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Cablegate: Chalabi's Provision of Services Committee - January 29

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PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #0290/01 0311549
ZNR UUUUU ZZH ZDK
P 311549Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5511
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 000290

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREL IZ REL UK
SUBJECT: Chalabi's Provision of Services Committee - January 29

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1. SUMMARY: At this week's regularly held Provision of Services
Committee meeting, the committee met for 2.5 hours to discuss issues
ranging from trash collection privatization and re-opening
previously closed streets to electrical supply for pumping stations
and service problems in specific qadas. The meeting followed its
typically "ombudsmen" format. For the first time, the Mayor and
Deputy Mayor attended. Other first time attendees included the
Bagdhad Municipality Director and the DG of Baghdad Water Resources.
The Ministries of Oil, Trade, Electricity, Defense and Health
attended. The Baghdad Operations Command, National Security Advisor,
Iraqi Red Crescent and the Joint Planning Commission also sent
representatives. END SUMMARY.

- - - - - - - - - -
Meeting Highlights
- - - - - - - - - -

2. The Committee, despite some reservations, decided to write a
letter to the Prime Minister and/or the General Secretariat to
suspend the bond/mortgage requirement now imposed upon prospective
garbage truck drivers. There is a shortage of drivers due to this
requirement. Advocates say that it prevents trucks from being stolen
or used as VBIEDs and that it ensures that the drivers are Iraqi and
not foreigners living illegally in Iraq. However, the Amanat argues
that this requirement has resulted in garbage accumulation.

3. Deputy Mayor Naiem displayed a map of Baghdad, highlighting
streets that should be re-opened because of improved security. He
also thought this would spur economic activities and lessen traffic
congestion. The Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) maintained that
these security measures are in fact what have improved the situation
and removing them prematurely could expose Iraqis to violence again.
MND-B Deputy Commanding General, Brigadier General Milano, agreed
on the need to strike the right balance and offered to work with the
BOC and Mayor to open strategic streets, balancing security with
measures to improve the quality of life for Baghdadis.

4. Senior Deputy Minister of Electricity, Mr. Ra'ad, discussed for a
second time the threat that the ministry's employees face. He
complained that despite extra efforts to improve electricity to the
suburb of Sabi' Al Bor, the continued threats to engineers at Taji
detrimentally impact electricity to Sabi' Al Bor. The MoE again pled
for the BOC's assistance with this matter and Dr. Chalabi suggested
that a specific, written request be addressed to the BOC. Also in
terms of electricity, Dr. Chalabi discussed his recent visit to
Doura and noted that several transformers were inoperable. Chalabi
tasked the MoE to write a letter to Major General Hammond, the
Commanding General of MND-B, to detail the electricity problems in
the Doura area and ask him to repair transformers in muhallas 822
and 840. (Note: BG Milano, representing MND-B, did not offer to
repair the transformers. He commented that it was the Government of
Iraq's responsibility. End Note)

5. The committee discussed the condition of the irrigation canals,
noting that the city is currently witnessing significant amounts of
standing water because many of the canals are clogged. The DG of
Baghdad Water Resources said a plan is underway to clear these
obstructed channels, but work will be slow due to equipment
shortages. Chalabi requested that a letter be sent to the Ministry
of Water Resources detailing the problem and possible solutions.

6. Dr. Khamis, the Ministry of Health (MoH) representative discussed
his recent visit to Abu Ghraib's hospital. He noted staff and
supplies shortages, decrepit building conditions and unacceptable
treatment of the doctors by the Muthanna Brigade. Dr. Chalabi
requested a formal report be sent to the committee as well as the
MoH.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Husseiniya Tops the Agenda
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. Deputy ITAO Director General Snyder delivered a report on the
Husseiniya sewerage system. He shared the details of the United
States Government (USG) involvement in the project over the past two
years, having developed a plan to treat and collect water. The USG
estimates that the project would cost $210 million and take 18-24
months to complete. The US can not construct the project due to
funding priorities. Deputy Mayor Naiem suggested that a project,
based upon Iraqi engineers' designs from 1990, be implemented. The
Baghdad Municipality Director said that several studies were
launched in 2006 and 2007, some of which are still ongoing to
address sewerage in Husseiniya. He said it will cost approximately
17 billion dinars to address sewerage issues in the area. Chalabi
then suggested that the Baghdad Sewerage Director be invited to next
week's meeting for further discussion.

- - - - - - - - - - -
The Amanat is Up Next
- - - - - - - - - - -

8. A follow-on to last week's meeting regarding privatization of
trash collection in Baghdad happened next. Previous attempts to

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privatize trash collection repeatedly were unsuccessful because
there are few qualified Iraqi contractors with this area of
expertise. The Amanat has since encouraged Iraqis to become
affiliated with international companies in order to contract out
this local task. The Mayor noted that a $180 million joint
private/public recycling venture was ongoing. Another recycling
plant is expected to come on-line at the end of 2008. The Mayor also
reported that the city has contracted to build a factory that would
convert recyclables into plastic bags. The shortage of garbage truck
drivers was also discussed and the committee decided to write a
letter to the Prime Minister asking him to waive the mortgage/bond
requirement.

