Cablegate: Iraq Border: Turkey Says Will Begin Habur Gate

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

081310Z Jan 04




E.O. 12958: N/A


Sensitive but Unclassified -- not for internet distribution.

1. (SBU) The director of Turkey's Customs service, Under
Secretary Nevzat Sayglioglu, told Econ Counselor that his

agency has taken the necessary steps, including increasing
customs personnel and addressing security issues, to improve
the processing of traffic between Iraq and Turkey at the
Habur Gate border crossing. However, he avoiding stating
that the improvements will result in Turkey meeting its
commitment to increase daily truck processing to 1,850, as
agreed to in the December talks with Iraqi officials
(reftel). (Processing into Turkey has improved somewhat but
remains below 1,500 per day.) He said the infrastructure at
the border facilities was the main problem. Other problems
included 1) local Turks making day trips across the border,
presumably involved in suitcase trade or smuggling, 2) the
erratic flow of trucks from the Iraqi side -- sometimes there
are no trucks ready to enter the processing area, he said, 3)
the limited working hours of UN officials at the border, and
4) the desire of Turkish drivers to remain on the Turkish
side of the border rather than cross into Iraq at night.
Sayglioglu later admitted another potential problem: Turkish
Customs officials do their paperwork between 4 and 7 each

2. (SBU) Sayglioglu said Turkey shared the U.S. desire to
improve the border traffic, especially to accommodate
Turkey's rapidly growing trade with Iraq. He announced that
construction to expand and modernize the Habur Gate border
facilities will commence in February, with completion
expected in July. Sayglioglu noted that the border processed
nearly 5,000 trucks per day before the first Gulf War, and he
hoped that the improvements would mean as many as 7,000
trucks a day crossing the border.

3. (SBU) The construction will be managed by the Union of
Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) under a
Build, Operate, Transfer scheme. The plans, which Sayglioglu
showed us, call for 12 lanes each way and automatic scales at
each processing point, and will include a small hotel and
other facilities for the truck drivers. Sayglioglu explained
that construction will not mean closing the border; instead,
work will commence on half of the outbound and inbound
facilities, leaving the border fully operating, but with
fewer lanes. He acknowledged that the construction will
create problems but promised to work hard to solve these.

4. (U) Sayglioglu said that Customs is ready to move ahead
on a second border crossing and will discuss next steps with
Iraqi officials at their meeting January 20-23 meeting in

5. (SBU) Comment: This is not the first time Turkish
officials have told us construction work at Habur Gate is
imminent. We will follow up with TOBB to learn if
Sayglioglu's projection is accurate.

Baghdad Minimize Considered.

© Scoop Media

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