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Cablegate: Prt Lashkar Gah, Helmand Province: Musa Qaleh Political

VZCZCXRO8950
RR RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHYG
DE RUEHBUL #4157/01 3540904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200904Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1999
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4322
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 004157

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO DAS CAMP, SCA/A
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG
NSC FOR JWOOD
OSD FOR SHIVERS
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-82 POLAD

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: MCAP MOPS PREL PGOV PTER PHUM AF
SUBJECT: PRT LASHKAR GAH, HELMAND PROVINCE: MUSA QALEH POLITICAL
UPDATE

KABUL 00004157 001.3 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The political reconstruction of Musa Qaleh is
proving to be an extremely complicated process. However, the
sustained presence of Minister Popal, of the Independent Directorate
of Local Governance (IDLG), has kept officials focused on governance
creation for Musa Qaleh. Popal's ministerial position allows him to
work with various Helmand factions and he has leaned heavily on
Helmand officials to contribute to the development process. The
selection of a District Governor for Musa Qaleh has proven very
problematic but Popal and local officials agreed to place Helmand
Deputy Governor, Haji Pir Mohammad, in the position temporarily.
The PRT leadership welcomes Popal's efforts to energize the
provincial government and ensure that it understands how important
governance development in Musa Qala is critical to success.

Musa Qaleh District Governor
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) Minister Popal and local officials reached agreement that
Helmand Deputy Governor, Haji Pir Mohammad, will serve as the
temporary District Administrator for Musa Qaleh. Pir Mohammad is
from Musa Qaleh and has agreed to take the post for two months.
Popal told PRT officers that it was important to fill the position
now and that President Karzai would support Pir Mohammad's
selection. Popal and PRT leadership want to convene a Jirga to
select a permanent Administrator but cannot agree on a date. Popal
also believes that the GIRoA needs to take time to demonstrate its
commitment to the residents of Musa Qaleh to weaken their ties to
Taliban forces. At that point, a Jirga should be convened so GIRoA
supporters can come forward to be part of the district government.
PRT leadership wanted the Jirga convened this week but agreed that
the priority was to get the GIRoA on the ground to support
reconstruction and governance efforts. Pir Mohammad said he will
take up his post after Eid and will support GIRoA and PRT
development efforts in Musa Qaleh.

Why Pir Mohammad?
-----------------

3. (SBU) Pir Mohammad emerged as a compromise after other candidates
were found unacceptable. Mullah Salam, who had been held up by the
UK and others after his putative split with Mullah Torjan, was
briefly considered and then quickly dropped. Critics pointed out
that Salam had contributed very little, either militarily or
politically, to current operations and is not considered by Popal to
be "a liability and a distraction from the main effort in Musa
Qaleh." Even Governor Wafa has admitted that he "made a mistake in
supporting Salam." Salam remains holed up in his compound and has
refused to cooperate with Afghan and ISAF forces.

4. (SBU) Governor Wafa continues to support Musa Qala elder, Haji
Zahir, as his first choice for the job. Haji Zahir told PRT
officers that he had been very well received by both ANA General
Muhaidan and various elders on Dec 17. He also asserted that the
majority of the residents supported the GoA and ISAF forces. Zahir
said residents wanted protection from the Taliban, with some
residents claiming that enemy forces were already working their way
back into the city. The PRT leadership was impressed by Zahir's
personnel travel to Musa Qaleh and continues to work with him to
expand their contacts with the local population of Musa Qaleh.

Governance for Musa Qaleh
-------------------------

5. (SBU) Popal has been in Helmand one week and continues to push
local officials to participate in Musa Qaleh operations. After his
trip to Musa Qaleh last week, (Reftel), Popal convened a joint
development meeting with PRT officers and local officials to create
a comprehensive plan for Musa Qaleh. His insistence that local
officials prepare plans for their sectors has slowed the process and
presented a real challenge to many Helmand officials. Governor Wafa
rarely involved Helmand officials in significant planning and many
are clearly unprepared to contribute usefully to the process. Popal
used his staff in Musa Qaleh and Lashkar Gah to coordinate the
planning process and told PRT Officers he may keep staff in Helmand
to ensure that the effort does not falter. This is welcome news to
the PRT leadership. They see the presence of the IDLG staff as the
best way to maintain GoA attention on Musa Qaleh and, if possible,

KABUL 00004157 002.3 OF 002


to address further governance development in Gereshk and Sangin.

COMMENT
------

6. (SBU) The selection of a temporary Administrator is a welcome
development, but it highlights the serious problems of building
governance capacity in Helmand. Gereshk and Sangin have seen
significant material reconstruction over the past few months but
still have no functioning local government. As a result, the PRT
leadership has invested considerable time and effort with Popal and
Wafa to get a functioning local government in Musa Qaleh as early as
possible.
WOOD

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