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Cablegate: Provinces Bypass National Electricity Grid, Threatening

VZCZCXRO9536
OO RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0118 2141704
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 021704Z AUG 07
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0929
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 0991

UNCLAS HILLAH 000118

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
(CORRECTED COPY)
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG PGOV ECON IZ
SUBJECT: PROVINCES BYPASS NATIONAL ELECTRICITY GRID, THREATENING
WIDER DISRUPTION OF SERVICE (CORRECTED COPY)

1. (U) This is a combined PRT Babil-Najaf-Diwaniya message.

2. (U) Responding to continuing electricity shortages from the
national grid, South-Central provinces have begun to take the
drastic step of circumventing central government control of the
delivery of power to their provinces. Last month, Diwaniya
Governor Khalil Jaleel Hamza boasted on TV of his decision to
disconnect the "remote terminal unit" installed in the province,
which affords the Ministry of Electricity central control over
provincial energy access. Following Diwaniya's action, the
Najaf provincial council (PC) voted to do likewise. The Babil
PC has voted twice over the last two months also to bypass the
national grid. (Note: Post has no indication that either of
these latter provinces has yet acted on those resolutions. End
note.) On July 30, Minister of Electricity Kareem Waheed accused
the South-Central provinces of Babil and Diwaniya (along with
Basra and Nasiriya) of partial responsibility for a total
blackout in Baghdad. This criticism notwithstanding, provincial
leaders have given no indication of retreating.

3. (SBU) Comment: With no end to the power crunch in sight and
the heat -- generated both meteorologically and politically --
rising, the region's political leadership apparently feels
compelled to act in an area where it believes the national
government has been ineffective. If the national government
fails to respond firmly to these self-help measures, other
provinces can be expected to follow suit, leading to a "tragedy
of the commons" situation in which the functioning of the entire
national grid is compromised, to the detriment of users
throughout the country, including the "cheating" provinces. End
Comment.

HUNTER

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