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Cablegate: Baghdad International Airport Likely to Close

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002804

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NEA/I PLEASE PASS GRAMAGLIA, SILVERMAN, EB/TRA

TAGS: EAIR PGOV PREL MOPS ECON IZ
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT LIKELY TO CLOSE
AGAIN AS "GOOD FAITH" BECOMES "BAD FAITH"

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED USG DISTRIBUTION ONLY NOT
FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

REF: BAGHDAD 2745 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Baghdad International Airport (BIAP)
appears poised for closure yet again Sunday, July 3 at 1700
local time due to the Iraq Transitional Government's (ITG)
inability to meet the obligations it agreed to last week
(REFTEL). If Global Risk Management ("Global"), the
current security contractor, orders another "stand down" on
n
July 3 the ITG will likely move to replace Global via an
emergency bid process. Our best guess is that BIAP will
remain closed to civilian air operations for up to three
weeks as the ITG mobilizes a new security force. Before
BIAP can reopen the new security procedures must be
assessed and pass muster with both Coalition and Iraqi
military commands at BIAP. We raised the possible imminent
closure of BIAP with Laith Kubba, an advisor to the Prime
Minister on July 2. Kubba was disturbed, saying he thought
the matter had been resolved and that he would look into it
immediately. If Global departs and new security
arrangements are put in place by the ITG, the Embassy will
request the Department of Homeland Security to immediately
redeploy a Transportation Security Administration team to
BIAP in order to evaluate the new security operation and
get the airport up and running again as soon as possible.
END SUMMARY.

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2. (SBU) Despite agreed to "next steps" (REFTEL) on
resolving the BIAP security situation, the ITG has not
acted to meet its obligations to pay its outstanding debts
to Global. On June 29 the Prime Minister's office and the
Ministry of Transportation should have sent paperwork to
the Ministry of Finance to effect payment of the close to
$12 million owed to Global. This did not occur, despite
draft language and other support provided by both the
Embassy's IRMO Finance and IRMO Transportation offices.

3. (SBU) Intense contract negotiations held earlier last
week ceased as Global reported an inability to contact
their counterparts. Meetings planned for June 29-30 (last
days of the Iraqi work week) between ITG lawyers and Global
attorneys to discuss contract language did not occur.
According to Global, their Iraqi counterparts did not
return phone calls throughout the day. Global's in-country
management told us on July 1 that Global's Board of
Directors believes that the ITG is deliberately deceiving
them. The company committed to providing U.S. military
commanders at BIAP a 24-hour warning prior to "standing
down" their operations.

4. (SBU) EMINCOUNS alerted PM advisor Laith Kubba on July 2
to the possible imminent closure of BIAP, and the
possibility of a two to three week period in which it would
remain closed until new procedures are in place. Kubba was
disturbed, saying that he thought the issue had been
resolved. He said he would look into it immediately and
get back to us.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Global suspects, and we are inclined to
believe, that senior levels of the ITG have been actively
working to line up possible successors to the security
contract at BIAP while keeping up the pretense of
engagement with Global. Now that mechanisms such as the
emergency bid procedure are in place, Global's utility as
an "interim measure" to keep the commercial side of BIAP
open may have lost its appeal. Regardless of what
arrangements the ITG may have worked out, a two to three
week closure of service is extremely likely. If the ITG
replaces Global at BIAP, the Embassy will require the
immediate services of a TSA assessment team for 3-5 days to
evaluate the replacement firm's security measures in order
to get the airport up and running again as soon as
possible. We also strongly encourage the earliest possible
deployment of the DHS attache to the Embassy and the
agreed-upon TSA advisors to serve at BIAP for 90 days until
Embassy is able to hire its own aviation security experts.
END COMMENT.

6. (SBU) REO Hillah, REO Mosul, REO Kirkuk, REO Basrah,
minimize considered.

SATTERFIELD

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