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Cablegate: Dart Western Iraq Update 2 June

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

161518Z Jun 03

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 KUWAIT 002639

SIPDIS

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 WESTERN IRAQ UPDATE 2 JUNE


-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. DART Field Team West witnessed the smooth start up of
the public distribution system in Al Hillah on 2 June with
numerous food trucks dropping off and picking up
commodities. Public response to the mistaken release of a
notorious killer, linked to thousands of victims in the mass
graves of Babil, was diffused by the new Human Rights
Society of Babil that helped to persuade local residents to
remain calm. The DART participated in the daily Governorate
Support Team meeting and learned that former Ba'ath
government workers would have to renounce their affiliation
with the Party and turn in their Ba'ath issued weapons
within 24 hours. End Summary.

------------------------------
FOOD DISTRIBUTION IN AL HILLAH
------------------------------

2. Babil Governorate food and flour agents began the June
food distribution on 2 June following scheduled collections
of commodities from the main Al Hillah warehouse and grain
silo. Coalition security forces were present at the
warehouse and assisted with the smooth movement of 36 short-
haul trucks entering and exiting the compound throughout the
morning and early afternoon. Flour and rice collections
were also occurring without incident from the grain silo
warehouse, and Australian wheat grain was arriving and
discharging at the silo bins. Final total numbers from the
silo will be available shortly. All 1,713 Babil agents are
expected to arrive in Al Hillah to collect ration
commodities during the next 15 days.

3. Collections continued until approximately 15:00 even
though Ministry of Trade (MOT) employees normally worked
until early evening during pre-war distribution periods.
However, workers stated that due to the lack of authorized
overtime payments from MOT, they would only work normal
hours. As previously reported by the DART, the MOT said the
normal overtime payment of 1,000 Iraqi dinars was paid to
those workers that stayed and worked on weekends, holidays,
and extra hours during distribution periods. To date, this
1,000 dinar overtime payment has yet to be authorized.

4. U.N. World Food Program (WFP) national staff reported
that MOT/Baghdad has informed MOT Al Hillah that the
following exchanges would occur to assist Al Hillah in
covering shortages in certain food commodities: vegetable
Oil (800 metric tons (MT) from Basrah); detergent (100 MT
from Karbala); detergent (300 MT from An Najaf); and pulses
(280 MT from Al Anbar).

5. The MOT also instructed Al Hillah to ship 120 MT of
infant formula to Diyala Governorate. Due to the double
rations provided by the former regime prior to the war,
beneficiaries have only two monthly coupons available for
the remainder of the year. These remaining coupons
correspond to the months of November and December. Al
Hillah food agents have been instructed to accept one-half
of the November coupon for the complete June ration, and
next month, to accept the second half of the November coupon
for the complete July ration. They will repeat the same
procedure with the December coupon for August and September.

6. This strategy is designed to allow beneficiaries to
double value their remaining November and December coupons
to avoid running out of coupons after July. Therefore, the
November coupon will be valid for June and July; the
December coupon will be valid for August and September.
This should allow MOT additional days to print, properly
prepare, and distribute coupons for October, November, and
December, as well as for 2004.

7. As a result of the 2 June activities, several public
service announcements were prepared for broadcast on Al
Hillah television regarding the public distribution system
for June. The message will contain information to
beneficiaries and agents on the following issues:

-- Confirm that the on-going distribution for full rations
has begun as planned;

-- Provide food and flour agents with their schedules for
collection;

-- Announce that, unlike the old system, agents need to
bring cash to collect their commodities; checks would not be
accepted by MOT; and

-- Confirm that the June ration will be the same ration as
before the conflict.

-----------------
PROTECTION ISSUES
-----------------

8. Mohammed Jawad An-Neifus, who was suspected of
involvement in the murder of thousands of Iraqi Shiites in
and near Al Hillah, was released from the Bucca Internment
facility at Umm Qasr on 18 May. According to a Coalition
statement, An-Neifus was detained by Coalition forces near
Al Hillah on 26 April and was turned over to Coalition
Military Police on 29 April. An officer from the Judge
Advocate General's Corps conducted a routine screening of An-
Neifus on 18 May, and nothing he said alerted the officer to
his true identity. The documents containing evidence of his
crimes did not arrive with him in Umm Qasr, so he was then
cleared for release. Coalition forces have accepted sole
responsiblity for An-Neifus' erroneous release and are
conducting a thorough investigation to ensure against
recurrences. The Coalition is also offering a USD 25,000
reward for information leading to his capture.

