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Cablegate: Karbala Update On Four Key Sectors

VZCZCXRO5817
RR RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHIHL #0129/01 2671158
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241158Z SEP 07
FM REO HILLAH
TO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
INFO RUEHIHL/REO HILLAH 1011

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HILLAH 000129

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON EAGR IR PREF
SUBJECT: KARBALA UPDATE ON FOUR KEY SECTORS

HILLAH 00000129 001.2 OF 002


1. This is a PRT Karbala Najaf Diwaniyah unclassified cable.

2. SUMMARY AND COMMENT: On September 22, PRT Karbala traveled
with the support of 3ID Division Airlift to the Karbala
Provincial Joint Communication Center to meet with the
Provincial Council Chairman, Provincial Council members and
Director Generals. Subjects included health service delivery,
education sector, agriculture and tourism. Most importantly,
the increased number of potential partners among the present
government officials revealed that the influence of neighboring
countries by way of dumping key goods into the market is not
welcome.

AGRICULTURE
-----------

3. The PC Agriculture Chairman, Dr. Abbas Naser Hasany,
explained that the irrigation canals and practices in Karbala
are badly outdated and low yielding. Worse yet, he highlighted
a common complaint that produce imported from neighboring
countries (read: Iran) were so competitively priced that farmers
found it more cost effective to buy, rather than grow, their own
fruits and vegetables. This phenomenon applies to citrus (for
which Karbala is a well known grower), dates, tomatoes and
cucumbers in particular. Further complicating issues are pests,
funguses and parasites that plague the fields. Addressing
production levels and the costs of inputs was the key focus of
Dr. Abbas' presentation.

EDUCATION
---------

4. Education is suffering from limited physical resources and a
growing number of students. Internal displacement is to blame
for this increase, according to Mr. Shams al-Deen Hameed Majeed
the PC committee chairman for Primary Education, increasing the
total student body of Karbala schools so that 335 school houses
are used in multiple shifts to serve 490 schools of children.
In some of the more densely populated areas, school buildings
are housing three shifts, requiring that class times not exceed
15 minutes. Funding teacher salaries is the priority of the
Karbala Education Ministry, leaving little surplus to procure
teaching materials and school supplies, much less the 105
additional school houses that the province would like to build.
In 2006 the provincial government funded the construction of
seven school houses and the expansion of 42 school houses.
Continuing with this trend, in 2007 the Karbala government
funded the nine new school houses and the expansion of 38 other
facilities.

TOURISM
-------

5. Religious tourism is a key social and religious activity
among Shi'a Muslims that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors
to Karbala. In addition to the Shrines, there are more than 318
touristic sites that the Director General of Tourism would like
to develop. The hotel industry has yet to catch up with the
surge of visitors, providing only a maximum of 23,000 beds.
Eighteen restaurants with an average size less than 800 sq
meters are less than adequate to provide services for the
current and potential number of tourists interested in visiting
Karbala. Worse yet, local interlocutors describe militia
activity on the streets harassing restaurant and coffee shop
goers and pressuring women to be home before sunset.

HEALTH SECTOR
-------------

6. The health sector in Karbala is benefiting from four major
government-funded projects to increase available medical care
and services. Among those projects are a new blood bank, an
expanded morgue, a medical waste treatment facility, and various
improvements to the Hussein Hospital. Since 2003, 20 health
centers have been constructed, nine of which were funded by the
USG. Dr. Haider, the PC health committee member, explained that
Karbala needs additional hospitals in Ain Tamur and Hindiyah
districts, because their populations have grown considerably as
a result of internal displacement from Baghdad, Diyala and
Anbar. He requested support to engage international agencies
and organizations to assist in the improvement of health care
services in the province.


BIOGRAPHIC NOTES
----------------
- Abd Al'al Yaseen Mohammed al-Yasiry is the Provincial Council
Chairman and is a member of the Iraqi Democratic Current. He is
currently finishing a law degree and over the course of the last
year has been willing to visit the Regional Embassy Office
monthly.

- Sheikh Falah Hassan Atiya is one of the last remaining
Fadheela Virtue Party members on the provincial council and

HILLAH 00000129 002.2 OF 002


serves as the chairman of the reconstruction committee. Only
recently has he reengaged with the PRT following a year long
boycott by Fadheela in Karbala in protest of the June 2006
detention of Sheikh al-Zubeidy the form Provincial Council
Chairman.

- Dr. Razzoul Abood Hasan is the provincial government engineer
and assistant to Governor Aqeel.

- Dr. Haider Abd al-Ameer Hasan is a provincial council member
and on the Health Committee Member. He was elected on the 320
list and is known as a member of ISCI.

- Dr. Abbas Naser Hasany is a provincial council member and
serves on the Agriculture and Irrigation committee. He is an
independent elected on the 113 ticket but is thought by previous
staff of the PRT to be a Sadrist sympathizer.

- Shams al-Deen Hameed Majeed is among the few Da'wa Provincial
Council members and is the chairman of the primary education
committee. Mr. Shams is also the brother of the Karbala
Businessman Union chairman, Hatham M.S. Abood.

- Husein Hameed is the Director General of Tourism, he also
participated in the last tourism meeting held in June, 2007.


REED
SIMMONS

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