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Cablegate: Demining Iraq: High-Water Mark of Progress Achieved

VZCZCXRO9391
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDH RUEHHM RUEHKUK RUEHPW
DE RUEHGB #0209 0271428
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271428Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6318
INFO RUCNDMI/HUMANITARIAN DEMINING COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BAGHDAD 000209

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/I, NEA/I/PM
DEPT ALSO FOR PM/WRA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KHDP PARM PGOV PREL IZ
SUBJECT: DEMINING IRAQ: HIGH-WATER MARK OF PROGRESS ACHIEVED

REF: A. BAGHDAD 3190
B. BAGHDAD 2381 AND PREVIOUS

1. (U) Deputy Minister of Environment Kamal Latif Hussein
marked the completion of a humanitarian landmine clearance
project in Baghdad's "Army Canal" January 23 with leaders of
the Iraq Mine and UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO), an Iraqi
NGO and U.S.-grantee. National television networks covered
the event and, taking cues from IMCO and Deputy MinEnv,
hailed the release of the cleared land as a successful
example of public-private partnership that would "save
children's lives" as well as draw investors to the area.
IMCO assisted the Iraqi Army with the project and continues
operations at three other sites. PM/WRA helped create IMCO
in 1993 and has since supported it and a handful of other
mine action organizations in Iraq.

2. (SBU) Today, IMCO is conducting demining operations under
the direction of the MOEnv's Directorate of Mine Action
(DMA), which exercises full legal authority. The change has
been dramatic: IMCO, only six months ago, faced legal action
to jail its director, Zahim Mutar. Furthermore, an Iraqi
injunction on demining activity had barred IMCO and other
humanitarian as well as commercial organizations from
conducting demining operations (ref B). This month, however,
demining resumed in earnest, and the GOI has publicly
embraced IMCO. Topping it off, the media trumpeted IMCO's
"civil society" leadership as a boon to both the Iraqi
people's safety and the country's economic development.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: In terms of the Embassy's and PM/WRA's
goals, this public ceremony also marked the completion of the
180-degree turn-around that we set for mine action in Iraq
(ref A). When Post reported on the resolution of the
demining ban and on IMCO's approval to operate, we noted that
the final benchmark of progress would be met when IMCO once
again was able to remove landmines or unexploded ordnance
(UXO) in the course of a humanitarian project, which it now
has done. END COMMENT.
HILL

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