US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD4109

CONDITIONAL DEAL TO FIX THE REFERENDUM LAW PROBLEM IN RETURN FOR SECURITY GUARANTEES.

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD4109
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD4109 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-10-04 19:07:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PNAT PHUM IZ Security 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 004109 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/04/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PNAT, PHUM, IZ, Security, Parliament 
SUBJECT: CONDITIONAL DEAL TO FIX THE REFERENDUM LAW 
PROBLEM IN RETURN FOR SECURITY GUARANTEES. 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 4090 
 
Classified By: DCM David M. Satterfield for reasons 1.4 
(b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  DCM, UK Charge, and Acting UN Special 
Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) 
Schulenburg met with Deputy Speaker Shahrastani and 
VP Adel Abd al-Mahdi October 4 to discuss the TNA's 
October 2 "double standard" interpretation of the word 
"nakhabeen" in TAL 61(c) as both actual voter and 
registered voter (reftel).  Shahrastani described the 
measure as an important balancing mechanism to address 
the effects of terrorist intimidation in Salahadin and 
Diyala provinces on voter turnout. The DCM told 
Shahrastani that these concerns should be addressed by 
focusing on security and not on last-minute changes in 
voting rules. Later on October 4, after conferring 
with Shia Coalition members, Shahrastani and Shia 
Coalition official Shaykh Hamam Hamudi said the Shia 
Coalition leadership would to change the 
interpretation of "nakhabeen" to persons actually 
casting votes in exchange for additional security 
guarantees and adjustments to the administration of 
the referendum in specific towns in several 
governorates.  UN election team advisor Perelli thinks 
some adjustments could be made to accommodate the Shia 
Coalition's concerns.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
Shahrastani: Security Concerns Reason for Resolution 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
2. (C) In an October 4 meeting with DCM, Acting UN 
SRSG and British Charge, the UN told Deputy Speaker 
Shahrastani and VP Adel Abd al-Mahdi that UN HQS could 
not support any change in voting rules, as had been 
the subject of the October 2 TNA resolution.  Such 
changes would undercut the credibility of the 
referendum itself and compel the UN to consider 
withholding support.  Shahrastani maintained that 
terrorists interested in defeating the constitution 
would intimidate and kill voters supporting the 
constitution to prevent the Shia from coming to the 
October 15 polls. Shahrastani said the interpretation 
of "nakhabeen" as "registered voters" solely for 
purposes of validating a two-thirds "no" vote" was 
necessary to compensate for the large number of 
voters who support the constitution but would be 
afraid to vote in provinces such as Salahadin and 
Diyala.  Ayatollah Sistani would not issue a fetwa 
this time, Shahrastani claimed, "because he could 
not risk voters' lives." 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
DCM Responds: Focus on Security, Not Voting Rules 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
3. (C) DCM seconded UN concerns and responded that 
the TNA's October 2 resolution damages the 
credibility of the referendum both domestically and 
internationally.  He said that Sunni Arabs could 
challenge the legality of the process.  He joined 
Schulenburg in stressing that the UN and 
international community could not support or certify 
the elections as "fair" with rule changes so close 
to the October 15 polling. The DCM offered to work 
closely on the security concerns so that this 
interpretation could be dropped. 
 
4. (C) Shahrastani responded that despite its best 
intentions, the Coalition Forces could not completely 
control security.  The DCM continued to emphasize 
addressing security as the way to address 
Shahrastani's concerns.  Deputy President Abd' al- 
Mahdi interjected that the need for the UN seal of 
approval was extremely important, and the TNA needed 
to find a way forward.  Based on this exchange, 
Shahrastani agreed to meet with Shia coalition leaders 
to change the October 2 resolution. 
 
------------------------ 
Conditional Deal Offered 
------------------------ 
 
5. (C) In the late afternoon after meeting with Shia 
Coalition leaders, Shahrastani called in DCM and with 
SCIRI party official (and Constitution Drafting 
Committee Chair) Shaykh Hamam Hamudi and Kurdish 
Alliance parliamentary leader Fuad Masum.  Shahrastani 
said that the Shia Coalition and Kurdish leadership 
agreed to adjust the resolution to define nakhabeen 
as those who actually cast ballots.  However, there 
were three conditions.  First, Shahrastani provided a 
list of 30 towns where the Shia Coalition and Kurds 
want additional Iraqi security focus to protect 
voters.  He underlined these forces should remain in 
the towns after October 15 to prevent retaliation 
against voters at the hands of insurgents. 
Shahrastani also requested Coalition air strikes 
against alleged insurgent targets in Diyala; he 
pledged the Shia and Kurds would provide more exact 
information about target identities later.  Such 
action, he said, would give the public confidence 
that the insurgents will be weakened before October 
15.  He said he would provide further information on 
this request for Embassy to pass to MNF-I. 
 
6.  (C)  Finally, Shahrastani said that the IECI and 
UN election advisors should make adjustments to the 
administration of the election such that oversight of 
the polling is not in the hands of persons tied to the 
insurgency.  He stressed that the Islamic Party's 
alleged control of the election administration in 
Diyala would enable it to indicate to insurgents who 
actually voted.  DCM said we were already looking at 
measures to improve security for the referendum.  He 
declined to give assurances on the election 
administration and urged Shahrastani to be in contact 
directly with the UN and the election commission. 
Shahrastani said that once assurances on the three 
conditions are secured, the leadership of the Shia 
Coalition and Kurds will go back to the TNA general 
membership (which they dominate). 
 
7.  (C)  PolCouns in the evening called on UN election 
team leader Carina Perelli to review the request for 
adjustments on the administration of the referendum. 
Perelli said there were standard sorts of measures for 
voters threatened by insurgents.  The UN team would 
certainly look at solutions such as giving voters a 
choice of places in which to vote.  She was careful 
not to promise to change election administrations. 
She added that Shahrastani had not yet contacted the 
election commission or the UN.  The election 
commission would need a formal request from the 
National Assembly, she noted.  (PolCouns called Hamudi 
after this meeting to urge again direct contact.) 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
8. (C) The Shia Coalition (and the Kurds) recognize 
they overreached.  Now they need a way to climb down. 
We will continue to push for them to work with the 
election commission.  We also will work closely with 
MNF-I on the security issues raised today.  End 
comment. 
Khalilzad 

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