WASHINGTON — A senior Kuwaiti official led military and civilian police to seize the warehouse facilities that provide food and materials for Pentagon operations in the region, sources present during the incident told TMN.
Representatives of the Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) were at the facility when the seizure occurred on Wednesday and protested the action, to no avail, TMN was told.
A spokesperson for DLA told TMN the warehouse is continuing to operate today — but under whose control the warehouse was on Thursday remained unclear.
“DLA’s Subsistence Prime Vendor (SPV) for the region continues to perform under the current contract,” Patrick Mackin, DLA Deputy Director for Public Affairs, told TMN on Thursday. “DLA remains engaged to ensure there is no disruption of support to deployed US forces in the region.”
According to those present, Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Al Sabah, who is the general manager of the Kuwait Ports Authority, arrived at the warehouse that houses supplies for the Pentagon’s Subsistence Prime Vendor, the company of Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport (KGL).
“He arrived with military and civilian police, raided, and took over the facility (Wednesday) morning in Kuwait,” one individual told TMN. “This is a completely unlawful act designed to interfere with a U.S. DoD contract and to attack and destroy KGL.”
KGL was awarded the $1.38 billion Subsistence Prime Vendor contract with the DLA in January 2018. It is for a period of 24 months, with option periods increasing the contract duration to an additional 60 months.
Under the contract, KGL will provide food procurement and distribution services to at least 20,000 U.S. military personnel in Kuwait, Iraq and Jordan, the Pentagon said at the time the contract was awarded.
KGL was to provide services primarily from its procurement and distribution hub in Kuwait, the one that was seized on Wednesday.
According to news reports, Sheikh Yousef Abdullah Al-Sabah, who is a member of the country’s royal family, has repeatedly attempted to use his position to determine who can work at the port and benefit from U.S. military contracts.
Last year Sheikh Yousef banned KGL and its affiliates from operating at Kuwaiti ports in a move to block the Pentagon contract with the company, according to news reports. He then green-lighted another local entity, Global Clearinghouse, to operate at the port without complying with the requirement to register, according to news reports.
The parent company of Global Clearinghouse is Agility. In 2008, Agility was indicted for overcharging the U.S. government for supplying food to U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2017, the company agreed to pay $95 million in penalties, according to news reports.
KGL was one of the first companies to provide transportation and logistics services to U.S. and Coalition Forces during the 2003 war with Iraq. Additionally, KGL provided food distribution services in Iraq under the United Nations’ World Food Program.
The company has also come under scrutiny.
In June 2011 KBL was examined for possible secretly doing business with Iranian front companies. Top Pentagon officials told Congress at that time they did not find any connections between KGL and any banned Iranian firms, according to news reports.