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Cablegate: Deputy Secretary Discusses Governance with Idlg Director

VZCZCXRO5908
RR RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #3208/01 3500429
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 150429Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6422
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN 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 003208

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR AF

SUBJECT: DEPUTY SECRETARY DISCUSSES GOVERNANCE WITH IDLG DIRECTOR

1. (SBU) Summary. At their December 11 meeting, Independent
Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) Director General Jelani Popal
outlined to the Deputy Secretary the country's key sub-national
governance challenges: governance capacity-building at the
sub-national level, providing sub-national governments with greater
control over funding decisions, and security. End summary.

-----------------------------
IDLG's Governance Objectives
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) Popal said the IDLG is focused both on empowering
provincial governors and on making them more accountable to their
constituencies through mechanisms such as the Provincial Councils
(PCs). This effort will be strengthened when the sub-national
governance policy is completed and when laws are crafted to
establish and enforce that policy. Popal acknowledged the limited
capacity of government officials at the sub-national level, as well
as the inability of provincial governors to fire line directors in
their provinces. He praised IDLG training for PC members that
served to clarify their roles and responsibilities vis-`-vis the
other provincial-level government institutions. Popal noted that
some PC members mistakenly believed that they possessed auditing
authority.

3. (SBU) The IDLG has pushed for 25% of provincial budgets to be
controlled by provincial governors and Provincial Councils. Popal
spoke of the need to establish block funding that would allow
District Councils to identify projects to be approved by the
provincial government and implemented by the line directorates
without requiring national-level authorization for each project.

--------------------------------
Security: The Bad and the Good
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) On security, Popal estimated approximately 50 districts
(out of a total of 364) have security problems, of which 10
districts have "serious" enough problems that district governors are
unable to leave their compounds or do not reside in their districts
for fear of attack. These 10 districts are located primarily in
Helmand, Kandahar and Zabul provinces. In these areas, insecurity
has manifested itself in dramatic drops in school attendance. In
Kandahar, for example, school attendance has dropped from 140,000 to
40,000 in the past few years. In contrast to national figures,
which show rising school attendance, Popal feared that reduced
schooling in these provinces would lead to greater numbers of young
people who could become susceptible to recruitment by Taliban and
criminal elements because they lacked education and economic
opportunity.

5. (SBU) Popal lauded the improvements in Uruzgan province. A
recent Jirga, attended by 1,500 persons, agreed to unite and act
against the presence of the Taliban, attacks on schools and
development projects, poppy cultivation, and the use of foreign
currencies. In addition, the Jirga identified 3,000 recruits from
the province for the Afghan National Army (ANA), which currently has
minimal representation from the province.

6. (SBU) Popal lamented the inability of provincial and district
governments to support what he termed as "very bold" community
initiatives to improve security. The Afghan government loses face
with the local community if it loses trust in the government's
ability to protect the community. Popal assessed the majority of
the Afghan population as "on the fence" with respect to support for
GIRoA, and looking for reasons to jump on the government's side.

------------------------------------
Security: Some Possible Approaches
------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Popal explained that the fight against the Taliban and the
provision of security requires four levels: local community action,
Afghan National Police, ANA and the Special Forces. Popal
forcefully argued that money spent on security would be most
efficiently spent if it enabled the Ministry of Interior and the
National Directorate of Security to gather intelligence and those
agencies received authority to undertake targeted operations, as

KABUL 00003208 002 OF 002


they would see fit, against the Taliban. Popal believed that
conventional forces, whether from the ANA, ISAF, or otherwise, would
not be able to neutralize Taliban members and that military action
only undermined civilian support for GIRoA and the international
community. Popal's formula for success combined good intelligence
to penetrate the symptoms of the insurgency and good governance to
eliminate the root causes of support for the insurgency.

8. (SBU) On reconciliation, Popal distinguished between the
leadership and core of the Taliban, with whom he said reconciliation
was neither possible nor desired, and those that have taken up arms
because of "our (i.e., GIRoA) own mistakes." Popal believed the
GIRoA should make it possible for this latter group to return to
society, to reintegrate into their villages and communities, and to
have choices for their own futures. This process of reintegration,
Popal emphasized, requires that the government engage from a
position of strength. Afghanistan's current relative weakness
resulted from the Taliban enjoying sanctuary in Pakistan.

9. (SBU) The Deputy Secretary's party cleared this cable.


WOOD

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