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2005-07-26 14:18:00
Embassy Baghdad
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 003095 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2015

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission David M. Satterfield for reasons

1.4 (b) and (d)



E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/26/2015

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission David M. Satterfield for reasons

1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C)Summary. After seventy five days on the job, Minister
of Defense (MoD) Sadoun al-Dulame, one of six Sunnis
appointed to cabinet-level positions in the Shi'a-dominated
government, still seems committed to achieving the objectives
he established when he became minister. Those objectives
include defeating the insurgency as the ministry's top
priority; rooting out corruption at the ministry; making the
ministry a unified, professional organization, based on
clearly-established policies and procedures; and unraveling
the ministry's budget challenges. Since his first day in
office, Dulame has made clear that achieving his goals will
be very difficult. He expects to stumble and to create
hostility, as well as to face political pressure, but vows to
persist and succeed. Dulame has stressed that his duty as an
Iraqi, not as a Sunni, is to build a competent and
sustainable military force capable of protecting all Iraqis.
He has made clear that he supports and needs the Coalition
and seems to appreciate Coalition

2. (C) Summary, cont. Most persons interviewed for this cable
rate Dulame's overall performance good and a marked
improvement over that of MoD Shalan, his predecessor. All
agreed Dulame is a hard worker. However, some people say he
is a micromanager; that he is too much of a thinker, and not
enough of a doer; and that he is not using his Sunni
affiliation to full effect. Critics who raise these concerns
fear that Dulame's shortcomings could undermine his ability
to build a competent Iraqi armed force capable of defeating
the insurgents, thus allowing for the withdrawal of Coalition
Forces. Despite his weaknesses, Dulame has demonstrated
strengths. The USG should do all it can to support this
important Sunni in the Iraqi government. End summary.

Defeating the Insurgency


3. (C) On his first day at work as Defense Minister, Dulame
announced to his staff that defeating the insurgency would be
his first priority. Since then, he has taken several steps
that show he means what he said. Dulame understands, for
example, that solving the many problems afflicting the people
of al Anbar, a western province accounting for a third of
Iraq, is key to defeating the current phase of the
insurgency. His deployment of Iraq's operational reserve to
al Anbar and his standing up the remaining two brigades of
the Iraqi Army Seventh Division at al Anbar exemplify his
commitment to fighting the
insurgency at its core.

4. (C) Despite criticism, Dulame has publicly expressed the
ministry's continued need for and support of Coalition
Forces, stating that the Iraqi Armed Forces would fail in
their task without the Coalition. He meets with Coalition
leaders regularly and listens respectfully to advice offered,
but occasionally rejects it and then makes his own decisions.
(Comment. According to Iraq Reconstruction Management Office
(IRMO) advisors, Dulame has been surprised by how much advice
he has been receiving from the Multi-National Coalition, and
sometimes finds it overbearing. Dulame does speak English
well, but it is difficult for him to understand American
metaphors and slang. IRMO advisors think Dulame might be more
engaging if his interlocutors were to speak to him directly
using fewer American idiomatic expressions. End comment.)

5. (C) On May 27, Dulame held a joint press conference with
Shi'ite Interior Minister Baqir Jabr to announce the launch
of Operation al Barq (Lightning), a counter-insurgency
operation carried out in Baghdad by what the two ministers
estimated to be 40,000 MoD and Ministry of Interior (MoI)
personnel. Dulame stated that "unprecedented strict security
measures" would be seen, that security cordons would make it
"impossible for terrorists" to move freely, and that
Operation Lightning would reverse the Iraqi army's posture
"from the defensive to offensive." The Coalition leadership
was pleased with the joint pronouncement, and has requested
more joint and individual public appearances to demonstrate
ISF progress. Dulame has made two other press statements,
both with the MoI, but does not appear enthusiastic about
such events. (Comment. Some observers believe he fears a
negative Sunni response; others think Dulame simply shuns the
spotlight, believing that public appearances should be
reserved for critical moments. Other reports indicate that
Interior Minister Jabr has to be cajoled into making public
appearances along with Dulame. Jabr has made clear in private
that he is not a fan of Dulame and thinks he is ineffective.
End comment.)

