The Iraq Travel Warning dated January 19, 2012 saysthat “the ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.”
Apparently the “extremely limited” response even includes the issuance of visas for USG security personnel in Iraq.
In our mailbox is the following email:
“No visas have been issued to security personnel since December and there is no straight answer coming from the Department of State or the Ministry of Interior.”
One of our correspondents is concerned that this situation “will result in loss of life” as their “ability to protect continues to be compromised.”
The State Department’s current Travel Warning says that“The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S.
government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador must follow strict safety procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.”
If so, how does the “strict security” guidelines and “strict safety procedures” work if the protective security details are missing due to the sticky wheel on the visa bus?
On February 8, 2012 WaPo reported that the US Embassy Baghdad compound was locked down for nearly all of December out of security concerns, and the vast majority of U.S. personnel rarely leave its confines.
“U.S. trainers for middle- and senior-level police officials, located for convenience across the street from Iraq’s national police headquarters and police academy, have been unable to cross that street without heavy security and have largely ceased any outside movement.”
One can only hope that they are not in permanent lock down as they’re rightsizing. We understand that the US Mission in Baghdad was expected to have 16,000 personnel. About 2,000 are reportedly diplomats and 14,000 are private security and life support contractors.
How much of the expected 5,000-7,000 security personnel made it to Iraq before the visa clamp down came down in December? And if true that no visas had been issued to USG security personnel since December, how is that impacting the mobility and security of our embassy personnel? Has it been in lock down since the military left?
We have reached out to the US Embassy Baghdad on the visa issue last week and will update this post if we ever get a response. We say if because we’ve had very limited success in getting a response even from their Press Office, except on the few occasion when somebody there had a personal blog to plug in.
If you’re reading this from Baghdad, we’d like to hear if you’ve been forced to telecommute from the bunker due to limited availability of personal security support.
- US Embassy Iraq Staffing: To Slash or Not to Slash, That is the Question (diplopundit.net)
- The US Embassy Baghdad is shrinking, it’s shrinking, it’s shriiinkiiing – to 8,000! (diplopundit.net)
- Wanted: US Contractor for Embassy Baghdad Maintenance Services (diplopundit.net)
- Brett McGurk as the next US Ambassador to Iraq? (diplopundit.net)
- U.S. planning to reduce the size of the Embassy Baghdad (mountainrunner.us)
It is not just US it is all expats, everybody is sitting home and cant come in and we cant go out because there is no relief for us ……..and everybody just say…..wait it out ……!!!!!!!!!
I am a K9 handler currently stuck here in the states and have been since December. I would be interested in information pertaining to this subject as it evolves. Thanks
Jason, sorry you’re stuck. We can only promise to keep an eye on this. We will update if we know more.
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The whole thing can be remedied real fast. Stop issuing visas to Iraqis who want to travel to the US, in particular official visas. Reciprocity is a bitch.
Katie you are right! DS should stop issung visas for them to head to the US. Its funny how they can come to the Embassy to get their visas issued out to them. Until it affects DS I doubt they wil do something about it. When they don’t have personnel to take them to their meetings I’m sure they will start to do something. They have DS diplomats in and out of country each week and that is all they care about right now but soon it will bite them in the ass.
I don’t know that stopping the issuance of visas, even official ones would actually help. For one thing, the US is not apparently the sun Iraq is enamored these days. Trips to Washington can easily be recalibrated as meetings in Tehran. Shutting the issuance of official visas can just play into the hands of other players in the region. The US does not have a lot of cards to play, that’s why I think it’s a mess. Various parts of the Iraqi Government did not want this many security staff, particularly at the embassy. So …. it’s a grinding process, until they find a better way to “handle” the Americans. This will blow up on somebody’s head when something tragic will happen as a consequence … then it’ll be another version of duck and cover.
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Just left 3 weeks ago, the situation is a complete mess and the US State Dept’s hands are tied behind their backs with Iraqi red tape!
Not happy to head that it’s a mess, but thanks for the note, Bill.