Cablegate: Chalabi Service Committee Reviews Progress

DE RUEHGB #4014/01 3451019
P 111019Z DEC 07




E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: #3833, #3793, #3708, #3565, #3259

1. SUMMARY: Pausing to review previously adopted recommendations,
the Services Committee dedicated nearly two hours of discussion at
its December 4 meeting to that end. The Ministries of Trade, Oil,
Defense, Health and Electricity presented, as did the Amanat and a
council representative from Sabi' Al Bor. FAQ spokesperson and a
Ministry of Finance representative also attended. No representative
from the Baghdad Operations Command was in attendance. END SUMMARY.

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Electricity & Health Recommendations Review
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2. Committee Chairman, Dr. Ahmed Chalabi commended the Ministry of
Electricity (MoE) for fulfilling the November 20 commitment to
provide 72 continuous hours of power weekly to the Kahdimiyah
irrigation pumps. This prevents farmers from having to use drinking
water to irrigate their crops. Five other electricity
recommendations remain incomplete. We have reported these
recommendations in previous cables.

3. There are currently eight health related recommendations. The
most recent was tasked this week - instructing the Ministry of
Health (MoH) to rehabilitate the Mahmoudiya hospital and its
satellite health centers, in addition to meeting the medical staff
and equipment shortages and prescription drug shortages of those

4. In reviewing the November 6 decision to transfer the Al Karkh
Hospital from the MoH to the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the
ministries disagreed on the level of progress to date. The appointed
subcommittee is still working out details. The Health IG reported
that 7 doctors have been sent to the Baghdad suburb of Sabi' al Bor.
He also said he plans to open an emergency center in the area
although this recommendation was not among the promises he made to
the people of Sabi' Al Bor nor a committee recommendation. The IG
reported that an effort to expediently purchase life saving
medications has been presented to the Prime Minister for his
approval. An October 25 recommendation to increase doctor pay is
held up at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) according to the IG. Dr.
Chalabi intends to send a letter to the MoF to urge its cooperation
for this funding and to remind them of their obligation to the
Services Committee. Finally, ITAO Director Tokola reported that the
Nahrawan PHC opened to patients on November 24- completing a
November 20 request.

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Revisiting Fuel Issues
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5. Mr. Mo'tasim Akram from the Ministry of Oil presented again about
fuel issues. Two problems plague cooking gas: a general shortage of
benzene and a corrupt distribution channel. The representative also
suggested that the MoO cease selling gasoline and instead auction it
off to the international market to eliminate corruption and
administrative bottlenecks. The rep noted the ministries hesitancy
to completely open Iraq to the international community for fear they
can sell cheaper fuel products. He also maintained that the MoO
should not be responsible for the distribution of product. (Comment:
Deputy Minister Mo'tasim Akram's views do not always represent those
of the ministry. End Comment)

6. Mr. Mo'tasim Akram presented a detailed report on the Al-Karkh
Depot. The loading bridge of Al-Karkh was attacked on February 2.
Four gasoline points and the roof were destroyed, but have since
been rehabilitated by the depot's staff. According to the MoO
representative, the loading bridge has been operational since the
end of February. At the new Al-Latifiyyah depot, there are 25 tanks,
21 of which are useable. Four are out of service due to fires.
However, on November 16 a fire broke out at this depot and destroyed
the high voltage system and pump units, including valve and pipe
attachments. As a result, the depot is inoperable. Dr. Chalabi
ordered the MoO to investigate the cause/s of the fire and work
expeditiously to rehabilitate the depot. In the meantime, though,
the MoO rehabilitated Al-Latifiyyah old depot. It has been loading
trucks since the end of November. There are four tanks at this older
depot; three capable of storing 10000 m3 of kerosene, gasoline and
gasoline oil. A fourth tank is available for gasoline oil and can
store 5000 m3.

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Ministry of Commerce Talks PDS Again
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7. Mentioning shortages in baby and adult milk as well as cooking
oil, the Deputy Minister of Trade (MoTrade), Mrs. Sowaybah Mahmoud
Zankanah, spent more time discussing funding needs. The ministry is
seeking additional funds in 2008 because imported items continue to
increase in price. The representative from the Ministry of Finance
asked that the MoTrade consider eliminating certain food ration
items and reduce quantities where possible. (Note: Scaling back
benefits to the PDS program have been mentioned several times at

BAGHDAD 00004014 002 OF 002

this committee, but also at the Friday, I-ESC by the Prime Minister
himself. End Note)

8. A discussion about funding for INIC, the national ID card,
followed. The MoTrade requested a $10m allocation to launch a
hi-tech ID card project. The Ministry of Finance offered to fund it
by transferring money from an unexecuted project. Mrs. Sowaybah was
vehemently opposed to this. Dr. Chalabi suggested that the Ministry
of Planning and Development Cooperation (MoPDC) be contacted to see
if the investment budget had funds that could be dedicated to this


9. By our counts, the committee has made around 15 decisions; 2
health related recommendations, 5 electricity recommendations, 3
sewer, 1 trash, 1 security and 1 traffic recommendation or decision.
The committee also passed a recommendation to create emergency
service centers in the Russafa and Karkh districts on November 13.
There are approximately 27 other suggestions and requests, not to
mention the tasks associated with the field trips and the visits
from the qada local officials. Many of those were not discussed at
this meeting.


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