US embassy cable - 06MOSUL23

NINEWA: TAL AFAR SHEIKHS WANT MORE ASSISTANCE FROM USG ON SECURITY AND ECONOMIC ISSUES

Identifier: 06MOSUL23
Wikileaks: View 06MOSUL23 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: REO Mosul
Created: 2006-02-24 16:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PINS PINT PGOV PHUM IZ MARR
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO8189
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHMOS #0023/01 0551658
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 241658Z FEB 06
FM REO MOSUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0421
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHLU/AMEMBASSY LUANDA 0019
RUEHMOS/REO MOSUL 0439
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSUL 000023 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  2/24/2016 
TAGS: PREL, PINS, PINT, PGOV, PHUM, IZ, MARR 
SUBJECT: NINEWA: TAL AFAR SHEIKHS WANT MORE ASSISTANCE FROM USG ON 
SECURITY AND ECONOMIC ISSUES 
 
REF: MOSUL 220 
 
MOSUL 00000023  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Cameron  Munter, PRT Leader, Provincial 
Reconstruction Team Ninewa, State. 
REASON: 1.4 (a), (b), (d) 
 
 
 
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SUMMARY 
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1.  (C) Recent U.S. press coverage has painted a positive 
picture of Tal Afar's security situation.  But some locals see 
it otherwise.  Sunni Arab tribal leaders are upset by what they 
claim are poor security conditions in Tal Afar.  Local sheikhs 
threatened that Sunnis would leave the city if the situation did 
not improve.  They blamed the problem on a former chief of 
police who stacked the force with corrupt Shia cronies and fired 
Sunni officers, and faulted the USG and Coalition Forces (CF) as 
well.  The sheikhs accused CF of taking a "blind eye" to Sunni 
concerns in the area by siding with Shias.  The sheikhs said, 
for example, that reconstruction projects have only benefited 
Shia neighborhoods.  The sheikhs said anti-insurgency operations 
by CF and Iraqi Security Forces in Tal Afar last September 
increased the number of terrorists rather than removed them. 
The sheikhs claimed that securing Tal Afar was important to USG 
and Iraqi Government interests since it would provide stability 
to the province as a whole.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (SBU) PRT Poloff met with Turkmen Front and Tawafoq Iraqi 
Front coalition candidate and national assemblyman EzAlDeen 
AbdulAllah Houseen, Sheikh Shehab Ahmed Hassan, leader of the 
Al-Jarjariah tribe, Sheikh Falah Mohammed Younis, leader of the 
Al-Farahat tribe, and Sheikh Ali Mohammed Saeed, leader of the 
Halai Bake tribe, in Mosul on February 21. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
SECURING TAL AFAR KEY TO STABILITY IN THE PROVINCE 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
3.  (C) Recent articles in the U.S. press have depicted the 
American counterinsurgency effort in the Northwestern city of 
Tal Afar as a success, providing security for the beleaguered 
population.  But some of our contacts do not feel that way. 
Erupting in a chorus of criticism, the sheikhs began by saying 
security conditions in Tal Afar have deteriorated.  Houseen 
accused former Tal Afar Chief of Police Ismael Faris, a Shia, 
with stacking the police full of unqualified and corrupt Shia 
cronies while removing good Sunni officers.  He called Faris a 
criminal who should be brought to justice.  Houseen claimed 
Faris fled the city with help from Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 
and now works in the special investigations unit of the Ministry 
of Interior in Baghdad.  Houseen claimed that capturing and 
trying Faris could solve 60 percent of all security problems in 
Tal Afar.  He said it would contribute to stability in the 
province as a whole, allow Iraqis to have faith in the justice 
system, as well as frighten away terrorists. 
 
--------------------------------------------- 
TENSION BETWEEN SECURITY FORCES AND RESIDENTS 
--------------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (C) Speaking on behalf of the sheikhs, Houseen accused 
Coalition Forces (CF) of siding with Shias in the police force. 
He said corrupt Iraqi Police (IP) in Tal Afar had taken 
advantage of the strong relationship with CF to "harass" Sunnis. 
 Houseen said that IP would enter a Sunni neighborhood and 
report to CF patrolling nearby that they received gunfire, for 
example.  What ensued, according to Houseen, were random raids 
on Sunni houses.  Younis said when IP and CF conduct searches 
they take identification cards, photos, jewelry, and damage 
property.  He said such actions cause Sunnis to "hate 
Americans."  Younis said filing a claim with CF for damaged or 
missing property was difficult for Sunnis.  He said they could 
only travel to the Castle complex, where IP and CF maintain 
their offices, via a road on the Shia side of town.  He claimed 
Shia hang out nearby and finger approaching Sunnis as terrorists 
to IP and CF.  Younis said he spoke to CF commanders about the 
problem on numerous occasions but that nothing resulted from the 
talks.  He suggested a second road on the Sunni side of the 
complex be opened instead. 
 
