The Washington Post

Hot under the collar at the Baghdad Embassy

BAGHDAD – If folks working at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad seem a little hot under the collar this week, you can’t blame them: 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 e-mail 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 e-mail said. Until further notice, the embassy is increasing temperatures inside its buildings in an attempt to conserve fuel.

Following the announcement, staffers reported room temperatures climbing close to 80 degrees, up considerably from normal levels.

(The Federal Eye – born with the ill-fated ability to sweat on command – could feel the difference Tuesday morning during a quick embassy visit. The compound’s normally well-ventilated hallways did little to stop the flop sweat triggered by the Baghdad sun.)

Though Americans serving in Iraq can certainly sympathize with countrymen back home enduring triple-digit temperatures and high humidity, remember that the mercury reached 122 in Baghdad on Monday, and will climb to at least 117 today.

But Americans assigned to the embassy, who rarely venture beyond its walls, will earn little sympathy from U.S. troops flying warm helicopters or conducting training and counterterrorism missions in the sun. And some Baghdad’s residents, who’ve endured rolling blackouts for years, complained Monday of receiving only an hours’ worth of electricity — not nearly enough to cool their homes.

That said, rising indoor room temperatures will do little to help morale at an embassy targeted almost daily by rocket attacks. Local officials said three more rockets hit the Green Zone Tuesday near the embassy — the fourth straight day of such attacks. One can hope that the embassy’s impressive supply of bottled water, iced coffee, Gatorade and ice cream isn’t also affected.

Are you working in Iraq and have other stories to share? E-mail The Federal Eye with details. Anonymity assured.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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