US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD3874

PROPOSED CONFERENCE FOR POLITICAL MODERATES

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD3874
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD3874 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-09-19 14:59:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM PNAT IZ KDEM Elections
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 003874 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2025 
TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, PNAT, IZ, KDEM, Elections 
SUBJECT: PROPOSED CONFERENCE FOR POLITICAL MODERATES 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Robert S. Ford for 
Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  C) Summary.  Looking ahead to the December 15 
elections, former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is planning to 
launch a new multi-political party entity that is centrist 
and moderate. There is a kick-off conference planned for 
later this month, according to Allawi political allies. 
Allawi's political partners in the bloc would include the 
(Sunni Arab) Iraqi Islamic Party, the Communist Party, 
(Shia Islamist) Herakat al-Dawa, and Kurdish 
representatives.  Allawi's political allies rebuffed 
PolOff's recommendation on September 19 that the bloc lend 
public support for the draft constitution; they said simply 
that the bloc would implicitly accept the constitution; 
they also doubted Prime Minister Jaafari would be publicly 
supportive.   Interestingly, Allawi - never much interested 
in political organization - quietly has sought out training 
opportunities for his old Iraqi National Accord group with 
an American political NGO working here in advance of the 
December elections.  End Summary. 
 
------------------------------ 
New Political Alliance Forming 
------------------------------ 
 
2.  (U) Al-Zaman newspaper reported September 19 that 
former Planning Minister Mehdi Hafedh told a press 
conference on September 17 that former Prime Minister 
Allawi's Iraqi National Accord (INA) party would seek to 
form an electoral bloc with the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), 
the Iraqi Communist party (ICP), the late Izzaldin Salim's 
Herakat al-Dawa party and Kurdish representatives. 
According to the story, the coalition's goal would be to 
reduce sectarian extremism in Iraq and reinforce national 
unity.  It would also aim to reduce "foreign interference" 
in Iraq, according to Hafedh.  (Comment:  Allawi in private 
with us has underlined his strong concern about Iranian 
interference in Iraq.  End Comment.) 
 
3.  (C) INA member Taher Khalaf Jaber al-Baka (former IIG 
Education Minister) confirmed to PolOff September 19 that 
plans for a founding conference are underway.  Al-Baka 
noted that while members of PM Jafari's Dawa al-Islamiya 
would not be participating, the splinter group formed by 
the late Izzaldin Salim's Herakat al-Dawa would. Although 
press reports indicated that Kurdish parties would be in 
attendance, Iraqi Communist Party Secretary General Hamid 
Majeed Musa told PolOff September 19 that the particulars 
of the conference are not yet definite.  He noted that 
Kurdish leaders would not participate because they want to 
remain separate to differentiate what the Kurdish political 
leaders are able to deliver to Kurds and Kurdistan.  INA 
member and former Commerce Minister Muhammed Ali Abdul al- 
Ameer claimed to PolOff September 19 that the express goal 
of the founding conference is to form a new political 
entity. 
 
--------------------------- 
Thinking About the Campaign 
--------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) An American NGO official told PolCouns September 19 
that his team has been working directly with Allawi for 
weeks on an initiative to establish a broad-based bloc that 
crosses sectarian lines.  (He was surprised that Hafedh 
spoke about the planned bloc publicly.)  This included 
several workshops with smaller secular and Islamist 
parties, including Izzet Shahbandar's Islamic Democratic 
Trend, with whom Allawi is trying to develop a larger 
coalition.  He noted that at the INA's request, the NGO 
provided in July and August an intensive series of training 
programs in organization building, campaign management and 
political message development. 
 
---------------------------------- 
A Political Platform in the Making 
---------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) INA member Haifa Khashen Azzawi told PolOff that 
the founding conference is the brainchild of both Allawi 
and Hafedh.  By including the IIP, she said, the INA would 
be able to change the optic that it is too secular and 
anti-Islamist. INA member Husayn Muhammad Hadi al-Sadr 
(Muqtada's first cousin by marriage) told PolOff September 
19 that the founding conference is the participants' 
response to the current government's failure. The ITG, he 
charged, has failed in all sectors of the economy and 
services. Ministries have been built upon sectarian lines 
and not competence.  The severe lack of coordination 
between the Presidency Council, National Assembly and Prime 
Minister's Office has become increasingly embarrassing. Al- 
Sadr cited as examples the two separate Iraqi delegations 
to UNGA this year and four separate delegations to attend 
King Fahd's funeral in Saudi Arabia. Hamid Moussa said the 
conference is about national unity, fighting terrorism and 
building an efficient, transparent government that respects 
rule of law.  As with Musa, PolOff said that a conference 
of this kind was a step in the right direction for moderate 
Iraqi parties. 
 
------------------------------------- 
De facto Support for the Constitution 
------------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C) In all her conversations with the INA members above 
PolOff urged that Allawi make public statements in support 
of the draft constitution.  All of these Allawi political 
allies told PolOff that Allawi is unlikely to do so.  They 
also claimed that even Prime Minister Jafari won't publicly 
support the constitution.  Former Commerce Minister al- 
Ameer highly doubted that the new entity would issue a 
statement in support of the constitution or the referendum. 
Ameer conceded that anyone who participates in the 
conference de-facto accepts the new constitution.  He added 
that all of the participants surely have their reservations 
about the constitution but also agree that the political 
process should not be delayed. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
7.  (C) In the January 2005 election, Allawi's political 
bloc was terribly organized, even if relatively well 
financed.  (He truly owned the airwaves of channels like 
al-Arabiya and Sharqiya last January.)  It is especially 
interesting that Allawi is trying to build a new coalition 
that crosses sectarian lines and that he is paying more 
attention now to organization than he did last autumn. 
Allawi has plenty of negative image problems here that he 
will also have to manage; the coalition might help him in 
that regard.  We will pay close attention to the 
development of this bloc as a potentially useful addition 
to the Iraqi political scene. 
 
 
Satterfield 

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