• Last American Out of Baghdad Please Shut Off the Lights

    July 12, 2011

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq

    Oops. The World’s Largest Embassy (c) is running out of gas. Literally.

    The Embassy’s air conditioners won’t be operating at full power until further notice due to a temporary fuel shortage. “Recent security incidents” have halted fuel deliveries to Baghdad’s Green Zone, according to an email sent Tuesday morning to Embassy staffers. Iraqi officials have blocked roads leading to the Green Zone, meaning the compound’s main fuel supplier, KBR, is allotting fuel in smaller quantities.

    “As a result, the Embassy is running low on reserve fuel,” the email said. Until further notice, the Embassy is increasing temperatures inside its buildings in an attempt to conserve fuel. Staffers reported room temperatures close to 80 degrees.

    It is hard to know where to start with this one.

    Firstly, one has to wonder about security plans after the US military leaves/draws down at the end of the year. Roads in Iraq stay open in large part because out military patrols them, conducts route clearance of IEDs, uses drones to survey the roads ahead of convoys, and provides the muscle to get contracted drivers out of trouble when attacks occur. It is very, very unclear that State’s planned mercenary guard force will be able to pull off these very, very military duties. This will leave the World’s Largest Embassy (c) very vulnerable; after all, there is nowhere locally for them to buy any of the fuel, food and supplies needed to keep operating.

    The bigger irony of course is that all of Iraq suffers from lack of electricity; Iraqi power guys estimate that less than half the juice needed by citizens will be available, meaning the suffering that most Iraqis have endured under US-provided freedom is now being visited on the World’s Largest Embassy (c). Last year, temperatures rose to 120 degrees, and people took to the streets in anger. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki sacked the Electricity Minister, and then banned all protests. That unrest could be repeated again this year, despite all the government’s promises of new power projects. Also, on June 25, in a vote of confidence, the director general at the Ministry of Electricity was assassinated in southeast Baghdad.

    Lastly, it is amusing to note that while the US Embassy trucks its fuel into Baghdad by road from Kuwait (average cost is $18 a gallon), Iraq proper buys a lot of its fuel directly from Iran.

    Even that Iranian fuel might still be available to the Embassy– on the black market. Officials in the Ministry of Electricity are involved in the theft of millions of dollars of fuel intended for power stations, an MP from the ruling National Coalition claimed Saturday.

    Susan al-Saad said that the tankers used to transport fuel to power plants across the country regularly go missing, and that this would not be possible without official collusion.

    “Many officials in the Ministry are involved in the theft. Which is sad because it adversely affects the performance of electrical provision, in addition to contributing to the phenomenon of widespread financial and administrative corruption in state institutions,” she said.

    Last irony: Iraq sits atop the world’s largest oil reserves. Maybe the Embassy should consider cutting out the middleman and drilling for its own oil inside the compound.

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