Cablegate: Dr. Chalabi's Services Committee

Published: Sat 10 Nov 2007 12:12 PM
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1. SUMMARY: Only three weeks have passed since the surprise
announcement naming Dr. Ahmed Chalabi as chair of a new Baghdad
services committee. Since that time, the committee has met weekly,
had open discussions and come to several conclusions. Implementation
of the committee's recommendations is on hold until Prime Minister
Maliki signs the executive order authorizing Chalabi's committee.
The PM announced at the I-ESC on November 9 that he would sign the
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Draft Executive Order Not Yet Signed
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2. The draft executive order authorizing Chalabi's Committee
designates Dr. Ahmed Chalabi as the President. Members include the
Deputy National Security Advisor, Secretary of the Defense Ministry,
Commander of Baghdad Operations and the Baghdad Governor and Mayor.
Deputy Ministers include the Deputy Minister of Interior, Finance,
Oil, Health, Electricity, Trade and Transportation. All members are
to have the "acting and binding" authority of their respective
3. Under the draft executive order, the committee is required to
coordinate with the Baghdad Governorate and is explicitly authorized
to work with "others" as needed. All ministries and entities not
linked to a ministry are required to cooperate with the committee to
achieve its tasks, including financial allocation management.
4. The committee can issue directives that lead to a solution of any
problem pertaining to the delivery of services. It is granted the
authority to prioritize service delivery, paying particular
attention to areas where previously displaced persons are returning.
Finally, the committee is permitted to receive essential service
complaints from citizens.
5. The committee is tasked with diagnosing and defining problems
that limit the provision of services. The committee is to draft an
execution plan, submit periodic reports and create an assessment
mechanism to measure the committee's performance, as well as the
outcomes of its recommendations.
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Committee Forges Ahead, Better Organized and Well Attended
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6. On Tuesday, November 6, Dr. Ahmed Chalabi chaired his weekly
services committee meeting. The committee reviewed minutes from the
previous meeting and then proceeded to follow a formalized agenda.
Attendees included; Ra'ad Muhsin Al-Harith, Senior Deputy, Ministry
of Electricity; Dr. 'Adil Muhsin Abdullah, Inspector General,
Ministry of Health; Dr. 'Isam Namiq 'Abdullah, Deputy Minister,
Ministry of Health; Mr. Na'im 'Ad'udh Al-Ka'bi, Deputy, Amanat
Baghdad; Mrs. 'In'am Salih, Baghdad Governorate Councilwoman; Major
General 'Adnan Qasim, Armed Forces General, Commander Office; Saleh
Sarhan Al-khuza'i, Ministry of Defense; Mr. Sa'ad Kubbah,
Secretariat, I-ESC; Mo'tasim Akram, Deputy Minister, Ministry of
Oil; Dr. Nihad Abbas, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Education;
Abdul-Razzak Hassan, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transportation;
and Dr. Fadhil Nabi Othman, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance.
The Iraqi Red Crescent was also represented by Dr. Sa'id Hakki, the
7. Health discussions led the way again, with the Deputy Minister
of Health, Dr.Isam Namiq 'Abdullah, arguing that mobile hospitals
were not needed in Baghdad, despite the previous suggestion from the
Inspector General of Health. The committee sided with the Deputy
Minister and will not further pursue mobile hospitals. The Ministry
of Defense requested that Al Karkh Hospital be designated for MoD
and MoI staff and employees. A debate followed between the MoH and
MoD regarding whether the entire hospital was needed or just a
designated wing. Chalabi instructed MoD and MoH to work together to
resolve this issue as well as determine hospital staffing. They are
to report findings next week to the committee.
8. The Amanat asked for more fuel, noting that current low fuel
supplies inhibited the provision of services. They also asked for
emergency street lighting. Chalabi requested that the Amanat and MoE
form a subcommittee to discuss emergency lighting and report back to
the committee. The Amanat did announce that they wanted to establish
a "Clean Up Day" or even a "Clean Up Week."
9. Ra'ad Muhsin Al-Harith, Senior Deputy, from the MoE maintained
that provincial defiance of load shedding continued to trouble the
national grid. The militias and gangs are reportedly the real
problem, threatening MoE employees if they do comply with load
shedding. No solution was offered to this problem, but the MoD did
note that a squadron was currently being assembled to provide
protection to MoE employees when repairing downed and interdicted
lines. MoE also reported again on the 10amp meters project. 65,000
households will have these amp boxes by the end of December. The MoE
intends to purchase digital amps next year and install them in
nearly 900,000 residences. The MoE reports that the specifications
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are complete and they are preparing to put this project out for
10. The Ministry of Oil representative noted that Baghdad was
heavily dependent upon the Doura refinery and imports. Doura's
production capacity is limited due to insufficient supplies of crude
oil. According to the MoO representative, the Strategy of Integrity
Commission was addressing opportunities to import more crude. A
recommendation was offered to transport crude from Kirkuk to Doura
by tanker trucks. The previous suggestion to explore alternative
transport for fuel was noted, but no final recommendation was made.
Lastly, the MoO recommended that fuel production and distribution be
privatized to reduce corruption. Chalabi requested a special session
with the MoO to discuss the myriad of issues. No date was set.
11. Commerce, education and transportation were on the agenda, but
were postponed to next week due to time constraints.
12. In the course of three weeks, Dr. Chalabi's committee has gone
from marginally well-informed brainstorming to a fairly organized
and well planned meeting. Formal minutes from the previous meeting
were reviewed. The committee prepared and followed an agenda and
presenters were prepared to discuss their relevant issue areas.
13. A common theme running throughout these meetings is Dr.
Chalabi's insistence for a specific request or recommendation. He is
continually challenging the committee members to ask him for a
deliverable. Once the committee has agreed to a recommendation, it
will be presented to the Prime Minister for final resolution.
14. Two key steps to this process remain unclear. First, from where
the committee members will derive their information or requests. As
evidenced this week, a recommendation from a previous meeting was
challenged by the same Ministry that offered it, albeit a different
representative. Secondly, it is still not clear what PM Maliki will
do with the recommendations made by Chalabi's services committee.
15. Nevertheless, with 2008, "The Year of Services," right around
the corner, it is hopeful that the GoI is revisiting its
institutions and leaders responsible for the delivery of services to
the people of Iraq. Hopefully this process will allow for the
emergence of not only short-term solutions, but long-term
institution building.
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