Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2004/08/04KUWAIT2496.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
04KUWAIT2496
2004-08-07 13:10
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Kuwait

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002496

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARP, SA/INS, DRL/PHD, DRL/ILA, G/TIP
STATE FOR CA/OCS/ACS/NESA, M/P FOR JAY ANANIA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2014
TAGS: ELAB MOPS PREL PHUM ETRD EAID KU IZ IN RP
SUBJECT: IRAQ TRAVEL BAN: US MILITARY PRESSES INDIA AND PHILIPPINES TO EXEMPT NATIONALS UNDER MILITARY ESCORT

REF: A. STATE 169976
¶B. KUWAIT 2425
¶C. KUWAIT 2006
¶D. KUWAIT 1834
¶E. KUWAIT 1835
¶F. KUWAIT 1683

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires Matthew Tueller, Reason 1.4(b)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. The Embassy hosted an August 5 meeting
between representatives of the Coalition Forces Land
Component Command (CFLCC) and representatives from the Indian
and Phillipines Embassies concerning the travel ban that both
India and the Philippines have imposed, prohibiting their
nationals from entering Iraq (Ref B). Military supply
convoys are now stacking up at the Kuwait-Iraq border, with
the main transportation contractor, PWC, estimating that only
a few days’ supply of food and water remain in Iraq. CFLCC
BG Jack Stultz emphasized that the military treats drivers of
all nations as if they were American soldiers, offering the
same level of protection and quality of life provisions. He
stressed that support convoys entering Iraq through the
military crossing are always under military control, and
requested that the Governments of India and the Philippines
allow their nationals traveling under US military escort to
enter Iraq through the coalition crossing. The Indians said
that they were primarily concerned with the kidnapping of
Indian nationals. The Philippine Labor Attache said that he
had already prepared a memo for his government seeking relief
from the ban, and said that the Philippines government is
amenable. The GOK says it would permit Indians and Filipinos
to enter Iraq through the military border crossing if so
instructed by Manila and New Delhi. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (SBU) On August 5, the Embassy hosted a meeting between
representatives of the Coalition Forces Land Component
Command (CFLCC), led by Brigadier Generals Jack Stultz and
William Johnson, and representatives from the Indian and
Phillipines Embassies concerning the travel ban that both
India and the Philippines have imposed, prohibiting their
nationals from entering Iraq (Ref B). As a result of the
ban, US military supply convoy operations — which are
heavily dependent on Filipino and Indian drivers — have once
again been halted, with reports of almost 1,000 trucks
stopped at the Kuwait-Iraq border. Since 75 percent of all
supply convoys enter Iraq from Kuwait, any disruption has
serious consequences (Note. As of August 5, a representative
from the main transportation contractor, PWC, estimated that
only a six day supply of PWC-delivered food and water
remained in Iraq. End Note.). CFLCC hoped that by
providing more information on security provisions made for
foreign national truckers in US military-escorted convoys,
the Indians and Filipinos could be persuaded to exempt their
nationals who are working for US military contractors from
the travel ban.

¶3. (SBU) BG Stultz thanked the Indian and Filipino diplomats
for attending and, noting the centrality of Indian and
Filipino drivers to US operations in Iraq, expressed his deep
concern over the current ban prohibiting their nationals from
entering Iraq. BG Stultz emphasized that the military treats
drivers of all nations as if they were American soldiers,
offering the same level of protection and providing access to
dining, sleeping and truck maintenance facilities at convoy
support centers along the supply route. He offered a
detailed description of the various convoy operations
currently crossing the Kuwait-Iraq border through the
coalition crossing point, as well as the security measures
that the military undertakes to protect them. These convoys
are always, he stressed, under military control.

¶4. (SBU) The Indians, who asked if any statistics were
available on the number of convoys that had come under
attack, said that they were primarily concerned with the
kidnapping of Indian nationals. They did concede, though,
that they did not have any information to suggest that the
hostages were taken from military convoys. BG Stultz
acknowledged that there are many non-military contractors
operating in Iraq over whom the military has no control and
whose drivers, security cannot be guaranteed.
Significantly, however, BG Stultz specified that no hostages
have been taken from a military convoy since April 9 (at that
time, one US soldier and one foreign national driver were
abducted; the soldier is still missing, but the foreign
national driver escaped). Because the military could provide
sufficient security for drivers traveling with military
escort, he continued, the military was requesting that the
Government of India and the Philippines grant an exemption to
their travel ban and allow their nationals traveling under US
military escort to enter Iraq through the coalition crossing.

¶5. (C) The Indians said that they would relay the request to
New Delhi, but cautioned that during the last travel ban, the
Kuwaitis were adamant that either all Indians would be
permitted to cross, or none would be allowed to enter Iraq.
EconCouns clarified that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had
expressed a willingness to apply the ban selectively,
imposing it only at the civilian crossing but allowing Indian
and Filipino drivers to pass at the military crossing. The
Indians then made another appeal for the military to provide
death benefits to the families of ten Indian drivers killed
in Iraq (Refs C and E), saying that “these small things help
us in talking to our government.” BG Stultz noted that there
are 3500 contractors working in Iraq, many of whom are not
affiliated with the US military, and thus the military needed
to investigate to determine if these individuals were working
for a military contractor/subcontractor.

¶6. (SBU) Philippine Labor Attache Angelo Jimenez, who said
that the availability of first aid for Filipino drivers was a
major concern, requested a map showing all of the convoy
support centers in Iraq and pressed the military
representatives for estimates of how long drivers would need
to wait for medical treatment if they came under attack.
According to Jimenez, the Philippines Embassy had received
reports of non-military casualties not receiving treatment.
BG Stultz urged Jimenez to notify him immediately if he
received any such reports.

¶7. (C) Jimenez said that he had already prepared a memo for
his government seeking relief from the ban. According to
him, the Philippines government is amenable because they are
being pressured by Filipinos who need the jobs. (Note. In a
follow-up telephone conversation with EconOff on August 7,
Jimenez said that he already sent one memo and is preparing a
second, more detailed report. He does not expect to have
feedback from Manila until Monday, August 9. End Note). He
emphasized, however, that there needed to be a very clear
method of differentiation between those nationals working
with military protection, and those working for non-military
contractors. CFLCC staff again stressed that the only
individuals who may use the coalition border crossing are
those under military escort; non-military contractors must
use the civilian crossing at Al-Abdaly. Therefore, the
military was seeking an exemption for foreign national
drivers seeking to cross the Kuwait-Iraq border at the
coalition border crossing only. Jimenez asked if there were
similar control points at the Jordanian and Turkish borders
that would separate military from civilian traffic; BG Stultz
confirmed that there were. Finally, Jimenez requested that
the military provide him with a point of contact with whom
his embassy could work in case the ban was relaxed and there
were problems with implementation. The military agreed to
identify a point of contact in the Embassy, who would then
coordinate with the operations center at Camp Arifjan.

¶8. (SBU) COMMENT. While both the Indians and the Filipinos
promised to transmit BG Stultz’s assurances to their
respective capitals, the Filipino attache seemed more
receptive to CFLCC’s message than the Indians. The Indians’
more guarded response may be due, in part, to the fact that
not all of the problems that led them to impose their
May/June travel ban have been addressed (most notably, the
lack of death benefits for Indians killed in Iraq; refs C and
E). CFLCC and the Embassy are working together to ensure
that the Indians’ outstanding concerns are adequately
addressed. END COMMENT.
TUELLER

   

 

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