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Cablegate: New Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development

VZCZCXRO0042
PP RUEHDBU RUEHPW RUEHSL
DE RUEHBUL #0352/01 0280707
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280707Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5138
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 000352

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR S/SRAP, SCA/FO, SCA/RA, SCA/A

E.O. 12958 N/A
TAGS: ECON EAID PGOV AF
SUBJECT: NEW MINISTER OF RURAL REHABILITATION AND DEVELOPMENT
JARULLAH MANSOORI COMMITS TO DEEPENING PARTNERSHIP WITH U.S.

1. (SBU) Summary: In a January 26 courtesy call on Jarullah Mansoori
to congratulate him on his recent confirmation as MRRD Minister,
Ambassador Eikenberry solicited Mansoori's initial views and plans
for the ministry, provided a brief overview of the President's
Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy and expressed interest in the future
direction of MRRD programs, particularly the National Solidarity
Program (NSP). Referring to his recent speech to Parliament,
Mansoori noted his commitment to tackle corruption at all levels and
to support Afghan women. He also repeatedly expressed strong
commitment to MRRD-implemented national programs (with key national
program heads present), and said he sees a strong role for the
ministry to play in the areas of governance and regional
cooperation. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Mansoori sought details on U.S. views on reintegration and
reconciliation, sub-national governance, and requested a copy of and
follow-up discussions on the recently announced U.S.
Afghanistan-Pakistan regional strategy. In addition to committing
to engage regularly, Ambassador Eikenberry indicated that he would
place a call to Senator Kerry, a key supporter of NSP (who recently
asked what we were doing to ensure the NSP would remain a successful
local governance program under the new MRRD leadership) and would
invite Mansoori to accompany him on a future field visit.

- - - - - - - - - -
PERSONAL BACKGROUND
- - - - - - - - - -

3. (SBU) Mansoori was confirmed in Karzai's second round cabinet
submission on January 16 (squeaking through with the minimum 113
votes of 224) as Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
Lawmakers had alleged that Mansoori lied about his age in order to
be eligible for the post (rumors suggest that he is 31 years old -
four years short of the age required in the Afghan constitution),
but he was approved despite the discrepancies. Mansoori, associated
with Tajik powerbrokers, is considered to be a political pick and a
close ally of Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim, Karzai's First Vice
President.

4. (SBU) Mansoori noted that he was born in a remote, rural village
in northern Takhar province, and that his father was a tribal leader
in Badakhshan province and a Northern Alliance freedom fighter.
Based on his rural and refugee experiences in Pakistan, he claimed
no particularly strong political or ethnic affiliations. Prior to
his appointment as MRRD Minister, Mansoori served as an advisor to
Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar while the latter was MRRD Minister,
as an advisor to former Minister of Justice Abdul Rahim Karimi, and
as Deputy General of the Afghan National Environmental Protection
Agency (NEPA). Mansoori cited his presentation to Parliament, where
he made two promises: 1) fighting corruption at all levels (he noted
that he walked into MRRD, and does not own a car or maintain a
personal bank account abroad); and 2) restoring the rightful place
of women in society who have paid disproportionally in the
sacrifices Afghans have made to date.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
COMMITMENT TO NATIONAL PROGRAMS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

5. (SBU) Contrary to rumors that he would scale back
MRRD-implemented national programs, Mansoori mentioned his strong
support for the NSP, National Rural Access Program (NRAP),
Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program (AREDP), and
National Area-Based Development Program (NABDP), and the Afghanistan
Institute for Rural Development (AIRD). He stressed he would be
guided by two principles: 1) national inclusion -- allowing
participation of the Afghan people to develop a sense of ownership
in Ministry-led programs; and 2) a focus on sustainability and
capacity-building. He thanked the U.S. for its generous support to
date and leadership, and emphasized that MRRD should not be
personality-driven but is an established ministry with systems in
place which need to be strengthened. Ambassador Eikenberry
reiterated U.S. commitment to strengthening sub-national governance,
noting challenges at the district level where it is often weak or
non-existent. MRRD is a critical partner in this regard to
strengthen the link between the central, provincial, district, and
community levels, he stated.

6. (SBU) Ambassador Eikenberry emphasized the significant shift in
President Obama's strategy that focuses more on building the Afghan
government's ability to connect with the population, indicating that
the USG plans to channel significantly more assistance through the
government's budget, compared to the past year. (Note: The U.S. aim
is to increase the percentage of U.S. assistance that flows directly
through GIRoA institutions to 40 percent by FY 2011. End Note.)
The Ambassador solicited Mansoori's views on how to strengthen
national programs, expressing concern about the balance of power
between the executive, legislative (Parliament and Provincial

KABUL 00000352 002 OF 002


Councils, with its election delays), and the local level (including
Community Development Councils formed under NSP). The Minister said
that money currently is allocated to line ministries, with little to
no operating budget for provincial/district governors, thus
weakening service delivery. There is no quick solution in sight,
with debates continuing within GIRoA on how to address these issues.
Ambassador Eikenberry specifically highlighted the important
interface between MRRD and the Independent Directorate of Local
Governance (IDLG) in this regard.

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REGIONAL STABILITY & REINTEGRATION/RECONCILIATION ROLE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

7. (SBU) Turning to regional stability, Mansoori expressed interest
in the U.S. Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy and requested a copy for
review and follow-up discussions. Mansoori confirmed that MRRD has
a role in strengthening regional cooperation and solicited U.S.
views on how supportive the U.S will be on reintegration and
reconciliation. The Ambassador expressed full U.S. support, but
with the following principles in mind: that the overarching
principle is that it be Afghan-led, adding that the U.S. will
support the process both politically and with programs. Citing
President Karzai, the Ambassador reiterated the
reintegration/reconciliation pre-conditions, to wit that the Taliban
renounce terrorism, renounce violence against the Afghan and
international communities, respect the Afghan constitution and laws
of Afghanistan, and that no territory (so-called "safe areas") be
ceded to the Taliban. The U.S. is optimistic, but a 'carrot' and
'stick' approach is required, he stated.

8. (SBU) Comment: While commentators have raised questions about
Mansoori's qualifications and experience to manage a Ministry of
this magnitude, this initial meeting provides grounds for cautious
optimism and a renewed commitment to deepening our existing strong
partnership. End Comment.

RICCIARDONE

Clearance page: Courtesy call with Jarullah Mansoori, Minister of
Rural Rehabilitation
and Development (MRRD): SBU


Drafted: USAID/OPPD - David Hatch, ext. 4862

Approved: POL - Annie Pforzheimer, ext. 8128 w/ edits
IPA - Scott Kilner, ext. 8291 - w/ edits
ECON - Amy Wilson, 8120 - w/ edits
USAID/OPPD - Clay Epperson, 4341- ok
USAID/D/DIR - Rebecca Black, ext. 4987
CDDEA:Matt Boyse, 8271

P:\PPDO PUBLIC\DHatch from ON\Cables\MRRD CC MANSOORI\01-26-10 MRRD
CC Cable.docx

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