Cablegate: Chalabi's Services Committee Shows Promise

DE RUEHGB #3565 3010325
P 280325Z OCT 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: Pending a formal executive order from Prime Minister,
Nouri AL Maliki, the services committee holds regular meetings and
shows early signs of cooperation and action. At an October 25
meeting, the Committee made several decisions. END SUMMARY.

Fuel and Health Tops the Agenda

2. On Thursday, October 25, Dr. Ahmed Chalabi chaired the service
committee meeting. The attendees were the Deputy Minister of
Electricity, the Inspector General of Health, the Deputy Minister of
Education, Dr. Tahseen al Shekhli (Fard al-Qanoon spokesperson) and
representatives from the USEMB and Coalition Forces. Dr. Khalid
Rasheed and Dr. Karesh, both of former Deputy Prime Minister (DPM)
Zobai's staff, were also in attendance.

3. First item of discussion was fuel. Committee members agreed that
access to various types of fuel present the greatest obstacle to
their respective ministries. While discussions ranged from
production to distribution to storage and corruption, several
courses of action were offered. Chalabi suggested that the services
committee immediately address fuel supplies. He intends to raise two
potential proposals with the Prime Minister: allow ministries to
import their own product or appoint a body to import fuel to Iraq.

4. The IG of Health discussed issues including physician and bed
shortages, low wages, an inadequate emergency care network and a
non-existent referral system. Additionally, the IG expressed
significant concerns regarding the current supply chain for durable
medical equipment (DME) and pharmaceuticals (Rx).

5. The Committee will send several health proposals to PM Maliki.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) requested an additional 100 million
dinars to pay salaries for the doctors working in public health
facilities, such as the public health centers (PHCs). A suggestion
to additionally compensate on-call doctors appeared to also be a
part of this funding request. (NOTE: Embassy staff is working to
clarify whether this was part of the funding request or an
additional proposal. END NOTE) Chalabi also offered to lobby the PM
to adopt a proposal before the Prime Minister's Office that would
allow the World Health Organization (WHO) to procure equipment and
pharmaceuticals on behalf of the MoH.


6. The Ministry of Electricity representatives named security as
their number one issue; secure facilities as well as security for
MoE personnel to rapidly repair downed lines. Representatives from
the Iraqi Army offered their continued assistance to provide a
secure perimeter for MoE to conduct repairs. The MoE stated that
the existing process to make such arrangements (72 hours) was too
time consuming.

7. The MoE reported on the 10 amp gauges being installed in
residences throughout Baghdad. MoE representatives report that the
project is largely successful, regulating personal use and
increasing main generator efficiency by limiting the load.
Residences furnished with such amp limits are reportedly able to
operate air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, etc. Next year
the MoE wants to upgrade to digital limiters which will allow remote
adjustment of the limits based on increased generation. The
committee suggested a media campaign to educate the public about
this project. (NOTE: It is not clear whether this committee will
launch a campaign, ask the PM to launch a media campaign or were
simply suggesting that the MoE launch a media campaign. END NOTE)

8. In an attempt to wrap up the 2+ hour meeting, Chalabi asked the
MoE what they wanted and/or needed. They asked that the diesel
importation issue be resolved, and that the PM address the militias
who are preventing plant operators from complying with load shedding
requirements through intimidation and other fear tactics. Chalabi
requested a list of areas who are not complying in order to present
that list to the PM.


9. Awaiting the PM's executive order, Chalabi's Services Committee
forges ahead. The meetings thus far are well attended and address
larger issues through an open dialogue. This meeting marks the
first set of requests that Chalabi will take to Maliki. It is not
clear what will occur once this information reaches the PM, but
Chalabi could be the political impetus necessary to revitalize the
services push in the continued absence of DPM Zobai.


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