The Sunni Effect on the Insurgency

6. (C) Post has hopes that Dulame will show himself to be a
key Sunni leader capable of influencing other Sunnis to leave
insurgency and engage in the political process. Dulame meets
regularly with local Sunni leaders, including imams and
sheikhs who come often to the Ministry to discuss security
concerns. According to IRMO advisors, the local Sunni
leaders' primary requests generally revolve around the
release of detainees and permission to establish local
militias. Dulame
perforce explains that the Iraqi judicial system must handle
the former, and that the ITG and the TAL outlaw the latter.
Informal interviews with a cross-section of Baghdad's
citizens suggest that many respect Dulame, and believe
security has improved in Baghdad since his arrival. They
largely attribute this progress to the Iraqi army, not the
Iraqi police. (Comment. This conclusion may simply reflect
the Iraqis traditional positive view of the military, not a
real comparison of security force effectiveness. End comment.)

7. (C) Coalition leaders believe Dulame could do more to
reach out to the Sunni populace, and could be a more
influential spokesman. In early June, LTG Robin Brims
(British Deputy Commanding General of Multinational
Force-Iraq), British Ambassador Patey, and DCM Satterfield
had asked Dulame to go to Tal Afar to state publicly that
Operation Veterans Forward was directed against terrorists,
not Sunnis. In late June, LTG Brims repeated the request.
Dulame demurred both times, saying only that he would "think
about it". IRMO personnel averred that Dulame was not against
the idea, but wanted to wait until after his travels to
Brussels and Iran to make a public appearance and statement.
Dulame went to Tal Afar with MNF-I's General Casey on July 18
to meet the troops and assess the progress; there was no
public statement.

8. (C) Dulame does not appear interested in playing Iraqi
politics. He seems determined to make decisions based on what
he believes is best for the nation, not for a particular
group or specific individual. He has avoided the appearance
of being a tool of the Shi'a, balancing this by not leaning
too far in the direction of his Sunni constituency. There
does not appear to have been special privileges given to
Sunnis in MoD or in the military during Dulame's tenure. But
Dulame's individualism does not always play well with other
Iraqi leaders, however. The Interior Minister Jabr has made
clear that he does not believe Dulame is a team player. Prime
Minister Jafari seemed taken aback when Dulame went to Iran
on his own accord recently, even after Dulame had gotten word
that he could have gone to Iran with the PM. Dulame's trip to
Iran, his statement of apologies for the Iraq-Iran war, and
his continued emphasis that "I am Iraqi, not a Sunni" has
irritated several influential Sunni leaders and citizens.
While not showing partisanship is good in many ways, some
persons fear that Dulame may be increasingly isolating
himself in ways that will ultimately affect his ability to
lead the MoD. End comment.)

Fighting Corruption

9. (C) The MoD seems rife with corruption, a problem that may
have intensified under the last administration. While it is a
tremendous challenge to "clean house", Dulame has already
made headway. He was behind the dismissal of the MoD Director
General (DG) for Acquisition, Logistics, and Infrastructure.
After the dismissed DG's personal secretary was found
attempting to break into the former DG's sealed office trying
to steal files, the secretary was also fired. The former DG
is under investigation by the Iraqi Government for
corruption. Although the charge against him involves the
purchase of uniforms, he is also suspected of having signed
many bad contracts, including a deal with Poland for 48 MI8
helicopters and 30 Sokol helicopters (estimated value, $400
million). (Comment. Although the Iraqi Air Force needs
helicopters, the number ordered exceeds requirements, and the
type of helicopters was not approved by the MoD. Dulame may
have unsuccessfully requested the Polish Ambassador's help to
cancel or reneg
otiate the contract. End comment.)

10. (C) Part of Dulame's strategy against corruption is a
policy that he personally review and sign all contracts below
$3.0 million, regardless of how small. (The Prime Minister
approves all contracts over $3.0 million.) Some people
believe the review is necessary, given the risk of
corruption, the current contracting problems, and the
uncertainty surrounding the MoD budget. Others believe that
such "micromanagement" will further strain the troubled
operations in the field and intensify the lack of trust
within the ministry. IRMO advisors claim that stacks of
contracts stood waiting for signature or funding even before
this requirement took effect.

