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Cablegate: Assistance Coordination in Iraq: A New Partnership

VZCZCXRO1493
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3044/01 3221439
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181439Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5495
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003044

AIDAC
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EFIN ECON EAID PGOV PREL IZ
SUBJECT: ASSISTANCE COORDINATION IN IRAQ: A NEW PARTNERSHIP

REF: A. WERBERG-TAECKER EMAIL 11/11/2009
B. BAGHDAD 2633
C. 09ROME 0302
D. BAGHDAD 3031

Sensitive but Unclassified; please protect accordingly.

1. (U) Summary: In a clear show of support for the GOI,
over twenty heads or deputy heads of missions resident in
Iraq attended an International Compact with Iraq (ICI) /
New Partnership meeting in Baghdad on November 7, followed
by a similarly well-attended Donor Committee meeting of the
International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI)
on November 8. The GOI and all donor partners unanimously
agreed that the ICI had served an important purpose at a
critical juncture in Iraq's post-war reconstruction, but
that assistance coordination must now change to reflect
Iraq's full sovereignty. While the exact nature of this
new partnership was left to the next GOI administration to
define, all parties at the two meetings, including the
bilateral donors, the GOI, the UN, and World Bank,
demonstrated a desire for continued close cooperation on
assistance coordination and a desire to see the GOI
articulate its own development priorities. End Summary.

A New Partnership to Replace the ICI
====================================

2. (U) A November 7 meeting in Baghdad that was originally
conceived as an ICI Ministerial ended up as an
Ambassadorial-level meeting to discuss a "new partnership"
with Iraq. The meeting, co-chaired by Minister of Finance
Jabr and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General
Ibrahim Gambari, was attended by over 20 heads of mission
or deputies resident in Baghdad, along with UNAMI, the
World Bank, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference
(OIC). All attendees confirmed that the ICI had been a
positive force for Iraq in the past, but circumstances had
changed and the time had come to transition to a new
partnership with Iraq, one that reflected Iraq's full
sovereignty. The attendees also confirmed continued
support for and cooperation with Iraq, and called for the
current and next GOI to clearly articulate Iraq's
development priorities. Coordinator for Assistance
Transition Patricia Haslach represented the USG at the ICI
and IRFFI meetings. (Note: Speeches and participant
remarks have been sent to NEA/I/ECON, per ref email. End
note)

3. (SBU) Comment: In discussions among donors over the
past few months and in meetings with the GOI, it was clear
that the current GOI has little interest in or energy for
the ICI. An exception was the ICI Secretariat, which is
down to a semi-retired Iraqi seconded from the Ministry of
Industry and a UK citizen contracted by the UN to provide
Secretariat support. End Comment.

IRFFI Winding Down
==================

4. (U) A November 8 meeting of the IRFFI Donor Committee
echoed the themes of the ICI-related meeting the day
before, with heads of mission or deputies from 14
countries, the UN, World Bank, and GOI in attendance. The
IRFFI meeting was co-chaired by Minister of Planning Ali
Babaan and Danish Ambassador Mikael Winther, who has served
as chair of the donor committee for the past year. A
decision was made at the IRFFI meeting to extend the date
for approval of projects under the UN Multi-Donor Trust
Fund from January 1, 2010 to June 30, 2010, and to ask
Ambassador Winther to stay on as donor committee chair.
The UN said it would conduct a lessons-learned exercise
using a sample of IRFFI projects, and the World Bank agreed
to include its projects in the exercise as well. Newly
arrived UNAMI DSRSG for the Office of Development and
Qarrived UNAMI DSRSG for the Office of Development and
Humanitarian Support Christine McNab (also Resident
Coordinator) emphasized the need to avoid "the blame game"
on lessons learned, and to try to answer the basic question
as to whether each project had accomplished its
objectives. A UN proposal to establish a new UN
multi-donor trust fund received little support from any of
the donors. (Note: The IRFFI has received no new funding
from any donors for the last few years. In recognition of
individual donors, direct bilateral assistance with the
GOI, the previous Donor Committee meeting in Naples decided
to close IRFFI down. Ref C. End note)

5. (SBU) Minister Babaan called for a "new type of
partnership" to emerge between the international donors and
the GOI. He said the next Iraqi administration would have

BAGHDAD 00003044 002 OF 002


its own ideas, and it would be premature to decide on any
particular coordination mechanism at this time. Babaan
noted that while Iraq has substantial financial resources,
it still needs technical advisory support from the
international community. Echoing comments made by Minister
of Finance Jabr at the ICI meeting, Babaan called for
international community support to remove Iraq from UN
Chapter VII and to help with debt relief from neighboring
countries, saying that this would be greater than any
financial aid. In his closing remarks, Minister Babaan
thanked all of the partners in Iraq, and specifically cited
the United States as being "in the lead from the first day,
giving the life of its soldiers," to make Iraq a better
place.

NDP Standing Up
===============

6. (SBU) In remarks at the IRFFI meeting, UNAMI SRSG Ad
Melkert noted that the yet-to-be-completed National
Development Plan (NDP) would become a "key vehicle" for
articulating Iraqi development priorities, and his
comments were echoed by the Minister of Planning and other
GOI officials at the IRFFI and ICI meetings. That said,
most of the bilateral donors are skeptical as to the amount
of support the GOI will give to the NDP. Additionally,
there are concerns that politically sensitive issues such
as governance, reconciliation, and human rights, are not
yet included in the NDP. A recent NDP planning retreat in
Erbil addressed some of these issues, but much work remains
to be done (Ref D).

Partners Moving Forward, Cautiously
===================================

7. (SBU) Comment: With the Strategic Framework Agreement,
the Joint Campaign Plan, and the Mission Strategic Plan; and
with our close cooperation with the UN, World Bank, and
other donors, we have a clear direction for our own bilateral
assistance efforts in Iraq. Other, smaller donors,
however, have some concerns about transitioning from the
ICI and IRFFI without clear replacement mechanisms. We
will continue to meet with all the donors in the monthly
Iraq Partners Forum meetings, and bilaterally, to minimize
duplication of efforts and maximize multiplier effects for
our assistance efforts. Donors are currently setting up
sectoral working groups to coordinate on specific substantive
issues, e.g. water, private sector development, public
finance management, etc. We will also maintain a robust
conversation with the GOI now, during the post-election
caretaker period, and after the formation of the new
government to ensure that our bilateral assistance programs
transition smoothly to the next administration. End Comment.
HILL

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