– By Domani Spero
Update @ 10:21 am — US Consulate Adana: We have been informed that the US Consulate in Adana is on “authorized departure” with leaving post voluntary for the non-emergency personnel and family members. Note that neither the US Embassy in Ankara nor the USCG in Istanbul is on this order. So the “draw downees” from Adana, if there are any, potentially will not depart the country but will be evacuated to Ankara or Istanbul (evacuees from Lahore were sent to Islamabad after the recent closure of the consulate general in the city).
We understand that post did not request this departure status. The concern we’re hearing is that because of Benghazi and the “abundance of caution” mandate, “we have people who have likely never been to Turkey, making decisions for post.” Our source points out that Adana is not only home for the US Consulate but also home to Incirlik Air Force Base, a Turkish air base which hosts the 39th Air Base Wing to “support and protect U.S. and NATO assets and people throughout Turkey while providing a full spectrum of capabilities to the warfighter.” The US presence at Incirlik includes hundreds of Air Force personnel and family members. The base is located a little less than 5 kilometers from the American Consulate. As of this writing, neither DOD or USAF has made any announcement about the departure of its non-emergency personnel and family members from Adana. – end update
The State Department on September 6 issued a new Travel Warning for Turkey recommending that American citizens defer non-essential travel to southeastern Turkey and announcing the departure of non-emergency staff and family members:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Turkey that the U.S. Consulate General in Adana has been authorized to draw down its non-emergency staff and family members because of threats against U.S. government facilities and personnel. The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to southeastern Turkey.
On September 6, the Department of State permitted the drawdown of U.S. government non-emergency personnel and family members from the U.S. Consulate General in Adana, Turkey. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Turkey are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations.
U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Turkey should be alert to the potential for violence. We strongly urge U.S. citizens to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. There have been no direct attacks on U.S. citizens.
Update @ 10:22 — US Embassy Beirut: As of this week, a reliable source told us that the State Department is deferring sending previously scheduled newly-assigned personnel to Lebanon. Unlike Adana which is on “authorized departure” Beirut is on “ordered departure” with leaving post mandatory for affected personnel and family members. – end update
The State Department also issued a new Travel Warning for Lebanon urging American citizens to avoid travel to the country and announcing the departure non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. On September 6, the Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to potential threats to U.S. Mission facilities and personnel. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on April 1, 2013.
The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders, airports, roads, and seaports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently with little warning and have the potential to become violent. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes often escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with little or no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may be severely limited.
The Fulbright and the English Language Fellow programs that provided grants to U.S. scholars to live and work in Lebanon during the academic year remain suspended because of the security situation and the increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon.
Embassy Bierut’s September 6 Security Message to U.S. citizens also says that ”the Embassy does not offer “protection” services to individuals who feel unsafe. U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining in Lebanon given their condition and should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon who choose to remain should be aware that the U.S. Embassy’s ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is limited.”
While the Security Message also notes that there are “no plans to conduct a U.S. government-sponsored evacuation at this time” it suggests that “U.S. citizens concerned for their safety should consider making plans to depart by commercial means” as the Beirut International Airport is open and commercial flights are operating.
The US Embassy Lebanon evacuation in 2006 is still the largest U.S. government-facilitated evacuations in recent memory. The Security Message points out that USG-evacuation for private Americans “occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist.” Also that “evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs.”
We note that both these announcements are now using the term “draw down” to describe the reduction of personnel and family members at two posts. A draw down can be both “authorized departure” (staff and family members have option to leave or stay) or ordered departure (leaving is mandatory). Since commercial flights are still operating in both these cases, we are presuming, although we could be wrong, that the draw down for both posts are “authorized” at this time.
We anticipate that more posts will be
evacuated sorry, will go on draw down as the march to bombing another country heats up.
– Domani Spero
On August 8, theState Department issued a new Travel Warning for Pakistan warning U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to that country and announcing the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan. In addition to USCG Lahore and the embassy in Islamabad , we have consulate generals in Karachi and Peshawar.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated April 9, 2013, to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan.
On August 8, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan. The Department of State ordered this drawdown due to specific threats concerning the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.
The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities. Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom.
Protests against the United States are not uncommon and have the potential to turn violent. U.S. citizens in Pakistan are strongly advised to avoid all protests and large gatherings.
