15 March 2004
Border Crossing Points Between Iraq and Iran to be Reduced to Three
CPA begins implementing new border security initiative
By Rebecca Ford Mitchell
Washington -- The number of border crossing points between Iraq and Iran will be reduced within days from 19 to three under the new border security initiative being implemented by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), according to CPA senior advisor Dan Senor.
Visitors entering Iraq by land will be required to present a passport and fill out an entry permit form. A computerized electronic tracking system, called PISCES, will receive these data, allowing all visitors to be positively identified by border officials, Senor explained during a briefing in Baghdad March 15.
The initiative also calls for doubling the number of border law enforcement personnel to 16,000.
"[The goal] is to decrease the number of foreign nationals crossing the border, increase the number of immigration officers at border points, to install the PISCES electronic computer tracking system, to increase the number of border patrols, double the number of border police, decrease the length of stay of foreign nationals crossing the border into Iraq, and begin to get in motion a process for passport presentation and entry permit application for foreign visitors," Senor explained.
CPA administrator Paul Bremer, in a March 13 press release, announced the initiative as a response to the continued activity of foreign terrorists in Iraq. "This program is a multi-stage effort to address security problems exacerbated by Iraq's porous borders," the ambassador said, "but it will also assure that when we turn over sovereignty to an Iraqi government on June 30 that government will have the equipment, staff, training, and materials necessary to operate each of its 20 major border crossing points."
According to Bremer, the plan was reached in consultation with the Iraqi Interior Minister and other Iraqi officials.
When who will have responsibility for the border crossings after June 30, Senor responded that the future Iraqi government will address most security issues in coordination with remaining coalition forces.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for operations for Coalition Joint Task Force-7, who also took part in the briefing, said the CPA also is looking at the borders between Iraq and other countries. But "borders are just one element of an overall anti-terrorist, counter-terrorist campaign that is being waged in this country and, sadly, in many, many countries in the world, as we've seen most recently and most dreadfully in Spain. Everybody's got to be involved in this fight," he said.
Although security is "not where we want it to be," Kimmitt noted that now, with almost 200,000 Iraqi security forces in place, the situation is much different than six months ago.
There has been a dramatic decline in random acts of violence and looting, Senor added, saying that the most dominate form of violence now is targeted, purposeful, terrorism against those individuals moving Iraq toward democracy. As Iraq makes further progress toward sovereignty and democratic government, more terrorist attacks can be expected, he said, because after June 30 "they will lose their excuse for wreaking havoc in this country."