US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD4143

CHRISTIAN VOTERS TO HELP SINK THE CONSTITUTION?

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD4143
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD4143 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-10-07 14:45:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINS PINR PNAT 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.

C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 004143 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PINS, PINR, PNAT, IZ, Parliament 
SUBJECT: CHRISTIAN VOTERS TO HELP SINK THE CONSTITUTION? 
 
REF: MOSUL 149 
 
Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBERT FORD FOR REASONS 
1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1. (C) The leading Christian politician in Transitional 
National Assembly, Yonadam Kanna told PolOff, however, that 
many Christians are unhappy with the draft because Section 
One, Article 2A declares that no law can be passed that 
contradicts Islam.  Moreover, some Christian minorities, 
such as the Syriacs take umbrage that they are not 
mentioned among the minority groups listed in the 
constitution.  According to Christian leaders, there are 
about 200,000 Christians in Ninawa province, of which 
100,000 are registered voters.  Of these, he predicts about 
60,000 of them will vote against the draft constitution. 
 
2. (C) Ban Shakir Al-Imarah, Women's Alliance for a 
Democratic Iraq, who is an Assyrian Christian, told PolOff 
on October 7 that the constitution is "horrible" and the 
Kurds have successfully weakened Iraq's Christians by 
separating Chaldeans and Assyrians in order to ensure their 
control of Ninewah.  She also claimed that, while Chaldeans 
and Assyrians overall want to be united as one group, the 
Kurds were able to "buy off" their religious leaders in 
exchange for agreement to a separation in the constitution. 
 
3.  (C)  Head of the Christian and Other Religions 
Endowments Abdullah Hermiz al-Noufali agreed with Kanna and 
al-Imarah about Christians' concerns regarding the 
constitution; however, he pointed out that the Christian 
leadership was really driven by a desire to protect its 
separate infrastructures.  Nonetheless, said al-Noufali, 
the result is a constitution that will be harmful to 
Christians and he predicted that the majority of them would 
vote against it.  He also noted that many priests are 
encouraging their congregations to vote "no" in the 
referendum. 
 
4. (C) COMMENT:  Kanna, al-Imarah, and al-Noufali's 
comments on Christian discontent with the constitution 
agree with reports from REO Mosul (see reftel).  Recent 
polling on the draft constitution shows that around 70 
percent of voters in Ninawa province state they will vote 
against the draft constitution.  Given the two-thirds 
threshold needed in three provinces for the Sunni Arabs to 
block the draft constitution, Christian and Shebak (another 
ethnic minority group) communities in Ninawa province, 
which total roughly ten percent of the governorate 
population, could become decisive in deciding whether 
Ninawa is one of the three provinces decisively rejecting 
the constitution.  END COMMENT. 
Khalilzad 

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