|Wikileaks:||View 06MOSUL12 at Wikileaks.org|
|Tags:||PREL PINS PGOV PHUM IZ PINT Assyrian Patriotic Party|
|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 000012 SIPDIS SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 2/12/2016 TAGS: PREL, PINS, PGOV, PHUM, IZ, PINT, Assyrian Patriotic Party SUBJECT: ASSYRIAN PATRIOTIC PARTY REPS CALL FOR CREATION OF A NEW PROVINCE FOR MINORITIES REF: A) 2005 MOSUL 207; B) 2005 MOSUL 157 CLASSIFIED BY: Cameron Munter, PRT Leader, Provincial Reconstruction Team Ninewa, State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) ------- SUMMARY ------- 1. (C) Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP) reps in Ninewa and Dohuk said they believe the answer to problems in Iraq's Christian community could be settled by the creation of a separate province for minorities. APP leader Namrood Betto suggested that "Ninewa Plains" be partitioned from eastern Ninewa and annexed to Iraqi Kurdistan. Betto said he believes the new province would better protect the human rights of minorities, attract investment, and improve security. Betto asked for USG assistance to move the idea forward with the Iraqi central government, and requested a meeting with Ambassador Khalilzad to discuss the issue. End Summary. 2. (SBU) REO Poloff met with members of the Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP) in Dohuk on February 9. In attendance were APP secretary general Namrood Betto, Christian Aid Program Nohadra SIPDIS Iraq (CAPNI) director Emmanuel Youkhana, APP and former member of the Kurdish parliament Patros Sekheria, and APP Ninewa director Sargon Saleem. APP was a member of the Al Nahrain National List (#752) during the December 2005 national election (ref a). ------------------- A COMMUNITY IN PAIN ------------------- 3. (C) The APP is reeling from election losses where only rival Christian party, Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), was able to kept their seat in the national assembly. APP is looking for solutions to high unemployment and lack of security without direct representation in the government. Betto said members of the Chaldo/Assyrian community are leaving Ninewa for other provinces and countries in search of work, stability, and security. Betto said he is concerned how the new federal government will interpret the articles of the constitution. He said he fears a broad interpretation will only benefit Iraq's larger ethnic groups (Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds) to the detriment of minorities. Betto said he believes recent church bombings in Kirkuk and Baghdad are evidence of a "grand scheme" by Arabs to assimilate minorities. He said he believes the answer to Chaldo/Assyrian problems is the creation of a separate protected area for the community. --------------------------- CREATION OF "NINEWA PLAINS" --------------------------- 4. (C) Betto suggested the USG and Coalition Forces (CF) should "pressure" the Iraqi government to allow for the creation of a new and separate province for minorities. Betto said "Ninewa Plains," as the community refers to it, would help minorities protect themselves from larger ethnic groups that could do them harm. Betto claimed minorities have the "right to a safe haven" according to article 136 of the constitution. Poloff asked if Ninewa Plains could address problems facing the community in the short and long run, or if they risk cutting themselves off from the rest of the country. Betto said he believes a "more permanent solution" needed to be found and that Ninewa Plains was the answer. Poloff asked APP members if they had considered other avenues to redress their grievances, such as working with minority members of the national assembly to help push issues. Youkhana claimed democracy is not enough, so therefore the USG has a "responsibility" to help in the creation of the province. He called on the USG to provide security, develop the economy, and help attract displaced Christians to move to the new province. Betto requested a meeting with Ambassador Khalilzad and a visit to State officials in Washington to discuss the issue. ------------------------------------------ KURDS TO ADMINISTER SUGGESTED NEW PROVINCE ------------------------------------------ 5. (C) APP reps said they would prefer the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) administer the suggested new province. Poloff asked APP reps how such an arrangement would work given that so many other members of the Chaldo/Assyrian community claim to be at odds with the Kurds in Ninewa. Betto said annexing eastern Ninewa to Kurdistan makes sense, historically, since the "Kurds have always had a tendency to protect us." He said he had already spoken to KRG reps and received their "full support" for the idea. Betto said rival Christian parties, such as ADM, "do not represent the will of the people" by opposing the Kurds. Poloff asked how Betto could draw such a conclusion given that ADM received substantially more votes than Al Nahrain National List in the national election. Betto admitted ADM has a strong following but that they are "not working for the interests of the people" on this issue. ---------------------------------- COMMENT: APP -- TOOL OF THE KURDS? ---------------------------------- 6. (C) Although the idea of "Ninewa Plains" is not new (ref b), the idea of a separate province or protected area shows the desperation of several Ninewa Chaldo/Assyrian groups. This and previous discussions with APP reveal how party officials have not been able to look past their own shortcomings during the last election and change gears to work within the fledging democratic process in Iraq by engaging minority and other reps in the national assembly, lobbying officials through political organizations, or by telling their story to the press. They also fear that the community will not win seats in provincial elections later this year. For their part, the Kurds in Ninewa would love nothing more than to have some sort of legitimate reason to justify the annexation of eastern Ninewa to Iraqi Kurdistan. Other Christian political parties, such as ADM and Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union (the latter was a member of coalition #752), would never agree to such an arrangement; and given tensions between the Sunni Arabs and Kurds it is doubtful Sunnis would sign off on the idea as well. In talks with Poloff, ADM has accused APP and the Chaldean Patriotic Union of being "fake parties," created by the Kurds to further divide the Christian community. While these allegations are difficult to prove they do illustrate how deep divisions are within the community over the idea of a separate protected area. The idea of Ninewa Plains does not begin to address the very real problems of poor education, a lack of basic services such as clean water and electricity, and security. Additionally, allowing minorities to separate themselves from the rest of the country only feeds further into Iraqi fears that the country would disintegrate if Article 136 (Article 58 in the TAL) were interpreted to allow for the creation of several separate federal units. MUNTER
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