Cablegate: Goi Proposal for New Assistance Coordination

DE RUEHGB #2394/01 2481458
P 051458Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (SBU) Summary: At an August 26 Iraq Partners Forum (IPF)
meeting, Ministry of Planning Director General for
International Cooperation Huda Malik proposed to move Iraq,s
assistance coordination function from her ministry to a
higher body, such as the Prime Minister's Office. She said
the new entity should deal with strategic issues and
establish aid policy within the GOI. Malik also called for
the international donor community to harmonize its efforts
with this proposed GOI entity. She commented that it may be
difficult to get the GOI to take formal action on any new
plan before the January national election, but encouraged the
donor community to engage with GOI technocrats so that the
next government would be ready to take action. End Summary.

2. (SBU) At a well-attended August 26 Iraq Partners Forum
(IPF) meeting (Ref A), the Ministry of Planning and
Development Cooperation (MoPDC) Director General for
International Cooperation, Huda Malik, presented her proposal
for a new GOI assistance coordination mechanism. Ms. Malik
previously told us in private that she was working on this
plan (Ref B), but this was her first formal presentation
outside of the GOI. She prefaced her remarks with a thorough
description of previous assistance coordination efforts in
Iraq since 2003.

Six Years of Lessons Learned

3. (SBU) Malik said that the most important lesson learned
in the last six years of reconstruction efforts was that
political stability leads to security which allows for
reconstruction. Other problems or lessons learned identified
by Malik included:

-- The failure of past donor and assistance coordination
efforts were due more to political instability than failures
in process. With a fragile immature political system,
institutions remained weak and there was no neutral space for
a reconstruction dialogue.

-- Past efforts at institution building focused on training
of personnel and not capacity development of the institution.

-- Previous attempts at assistance coordination, under the
National Development Strategy (NDS) or International Compact
with Iraq (ICI), did not properly prioritize goals.

-- The only official GOI point of contact for assistance
coordination since 2003 has been the Iraq Strategic Review
Board (ISRB). This Board, on which Malik serves as the
Executive Secretary, was supposed to give strategic guidance
to the donor community but ended up just reviewing individual
projects. Because the USG exempted itself from submitting
projects for review to this Board in 2003, the Board was
hobbled from the start.

-- Parallel mechanisms such as the ICI created confusion over
who had the lead for assistance coordination, and confusion
still exists between the national and provincial levels.

-- Because there is no unified Iraqi entity that deals with
the international community on assistance
coordination, donors have taken the lead on assistance
priorities without GOI involvement. The only exception was
the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq
(IRFFI), with Iraqi participation throughout the process, but
the amount provided under this mechanism was only a small
portion of the total assistance.

-- The donor community did not provide enough information to
the GOI on the monetary value of its assistance, which would
have allowed the GOI to track donor assistance along with its
Qhave allowed the GOI to track donor assistance along with its
own revenues and expenditures.

The Way Forward:
Start with Paris Declaration...

4. (SBU) Malik said that any new way forward on assistance
coordination must use the Paris Declaration on Aid

BAGHDAD 00002394 002 OF 002

Effectiveness as a starting point. The GOI must take the
lead on reconstruction programs, she said, which will entail
GOI political will and commitment. This will help ensure the
success of the international donor community's assistance

...And Create a New Entity in PM's Office

5. (SBU) Giving aid management to a single ministry is not a
good idea in Iraq at this time, Malik said, adding that too
many sensitive issues between ministries and other GOI bodies
persist. She proposed creating a new entity that belongs to
the Prime Minister's office, to ensure that instructions on
assistance coordination are carried out. She said that,
under her plan, this entity would deal primarily with
strategic, not technical, issues on assistance coordination.
This entity would establish aid policy for Iraq by reviewing
all of the various strategies and the international donors,
engagement with Iraq.

6. (SBU) Under this entity in the Prime Minister's office,
Malik recognized the need for a technical entity, or sub- and
ad-hoc committees to focus on specific sectoral issues in
assistance coordination. Additionally, Malik called for the
international community to harmonize its efforts and
synchronize with this proposed GOI entity. She noted that
there could still be a need for various strategies such as
the ICI and National Development Plan (NDP), but said the GOI
needs to have one coordination mechanism for all incoming

7. (SBU) Malik said she has circulated the Arabic version
of her proposal within the GOI, and that an English
translation would be circulated shortly among the
international community. She conceded that it may be
difficult to get the GOI to take formal action on any plan
before the election, but encouraged the donor community to
engage with the technocrats in the GOI so that the incoming
government would be ready to take action.

8. (SBU) Comment: Malik's proposal, and her willingness to
actually suggest removing a politically powerful function
from her own ministry, is a welcome breath of fresh air. If
the GOI accepts her proposal, the international community may
be able to better coordinate its assistance efforts with the
government and better target priority areas. With little
appetite for any new initiatives in the run-up to the
elections, however, it remains to be seen whether her
proposal will catch any traction with the current government.
We will continue to track the development and progress of
her proposal and urge the GOI to plan for continuity and
transparency in any assistance coordination mechanisms in
this administration and the next.

© Scoop Media

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