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Cablegate: Local Governance Directorate Unveils Social

VZCZCXRO8567
OO RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #0498/01 0581243
ZNY EEEEE ZZH
O 271243Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3049
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
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY

UNCLAS E F T O SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 000498

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/26/2018
TAGS: EAID KDEM PGOV AF
SUBJECT: LOCAL GOVERNANCE DIRECTORATE UNVEILS SOCIAL
OUTREACH PROGRAM

REF: A. 07 KABUL 3714
B. KABUL 262
C. KABUL 398

Classified By: DCM Christopher Dell for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D).

Summary
-------

1. (SBU/NF) The Independent Directorate for Local
Governance (IDLG) unveiled on February 14 the Afghanistan
Social Outreach Program, which aims to establish functional
district governance by appointing community councils and
work with them to develop memoranda of understanding
committing local communities to responsible action in
exchange for development and support packages from the
government. The new plan is a reworked and expanded
version of the original Community Self-Defense Program,
expunged of the controversial Community Defense Volunteers
concept (Refs A & B). Senior Afghan officials reacted
positively, saying the plan is what has been missing in
Afghanistan's governance efforts. The IDLG and UK Embassy
insist that the program is an important national initiative
not linked to local self-defense forces, but the British
may yet harbor hopes of supplementing the IDLG's efforts
with a local security component in Helmand. The IDLG will
need donor support ($26 million for its first 18 months),
the support of key ministries to implement the program
(particularly the Ministry of Interior), and the support of
the Parliament, which plans to address the IDLG's proposed
Law on Local Administration in the coming weeks. The plan
also touches on the IDLG's politically sensitive efforts to
empower governors, a key feature of their planned reforms
that will be more fully articulated in its five-year
Strategic Work Plan. This strategy is consistent with
Assistant Secretary Boucher's plans to focus attention and
resources on improving governance at the district level.

IDLG Presents Plan to Strengthen Local Governance
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (SBU) At the February 14 meeting of the Policy Action
Group (PAG), Independent Directorate for Local Governance
(IDLG) Deputy Director Barna Karimi presented the
Afghanistan Social Outreach Program plan, aimed at
improving district governance. The plan is a reworked and
expanded version of the original Community Self-Defense
Program, expunged of the controversial security component
that had sought to link appointed councils to local
Community Defense Volunteers (Refs A & B). The new Social
Outreach Program aims to establish functional district
governance through appointed councils and linking them to
the central government through provincial governors.

3. (SBU) The Social Outreach Program's objectives are to
(1) improve sub-national oversight and management; (2)
develop provincial profiles and data; (3) replace corrupt
personnel; (4) establish and work with appointed "community
councils" (ref C); and (5) work with local communities to
compile district development packages based on district
development plans. The IDLG plans to pursue these
objectives through provincial-level interagency "Technical
Working Group Teams" chaired by provincial governors, and
to implement them through district-level "Program
Implementation Units" led by district administrators in
consultation with the community councils. These groups
will develop a memorandum of understanding with each local
community committing it to responsible action (including on
security and counter-narcotics) in exchange for a
development and support package from the government,
coordinated with donors. The plan makes coordination with
CSTC-A's Focused District Development (FDD) program a
priority. The plan includes a list of indicators that
illustrate the effect they are trying to achieve, such as
"requests for visits of government officials" and "the
number of anti-government elements arrested."

KABUL 00000498 002 OF 004

4. (SBU) The IDLG will launch the program in 11 provinces
facing the most acute security challenges: Badghis, Farah,
Faryab, Ghazni, Helmand, Logar, Kapisa, Wardak, Kandahar,
Uruzgan, and Zabul. The IDLG plans to expand the program
nationally in the next three years. The program's budget
for the eleven provinces for its first 18 months is just
under $26 million, modest compared to other governance
support programs.

Plan Garners Broad Afghan, International Support
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (SBU) Senior Afghan officials and international donors
voiced support for the program at the February 14 PAG
meeting. Minister of Defense Wardak said the intention is
very good -- what everyone has been trying to do. He noted
that "historically it has been the communities that have
defended the country, not the army," and that citizen and
public buy-in is as important today as it has ever been.
His only criticism was with the 3-5 year timeline for
implementation, exhorting the IDLG to "go to everyprovince
now." National Director for Securty Saleh questioned the
idea of signing MOUs ith the communities individually,
ironically following his sharp criticism earlier in the
same meeting of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and
Development's failure to demand good behavior from
communities in exchange for receiving funds from its
National Solidarity Program (Ref C). Karimi responded by
emphasizing the benefits of government interaction
individually tailored to each community, but based on the
same core principles of reciprocal obligations. Minister
of Education Atmar said the idea behind the MOUs drew from
Afghan tradition, and that IDLG's plan addresses the major
flaw in all our programs since the Bonn Conference.

