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2003-06-23 11:07:00
Embassy Kuwait
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 002783 


E.O. 12958: N/A


1. This is an action message. Please see paragraph 10.

2. Embassy has reviewed the draft memo on the proposed
inclusion of Iraq in Kuwait's consular district for visa
processing on a temporary basis (Ref A). Embassy has also
reviewed the initial assessment from the Consular officer in
Baghdad of how many Iraqi applicants might be processed
through Kuwait (Ref B). We'd like to offer our thoughts on
the likely resource implications of continued support of
Iraq-related consular operations.

3. Embassy agrees that specific procedures need to be
established to process Iraqi visa applications. We
understand that Kuwait would only receive applications from
Iraqis whose travel is "funded, organized, and sponsored by
USG agencies." The mechanics of the proposal - specifically
the SAO pre-clearance process - appear workable. We will
formally advise the Kuwaiti government of the proposal and
request its cooperation. The Kuwaitis have always been
accommodating to our requests for clearance of official
Iraqi travelers. We believe they will continue to be so,
provided the numbers remain small and requests for emergency
processing on weekends (Thursday/Friday) and after hours
remain limited. It will be crucial to provide the Kuwaitis
complete biographic, document, and travel information two
work/work days in advance, rigorously respecting the local
weekend. In order to meet this deadline the Embassy must
receive that information 72 hours in advance and is likewise
closed Thursdays and Fridays.

4. Ref B estimates that 50 travelers per month might be
processed through this channel. This seems optimistically
low given that we processed 12 Iraqi delegates to a United
Nations meeting this past weekend, more applications are on
the way, and procedures are not even formally in place. The
very establishment of a reliable mechanism to obtain U.S.
visas for official Iraqi travelers will itself stimulate
enormous demand for travel. There will also almost certainly
be pressure to broaden proposed criteria for visa processing
and to make exceptions to those criteria. Our experience
with Iraq-related issues convinces us that there will be
strong pressure to expand `official' travel to include any
travel in which the USG has an interest. We expect that
requests for exceptions based on humanitarian and other
considerations, will quickly follow suit.

5. Whatever the ultimate number of visa applicants, all
will need permission to enter and depart Kuwait, SAOs, an
interview with a consular officer, and a visa; some will
require passport waivers. Most of these travelers will be

high-profile cases. Experience demonstrates that they
require transportation, expeditors, VIP handling, and other
kinds of expensive Embassy support. We note that one of the
Americans accompanying the Iraqi UN delegation arrived
without a Kuwaiti visa and had to be processed separately.
All of this activity occurred late at night on the Kuwaiti
weekend at considerable overtime cost to the Embassy which
so far has not been reimbursed.

6. Ref B correctly notes that while the proposal is
limited to visa processing, Kuwait has already been assigned
de facto responsibility for a variety of Iraq-related
consular issues. For example, we have already processed two
Iraqi parole cases through Kuwait and just submitted a third
parole request, this one a high profile case involving a
large family group (Ref C). As the Department is aware,
these cases are time-consuming, complex affairs requiring
extensive coordination between various agencies and between
the Embassy and the Kuwaiti government. As NGOs become
increasingly active in southern Iraq we expect many requests
for assistance with Iraqis requesting entry to the U.S. for
medical treatment.

7. Processing Iraqi visas is an additional load for our
Consular Section, which is already stretched thin by growing
workload and staffing gaps. The Section's organization chart
shows three full time 0-4 vice consuls, one part time 0-4
vice consul, one consular associate, and the Chief of
Section. One of the three full time vice consuls departed
post two weeks ago and his replacement does not arrive until
mid-August. The second rotates to another Embassy section
in August (at the Charge's direction that Section is taking
a three-month gap to assist the Consular Section) when her
replacement arrives. The third full time position is a new
one that will not be filled until November. The Consular
Associate departed Post two weeks ago and probably will not
be replaced until August. The Section Chief is scheduled
for FSI training from July 7-25.

8. On May 14 Embassy requested TDY assistance during the
month of July and the first two weeks of August. On June 3,
Embassy learned and immediately informed CA/EX that the part
time vice consul, responsible for about half of NIV
interviewing, had been reassigned outside Kuwait effectively
immediately, not to be replaced until late August at the
earliest. We amended our initial request to ask for
immediate TDY assistance.

9. The Consular Section has been reduced to two officers:
the Section Chief and a vice consul. Two weeks ago we
instituted an appointment system to deal with peak seasonal
NIV demand. The wait for an appointment is already three
weeks and growing fast. We have an increasingly busy and
always complex ACS portfolio as well. Since May 1, Embassy
has received more than 1,200 new consular registrations.
This compares to fewer than 200 in the same seven-week
period of 2002. Most of the new registrants are contractors
involved in Iraqi reconstruction; the numbers of such people
will only continue to grow. Overall, we have more than
12,000 registered Americans in Kuwait, almost double the
number last year at this time. The impact of this growth is
beginning to be reflected in our numbers. We expect to
receive about 210 passport applications in June, 20% more
than during the same month last year, this despite the fact
the much of our traditional ACS clientele left Kuwait before
the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom and will not return
until schools open in September.

10. Action Request: This Embassy wants to be as helpful as
possible in U.S. efforts to reconstruct Iraq, specifically
by providing consular services for certain officially
designated Iraqis. However, we also want to convey a
realistic appraisal of the resource implications and of our
existing staffing shortage. Some of the resource
implications will need to be addressed with the Office of
the Coalition Provisional Authority. Other issues are
properly addressed to the Department. We need, on an urgent
basis, two TDY consular officers. Ideally, one would remain
until the arrival of the new vice consuls in August and one
would remain for as long as Kuwait is the designated
processing point for Iraqi official travelers. None of the
costs for lodging, equipment or other support for the latter
officer should come from Post funds. We note that our
request is consistent with Ref B suggestion that "at least
one" TDY officer be assigned to Kuwait to assist with Iraq-
related consular issues. Assistance appreciated.

11. This message has been cleared by OCPA.