Author Topic: SUNNI ARAB OUTREACH IN IRAQ: MISSION PLANS (2005 US -Iraq)  (Read 1760 times)

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Offline jujyjuji

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SUNNI ARAB OUTREACH IN IRAQ: MISSION PLANS

Date: 2005 September 6, 05:34 (Tuesday)
   
Canonical ID: 05BAGHDAD3642_a
Original Classification: SECRET
Current Classification: SECRET
***

------------ INTRODUCTION ------------

1. (U) The US Mission Baghdad, including MNF-I, is committed to achieving broad Sunni Arab support for a democratic Iraq. The Mission is aware of the beginnings of a psychological shift in the tide since the January elections regarding participation in the electoral process, and we will use a range of resources, programs and contacts throughout Iraq to accelerate Sunni Arab buy-in, and to weaken the insurgency. This cable will lay out the causes of Sunni Arab discontent, our goals and the strategies for achieving them, and a sampling of initiatives designed to address the causes of dissatisfaction.

-------------- CAUSES OF SUNNI DISCONTENT ----------------

2. (S) First, we note at the outset that some Iraqi Sunni Arabs will never agree to participate in a democratic Iraq, and are irreconcilably wedded to violent opposition. They are principally Saddamists who will settle for nothing but the return of the former Baath party; "takfiri" and other radical religious extremists calling for the return of the Caliphate; and the partisans of terrorist groups like Zarqawi's. We must help the Iraqis isolate these groups and individuals from the rest of society, and either detain or destroy them. We also note that some of Sunni Arab behavior is explained by sheer intimidation and terror at the hands of insurgents and others in their neighborhoods and towns. Much of this waxes and wanes, such that an improved security environment and growing political momentum in favor of participation will help dispel personal fear.

3. (S) Our focus will be on the rest of the Sunni Arab population and its deep seated anxieties. For the vast majority, their discontent and the factors that contribute to their support for the insurgency are: -the fear of political disenfranchisement; -the lack of economic opportunity; -conflicting views on the role of central government; -Coalition Force and Iraqi Security Forces operations, including holding Sunni Arab detainees; and, -concern over Iranian influence in Iraq.

4. (S) Political Disenfranchisement: A segment of Iraq's Sunni Arabs, who constitute 20 percent of the country's population, equate the introduction of democratic institutions with domination and subjugation by the Shia. Sunni political disenfranchisement has to a degree become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The decision of the vast majority of Sunni voters to boycott January 2005 elections weakened their community's role in the emerging political process. This has contributed to increased Sunni skepticism about the Iraqi Transitional Government and the new draft constitution. At the same time, other Sunni have openly indicated readiness to participate in the new Iraq. Examples include Deputy President Al-Yawr, Deputy Prime Minister Al-Jaburi, Minister of Defense Al-Duleimi, and Minister of Industry Najafi. Many such Sunni identify themselves as "secular" or "liberal" and have openly indicated readiness to work with Shia and Kurds in building the new Iraq. The political future of such individuals depends upon the constructive involvement of the majority of Sunnis in Iraq's political process.

5. (S) Economic Disempowerment: Many Sunnis lost their livelihood in 2003 with the disbandment of the army and the collapse of Saddam's governmental institutions. Since then, many perceive that the doors have been locked to their reentry into the work force, often owing to their former Baath party affiliation. In some locations, unemployment of 40 to 70 percent and lack of hope for economic recovery have caused significant backlash among the Sunnis. Sunnis at all levels highlight lack of jobs and training as a major reason for discontent, especially because government jobs offer the most secure form of employment in Iraq.

6. (S) The Role of the Central Government: For historical reasons, dating back 13 centuries, many Sunni Arabs view themselves as Iraq's natural leaders. (NOTE: Some Sunni even continue to maintain that they constitute the country's majority population, despite evidence to the contrary.) In contrast to the Kurds and Shia who have suffered at the hands of a series of central governments, the Sunni population strongly leans in favor of concentrated decision-making in the hands of Baghdad officials. They fear that the Kurds, and potentially the Shia, will use the federalism provisions in the new constitution to pull the country into three separate entities. Many Sunni further worry that they would then be left as the poor stepchild, as the oil wealth of the country lies beneath the Kurdish and Shia regions in the north and south.

7. (S) Chafing at Foreign Occupation/Lower Representation in Security Forces: For many Sunnis, the presence of Western military troops in Iraq is a great humiliation. Stories of intimidation, dishonor and abuse at the hands of coalition forces easily make the rounds among Sunni Arabs, on websites and in the street. At the same time, the dissolution of the Iraqi military of Saddam's regime removed Sunnis from the security apparatus of the Iraqi government, especially the Police Forces. Now, many Sunni fear that Shia-dominated police forces have targeted members of their community for arrest, torture and even murder with impunity. Until this year, the MOD and MOI had significant difficulty recruiting Sunnis - who were fearful of reprisals against themselves and their families - into their ranks. A strong public stance by some religious and tribal leaders advocating participation in the security forces changed that psychology to some extent, especially for army recruitment.