9. In conversations with the deputy of the Human Rights
Society as well as with local Iraqis, the community is
stunned at this revelation. Many do not believe that this
release was accidental. Some believe he used bribery in
order to buy his release. There is a lot of frustration
among Iraqis in Al Hillah at this time; many question the
true aims of Coalition forces.

10. A joint statement was prepared by the Lawyers' Union
and the Human Rights Society denouncing An-Neifus' release
and putting sole responsibility for his recapture on
Coalition forces. The deputy of the Human Rights Society
also said the community would like to try An-Neifus through
the Iraqi courts. A silent demonstration was scheduled for
1 June; however, the Human Rights Society was able to halt
the demonstration because of fear of violence.

------------------------
BABIL WEAPONS COLLECTION
------------------------

11. All Babil government workers must sign one of two forms
denouncing affiliation with the Ba'ath Party before
receiving their May salaries, a Civil Affairs officer
announced on 2 June at the Babil Governorate Support Team
(GST) meeting in which DART participated. One form is for
those who never joined the Party; the other for those who
had. Ex-Ba'ath government workers who denounce affiliation
will be paid, but must forfeit their Ba'ath-issued AK-47
rifle or pistol within 24 hours. Coalition forces will
search the houses of those who say they do not have a Ba'ath
weapon. Ex-Ba'ath workers who do not denounce and sign the
document will not receive their salary and will be fired.

12. Fliers distributed in Al Hillah on 1 June declared a 14-
day amnesty period for people who own weapons. Non-
Ba'athists can keep their AK-47s and pistols, but must
register them. Other weapons are forbidden and must be
turned over by the end of the amnesty period.

13. A GST Civil Affairs officer announced the formation of
a Babil "city council" to work with the governor. The
governor's first attempt to create a city council dissolved
on 20 May when residents protested that initial appointments
had been stacked with the governor's allies. The GST asked
the governor to develop a new city council plan while the
GST established a plan of its own. On 4 June, they will
meet to merge the plans for a 20-to 30-member council with
elected officials. There is no date set for a gubernatorial
election.

------------------------------------
DART VISIT TO LOCAL AL HILLAH SCHOOL
------------------------------------

14. Nearly 100 percent of 1,350 students have returned to
the primary school that the DART visited on 2 June on the
south side of Al Hillah. The director said 36 windows were
broken from bomb reverberations during the war, and that
other problems existed, including poor water supply and
sanitation (five toilets), crowded classrooms, and no
ceiling fans for the hot months. The director said the
facility was actually two schools in one: 630 girls attend
for three days straight, followed by 715 boys for the next
three days. Classrooms hold between 50 and 55 students
each.

15. The director said this school was one of the best in
the area because high-level Ba'ath Party members lived
nearby. The deputy director said he remained at the school
during the war with other staff and neighbors to protect the
facility from looters. There are 43 teachers, including 35
women. Passersby at the school entrance expressed anger at
DART for visiting a school that had received a modicum of
Ba'ath largesse. They asked DART to visit other nearby
schools that were in worse condition.

--------------------------------------------- --------
AR RUTBAH SCHOOL OPEN DUE TO DART-FUNDED INTERVENTION
--------------------------------------------- --------

16. World Vision International (WVI) completed DART-funded
water and sanitation improvements at nine of 12 damaged and
looted Ar Rutbah schools, creating a groundswell of
enthusiasm to reopen the schools that had been destined to
remain closed until the next school year in September. With
DART funds secured, WVI was able to obtain private donations
to fund additional repairs, such as replacing broken
windows, chalkboards, and doors, and painting walls. WVI
said the rehabilitation provided a psychological boost to
the townspeople who have not only decided to restart
classes, but to extend the school year and hold final
exams. The town was to forsake the entire year.

JONES

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