6. (SBU) International officials also praised the program.
UK Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles made a strong statement
in favor of the proposal. Acting UNAMA SRSG Chris
Alexander agreed, underlining the needs for equitable
treatment of communities, for service delivery to give it
all credibility, and for action as soon as possible.
COMISAF General Dan McNeill cautioned that six of the 11
priority provinces have divisive fault lines making work
with the communities difficult. Karimi responded that IDLG
is prepared to address the challenges these tribal
divisions imply.

IDLG, UK Insist No Link to Local Security Forces
--------------------------------------------- ---

7. (SBU) The IDLG is sensitive to international criticism
following its ill-considered albeit well-intentioned
Community Defense Volunteers concept Karimi acknowledged
that the security component of the original plan was a
tactical mistake that set back the IDLG's initial
engagement with the international community. Once bitte,
they now feel the need for clear donor support and
validation before proceeding. (Karimi struggled with what
to name the new program to make absolutely clear that the
IDLG had abandoned its direct security role.)

8. (SBU/NF) Karimi and UK diplomats confirmed that the UK
Embassy has been working closely with the IDLG on the
Social Outreach Program and is providing about $8 million
in support. UK diplomats have said that they have watered
down their 'arbaki' traditional local defense force
proposal to a vigorous community watch program, which is
yet to be clearly defined. They seem to see the IDLG's
Social Outreach Program as a useful governance program
nation-wide, but they may yet retain the hope of
piggy-backing their latest toned-down version of the local
security concept on the IDLG's efforts in Helmand.

Implementation Requires Ministries and Parliament
--------------------------------------------- ----

KABUL 00000498 003 OF 004

9. (SBU) Armed with a sound concept, the IDLG needs to
engage key ministries to fully implement the plan,
particularly the Ministry of Interior (MOI). In its pilot
program in Wardak province, the IDLG worked with the MOI to
replace the Chief of Police, deploy several hundred more
police to the province, increase local police recruitment,
and identify and arrest key trouble-makers in collaboration
with the communities; only then did local leaders agree to
participate in formal district councils. The IDLG's
success will depend on its ability to work with the MOI
(and other ministries) to make this kind of coordinated
effort succeed. Popal has President Karzai's support, but
getting the ministries to follow his lead will be a
challenge.

10. (SBU) Parliament may yet have a say as well. After six
months of promising work on strategy development, consensus
building among the ministries, the Wardak pilot program,
and personnel changes (especially of governors), the IDLG
plans to release its comprehensive Strategic Work Plan
within weeks, which will clarify its strategy and link it
to concrete goals. (The Social Outreach Program is one
component of this broader strategy.) On the cusp of going
operational, Karimi said Parliament plans to formally
consider the IDLG's mandate within two weeks when it takes
up the Law on Local Administration, proposed by the IDLG
and recently approved by the Cabinet. (President Karzai
had legal authority to create the new independent
directorate under the executive branch. Since the
responsibilities of the ministries are defined by law, some
have questioned whether Karzai had the legal authority to
transfer the MOI's civil administration division to the new
IDLG without consulting Parliament.) Karimi was sanguine
about achieving rapid approval. However, Parliament
remains bogged down in negotiations over the budget, is
faced with contentious decisions about the election law and
calendar, and has made defense of legislative prerogatives
a centerpiece of its activities.

Toward Empowering Governors
----------------------------

11. (SBU) The IDLG's ideas about empowering governors,
addressed in passing toward the end of the Social Outreach
Plan, are important. Having installed better governors,
the IDLG plans to build up their coordination role,
ultimately to give them a more robust role in provincial
planning, budgeting, and spending. (Governors currently
have veto power over spending by the line ministries, but
no proactive authority to plan, budget, or shift spending
priorities.) This expanded role for governors would help
increase the coherence, coordination, and effectiveness of
provincial government. It would also require line
ministries to cede some degree of control over provincial
finances and operations, which is likely to be a tough sell
politically. Empowering governors is a central feature of
the draft five-year IDLG Strategic Work Plan, which is to
be presented officially within weeks (Embassy has received
an advance draft text).

12. (SBU) The Social Outreach Plan is at least partially
intended to build up the governors' authorities.
The plan is designed to recreate the pre-1979 governance
mechanisms in Afghanistan by encouraging a loose social
compact in which the respective roles, responsibilities,
obligations, rewards, and punishments of the government,
tribes, and communities were well understood, facilitating
a loose weave between the state and traditional
structures to function more or less to the satisfaction of
all parties. Governors were the key to this system and
re-creating it will no doubt give them greater political
stature. Finally, the IDLG's focus on district level
governance accords nicely with the U.S. objective, as
articulated by Assistant Secretary Boucher, to make the
districts the focus of our governance efforts in 2008.

KABUL 00000498 004 OF 004


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