Cablegate: Dart Assessment of Al Amarah
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 002104
STATE ALSO PASS USAID/W
STATE PLEASE REPEAT TO IO COLLECTIVE
STATE FOR PRM/ANE, EUR/SE, NEA/NGA, IO AND SA/PAB
NSC FOR EABRAMS, SMCCORMICK, STAHIR-KHELI, JDWORKEN
USAID FOR USAID/A, DCHA/AA, DCHA/RMT, DCHA/FFP
USAID FOR DCHA/OTI, DCHA/DG, ANE/AA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA:WGARVELINK, BMCCONNELL, KFARNSWORTH
USAID FOR ANE/AA:WCHAMBERLIN
ROME FOR FODAG
GENEVA FOR RMA AND NKYLOH
DOHA FOR MSHIRLEY
ANKARA FOR AMB WRPEARSON, ECON AJSIROTIC AND DART
AMMAN FOR USAID AND DART
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF IZ WFP
SUBJECT: DART ASSESSMENT OF AL AMARAH
1. DART Field Team South traveled to the southeastern Iraqi
Governorate of Maysan on 7 May to assess security along the
main highway from Basrah to Al Amarah and within the city of
Al Amarah itself. During the trip, the DART met with
Coalition forces based in and around the city. End Summary.
DART SECURITY ASSESSMENT
2. Six DART members, including two translators, traveled
along Route 6, the principal highway northward from the
southeastern city of Basrah to Al Amarah, a city of
approximately 250,000 people. The route is 154 kilometers
and consists of a four-lane, divided highway that roughly
follows the western bank of the Tigris River.
3. According to the United Nations Security Coordinator
(UNSECOORD) and the British non-governmental organization
(NGO), Ockenden, large quantities of unexploded ordnance
(UXO) are located along the route. During the trip, the
DART saw some UXO, marked by rocks, along the sides of the
highway. A number of abandoned Iraqi military vehicles were
seen along the route.
4. Coalition forces operating in Maysan Governorate report
that the local environment is secure and permissive for
humanitarian operations. However, they issued the standard
caveat against traveling at night. No military escort is
required in the immediate area of Al Amarah.
5. There was less fighting in the city than in other areas
of southern Iraq because most loyal Baathist Party members
fled before the arrival of the Coalition military forces.
POLICE AND PROTECTION
6. According to Coalition forces, security, especially at
night, is still the major concern of Al Amarah residents.
Coalition forces are trying to address this issue within the
constraints of limited personnel. Looting continues to be a
problem. Coalition forces are focusing patrols on
safeguarding key infrastructure.
7. Coalition forces are also training the local police
force in basic criminal investigation duties and teaching
them to be more proactive than reactive. The police force
is led by the former police chief, a Brigadier who switched
sides two days before the regime collapsed in Baghdad. Some
members of the local police force continue to wear their
old, military-style, uniforms. To deter potential abuse and
corruption, Coalition forces believe that more Coalition
military police are needed in the city to supervise and
train a new Iraqi police force.
8. The courthouse in Al Amarah has been extensively
damaged. Virtually all documents were destroyed by either
Baath Party leaders prior to their departure or by the
looters who followed.
9. There are reports of mass graves in the area but no
supporting evidence has been uncovered. No reprisal crimes
have been reported. Some local Baath party members are
reported under "house arrest."
COALITION QUICK IMPACT PROJECTS
10. Besides working to re-establish a police force,
Coalition forces are helping the U.N. World Food Program re-
establish the Public Distribution System for food rations
and get the local grain elevator and silos working.
Coalition forces plan to provide public transportation for
teachers and students.
11. To help the local economy, Coalition forces paid an
estimated 17,500 civil servants in Al Amarah the equivalent
of USD 20 in Iraqi dinars seized from former government
accounts in three local banks.
12. The electrical grid provides only intermittent power to
Al Amarah, and many citizens rely on generators for their
power. However, shops are re-opening, markets are busy and
full of produce, repairs are being made to damaged buildings
and businesses, and farm workers are harvesting wheat in
nearby fields. Children are sweeping the streets and there
is a lack of rubbish in some areas not seen elsewhere in
southern Iraqi towns.
13. A high council, or the Secretariat, has been formed
with local leaders but, according to Coalition forces, it is
highly politicized. A second group, the "Regeneration
Committee" has been created as a group of technical experts
to help re-establish the city's infrastructure.