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Cablegate: Ambassador's Visit to Uruzgan; Officials Highlight

VZCZCXRO1428
PP RUEHDBU RUEHIK RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #3786/01 3121049
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081049Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1379
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003786

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/FO FOR GASTRIGHT, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC PASS FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CJTF-82, POLAD, JICCENT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER ECON EAID AF
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S VISIT TO URUZGAN; OFFICIALS HIGHLIGHT
SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The Ambassador visited Uruzgan Province on October
22 and met with the Governor and Provincial Council.
Newly-installed Governor Hamdam said he already recognized
the importance of development projects as a means to gain the
loyalty and support of the local population. He complained
that corruption was "hijacking" projects and outlined his
efforts to encourage the reconciliation of low-level Taliban.
The Provincial Council expressed support for President
Karzai, expressed concern about security, asked for more
development, and called for better coordination between
security forces and the local community. The Ambassador
lauded the Governor's outreach to villages, underlined U.S.
support for the reconciliation process, and promised the U.S.
would be guided by local priorities as it dispensed a major
increase of assistance to the province. End Summary.

GOVERNOR: DEVELOPMENT IS THE KEY TO LOYALTY
-------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) The Ambassador's visit to Uruzgan Province began
with a call on newly-installed Governor Asadullah Hamdam.
The Governor said that his first month in office had
convinced him that international support in providing
services and facilities (he mentioned madrasses and clinics)
was the key to earning the support and loyalty of the
population. The Governor highlighted the lack of electricity
in Uruzgan as a major issue. Hamdam told the Ambassador of
his concern that corruption was "hijacking" the government's
capacity to provide roads, sanitation, clean water, schools
and clinics. District administration is also too often
failing to take into account local tribal dynamics. Hamdam
said he was seeking tribal and mullah input and assistance in
implementing programs. He said he planned to cooperate
closely with the PRT and new Police Chief as he put programs
in place. With outside help and local cooperation, he was
confident he would succeed.

3. (SBU) The Ambassador told Hamdam he had heard much the
same message from Uruzgan MPs he had met with in Kabul two
days before his visit. Their development priorities were
roads and electricity. The Ambassador told the Governor
there would be a dramatic increase in U.S. aid to Uruzgan
during the coming year, and he assured Hamdam that the U.S.
was commited to giving the province a voice in development
planning.

THE GOVERNOR'S PLAN TO ADDRESS SECURITY CONCERNS
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) The Governor underlined the security challenge
faced in Uruzgan. ANA, ANP and international forces were
scarce, but new ANA troops were arriving in the province the
day of the meeting. It was essential that ordinary people be
willing to fight to defend their province as well. Many had,
but not all. The Governor predicted fighting will slow in
early winter, and he wanted to use the time to implement a
plan to confront the challenge of the Taliban. Senior
Taliban were "totally brainwashed," and some local commanders
had direct ties to Quetta, but he was confident that those in
the lower ranks, starting with recently recruited teenagers,
could be reconciled. Hamdam stressed that the public in
Taliban-controlled areas were unhappy but felt as if the
Taliban would not allow them to leave. The Taliban were
enforcing strict rules: closing schools, a ban on TV,
limitations on women, and forcing every home to give a young
person to serve in the Taliban. He outlined his major
project for the coming weeks: to convene a provincial tribal
jirga to urge an end to support for the Taliban and find ways
to encourage reconciliation.

5. (SBU) The Ambassador said he recognized that fighting in
Helmand and Kandahar was pushing Taliban presence, crime, and
poppy cultivation north into Uruzgan. He lauded Hamdam's
willingness to take on the challenges and welcomed the

KABUL 00003786 002 OF 002


Governor's initiative in meeting with tribal shuras to find
ways to encourage reconciliation. The Ambassador underlined
that the U.S. supports the PTS program and is committed to
strengthening it. The Taliban has lost key commanders over
the past year, and if rank and file fighters want to return
to normal life, the U.S. is committed to ensuring there is a
way that can happen.

MEETING WITH THE PROVINCIAL COUNCIL
-----------------------------------

6. (SBU) In a follow-on meeting with the Provincial Council,
the Ambassador heard that, while 95 percent of the people
backed President Karzai, there are deep concerns over
security. The Ambassador responded that, despite talk of a
Taliban "shadow government" in Uruzgan, there was only one
government. That is the Governor and Provincial Council.
The Council voiced support for the Governor's plans to hold a
Jirga for peace in the province. They said people wanted
security and peace. They underlined the need for
development, mentioning specifically the project to bring
electricity from Kajaki Dam. The Ambassador explained
problems of expanding transmission lines from Kajaki, and
emphasized the U.S. goal to connect the country by
electricity. The Taliban should be held accountable for
attacks which slowed the project.

7. (SBU) When a Council member said international forces had
made many mistakes in bombing and should coordinate closely
with government authorities, the Ambassador assured the
Council the U.S. is coordinating with the ANA and the
government on military actions. He reiterated that the
Taliban should be held accountable for forcing innocents into
the midst of battle.


WOOD

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