Cablegate: Turkish Trucking Associations Outline Continuing

Published: Mon 4 Oct 2004 03:42 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: A. STATE 195610
B. ANKARA 4893
C. ANKARA 4529
D. ANKARA 4340
Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for internet distribution.
1. (SBU) Summary: Representatives of Turkey's two leading
transporters associations told us in meetings this week that
their members perceive a deteriorating security situation in
Iraq, with problems now reaching as far as Mosul in the
north. They also continue to see serious problems with the
convoy system. While they are working to explore how
insurance, secure rest stops, and private security firms can
ease the difficulties faced by their members, they do not see
these possibilities providing any short term relief. Despite
the problems, they indicated that Turkish companies remain
committed to supply operations, and that the associations
continue to explore ways they can help. End Summary.
2. (SBU) P/E Chief met separately with the leaders of
Turkey's International Transporters' Association (UND),
Chairman Cahit Soysal and Vice Chairman Reha Uran, and Ro-Ro
Transport Association (Roder) Chairman Cumhur Atilgan. We
offer a synopsis of their comments in order to provide some
additional on-the-ground information about this often
confusing subject.
3. (SBU) Convoys: Both organizations reported that their
members continue to express concern about the way in which
convoys for humanitarian and military cargoes are organized.
Their reports indicate that rarely is the goal of one escort
per ten vehicles achieved. Instead, their members complain
that often one hundred trucks are grouped together with only
two escorts, causing a "loss of control." (Note: We believe
they are referring not to fuel shipments for the coalition--
which we understand receive coalition escort on the basis of
a 1:10 ration-- but to humanitarian fuel shipments for whom
private security contractors are responsible. End Note.)
They stressed that they would like to see smaller (20 vehicle
convoys) occur in practice. In addition, members continue to
report that they "never see return escorts." Terrorists,
they added, know this fact, and continue to focus their
attacks on the return trip. UND officials conceded that in
some cases truck drivers may head off on their own to buy
oil, and so drop out of the convoy system for that reason,
but they argued that the reports are so unanimous that this
cannot be the only factor. A final concern centers on the
way in which formalities are completed at the convoy's
destination. Soysal noted that trucks have to wait on the
road outside secure areas for the paperwork to be completed,
leaving all vehicles, but especially those at the end of the
convoy, vulnerable to attack. Truckers would prefer that the
trucks be admitted to the base and that formalities be
finalized there. (Note: Turkish contruction company and USG
contractor Yuksel executive Emin Sazak raised a similar point
in meetings in Ankara, noting that terrorist surveillance and
threats often occur at this final stage of the delivery.)
4. (SBU) Insurance: UND noted ref A's point regarding the
inclusion of an insurance/security premium in coalition and
humanitarian delivery contracts. They responded, however,
that this is ineffective, as adequate insurance coverage is
rarely available, and when it is (allegedly only one Turkish
company will write such coverage) it is prohibitively
expensive. The expense, they suggested, far exceeds what is
provided for this purpose in the contracts, and thereby eats
into the trucker's profit margin. If the convoy system were
more effective, they added, insurance rates might fall.
(Note: This insurance problem is separate from the at least
equally difficult insurance issue raised by MFA (and echoed
by the associations): that truckers are unable to document
their insurance claims for damage or theft since U.S.
military and local police do not issue the equivalent of a
police report. End Note.)
5. (SBU) Secure Rest Areas/Transshipment Centers: RODER chief
Atilgan noted that progress is being made on a transshipment
point near Zaho, which will offer Turkish truckers the option
of transferring their deliveries to local Iraqi drivers.
This will enhance security for Turkish drivers, though at the
cost of their income, since it is less lucrative to drop off
goods in the North than to carry them to their final
destination. UND concurred, and stressed that their goal is
safe transport all the way to Baghdad-- they do not what to
have to transship their goods, given both the drop in income
and legal issues that result concerning who retains
responsibility for the cargo. Regarding secure rest areas,
Soysal noted that this is an attractive idea, but that it is
difficult to move it forward given the lack of authoritative
interlocutors in Iraq. "It is unclear who we can deal with
on this," he stressed.
6. (SBU) Security: Both organizations reported a
deteriorating security situation, with problems now reaching
as far north as Mosul. If the problems reach the border,
Atilgan said, "you will no longer see any Turkish truckers in
Iraq." UND noted that there is some question about whether
all of the attacks are the work of insurgents, or whether
some stem from local operators who would like to see more
goods be transshipped. Both concurred that use of private
security companies is an option for Turkish truckers, and UND
noted that they put information about available companies on
their website (without explicit recommendation of particular
firms). However, the expense again cuts into operating
margins, and means that few companies take advantage of this
7. (SBU) Other issues: Neither organization saw the Syrian
route (suggested by some GOT officials last week), as an
alternative solution. They noted that it involves additional
risks, including high charges and further bureaucratic
difficulties. (Note: In contrast to MFA officials, senior
Turkish Customs officials have told the Embassy that the
Syrian route is impractical for truckers. End Note.) RODER
noted that problems are now extending further north, into the
Mosul area, which is of serious concern. UND also complained
about the activities of Northern Iraqi authorities, who it
alleged are acting "like they run an independent state." The
latest step that has sparked outrage is the requirement that
Turkish truckers buy fuel from designated stations in Iraq,
and the levying of fines (240 USD per truck) for vehicles
that have more than a "minimal amount" of fuel in their tanks
on entering Iraq.
8. (SBU) Comment: The RODER and UND comments were a sobering
indication of what Turkish drivers face in Iraq. Both
organizations remain committed to helping their members cope
with the difficulties that exist (even as UND continues to
recommend that companies not carry coalition cargo-- a
recommendation that Soysal said the organization is not yet
in a position to lift). They indicated that Turkish
companies remain committed to supply operations, as reflected
by the 8000 to 10,000 Turkish trucks that are on the road on
a daily basis in Iraq, but that the rising risks and expense
could lessen that commitment. As a reminder of the threats
and pressure faced by Turkish drivers, on October 1 Soysal
faxed a copy of a document distributed to drivers in Iraq
signed by a Ebi Basir and Ebi Jandel Teams, threatening any
driver who delivers fuel to Iraq after September 30 with
death. End Comment.
Baghdad Minimize Considered.
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