Embassy of the United States, Baghdad
|Embassy of the United States, Baghdad
سفارة الولايات المتحدة الامريكية بغداد
|Part of the embassy compound in Baghdad.|
The Embassy of the United States in Baghdad is the diplomatic mission of the United States in Iraq and is home to the Ambassador to Iraq. Ambassador Robert S. Beecroft is currently the Chief of Mission.
At 440,000 square meters, it is the largest and most expensive embassy in the world and is nearly as large as Vatican City. It employs 15,000 people and cost $750 million to build. The Embassy opened in January 2009 following a series of construction delays. It replaced the previous embassy, which opened July 1, 2004 in Baghdad's Green Zone in a former Palace of Saddam Hussein.
The United States' Legation Baghdad was changed to embassy status in 1946. The building was designed by Josep Lluís Sert in 1955 and completed about 1961, with its main priority on keeping the building cool rather than security. This building remained the embassy until 1967, after the Six-Day War. The U.S. Interests Section was moved to the Belgian embassy in 1972; in 1984 this was upgraded to embassy status following the resumption of U.S.-Iraqi ties. Just days before the Gulf War, the embassy closed. The U.S. Interests Section was opened at the Polish embassy in 1991. The old embassy is now apparently deserted and for rent.
A new embassy opened in January 2009 in the Green Zone in Baghdad. The embassy complex comprises 21 buildings on a 104 acres (42 ha) site, making it the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy in the world.
It is located along the Tigris River, west of the Arbataash Tamuz bridge, and facing Al Kindi street to the north. The embassy is a permanent structure which has provided a new base for the 5,500 Americans currently living and working in Baghdad. During construction, the US government kept many aspects of the project under wraps, with many details released only in a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report. Apart from the 1,000 regular employees, up to 3,000 additional staff members have been hired, including security personnel.
With construction beginning in mid-2005, the original target completion date was September 2007. "A week after submitting his FY2006 budget to Congress, the President sent Congress an FY2005 emergency supplemental funding request. Included in the supplemental is more than $1.3 billion for the embassy in Iraq ..." An emergency supplemental appropriation (H.R. 1268/P.L. 109-13), which included $592 million for embassy construction, was signed into law on May 11, 2005. According to the Department of State, this funding was all that was needed for construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. However, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post found that the new embassy had cost more than $700 million by 2012, and Business Insider reported in 2013 that the cost of the embassy had surpassed $750 million. The Obama administration requested more than $100 million for a "massive" upgrade to the embassy compound in 2012. As of 2006, construction was being led by the Kuwaiti firm First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting,
- Six apartment buildings for employees
- Water and waste treatment facilities
- A power station
- Two "major diplomatic office buildings"
- Recreation, including a gym, cinema, several tennis courts and an Olympic-size swimming pool
The complex is heavily fortified, even by the standards of the Green Zone. The details are largely secret, but it is likely to include a significant US Marine Security Guard detachment. Fortifications include deep security perimeters, buildings reinforced beyond the usual standard, and five highly guarded entrances.
On October 5, 2007, the Associated Press reported the initial target completion date of September would not be met, and that it was unlikely any buildings would be occupied until 2008. In May 2008, US diplomats began moving into the embassy.
The embassy formally opened over a year behind schedule in January 2009 with a staff of over 16,000 people, mostly contractors, but including 2,000 diplomats. In February 2012, weeks after the final departure of US Military forces from Iraq, the State Department announced that the staff would be greatly reduced due to budget concerns and a re-evaluation of diplomatic strategy in Iraq, in light of the military withdrawal.
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- Troops have withdrawn from Iraq, but U.S. money hasn't July 27, 2012
- The US Embassy In Baghdad Cost A Staggering $750 Million March 20, 2013, Business Insider
- The Biggest And Most Expensive Embassy In The World Is About To Get A Massive Upgrade June 29, 2012, Business Insider
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- "U.S. Planning to Slash Iraq Embassy Staff by Half - New York Times - February 7 2012
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- Information on the US Embassy efforts to rebuild Iraq, with focus on the PRT program
- US Embassy in Iraq Website
- "In the chaos of Iraq, one project is on target: a giant US embassy", Daniel McGrory, Times Online, May 3, 2006
- "The Mega-Bunker of Baghdad", William Langewiesche, Vanity Fair, November 2007
- "U.S. Planning to Slash Iraq Embassy Staff by Half", Tim Arango, New York Times, February 2012