GOJ MUDDIES THE FACTS TO PAINT A POSITIVE PICTURE FOR JRSP WATER PROJECT

Identifier: 
09AMMAN1915

C O N F I D E N T I A L AMMAN 001915

NOFORN
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA (MGREGONIS), NEA/RA (JSHAUNFIELD AND
MCLOUD), NEA/IPA ( KFRELICH), AND OES
TEL AVIV FOR PROHRLICH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/25/2019
TAGS: SENV, EAGR, EAID, ENRG, PGOV, PREL, KNNP, JO, IS
SUBJECT: GOJ MUDDIES THE FACTS TO PAINT A POSITIVE PICTURE
FOR JRSP WATER PROJECT

REF: A. A. AMMAN 1739
B. B. TEL AVIV 1726
C. C. JERUSALEM 1322
D. D. STATE 78652
E. E. AMMAN 1472
F. F. AMMAN 1116

Classified By: Ambassador R. Stephen Beecroft for reasons 1.4 (b) and (
d)

1. (C/NF) In an August 18 meeting with visiting Congressman
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and the Ambassador, Minister of Water
and Irrigation (MWI) Raed Abu Saud reiterated Jordan's
commitment to implementing the Jordan Red Sea Development
Project (JRSP) and noted that Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh
is preparing a letter to Secretary Clinton seeking U.S.
support. He continued his praise for the lead JRSP
contractor Montgomery Watson Harza (MWH) and stated the GOJ
had empowered MWH to lobby for JRSP support in Washington.
Saud highlighted that one salient difference between the JRSP
and the World Bank led Red Sea - Dead Sea Feasibility study
(RDS) was that the JRSP would be private sector financed
(reftels). However, when queried on JRSP funding progress,
Saud flip-flopped and said the GOJ was also seeking "grants"
which would help bring down the cost of JRSP water delivery.

2. (C/NF) Recent reporting from reftels B and C reaffirms
the Israeli and Palestinian commitment to the RDS and
indicates their skepticism about the JRSP. Saud masterfully
obfuscated the differences between the Jordan-only JRSP and
the World Bank led RDS - noting only that the Israelis and
Palestinians were committed to the concept of a "Red-Dead
project." Saud stated that recent briefings by MWI and the
World Bank had assuaged possible Egyptian and Saudi Arabian
concerns about the "Red Dead project."

3. (C/NF) Portraying it as a positive decision, Saud noted
that MWH had chosen a northern Aqaba location for the
proposed JRSP intake which would save 25 kilometers of water
transportation and pipeline costs from southern Aqaba. The
RDS has cautioned against this northern Aqaba intake location
due to increased seismic and flooding risks. USAID sent a
letter to Saud on July 16 noting that its recent studies on
safeguarding against future flooding in Aqaba revealed a
requirement for a drainage corridor along the Jordan-Israel
border which is now allocated for the JRSP intake. The
letter pointed out that any alternate flood alleviation
solution would be expensive to develop and maintain, while
also subjecting the city of Aqaba and the Red Dead project to
continuing flood risk. There has been no response on this
letter from MWI to date.

4. (C/NF) Comment: To negate possible criticism or tough
questioning, MWI continues to obfuscate on the difference
between the JRSP and the RDS - in meetings as well as in
public pronouncements. USG visitors seeking a status on
these projects should ideally be briefed by the Department or
Embassy Amman prior to their engagement with the GOJ. The
latest developments further cement Post's recommendation to
await the results of the RDS before taking a stance on the
JRSP (ref E). End Comment.

Visit Amman's Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman
Beecroft