHDAD 2897 
     B. BAGHDAD 2872 
     C. BAGHDAD 2863 
 
Classified By: Charge d' Affaires David M. Satterfield for reasons 1.4 
(b) and (d) 
 
1. (C/NF) Summary: In a July 12 lunch meeting, President 
Jalal Talabani was optimistic that the Sunni Arabs in the 
constitution drafting committee will reach consensus with 
other committee members.  He predicted the next elections 
will use provincial electoral districts rather than a single 
national electoral district system.  Talabani noted his 
interest in restoring pensions to retired military and 
"cleaning up" the Presidency Council.  Citing Syria and Iran 
as the biggest security concerns, he pressed the need for a 
U.S.-Iraqi security strategy.  Talabani believes Arabs who 
arrived in Kirkuk under Saddam's arabization campaign should 
be allowed to remain in Kirkuk but not vote on its future 
status.  The Deputy Secretary conveyed the President's 
appreciation for Talabani's efforts to bring Sunni Arabs 
aboard the constitutional drafting process and indicated a 
visit to Washington by Talabani will be welcome after the 
constitution is completed.  End Summary 
 
2. (U) PARTICIPANTS: 
 
U.S. 
 
Deputy Secretary Robert Zoellick 
Charge d' Affaires David Satterfield 
D Executive Assistant Ambassador Ross Wilson 
S/I Deputy Director Robert Deutsch 
Adam Ereli, PA 
NSC Senior Director Meghan O'Sullivan 
Political Minister Counselor Robert Ford 
Poloff (notetaker) 
 
IRAQ 
 
President Jalal Talabani 
Chief of Staff Kamaron Karadaghi 
 
----------------------------------------- 
Sunnis to Reach Consensus on Constitution 
----------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C/NF) Sharing his amusement over the internal squabbling 
of the 15 Sunni Arabs who joined the constitution drafting 
committee, President Talabani assured the Deputy Secretary 
that the Sunnis will reach consensus and compromise with 
other committee members.  Talabani countered some Sunnis 
assertions that the 15 additional Sunnis in the committee do 
not represent Sunni Arab diversity.  "There are 
representatives from the Sunni Endowment, the Iraqi Islamic 
Party (IIP), and Sunni tribes," he argued. 
 
4. (C/NF) The Deputy Secretary conveyed the President's 
appreciation for Talabani's efforts to bring Sunni Arabs 
aboard the constitutional drafting process and said the 
President looks forward to Talabani's visiting Washington 
after the Constitution is completed.  He remarked that in his 
meeting with Sunni committee members Adanan al-Janabi and 
Mujbil Shaykh Issa (the latter from Kirkuk), they listed 
federalism, Kirkuk, Iraq's  definition as an Arab nation, and 
dual nationality as the remaining sticking points in the 
drafting process. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Provincial Districts for Next Elections? 
---------------------------------------- 
 
5. (C/NF) Responding to the delegation's query over the most 
likely electoral system for the December elections, Talabani 
said he supported the increasingly popular proposal to have 
provincial electoral districts rather than the single 
national district system that was used in January.  Though 
Kurds might lose a few votes in the south, they would still 
be well represented in the northern and central areas of the 
country, he predicted.  Sunni Arabs, most Shia, even 
Ayatollah Sistani, appear to support the idea of provincial 
lists, except Moqtada al-Sadr's group, he said. 
 
---------------------------------- 
Cleaning up the Presidency Council 
---------------------------------- 
 
6. (C/NF) Talabani prided himself in his initiative to clean 
up and organize the Presidency Council.  Talabani arrived at 
the Presidency to find no records of expenditures.  "Members 
of the Council received USD 2 million per month each, but we 
have no idea how they spent it," observed Talabani.  He said 
Deputy VP Abd Abdul al-Mehdi has prepared operating norms, 
but Deputy VP Gazi al-Yawr disagrees with some of the points. 
 Talabani had given his deputies an ultimatum to reach 
consensus by July 13. 
 
