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Cablegate: Demining Iraq: Humanitarian Projects Resume

VZCZCXRO4572
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHPW
DE RUEHGB #3190 3470645
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 130645Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5700
INFO RUCNDMI/HUMANITARIAN DEMINING COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0936
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 003190

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/I, PM/WRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KHDP PARM PGOV PREL UNDP IZ
SUBJECT: DEMINING IRAQ: HUMANITARIAN PROJECTS RESUME

REF: BAGHDAD 2381 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In the 6-month Sisyphean effort to get the
GOI to properly utilize humanitarian support for demining, it
appears that a rock has finally crested the hill. On
November 6, our largest Iraqi grantee, the Iraqi Mine
Clearance Organization (IMCO), announced that it received GOI
accreditation. This approval came after a constructive
October 31 meeting that emboffs hosted at the Embassy with
Deputy MinEnv Kamal Hussein Latif, MOD Follow-through
Director MG Hadi al-Qaisi, and a UNDP representative. All
sides resolved sticking points that had been preventing the
accreditation of particular demining NGOs. On the operations
front, MinDef Abd al-Qadir al-Mufriji consented November 9,
on Pol-Mil MinCouns' urging, to approve more demining
projects in future as long as the proposed operations did not
involve borders or sensitive infrastructure. To underscore
the need for swift action on such approvals, emboff and
military liaisons met with MOD General Secretary LTG Salih
Sarhan Hussein November 18, and he agreed to urge the MinDef
to approve at least a small set of feasible, purely
humanitarian projects very soon, which IMCO says they have
received. END SUMMARY.

GRADUAL UN-FREEZING OF DEMINING
-------------------------------
2. (SBU) MOD officials imposed a freeze on all demining
activity at the end of 2008 but lifted it July 7, 2009 by
signing an agreement with the MOEnv to share control of
demining operations. However, since that time both
ministries had failed to approve humanitarian demining
projects. Meanwhile, the Embassy and UNAMI have coached the
MOEnv and MOD towards cooperating better with each other,
accrediting humanitarian demining organizations, and
approving actual clearance projects (reftel). IMCO Director
Zahim Mutar told Iraqi news media November 18 that IMCO would
begin clearance work in Basra and Baghdad. Zahim clarified
to emboff November 19 that IMCO is scheduled to start mine
clearance south of Baghdad and quality control/assurance in
Basra and Nissan. Noting his excellent relationship with
MOEnv and calmer waters with the MOD, Zahim predicted that
other projects were forthcoming. On December 2, IMCO was
tasked to implement quality control/assurance tasks in the
Canal Area of Baghdad, Abogharab oil field in southern Iraq,
and the Al-Fao/Almaamer areas of Basra for areas recently
cleared by the MOD. UNDP also expects more clearance work
will be given to IMCO in 2010.

MEASURING PROGRESS
------------------
3. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOI has made progress incrementally in
the field of mine action by: a) accrediting demining
organizations (commercial and humanitarian), b) approving
demining projects, and c) allowing NGOs such as IMCO to
conduct mine risk education and quality control oversight.
The penultimate benchmark of progress is IMCO's recent
approval to conduct humanitarian mine clearance, and the
final benchmark will be met when IMCO once again removes and
destroys landmines or unexploded ordnance in the course of a
purely humanitarian project. Additionally, U.S. forces are
receiving regular reports that the GOI, through the MOD, has
also made considerable efforts in demining and clearing
remnants of war in the area of the 10th IA by that unit. END
COMMENT.
HILL

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