9. Deputy Mayor Naiem then used a large map to discuss the
possibility of re-opening streets throughout the city of Baghdad. He
specifically mentioned Abu Niwas Street, the Passport office area
and Adimiyah. The BOC noted that the security measures currently in
place are to be credited for security improvements in those areas.
Any changes should be carefully considered so as to not compromise
safety. MND-B, the BOC and the Amanat are to further discuss this
issue.

10. The DG of Baghdad Water Resources discussed the current blockage
in the irrigation canals. He said they are currently creating a plan
to clear the canals, but any progress on work would be slow because
they only have about 50% of needed equipment. The Amanat offered
some additional drills in the short-term, but Chalabi emphasized
that this problem also needed a long-term solution, particularly
given its impact on agribusiness and employment. Therefore the DG is
to send a letter to the Ministry of Water Resources.

- - - - - -
Electricity
- - - - - -

11. The MoE and the DG of Baghdad Water discussed the electricity
needs for 52 main pumping stations. In addition to secure lines to
the pumping stations, fuel for the back-up generators is needed. The
Senior Deputy Minister to MoE suggested that the Amanat develop
contingency plans and the MoE will provide contingency power, but
will not be responsible for the costs. He also stated that the
locality should be responsible for interdictions and other related
violations.

12. A brief report was delivered on the 10 amp meter project; the
smart meter bid is out. There are 900,000 electricity customers in
Bagdhad, but only 60,000 are using the 10 amp meters. According to
the MoE, Sadr City has rejected using the meters. (Note: The purpose
of the meter is to limit household use to 10 amps. The trade off
would be more reliable electricity in return for accepting the cap
on usage. End Note)

13. Then Mr. Ra'ad discussed threats and intimidation on MoE staff
which prohibits load shed compliance. (Note: The committee discussed
this issue previously and a recommendation was made to involve the
BOC. The BOC said they would protect the power stations, but needed
a list of authorized personnel for those stations. End Note) He
cited Sabi' Al Bor as a victim of this, noting that continued
threats to MoE personnel in Taji prevents Sabi' Al Bor from getting
its "fair" share. Dr. Chalabi suggested that a formal letter be sent
to the BOC regarding this issue.

14. Finally, Dr. Chalabi discussed downed transformers in Doura, in
muhallas 822 and 840. Those stations, according to the MoE, will be
operable again if and when the industrial Doura power station comes
on-line. This is expected to happen in approximately one month.
Nonetheless, Chalabi will seek further assistance from MND-B.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Service Needs in Mada'in and Abu Ghraib
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

15. Representatives from Mada'in mentioned security concerns in this
eastern qada, stating that the area had been an insurgent safe
haven. The Baghdad Municipality Director said that the area has not
been safe enough for him to visit. Complaints were made against the
BOC's supposed lack of coordination with the Wasit police. The BOC
stated that the "Ministry of Interior (MoI) had nothing to do with
it." Representatives from Mada'in then asked for increased military
presence and possibly even an operation to root out insurgents.
Chalabi reminded the committee that its charge does not include
security, only the provision of services.

16. Dr. Khamis, the MoH representative detailed his recent visit to
the Abu Ghraib hospital. He said conditions were deplorable. The
roofs in the surgery rooms were leaking, doctors and other staff
were scare as was medical supplies and equipment. The staff that was
there had not received any training in decades. Also compounding
problem for the doctors was the Muthanna Brigade's treatment of
them. According to Dr. Khamis, the brigade is harassing the doctors.
Committee members noted other complaints about the brigade's
behavior. The MoD is expected to address the concerns with the
brigade.

BAGHDAD 00000290 003 OF 003

- - - - - - -
Other Topics
- - - - - - -

17. As the meeting was coming to an end, several concerns were
raised regarding the return of formerly displaced persons. Houriyah
and Sabi' Al Bor were discussed. Chalabi stated that over 1,700
people have returned to Sabi' Al Bor from Houriyah, but others have
since re-settled illegally in Houriyah. According to Dr. Chalabi, he
had a recent meeting with General Abhoud who stated that
neighborhoods need to be prioritized in terms of resettling
displaced Iraqis. He said that the Ministry of Displacement and
Migration is not capable of handling all the issues associated with
returning families alone. They need more resources, including staff,
money and expertise.

18. NSA representative, Mr. Sayid, reported on Project Clean
Delivery; kerosene rations were delivered to Hindi in the test run
and were to start in 2 muhallahs each in Amariyah, Gaziliayah and
Khark. The Iraqi Red Crescent offered their assistance in whatever
was needed and the meeting concluded following the Monsour Municipal
Officer's claim that municipal crews were being mistreated by 1st
and 2nd lieutenants in the Iraqi Army. Chalabi told the Municipal
Officer to give a detailed report and memo to the BOC.

Butenis

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