Cablegate: Chalabi Heads New Services Committee

DE RUEHGB #3529 2971121
P 241121Z OCT 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: In a follow-on meeting to the inaugural services
committee meeting, Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO)
Director, Mark Tokola, met with Dr. Ahmed Chalabi on Monday, October
22. The recently named chairman to Mailiki's new services committee
briefly discussed the committee's mission and was open to US Mission
involvement and support. END SUMMARY.

Maliki Announces New Committee

2. At the Iraq Executive Steering Committee (I-ESC) on Friday,
October 19, Prime Minister Nouri AL Maliki announced a new chairman
of essential services committee. After several proposed
alternatives, including the Council of Ministers and the Provincial
Council, the PM declared Ahmed Chalabi, the current Head of the
I-ESC Popular Mobilization Committee, as lead for this committee.

Chalabi Heads New Services Committee

3. Dr. Chalabi convened the first meeting of the committee Saturday,
October 20. The meeting was attended by General Aboud; Dr. Karim,
Minister of Electricity; the manager of the Doura Refinery; the head
of the Iraqi Republic Railway (IRR); a representative from the
Baghdad Amanat; a representative from the Ministry of Oil; and Mr.
Tacim, the Fard al-Qanoon spokesperson.

4. Chalabi identified the proposed scope of the committee as five
services: water, electricity, oil, health and the public
distribution system (PDS). The efforts would be geographically
limited only to Baghdad. However, in a follow up meeting between
Director Tokola and Chalabi on October 22, Chalabi also suggested an
added emphasis on economic development through private sector
incentives, including an improved mortgage market to promote housing
construction and thus reduce unemployment.

5. During the latter meeting, Chalabi underscored the importance of
fuel and health as sectors requiring immediate attention and
assistance. He specifically identified production shortages,
transportation failures, and administrative corruption as obstacles
within the fuel sector. In terms of the health system, Chalabi
noted an immediate need for operating hospitals as well as
recruitment and retention programs for hospital personnel. He was
particularly interested in how to draw back doctors who have fled

Executive Order Pending

6. The authority, membership and charge of the new services
committee remains uncertain. According to Chalabi, the executive
order is before the Prime Minister. (NOTE: Embassy staff is
currently working to obtain a draft copy of the order. END NOTE) In
the meantime, the next meeting is proposed later this week and
Embassy and Coalition Force representatives are scheduled to


7. Identification of Chalabi as head of the services committee came
as a surprise to USEMB representatives at the I-ESC. With few
available details regarding the committee, USEMB is actively engaged
with Chalabi and has offered assistance as appropriate, including at
the working levels. It is our goal to prevent redundancy by
utilizing existing resources, including the JPC and former Deputy
Prime Minister Zobai's staff. Zobai had been the Chairman of the
I-ESC's Services Committee. Chalabi's appointment primarily serves
to fill the gap created by Zobai's resignation and the lack of a new
Deputy Prime Minister to replace him.


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