Cablegate: Turkey Suspends Somo Sustainment Fuel Loading
UNCLAS ANKARA 001105
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD IZ MARR PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY SUSPENDS SOMO SUSTAINMENT FUEL LOADING
Sensitive But Unclassified.
1. (SBU) Summary: Turkish officials decided to cease
loading SOMO fuels and the coalition fuels loaded at three
sites in Turkey as a measure to reduce the estimated 100 KM
plus backlog of trucks in Turkey. An MFA official estimated
that the decision would be in effect for four to five days.
He added that Iraqi border officials pledged to increase
their intake of trucks by about 300 per day to help reduce
the backlog. End Summary,
2. (SBU) According the GoT subgovernor in charge of the
Habur gate, Savas Unlu, commercial fuel suppliers in Mersin
and Iskenderun on March 1 were ordered to cease loading SOMO
and coalition fuels (JP-8, MOGAS and diesel) at those three
sites until the estimated 100 KM plus backlog in Turkey
declines. He told AMCON Adana PO the burden of improving the
situation was on "those officials on the other side." (Note:
Iraqi officials running the Ibrahim Khalil gate opposite
Turkey,s Habur Gate. End Note.) He claimed that, with
recently increased Turkish staffing which has increased
Turkish ability to repatriate northbound traffic and reduce
the many months long 60-70 KM running backlog in Iraq, the
Habur gate (southbound) could soon process up to 2,300
vehicles daily (Note: from the usual 1200-1300 daily. End
Note.) "with better coordination from those at the other side
of the bridge."
3. (SBU) Econoff contacted MFA Department Head Atilay
Ersan, who was unaware of the decision. He later reported
that the measure had been agreed to at the March 2 weekly
border coordination meeting between Turkish and Iraqi border
officials. U.S. military officers who attended the meeting
confirmed that Turkish officials announced the plan to
suspend fuel loadings and that Iraqi officials agreed to the
plan. Adana PO confirmed that contractors were ordered by
Turkish government officials to cease loading SOMO and
4. (SBU) Ersan said Turkish border officials reported that
the line of trucks waiting in Turkey had reached 110 km and
that the suspension of SOMO and sustainment fuel loadings
would last four to five days. He added that Iraqi officials
promised to increase the number of trucks they could take to
1,800-2,000 per day. Econoff responded that the Turkish
decision discriminates against SOMO and sustainment trucks,
which make up about half of the daily traffic at the border,
and could cause shortages in Iraq.
5. (SBU) Comment: This seems to be a rash, uncoordinated
decision. It comes after numerous newspaper and TV reports
of the truck backlog in Turkey and just days after the
Ministers of Trade and Interior visited the border region.
Embassy will continue to pursue this issue with Ankara
interlocutors to ensure sustainment supplies receive
priority. End Comment.
6. (U) Baghdad Minimize Considered.