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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BAGHDAD177 2008-01-23 18:24:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
Cable title:  

AMIDST THREATS, A GLIMPSE OF COURAGE IN BAGHDAD

Tags:   PGOV KDEM PINR PINS PTER IZ 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: In a raw and revealing moment following the
assassination of a colleague and direct threats against
another, a close-knit group of Iraqi officials in Baghdad
demonstrated January 22 their determination to continue
fighting corruption and militia profiteering in an essential
service -- the distribution of kerosene to heat homes during
a cold Baghdad winter. END SUMMARY.



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PROJECT CLEAN DELIVERY


--------------------------





2. (C) In December 2007, an Iraqi inter-ministerial team
(with support from the Embassy, the Baghdad PRTs, and MNF-I)
launched a pilot project to improve the delivery of kerosene
in Baghdad (reftels). Code-named "Project Clean Delivery,"
the initiative aimed to reduce corruption and choke off a
major source of militia funding. The pilot project was an
immediate success, and local militants lost no time in
striking back. Three terrorists entered the home of one
Project Clean Delivery team member, Hani Suleiman, on January
14 and shot him 11 times in front of his family. Another
team member began receiving death threats in early December,
but has refused to abandon the project. With GoI plans
advancing to expand the project to six additional Baghdad
neighborhoods, local militants are on the attack, but
committed Iraqi officials are standing their ground.



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A RAW MOMENT OF COURAGE


--------------------------





3. (C) On January 22, in the Iraqi team's first meeting
following Suleiman's assassination, a new participant
challenged the team's commitment. Zaydun Kramit (strictly
protect), Deputy Director General for Distribution in the
Ministry of Oil, interrupted the planning session by
declaring it impossible to expand the pilot project because
Baghdad is not currently receiving a sufficient supply of
kerosene. He said that, on average, Baghdad is receiving
500,000 liters of kerosene per day, which is not enough to
expand the project to six additional neighborhoods at the
same time -- the project's next step, as decided by the Iraqi
team members on January 2.



4. (C) Amid debate and dissension sparked by Kramit's
intervention, the buzz at the meeting suddenly stopped when
Kefa Al-Amin (strictly protect), aide to Deputy Prime
Minister Barhim Salih, asked everyone to be quiet. He
delivered an impromptu speech directly to Kramit: "I have
been involved with this project since it started. We have
worked successfully together for several months -) so
successfully that we invented a new distribution mechanism
that will be used nationwide. And now you have entered the
meeting today with a negative attitude, telling us what we
can't do. That's not how we work. We come up with solutions
for what we can do. Tell us what you can do for us, and that
is all we are asking for."



5. (C) At that point, the Iraqi team leader, Saeed Nemah
Jabor (strictly protect) of the Iraqi National Security
Council, rallied behind Al-Amin: "Yes. That is true. I am
not interested in how many liters per day you can provide us
for distribution. Even if you tell me you can only get us
one liter, then that is fine. Our job is to make sure that
that one liter gets to the Iraqi citizens, and not to corrupt
officials or militias. I don't care about the number of
liters. I care about delivering kerosene to the Iraqi
people." Kramit, clearly moved by these statements and the
silent stares of the whole Iraqi team, responded: "Yesterday
I approached the Minister of Oil to ask for one month off. I
received a kidnapping threat against my son. I am already at
risk in my job. I know that. But I did not come here to
cause problems. I will work with you."



--------------------------


"WE ARE HERE TO DO A JOB AND WE WILL DO IT"


--------------------------





6. (C) Jabour replied with a speech of his own: "Everyone in
this room who joined the government did so knowing that he
was risking his life, but they did it because they want to
build a better Iraq. Anyone who cares to make a change or a
difference in fixing the fuel distribution system is bound to
be a target of assassination. I have had death threats; my
colleagues have been kidnapped and murdered. The criminals
will not sit back and allow this new distribution model to

BAGHDAD 00000177 002 OF 002


take away revenue that they are used to stealing. But we are
here to do a job and we will do it."



--------------------------


PRESSING AHEAD


--------------------------





7. (C) After this dramatic exchange, the Iraqi team returned
to problem-solving and reached a compromise solution: rather
than retreat from their initial intention to expand their new
distribution plan to additional neighborhoods, they decided
to adopt a phased approach that would account for projected
supply. They agreed to implement the plan in two
neighborhoods per week over a three-week period.
CROCKER