Cablegate: Baghdad Services Committee

DE RUEHGB #3833/01 3280930
P 240930Z NOV 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Baghdad Services Committee


1. SUMMARY: The Baghdad Services Committee chaired by Dr. Ahmed
Chalabi pressed forward on November 20th with a high number of
attendees, including representatives from the city administration
and the Baghdad Operations Command (security). Given the number of
participants representing various interests, discussions were
equally as varied. Specific decisions were reached and reports
ordered. END SUMMARY.

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Baghdad Services Committee Reaches Several Decisions
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2. The Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) agreed to remove any
unnecessary traffic barriers in Adnon Square to ease traffic
congestion. The BOC also agreed to set up at least two check points
between Adnon Square and Adimiyah Bridge. The Amanat announced that
the first Saturday of every month will be designated as Baghdad
Clean up Day and requested assistance from all ministries including
vehicles and equipment. Finally, the Ministry of Electricity(MoE)
promised three continuous days of power per week to specific
irrigation pumping stations, commencing next week. The MoE also
promised to replace a broken power line to the suburb of Sab al

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Good Attendance Results in Lots of Discussion
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3. Attendance was high at this week's meeting, with representatives
from the Ministries of Defense, Health, Electricity, Oil,
Transportation and Trade and Commerce. Representatives from former
Deputy Prime Minister Zobai's office, the Baghdad Amanat, the
Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) and several local councils also

4. Unlike previous meetings, the Baghdad Amanat played a central
role in this meeting, including the recommendation for two of the
three suggestions adopted. The Amanat reported that they delivered a
list of school supplies needed throughout Baghdad to the Ministry of
Education (MoEd), but have not yet received a response. Chalabi
suggested that the Amanat and the MoEd work together to conduct this
inventory. (Note: Not a single representative from the MoEd has yet
attended Chalabi's weekly meetings. This is even after Chalabi
reported their absence to Prime Minister Maliki at the Friday,
November 16 I-ESC. End Note) The Committee charged the Amanat with
conducting a review of bus terminals in Baghdad, working in
cooperation with the BOC and the Ministry of Transportation to
remove trespassers, provide security and to get them fully

5. A representative from the Reconciliation Committee had several
questions for the Amanat, particularly on waste drainage trucks. The
Amanat noted that they received 50 new trucks and will provide the
Reconciliation Committee with use of 10 of those trucks. They
emphasized that Amariyah and Assaleyah are in great need of these
trucks. The Amanat also responded to inquiries about the Tayji
landfill noting that they are in communication with a company that
will separate the hazard waste. Dr. Chalabi raised the issue of
needed emergency lighting in Baghdad stating that if funding is not
secured through the governorate, then the Baghdad Amanat will be
responsible for funding. Finally, the Amanat and the Ministry of Oil
(MoO) are to provide a report on the supply of empty gas cylinders
for the residents of Baghdad at the next Services Committee meeting.

6. The Inspector General of Health discussed several issues, and
requested that the MoEd work cooperatively with the MoH to ensure
quality drinking water for schools. The IG announced that three
doctors were named as representatives to the subcommittee
established at last week's services committee meeting to work on the
transfer of Al Karkh hospital to the MoD. Primary Health Centers
(PHCs) were also discussed, particularly the transfer of the
Nahrawan Center which is 100% complete. Dr. Adel requested that a
team from MoH and a team from the USM-I meet to review PHCs before
handover. Dr. Chalabi suggested that an engineer from the Amanat
conduct the inspection of PHCs in Baghdad on behalf of both teams.
ITAO Director Mark Tokola agreed that he and the Embassy Health
Attach will meet with the MoH regarding the Nahrawan Center
handover. Dr. Chalabi asked the MoH for a plan to staff PHCs. Other
issues briefly discussed included the re-employment of previously
dismissed MoH personnel and the creation of a plan to give
apartments to returning doctors.

7. Running out of time, the Ministry of Trade and Commerce
representative discussed only a few specific food ration shortages,
rather than the detailed report requested by Dr. Chalabi at the
previous meeting. She particularly noted that baby milk has been
delayed since July. Baghdad is currently short 65 tons. The delay
was blamed on increasing prices of baby milk, but Chalabi quickly
dismissed that as inexcusable. Chalabi requested that the
representative provide the detailed food shortage list as well as
possible solutions to existing bottlenecks in the distribution

BAGHDAD 00003833 002 OF 002

process at the next meeting.

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Chalabi Champions Banking Reform and Real Estate Development
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8. Dr. Chalabi stated that there are 216 operating bank branches in
Baghdad, which is less that one bank for every 200,000 Iraqis.
Cashing checks presents a real problem, but not one that warrants
opening more banks. Rather, he suggested improvements to loan
procedures and sought other recommendations. He requested a meeting
with the Ministry of Finance and asked if the Embassy's Treasury
Attach could present specific recommendations to the committee at
next week's meeting.

9. Chalabi noted that 5 million housing units are needed over the
next two years. Currently, the Government of Iraq employees or pays
pensions to 60% of Iraqi's working age population and cannot,
according to Chalabi, absorb more people. However, a real estate
development initiative would provide employment opportunities,
create a base for the Iraqi economic sector and provide needed
housing. He suggested the establishment of a real estate bank.


10. For the past four weeks, Dr. Chalabi has presented his services
committee's recommendations and updates at the weekly I-ESC. Last
week, Chalabi and some of the other service committee members
attended the Joint Planning Commission (JPC), to receive an overview
of Baghdad projects, including unfunded projects. As an early sign
of inter-committee relationship development, Chalabi's staff intends
to have a representative attend the JPC. Also, the JPC coalition
leaders hope to send a representative to Chalabi's committee,
pending Chalabi's approval. Moreover, at this week's Deputy I-ESC
meeting, a request was made for a JPC representative to attend that
meeting, reconnecting the I-ESC and JPC. (Note: Less than a month
ago, the I-ESC Secretariat uninvited former DPM Zobai's staff to the
I-ESC and Deputies I-ESC, terminating the then-link between the JPC
and the I-ESC. End Note)

11. Initial steps have been taken to institutionalize Chalabi's
services committee. Questions remain regarding this committee's
official role, the complete link between other entities addressing
service delivery and, of course, their efficiency. We particularly
are encouraged when the GoI independently not only initiates and
completes service projects, but creates institutional mechanisms and
relationships to address service delivery and maintenance.


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