Viewing cable 04VATICAN4839

04VATICAN48392004-12-21 15:32:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
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  VATICAN 004839 
FROM 1.5 TO 1.4 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/20/2014 
Classified By: Ambassador Jim Nicholson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
¶1. (C)  Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See Edward Ismail Yelda 
called for tighter controls on his country's borders in a 
December 16 meeting with the Ambassador.  He urged particular 
attention to the Jordanian border, which he cited as a source 
of foreign fighters and weapons.  Yelda said the situation in 
Iraq called for more coalition troops, and also advised more 
comprehensive training and more careful screening of Iraqi 
security forces.  Yelda described the ongoing security 
concerns affecting Iraq's Christian community, asserting that 
Baathists seeking to build support for a return to the old 
regime were primarily responsible for the attacks on 
Christians.  Yelda said coalition and Iraqi forces needed to 
be more aggressive against the insurgents, as they had been 
in Fallujah.  Yelda thanked the Ambassador warmly for the 
U.S. intervention in Iraq, and said the U.S. would be needed 
there for some time to come.  End Summary. 
Watch the Border with Jordan 
¶2.  (C)  Iraq's new Ambassador to the Holy See, Edward Ismail 
Yelda, called for tighter controls on his country's borders 
in a December 16 courtesy call on the Ambassador.  Yelda 
noted that Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria needed to be 
tightened, but became animated as he turned to Jordan.  "No 
one will talk about this problem because of political 
considerations," he said, "but there are many evil people in 
Jordan" who are undermining Iraqi security.  He claimed that 
the Jordanian border was loose, due to border guards 
accepting bribes on both sides.  He worried about the "many 
trucks" that cross into Iraq, apparently uninspected.  Jordan 
and other countries, Yelda declared, had yet to "get the 
message" about halting the flow of terrorists, arms and money 
into Iraq. 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
More Coalition Forces, More Training for Iraqis Needed 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
¶3.  (C)  Ambassador Yelda also called for more coalition 
forces in Iraq.  Aside from their obvious help in maintaining 
order, he said that the greater visibility such troops would 
be an important factor in sending a psychological message of 
stability.  Expanded training and more effective screening of 
Iraqi security forces was urgently needed, he said. 
Commenting on problems with Iraqi security forces, Yelda 
claimed that Baathist elements had infiltrated the Iraqi 
forces, resulting in the common use of police or other 
security service uniforms in many kidnappings and other 
crimes.  In fact, Yelda recounted how he himself had been the 
target of an assassination attempt in which a bomb had 
exploded at his residence.  Several men posing as security 
agents arrived in uniform in the aftermath of the explosion 
and attempted to take the wounded Ambassador away.  Yelda 
said he was able to hold them off until legitimate 
authorities arrived, at which point the impostors fled. 
(Note: Yelda said he had been injured in the blast and had 
undergone medical treatment in England on two separate 
occasions for his injuries.  End note.) 
Baathists Behind Violence; Christians at Risk 
¶4.  (C)  Yelda acknowledged that foreign elements were 
carrying out many of the terrorist bombings in Iraq, but 
maintained that Baathist elements were pulling the strings. 
For Yelda, the targeting of Christian churches was a 
particularly unsettling aspect of the terror.  He said the 
Baathists wanted to make the point that the new government 
could not or would not protect Christians -- this in 
comparison to the relatively secure situation for Christians 
under Saddam.  Yelda described a difficult situation for 
Christians, claiming that since April insurgents had killed 
Christian women or girls at the rate of nearly one per day. 
He said interim government officials had asked "the 
Americans" to do more to protect Christians, but with little 
improvement in the situation, many were fleeing the country. 
The Ambassador assured Yelda that protection of Christians 
was a key USG priority, reflected both in frequent contacts 
between our Embassy in Baghdad and Christian leaders as well 
as in our Embassy's contact with the Holy See. 
¶5.  (C) As a Christian, Yelda said he felt a special 
responsibility to help protect his co-religionists in Iraq. 
Though he is a member of the Assyrian Church of the East and 
not a Catholic, he will find common ground with the Vatican 
on this issue.  (Note: Unlike the Chaldean Catholic Church, 
the majority Christian group in Iraq, the Assyrian Church of 
the East is not in union with Rome.  The Chaldeans share 
common roots with the Assyrians, dating back to the second 
century, but broke off from the Assyrian Church of the East 
in the sixteenth century.  Following periods of acrimony, 
relations between the Assyrian and Chaldean Churches have 
improved somewhat in recent years, as have relations between 
the Assyrians and the Holy See.  End note.) 
More Aggressive Stance Needed 
¶6.  (C) According to Yelda, coalition and Iraqi forces needed 
to be more aggressive against the insurgents.  He 
acknowledged concerns about violating sacred Islamic ground, 
but insisted that there were limits.  "There are tunnels and 
passageways underneath these mosques" where the terrorists 
store weapons and "actually conduct training exercises," he 
said.  Yelda noted with grim approval coalition operations in 
Fallujah, qualifying his praise only with the criticism that 
the crackdown should have come sooner.  He implied that if 
the coalition and Iraqi forces were to be successful, 
additional similar operations would be needed in other towns. 
Gratitude for Intervention 
¶7.  (C)  On behalf of his people and government, Yelda 
thanked the Ambassador for the U.S. intervention in Iraq, and 
said he regretted the loss of American lives.  He appealed to 
the USG to stay the course in Iraq, saying that U.S. forces 
would be needed in the country "for a very very long time." 
Yelda said that he was not supportive of a much larger role 
for the UN in Iraq at this time.  According to Ambassador 
Yelda, the countries who had already sacrificed their 
soldiers and finances should be the ones to maintain 
influence there.  In this connection, he said that he would 
be disappointed to see French or German influence in Iraq. 
Yelda was optimistic about the upcoming elections, though he 
cautioned that after decades of tyranny, "democracy would not 
come overnight."  He said education and job creation would be 
key factors in developing a strong Iraqi democracy. 
¶8.  (C)  Though the Rammadi native had been living in England 
since the 1970s, Yelda moved back to Baghdad last spring, and 
seems to have had more than his share of action since then, 
given the October assassination and kidnapping attempts.  His 
background in England will continue to influence his work 
here.  Until Yelda's arrival, the most prominent Iraqi in 
Vatican circles was Monsignor Philip Najim, representative of 
the Chaldean Patriarch.  There is no love lost between Yelda 
and Najim, who knew each other when both lived in England. 
Yelda grimaced when asked if he had had much contact yet with 
Najim in Rome, but offered that he had invited the monsignor 
to accompany him to his November presentation of credentials 
to the Pope.  Yelda claimed that many Iraqi ex-pats in London 
had a poor impression of Najim since, Yelda hinted darkly, 
Najim was sometimes identified with the old regime.  For his 
part, Najim (protect) lambasted Yelda in a meeting with 
Poloff some weeks ago, calling him "worthless" and "a drunk." 
 We saw no evidence of the latter, though Yelda did lament 
the tame nightlife in Rome, noting that there was much more 
to do in the after-hours in London. 
¶9.  (U) Baghdad minimize considered.