11. (C) Dulame's actions, while well intentioned, have not
always improved the situation. Vendors have walked off the
job while others have threatened legal action. During the
third week in July, after being unpaid by the MoD for three
months, a local caterer ceased delivery of food to the Iraqi
Army's Second Brigade, which was recently assigned
responsibility for securing northeastern Baghdad. Another
vendor to whom MoD is in arrears suspended its trash and
sanitation service to the Iraqi Army's Muthana base a few
kilometers west of the International Zone. The MoD's
persistent failure to meet contractual obligations,
especially for logistics and life support, will adversely
impact unit readiness and erode ISF support for the
government. Likewise, Coalition-provided replacement funding
for life support adversely affects the MOD and MNSTC-I plan
to field the Iraqi Security Forces. (Minister Dulame affirms
that one of his highest priorities is care for soldiers,
which includes life support. He has given orders
to pay the bills; orders that have not been fully

Establishing a Professional Ministry

12. (C) Dulame's agenda includes establishing a professional,
unified ministry with established and well-documented
processes and procedures. According to the IRMO-MoD chief
advisor, Dulame's first impression of the ministry was
"chaotic". Noting the poor work ethic in
time of crisis, he quickly charged each director general with
getting his staff to work by 0800 every day. (Since many
staff members sleep at the MoD as a safety precaution, this
order has been "implemented."). The Minister also charged
each DG with briefing him on his role, policies, plans, and
challenges. Some of the information will be used to develop
action plans within three months.

13. (C) Through many of his actions, Dulame is sending a
strong message about the need for a positive work ethic.
Persons willing to work hard will be heartened by this, but
he may fail to attract even these followers if he continues
to micromanage and show little trust in his staff. (Comment.
A sign of the minister's lack of confidence in his staff was
his recent designation of General Babakir (Commander of the
Iraqi Armed Forces) to serve as Secretary General
(traditionally a civilian position) while the incumbent takes
leave. While this action reflected Dulame's trust in at least
one senior military leader, it also made evident his distrust
of many of his civilian subordinates. End comment.)

14. (C) Establishing a professional work force sometimes
entails also getting rid of dead wood. Dulame has initiated a
comprehensive review of the payroll. Although perhaps only
symbolically significant, he has terminated the salaries of
28 personal advisors who were hired by the former minister.
While on the books as employees, they could not be located
during work hours.

15. (C) To reduce the potential for more bad decisions,
Dulame has restructured the three bodies responsible for
identifying and approving acquisition requirements.
Previously, about two-thirds of the requirements council were
senior civil servants, while the others were mid-level
military officers. The military-civilian ratio has been
roughly reversed and all council members are now of
equivalent rank. Dulame also named himself chairperson of the
approval body. Dulame took into consideration ethnicity and
religion. (Comment. The real issue is not the civil-military
or ethnic mix; it is acquisition transparency. It can best be
by marginal changes to the various committees, not by making
every acquisition decision one the Minister must make. End
comment.) Dulame also approved a proposal to send an Iraqi
delegation to various countries in an attempt to renegotiate
contracts let under the previous administration. The value of
these contracts approximates $1.2 billion.

MoD Budget

16. (C) Dulame is trying to get a fix on the ministry's
budget. He inherited the 2005 budget, which was initially
$1.3 billion. Perhaps because the ministry's officials are
not sure about the budget figures, they have not been
forthcoming about what is left in the budget for 2005. The
current budget must fund at least salaries. The ministry is
also being asked to assume gradual responsibility for life
support (food, water, waste removal, etc.) in 2005. In the
near future, the Iraqi government will have to assume all
operations and maintenance costs, and later, acquisition,
construction and all other costs. Many observers believe that
the current budget cannot sustain the existing force
structure and doubt that MoD will be granted the necessary
funds in the next few years to cover essential costs.


17. (C) Despite the many challenges facing Dulame, the
outlook at MOD is much better than it was during the previous
minister's tenure. Dulame's anti-corruption measures may slow
down bureaucratic processes, but the measures may eventually
help develop a trusted core of bureaucrats who will share his
vision and help him build the professional and honest
ministry he desires and Iraq needs. He may not always be able
to produce the desired results, but Dulame can be trusted to
follow through when he gives his word. His emphasis on making
his "own"
decisions and "being an Iraqi not a Sunni" is positive, even
if not without consequence. Some critics believe his
individualism is isolating him from other key Iraqi leaders
and the Iraqi citizenry. Despite his possible shortfalls,
Dulame has demonstrated strengths; the USG should do
everything possible to support this important Sunni
representative of
the Iraqi government.