US embassy cable - 06MOSUL9

KURDISTAN ISLAMIC UNION, BRINGING DEMOCRACY BACK TO IRAQI KURDISTAN

Identifier: 06MOSUL9
Wikileaks: View 06MOSUL9 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: REO Mosul
Created: 2006-02-05 11:44:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PINS PGOV PHUM IZ PINT Kurdistan Islamic Union
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 MOSUL 000009 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  2/5/2016 
TAGS: PREL, PINS, PGOV, PHUM, IZ, PINT, Kurdistan Islamic Union 
SUBJECT: KURDISTAN ISLAMIC UNION, BRINGING DEMOCRACY BACK TO IRAQI 
KURDISTAN 
 
REF: MOSUL 195 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Cameron P. Munter, Team Leader, Provincial 
Reconstruction Team Ninewa, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
 
 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (C) REO Poloff met with Ninewa members of the Kurdistan 
Islamic Union (KIU) on February 2.  KIU provincial director 
Sabbah Baberi believes KIU, given their strong showing after the 
December national election, could now play an important role in 
Iraqi Kurdistan by moving the PUK and KDP, "back to democracy." 
Baberi claims the two larger parties tightly control freedom of 
speech and association to the detriment of the Kurdish people. 
He said the PUK and KDP operate like "separate governments," and 
that corruption is causing the good that has occurred in Iraqi 
Kurdistan, such as development and security, to "crumble." 
Baberi believes KIU can focus on these issues and act as an 
honest broker between KDP and PUK, to help "give Kurds faith" in 
the democratic process.  Baberi hopes that top-level KIU 
officers might be able to meet more regularly with high-level 
U.S. officials, which he believes would help give Kurds not 
affiliated with PUK or KDP "more faith" that the USG cares for 
them.  Baberi asked for USG support for KIU's work in this 
regard in Iraqi Kurdistan.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (SBU) REO Poloff met with members of the Kurdistan Islamic 
Union (KIU) in Mosul on February 2.  Members in attendance were 
political affairs officer Shawkat Sharafani and Ninewa director 
Sabbah Baberi.  Baberi recently became provincial director after 
the death of former director, Mushir Ahmat (reftel). 
 
------------------------- 
ROLE OF THE "THIRD PARTY" 
------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) Poloff welcomed KIU members Baberi and Sharafani where 
discussion quickly moved towards issues of democracy and freedom 
of speech in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Baberi believes, like smaller 
opposition parties, that KIU has a role to play to help lessen 
the political domination of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan 
(PUK) and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KDP) whom KIU claims are 
"regressing democratically."  Baberi said although there are 
many positives in Iraqi Kurdistan, such as security and 
infrastructure, the cores of the Kurdistan Regional Government 
(KRG) are "crumbling."  He said in effect two parties control 
the area "for their own benefit."  Baberi believes KIU can help 
reshape the debate by appealing to al sectors of the population. 
 He spoke at some length about recent KIU success in the 
December national election, where they won five seats despite 
what he terms as "flagrant incidents of fraud," as a permit to 
push against KDP and PUK.  Baberi said, however, KIU is "limited 
financially" and still fears more attacks from the two larger 
parties (reftel). 
 
------------------------------------- 
IRAQI KURDISTAN AND TWO PARTY CONTROL 
------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) Baberi said after the no fly zone was established, the 
PUK and KDP could not reach agreement after elections were held 
in 1992.  As a result, Baberi said Iraqi Kurdistan was "split in 
two."  He claims divisions between KDP and PUK did not improve 
after a ceasefire in the late 1990s (the two parties were at war 
before that time), or even after liberation in 2003.  Baberi 
said he heard a rumor that KDP and PUK signed an agreement to 
remain a coalition until 2015.  While some would view this as a 
move towards unification, Baberi believes having the two so 
closely aligned means "democracy would suffer."  Baberi 
believes, unfortunately, that human rights and freedom of speech 
have regressed and are worsening everyday. 
 
5.  (C) Baberi said almost three years after the fall of the 
Saddam Hussein regime, there are "three governments" Kurdish 
Iraqis must follow: The KDP in northern Kurdistan, the PUK in 
southern Kurdistan, and the Iraqi central government.  Baberi 
claims ministries (especially of defense, interior, and finance) 
from the three governments do not speak to one other.  He said 
many Islamic NGOs who have registered in Baghdad are not allowed 
to operate in KDP Kurdistan, for example, because they are not 
also registered with KDP-controlled KRG.  Baberi said the 
ministries of finance and defense are inextricably linked in 
Kurdistan, and as a result much corruption occurs.  Baberi 
claims that the central government in Baghdad gave the KRG money 
for the disabled, for example, but that the funds were given to 
"party loyalists" instead.  Baberi recommends removing the 
"financial chains" that bind people to the parties rather than 
to democratic principles.  He believes pressure, however, should 
also come from the USG. 
 
--------------------------------- 
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION 
--------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Baberi said the press is not free, especially in 
KDP-controlled Kurdistan.  He said newspapers and television 
stations cannot print or say anything against (KRG President) 
Masoud Barzani or the Barzani family.  He believes such limits 
on free speech only end debate and make people "live in fear." 
Baberi said teachers and government workers who do not support 
KDP are "fired from their jobs."  Baberi claims KIU is not 
allowed to run its own television station in Kurdistan because 
the market is so tightly controlled.  He is hoping international 
pressure might allow for these policies to change.  Baberi 
believes the role of independent, especially international, NGOs 
and human rights organizations should be expanded.  Baberi 
claims several NGOs and unions cannot operate freely in 
Kurdistan, and must align with the PUK or KDP, which "severely 
compromises" the ability of these organizations to act 
independently.  And as a result, Baberi said, they become "tools 
of the parties." 
 
---------------------- 
RELATIONS WITH THE USG 
---------------------- 
 
7.  (C) Baberi claims "people on the street" in Kurdistan 
believe the KDP and PUK enjoy a "special relationship" with the 
USG.  He said anytime the U.S. Ambassador meets with Presidents 
Talabani or Barzani, and it is broadcast in the news, many Kurds 
"draw conclusions" that might otherwise not be true.  Baberi 
said he is having a difficult time even convincing KIU followers 
he has actually had meetings with the REO.  Baberi inquired 
about the possibility of top-level members of the KIU having a 
regular audience with the Ambassador and/or U.S. officials in 
Washington DC.  He believes that such an event, especially one 
that is broadcast via the international press, would do more to 
give Kurds a more favorable view of the USG, and Muslims "hope" 
that they, too, have a voice with the USG. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
8.  (C) Although only the opinions of a provincial director not 
working directly in Iraqi Kurdistan, Baberi believes KIU has a 
better grasp on the importance of democratic principles than 
their two rivals, the KDP and PUK.  Baberi said KIU officials 
envision the party as some sort of "savior" for the Kurds, a 
group who can move debate back to issues of importance, such as 
freedom of speech and association, and get Iraqi Kurdistan back 
to the forefront of "how things are done right" in Iraq.  While 
problems of corruption and government control in Iraqi Kurdistan 
could be debated, in conversations with Baberi it is obvious he 
believes KIU has a responsibility to speak out on these issues. 
Baberi claims any evidence they needed to move in this direction 
was proven by KIU's strong performance during the national 
election, and his confidence that the party would continue to 
gain ground in future provincial elections. 
MUNTER 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04