---------------------------- 
Addressing Military Pensions 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (C/NF) To Talabani, restoring pensions to the thousands of 
retired Iraqi military veterans poses an immediate challenge. 
 Given that many of the retirees are Sunni Arabs, the fact 
that most have not received pensions in over two years is a 
sore issue for the Sunni community, explained Talabani.  The 
300,000 military retirees (of them, some 6,000 Saddam-era 
generals and field marshals) at least deserve to receive what 
they contributed to the system, Talabani reasoned. (Note: 
Talabani estimates the combined number of active and retired 
government employees at three million people.) 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Aggressive Syria A Threat, Subtle Iranians Another 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
8. (C/NF) Commenting that Syria and Iran pose the most 
serious neighborhood threats to Iraq's security, Talabani 
said that of the two countries, the Iranians take a more 
subtle approach.  Syria was allowing some 70 insurgents per 
day to cross into Iraqi territory, estimated Talabani.  The 
Syrian government's recent arrest of some 1,400 insurgents is 
a good start, but not enough.  "Hundreds of thousands had 
come over," claimed Talabani. 
 
9. (C/NF) Though Iranian involvement in Iraq is harder to 
detect than Syria's, continued Talabani, the Iraqi government 
has evidence of ties between the Iranian government and the 
terrorist groups Ansar al-Islam and Ansar al-Sunna.  These 
groups are stirring up trouble in Sunni Arab and Kurdish 
areas of Iraq. The Iranians have instructed them to refrain 
from activities in Iraqi Shia areas to make Iraqis believe 
that the Sunni and Kurdish areas are restive while the Shia 
populations are peaceful, asserted Talabani. 
 
10.  (C/NF) Talabani observed that former President Khatami 
had been reasonable and easy to work with.  Khatami allowed 
Kurds on both sides of the border to visit one another and 
had encouraged their culture.  Khatami also allowed Shia 
Kurds to participate in his government, including his oil 
minister.  Talabani is uncertain how relations will evolve 
with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, observing that 
Ahmadjinejad once headed Iran's Iranian-Kurdish Affairs 
Office, which organized "operations" against Iranian Kurds. 
He said Ahmadinejad was very close to Ayatollah Khamani. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Insurgency a Problem, but Less So, Says Talabani 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
11. (C/NF) To the Deputy Secretary's query over the current 
level of insurgency and its strength relative to the past, 
Talabani listed the two categories of insurgency confronting 
Iraq: Al Qaeda, al-Zarkawi, Ansar Islam and Wahabbi outsiders 
on the one hand and 
disgruntled Iraqi Sunni Arabs on the other.  Talabani 
explained that the strength of the insurgents has diminished 
for three reasons:  Iraqi security forces are now better able 
to fight them; people are tired of the violence, and many of 
their key leaders have been killed or captured.  After the 
January elections, many Iraqi Sunnis realized violence was a 
"dead end" and are coming around to political participation. 
As people grew disenchanted with the insurgency, they began 
collaborating with the security forces.  Partisans are like 
fish and the people are the water.  If the water dries up, 
the fish die, he mused. 
 
----------------------------- 
We Need Your Help on Security 
----------------------------- 
 
12. (C/NF) Reiterating his interest in establishing a joint 
U.S.- Iraqi security strategy, Talabani underscored the need 
for U.S. help to secure the Baghdad-Najaf, Baghdad-Baquba, 
and Baghdad-Kirkuk roadways; protect the Kirkuk pipeline; and 
deal with insurgency problems in Tal Afar and Mosul.  He also 
sought our support to remove the Baquba police chief, who 
Talabani alleges is too close to the insurgents. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
Give Kirkuk Some Time, Suggests Talabani 
---------------------------------------- 
 
13. (C/NF) On Kirkuk, Talabani said he expects to reach 
agreement with the Turkmen and the Shia Arabs on Kirkuk.  The 
Front of Turkmen of Kirkuk and the Shia Arabs, including a 
Sistani representative, support his initiative.  Talabani 
said Kirkuk's longstanding Arab population should be allowed 
to remain in Kirkuk and vote on Kirkuk's future status, while 
Arabs who arrived through Saddam's Arabization of Kirkuk 
could also remain in Kikurk, but not vote on its future.  The 
"Saddam" Arabs could register and vote in their places of 
origin and remain in Kirkuk, Talabani explained.  Alleging 
that Barzani is less flexible on Kirkuk, Talabani promised to 
try to convince him to support this "national solution."  The 
decision on Kirkuk should not occur immediately, however; 
only after one to three years, to allow time for Kirkuk to 
normalize, for its residents to reconcile, he suggested. 
 
14. (U) REO HILLA, REO BASRA, REO MOSUL, and REO KIRKUK, 
minimize considered. 
Satterfield 

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