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Cablegate: Prt Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province: Musa Qala Reconstruction

VZCZCXRO5728
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #0450/01 0551039
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241039Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2951
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000450

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO SCA/A, S/CRS, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MCAP MOPS PREL PGOV PTER PHUM AF
SUBJECT: PRT LASHKAR GAH, HELMAND PROVINCE: MUSA QALA RECONSTRUCTION
AND POLITICAL UPDATE

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Reconstruction efforts continue in Musa Qala (MQ).
The District Governor, Mullah Salam, continues to work well with
the stabilization team and is conducting Shuras outside the District
Center (DC) in an effort to overcome continued Taliban intimidation
of rural citizenry. Residents are pleased the high school
renovation is complete and students are back in school. Task Force
Helmand and the Afghan National Army coordinated the movement of
convoys to the city, and security inside the DC remains stable.

Musa Qala Politics
------------------
2. (SBU) Salam continues to work well with the PRT stabilization
team in MQ and meets daily with them and the Shura to review
security and reconstruction efforts. He continues to urge faster
implementation of construction projects but has displayed less
interest in the administrative details of project implementation or
local government. Haji Zahir, leader of the MQ Shura, has emerged
as Salam's project coordinator and MQ administrator. Salam remains
the face and voice of the MQ government and is comfortable
addressing security and political issues but not the details. Zahir
is a natural administrator and is able to keep Salam and the Shura
working together to resolve development issues. The two men have
established a good working relationship, and this division of labor
supports the implementation of development projects.

Expanded Outreach
-----------------
3. (SBU) Salam is an excellent public speaker, and this week he
moved outside the DC and conducted several outreach Shuras around
MQ. At Landiwa village on February 16, 150 locals listened to Salam
deliver a strong message calling on them to support ISAF and urging
them to work with the UK forces to defeat the Taliban. Salam
repeated the same message at Wasak village on February 19, where 200
villagers greeted him with great respect and welcomed the message to
support ISAF against the Taliban. Salam consistently called on
local residents to support ISAF and the GIRoA, a message that TF
Helmand welcomed. Salam's willingness to move outside the wire and
interact with the people is expanding his personal base of support
from the DC to across MQ District.

Development Update
------------------
4. (SBU) This week the Afghan National Army facilitated the delivery
of World Food Program (WFP) supplies. TF Helmand delivered
USAID-provided equipment for the renovated high school.
Stabilization officers and teachers spent several days organizing
the new equipment, and by the end of the week, school attendance was
over 500 children. The central bazaar road is now under
construction and is about 20 percent complete. Two flood control
projects just outside the DC are now under construction. Residents
have told PRT officers this week that the reconstruction projects,
and the jobs created, are encouraging more area residents to risk
intimidation and seek work in the city. Every day about 280
residents show up for the cash-for-work program, and contractors
employ several dozen residents.

Security
--------
5. (SBU) MQ residents told PRT officers that the security situation
in the city is acceptable and that Commander Koka is doing good
work, but that they do not trust many of the Afghan National Police
(ANP). This week TF Helmand received credible reports that several
suicide bombers were targeting Salam and the MQ Shura, but TF
Helmand and Koka moved quickly and tightened security around the DC.
Residents said Koka punished several ANP this week for stealing WFP
packages and more should be done to control the "bad ANP." The two
UK police mentoring teams are working with Koka to improve policing
and control the ANP force, but monitoring the 300-plus ANP in the
city is a challenge. Salam reviews security operations constantly
and pushes Koka very hard to keep the criminals, Taliban supporters
and terrorists out of the city and to improve the ANP force.


6. (SBU) The main obstacle to project implementation remains
intimidation of project recipients or those seen to be
"collaborating" with the international community. Ministry of Rural
Reconstruction and Development reports that although they have had
some initial success with the villages and project identification,

KABUL 00000450 002 OF 002


nothing has started yet as recipients are afraid to begin work on
the projects. Intimidation and insecurity on the roads also remain
problems outside the security cordon of MQ town. PRT will work with
TF Helmand and local officials to build more sources of information
for the people about the good things happening in MQ and to build
more confidence in the government presence in the district, with the
goal of giving people the confidence to resist the Taliban and their
intimidation.

7. (SBU) Two months after liberation, Musa Qala has seen continued
infrastructure and political development, but the ANP require
additional mentors and training to improve their capacity, and
construction of the Central Mosque is delayed. Continued helicopter
shortages restrict the movement of civilian staff to the city. This
has delayed efforts to develop budgeting and governance capacity in
MQ. These issues need to be resolved to maintain reconstruction
momentum and improve governance capacity.
WOOD

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