US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD3887

SUNNI ARAB LEADER ON REFERENDUM PROSPECTS

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD3887
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD3887 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-09-20 11:53:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PNAT IZ Sunni Arab
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 003887 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PNAT, IZ, Sunni Arab 
SUBJECT: SUNNI ARAB LEADER ON REFERENDUM PROSPECTS 
 
REF: A. A) BAGHDAD 3718 
     B. B) BAGHDAD 3758 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Ford 
for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY. Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) 
leader Ayad Samarai said September 18 that while 
constitution language on Arab identity is now 
sufficient, further language changes will need to be 
made on federalism and other national issues before 
Sunni Arab leaders could consider asking their backers 
to vote for the constitution in the October 15 
referendum.  Samarai said that they are not in contact 
with the Shia Coalition to discuss changes to the 
text.  Instead, efforts to form an anti-constitution 
alliance with Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have been 
rebuffed but continue - though most Sadr backers will 
probably vote in favor of the constitution.  He said 
that violence in Sunni Arab areas could be reduced by 
incorporating locals into Army and Police units and 
investigating alleged human rights violations.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) leader Ayad al- 
Samarai told Poloff at a September 18 meeting that 
Sunni Arab leaders were very disappointed when the 
final draft constitution was announced September 14. 
He complained that changes "agreed" to with Kurdish 
leader Barzani at Irbil a week earlier were not 
incorporated into the draft. (Note:  Per reftels, 
accounts of what was agreed to in Irbil differ. End 
note.)  Samarai argued that the USG has a 
responsibility to do more to ensure that Sunnis are 
not disenfranchised in the process.  While the 
language on Arab identity is now acceptable to the 
IIP, federalism and other national interest issues 
remain.  Poloff countered that the USG has gone to 
great lengths to facilitate Sunni Arab participation 
in the process yet the Sunni leadership had fallen 
short on timelines and specifics time and time again. 
Samarai said he was one of four members of an IIP 
committee that in a few days will list 3 to 4 changes 
to the draft Constitution that would have to be made 
before the IIP could support its passage in the Oct. 
15 referendum.  He noted, however, that party leaders 
could not agree on a common position on the 
constitution.  While a joint statement is still 
possible, it is likely that each party will issue 
separate statements encouraging people to vote no. 
(Note: Sunni Arab leaders continue to preach unity but 
act individually - Consitutional Committee expert 
Hussein Al-Faluji is calling for a boycott of the vote 
while National Dialogue leader Saleh Al-Mutlak held a 
press conference on September 20 to announce a 
petition drive to secure 5 million signatures opposing 
the Constitution.  However, Shia Coalition negotiator 
Ali Debbagh told PolCouns on September 20 that Mutlak 
was also trying to meet him to negotiate two parts of 
the text again.  End Note.) 
 
Mood of the People 
------------------ 
 
3. (C) Samarai said that the mood of the Sunni Arabs 
is to reject the Constitution but to take part in the 
process.  People will accept the result if the 
constitution is approved by a moderate margin, giving 
Sunni Arabs hope for changes to it through the 
political process.  Otherwise, there will be 
bitterness and violence.  Sunni Arabs also fear that 
the Shia and Kurds will try to prevent them from 
participating in the referendum, even if that means 
supoting terrorism. 
 
4 (C) Smara turne to he isse of violece in 
Iraq, which increases at critical points.  He said 
that having outsiders, who are not trusted and often 
mistreat the locals, police Sunni Arab areas increases 
violence.  There is little confidence in the current 
recruit vetting process that, because of the 
dishonesty of local officials, ultimately rejects all 
Sunni Arab applicants.  It is important that local 
people be recruited to serve in the Army and Police 
units in Sunni Arab areas, even if that means 
forgiving some past insurgent activity, especially for 
the officer corps.   Poloff told Samarai that the best 
way to reduce violence is for Sunni leaders to work 
with their communities to stem support for the 
insurgency. 
 
5. (C) Sammarai said that Sunni Arab leaders are also 
unhappy that while they are constantly pressured to 
make statements condemning terrorist murders of Shias, 
no statements have been made by Shia condemning the 
mistreatment and murder of Sunni Arabs.  Further, he 
alleged that incidents of Sunni abuse, including those 
committed by people in Army or Police uniforms, go 
uninvestigated by authorities.  Action against these 
people will help reduce violence, he said. 
 
Coalition for "no" Vote with Sadr? 
---------------------------------- 
 
6. (C) Commenting on reports of a possible coalition 
with Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, rumored to be 
opposed to the constitution, Samarai confirmed that 
discussions are being held.  Samarai said that Sadr 
recently rebuffed a visit by ten Sunnis (scholars, 
tribal leaders and 2 party officials) saying he needs 
to think about it.  Samarai believes that Sadr only 
wants with top Sunni Arab officials and negotiations 
are continuing on setting up a meeting.  Sadrists are 
extreme, not very well organized, and cannot be 
trusted because of the danger of Iranian infiltration. 
Dealing with Sadr would not be popular with the Sunni 
Arab street - thus top Sunni political leaders are 
hesitant and a public rebuff would be humiliating. 
 
7. (C) It is likely, according to Samarai, that Sadr 
will not support the constitution but will leave the 
decision on how to vote to his supporters.  In this 
way, Sadr will maintain good relations with all sides. 
Sammarai predicted that most Sadrists will vote for 
the constitution. 
 
Satterfield 

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