8. (S) Perceptions of Targeted Detentions: Closely related to the problem of the military occupation, Sunni Arabs are extremely dissatisfied with the perceived Coalition Forces (CF) and ITG handling of the detainee issue. Many believe that CF detain massive numbers of innocent Sunnis without charge. Stories often mutate into Coalition arrests of Sunnis as a result of perniciously false accusations by Shia security and intelligence. 9. (S) Fear of Iranian Domination: There is a pervasive and elemental fear throughout the Sunni population of growing Iranian influence in the Shia-dominated south and the Iraqi Transitional Government in Baghdad. (NOTE: Many Iraqi Arab Shia, especially secular moderates, also share this concern.)

---------STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH SUNNI CONCERNS ---------

10. (S) Ambassador has established a Mission task force to develop the USG strategy to address these causes of Sunni Arab discontent, and has examined USG-wide programs that promote that strategy. The overarching strategic outcome we seek is to weaken the insurgency by achieving broad Sunni Arab support for a democratic Iraq. First we will seek to separate the irreconcilable extremists from Sunni Arabs who desire a better future. Second, we will work to promote the importance of their participation in their political and economic lives, and to raise awareness of the extent and impact of USG/ITG programs in their communities. A main goal here is to elevate the confidence and hope of Sunni Arabs in their future, inextricably tied to political, economic, and social participation, and not destructive violence. The task force will work with Sunni Arabs throughout Iraq, but specifically will focus on tribal leaders, the unemployed and underemployed, veterans and military personnel, Islamists, urban intellectuals and secular moderates.

12. (S) Essential to the success of this outreach strategy is to enlist the assistance of influential Iraqi organizations and individuals, such as various political, economic and social opinion makers; Iraqi NGOs; religious leaders; military and veterans' leaders; and the media organizations that can distribute messages to Sunni Arabs across the country. Each of these Iraqi entities will be able to influence various Sunni groups, and working through all of them will spread the broader message of encouraging Sunni Arab support for a democratic Iraq.

13. (S) The task force also believes that centers of Sunni influence outside of Iraq should be engaged to reach out to Iraqi Sunni Arabs. These would include Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Algeria, and Arab organizations such as the Arab League. The group envisions encouraging political and religious centers of influence in these countries to engage Sunnis in Iraq, exhorting them to participate fully and peacefully in the developing political process in Iraq. To this end we recommend the Ambassador's direct involvement with leaders in the region in support of Iraq and its Sunni Arab population. We also believe other actors in the region are capable of affecting the Sunni community, such as Turkey, Syria and Iran. These nations have the capability to stem the flow of unhelpful and disruptive elements into Iraq, and have an abiding interest in seeing the development of a stable and democratic Iraq.

------------------ SPECIFIC INTIATIVES ------------------

15. (S) Post has developed a matrix of program initiatives, both ongoing and in the planning stages, to achieve the following objectives, each matched to dispel a source of discontent:
i. Political participation and empowerment
ii. Employment and economic opportunity
iii. Understanding and appreciating the role of the national government in a federal system
iv. Participation in and support for Iraq's security forces and its allies
v. Preventing undue Iranian influence in Iraqi affairs A sample list of some of the major initiatives follows, keyed to the principal objectives each contains (of course, many projects can directly and indirectly satisfy several objectives):
-Maximize Sunni Arab voter registration throughout the nation, but with major focus on the four provinces with a Sunni majority (i,iii);
-Prepare and execute substantial, meaningful detainee releases to gain Sunni Arab credence in our bona fides, increase confidence in the rule of law, and diminish their perception of the risks of political participation (i,iv);
-Mobilize external regional Sunni support for Iraq's political and economic growth, in favor of Iraqi Sunni Arab participation and reconciliation, and against terrorist infiltration and murder (the Ambassador, along with the U.K. Ambassador, to travel to regional states to develop support for this initiative) (i,ii,iv,v);
-Engage Sunni leaders in a direct dialogue to develop ideas to stabilize predominantly Sunni Arab regions (ii,iv)
-Reach out and develop links with tribal elements to give them a role in the political, economic and security processes (i,ii,iv);
-Speak with the Waqf to influence mosque sermons towards moderation, participation (including in the security forces) and non-violence (i,iv); -Substantially reduce the risk of Coalition military operations offsetting and counteracting Sunni Arab outreach efforts (i,iv);
-Focus efforts to recruit military and police personnel from Sunni Arab regions (ii,iii,iv,v);
-Reach out to veterans groups to ensure that they have a stake in the system, and are provided for by the Iraqi government (i,ii,iii,iv);
-Continue USAID employment programs and explore additional opportunities to create job opportunities in Sunni regions (ii,iii);
-Publicize reconstruction projects in Sunni areas, developing public relations campaigns that highlight efforts underway (ii,iii);
-Publicize critical infrastructure security attacks, explaining the impact of sabotage operations, reducing insurgency support (i,iv);
-Educate Sunni groups regarding their rights and opportunities with regards to the political process, encouraging participation in the October constitutional referendum and December election (i,iii);
-Mediate an understanding between Sunni and Iraqi government leaders regarding the staffing and practices of Iraqi Security Forces in order to ensure that all communities can have confidence in these institutions (iii,iv); -Examine Sunni concerns regarding the level of Iranian influence in key Iraqi institutions and regions (v);
-Encourage involvement by Sunni leaders in a moderate, cross-ethnic, cross-sectarian political coalition for the December election (i).

Khalilzad

Source/Original cable: https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/05BAGHDAD3642_a.html