There have been many terrorist attacks in recent years targeting civilians and security personnel. On March 3, 2013, a bomb attack in a predominately Shiite area of Karachi destroyed several buildings and killed over 50 people. In January and February 2013, two bomb attacks in Quetta targeted members of the Hazara community; each killed over 80 people. On September 3, 2012, unidentified terrorists attacked a U.S. government vehicle convoy in Peshawar, injuring U.S. and Pakistani personnel. On April 24, 2012, an explosion at the Lahore Railway Station killed three people and injured at least 30.
The Governor of the Punjab province and the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs were assassinated in Islamabad in January and March 2011, respectively. Targeted killings continue unabated in Karachi as a result of ethno-political rivalries. Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel continue throughout the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Provinces. Suicide bomb attacks have occurred at Islamabad universities, schools, rallies, places of worship, and major marketplaces in Lahore and Peshawar.
Members of minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty in Pakistan. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, on valid missionary visas have encountered increased scrutiny from local authorities since early 2011.
Travel Restrictions for Government Personnel
U.S. government personnel travel between the Embassy and Consulates might be restricted based on security or other reasons. Movements by U.S. government personnel assigned to the Consulates General are severely restricted, and consulate staff cannot drive personally-owned vehicles. Embassy staff are permitted to drive personally-owned vehicles in the greater Islamabad area.
U.S. officials in Islamabad are instructed to limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations. Only a limited number of official visitors are placed in hotels, and for limited stays. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as hotels, markets, and restaurants off limits to official personnel. Official U.S. citizens are not authorized to use public transportation and are sometimes asked to restrict the use of their personal vehicles in response to security concerns.
Access to many areas of Pakistan, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and the area adjacent to the Line of Control (LOC) in the disputed territory of Kashmir, is restricted by local government authorities for non-Pakistanis. Travel to any restricted region requires official permission from the Government of Pakistan. Failure to obtain such permission in advance can result in arrest and detention by Pakistani authorities. Due to security concerns, the U.S. government currently allows only essential travel within the FATA by U.S. officials. Travel to much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan is also restricted.
Read in full here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5926.html
No diplomatic posts in Pakistan were closed as a result of the August 4 or the August 5-10 closures. It is not clear if this is related to the previously announced closures or if this is an altogether different threat stream. Nina Maria Fite who succeeded Carmela Conroy assumed charge as the US Consul General in Lahore on September 20, 2011.
– Domani Spero
Today, the State Department announced the ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks. It also urged American citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those already in the country to “depart immediately.”
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart immediately.
On August 6, 2013, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Yemen due to the continued potential for terrorist attacks.
U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on July 16, 2013.
The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high. In September 2012, a mob attacked the U.S. Embassy compound. Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration.
Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. A U.S. citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18, 2012 and the press reported that AQAP claimed responsibility. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen. In the last year, international and local media have reported several kidnappings of Westerners. Violent crime is also a growing problem; local media reported the murder of two U.S. citizens in Taiz and Aden in 2013. In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.
U.S. government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder U.S. citizens’ ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Yemen should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times.
Read in full here: http://yemen.usembassy.gov/wm-080613.html
The Pentagon also released a statement that the Air Force transported the personnel ordered to leave Yemen early today.
In response to a State Department request, the Air Force transported personnel out of Sanaa, Yemen, early this morning as part of a reduction in emergency personnel, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
“The U.S. Department of Defense continues to have personnel on the ground in Yemen to support the U.S. State Department and monitor the security situation,” Little said in a statement.
The State Department today ordered a reduction in the number of emergency U.S. government personnel in Yemen.
“As we have said, we are concerned about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks against U.S. persons or facilities overseas, especially emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “As such, the department is taking appropriate steps to protect our employees, including local employees and visitors to our facilities.”
Since the Sanaa airport is reportedly open, and commercial flights have not been suspended, it does not look like there is a USG-evacuation at this time for private Americans leaving Yemen.
* * *
— By Domani Spero
Shortly after noon today, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest. We understand that the AMIDEAST has also flown out the remaining interns/Arabic students (Andrew Pochner who was killed in Alexandria was an intern at AMIDEAST), and that the Fulbrighters have also left. Excerpt from the updated Travel Warning:
If you wish to depart Egypt, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are still operating, although cancellations may occur. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Egypt are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.
Previously, on June 28, 2013, the Department of State authorized the departure of a limited number of non-emergency employees and family members.
The last time the US Embassy in Cairo was ordered evacuated was in January-February 2011. The embassy staff did not return to post until April that year.