5.  (C) Houseen claimed there were too many checkpoints in and 
around the city, which contributed to traffic and "suppression 
of Sunnis."  He requested that IP checkpoints be removed and 
replaced with non-Kurdish Iraqi Army (IA) or CF units. 
Regarding other issues with IP, Houseen claimed there were many 
instances where innocent Sunnis were killed within eyeshot of IP 
stations but that the officers refused to respond.  Houseen said 
he believed there were good officers in the IP, but that they 
 
MOSUL 00000023  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
were powerless to help because of corruption in the higher 
ranks.  Houseen and the sheikhs recommended that the Tal Afar IP 
be scrapped and rebuilt.  Houseen said once problems with IP in 
Tal Afar were solved security would improve and allow displaced 
Sunnis who fled during counterinsurgency operations last 
September to return to the city. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
USG AT FAULT FOR POOR SECURITY IN TAL AFAR 
------------------------------------------ 
 
6.  (C) Houseen recommended the USG use "diplomacy" and not 
"force" to change attitudes in Iraq.  Sheikh Saeed said CF and 
ISF counterinsurgency efforts last year made security worse and 
contributed to increased tensions between Shia and Sunnis.  He 
claimed as a result more terrorists were created than removed 
from Tal Afar.  He said before the operation there were only 250 
terrorists in the city, and that now there were 2,000.  Saeed 
accused CF of taking weapons away only from Sunnis during the 
operation, which made them feel powerless.  Younis said poor 
economic conditions drove many youth to conduct terrorist and 
criminal activities to earn money.  He claimed many were sent to 
prisons, such as Abu Gharib, where they were "brainwashed by 
Islamic fanatics."  Once they were released, said Younis, they 
tried to kill Shia and CF. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
DEVELOPMENT AND RECONSTRUCTION FAILINGS 
--------------------------------------- 
 
7.  (C) Houseen claimed reconstruction and development projects 
evidenced how the USG and CF have so far not listened to Sunni 
leaders in Tal Afar.  He said many projects have not worked to 
the benefit of the people as a whole, since Shia neighborhoods 
have better schools and services than Sunni ones.  Younis called 
many contractors "war profiteers" that have taken advantage of 
poor security conditions to pilfer money from projects at the 
expense of Iraqis and the U.S. taxpayer. 
 
------------------------ 
THREAT TO LEAVE TAL AFAR 
------------------------ 
 
8.  (C) Saeed said he holds the USG responsible for "everything 
that is wrong in Iraq."  He claimed the USG "started the 
problem" by invading the country, and now was obliged to "finish 
it."  The message from Tal Afar residents, according to the 
sheikhs, is that if problems were not corrected soon Sunni 
residents would "leave Tal Afar."  Younis said the mass 
departure should be regarded as a "civil strike" to oppose poor 
security conditions and a lack of attention to the area. 
 
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COMMENT 
------- 
 
9.  (C) While we have heard complaints from the sheikhs and 
Houseen in the past, the threat to vacate the city en masse was 
new.  It could be viewed as an act of desperation to bring 
attention to conditions there.  Or, as a ploy to remind us that, 
despite the country's move to democracy, the sheikhs still 
regard themselves as leaders of their communities.  We believe 
much of their anger is due to their fear of losing influence in 
a democratic Iraq (reftel).  Whatever their motivations, the 
sheikhs claimed they have used every opportunity to help Sunnis 
in Tal Afar by speaking to government and military officials 
alike.  They believe, however, that no one has been listening so 
far, and told Poloff they regarded the visit as a "last chance" 
to help Tal Afar's Sunnis before tensions with Shias reached a 
boiling point.  Although the Embassy, Coalition Forces, and this 
PRT have worked hard to bring Sunnis into the democratic 
process, more work needs to be done to get them to buy into the 
image of a new, safer Tal Afar. 
MUNTER 

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