On 03 Jul 2013 19:36, Al Jazeera reported that the Egyptian army has overthrown President Mohamed Morsi, announcing a roadmap for the country’s political future that will be implemented by a national reconciliation committee:
The head of Egypt’s armed forces issued a declaration on Wednesday evening suspending the constitution and appointing the head of the constitutional court as interim head of state.
Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups.
Ahram Online reported that the head of Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, the most senior Egyptian court, is Adly Mansour. He was promoted to position in June. He is now reported as the new interim president of Egypt. The website also notes the attendees at the press conference where El-Sisi gave his speech included a number of top military and police officials who sat in two rows on either side of the podium; the Coptic Orthodox patriarch Tawadros II; the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayyeb; ElBaradei; a representative of Nour Party; Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, one of the anti-Morsi Rebel campaign’s founders; and a senior judicial figure.
Next talk coming up?
$1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military, or as time.com puts it, the aid that’s about 20% of Egypt’s most stable public institution. The text of Foreign Assistance Act requiring US gov to cut military aid to countries after a coup: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/8422 ….
U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the removal of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president:
“It is unfortunate that Morsi did not heed popular demands for early elections after a year of his incompetent leadership and attempting a power grab for the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi was an obstacle to the constitutional democracy most Egyptians wanted. I am hopeful that his departure will reopen the path to a better future for Egypt, and I encourage the military and all political parties to cooperate in the peaceful establishment of democratic institutions and new elections that lead to an Egypt where minority rights are protected. But make no mistake about it, Egypt is in for very difficult days.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also praised the Egyptian military for taking action, saying, “democracy is about more than elections.”
The folks over at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appeared to be gone for the holidays.
President Obama released a statement with the following:
The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.
And State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki apparently declined to specify earlier Wednesday what would constitute a military coup, though she affirmed the U.S. recognition of Morsi as the democratically elected leader.
Haven’t we seen this before? Honduras. 2009 when the military removed a sitting president and flew him out to Costa Rica. But certainly without the millions protesting like in Egypt. Here’s what we might hear down the road. “[O]n the ground, there’s a lot of discussion about who did what to whom and what things were constitutional or not, which is why our lawyers are really looking at the event as we understand them in order to come out with the accurate determination.”
We suspect that the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser is busy. There has not been a nominee since Avril Haines’ nomination was withdrawn so she could be nominated as CIA’s #2. Mary McLeod, the Principal Deputy Legal Adviser is currently it.
Via the State Department:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and all travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid, and southern Libya, including border areas and the regions of Sabha and Kufra. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in these regions of Libya is extremely limited. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated March 11, 2013.
In early May, the security situation in Tripoli deteriorated when armed groups seized Libyan government buildings in a dispute over a law regarding officials of the former regime. In response, on May 8, the Department of State ordered the departure of a number of U.S. government personnel in Tripoli.
The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable. Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country. U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling to, or remaining in, Libya should use caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.
Read in full here.
Late today, the State Department updated its January 16, 2013 Travel Warning for Mali. Once again warning against all travel to Mali because of ongoing fighting in northern and central Mali, the new Travel Warning now includes the announcement that it has ordered the departure all family members not employed at the embassy, for up to 30 days.
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Mali because of ongoing fighting in northern and central Mali, fluid political conditions, the loss of government control of Mali’s Northern provinces, and continuing threats of attacks and kidnappings of westerners. While the security situation in Bamako remains relatively stable, the recent escalation of hostilities around Mopti in northern Mali has heightened tensions throughout the country. Mali continues to face challenges including food shortages, internally displaced persons, and the presence in northern Mali of factions linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On January 18, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependent family members who are not employed at the U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali, for a period of up to 30 days.
The Malian government has banned all public demonstrations and Interim President Dioncounda Traore declared a State of Emergency effective January 12. The state of emergency, which will last for 10 days with a possibility for extension, enables the government to take extraordinary measures to deal with the crisis in the north. As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Mali or withdrawn some family members and/or staff. The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor this situation closely and update U.S. citizens via Emergency Messages which it will post on the U.S. Embassy Bamako website.
Read in full here.
This is the second post to go on
ordered departure evac within the last four weeks; the first one went on authorized departure, then went straight to suspension of operation in early January (see After reopening in 2005, U.S. Embassy Bangui suspends operations. Again.).
We’re not sure if the evacuated families will be sent back to the D.C. area. As the ordered departure is up to 30 days at this time, we are guessing that they probably will be safe-havened at another post in the region. Which does not make this any easier, but if they are temporarily relocated within the region, at least they will not be going from one weather zone to another in the middle of winter, each with just one packed bag.