– Domani Spero
That did not take long. On June 25, the SFRC cleared President Obama’s nominees for Iraq and Egypt. Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominees for those two posts:
Stuart E. Jones, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq; Confirmed: 93-0
Robert Stephen Beecroft, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Arab Republic of Egypt (voice vote)
Yesterday, the Senate also confirmed the nomination of our next ambassador to Djibouti:
Thomas P. Kelly III, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.
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But annual average in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979 is $2 billion
The US Embassy in Cairo has recently released a statement by US Ambassador Margaret Scobey with a brief summary of US Government assistance to Egypt in the last 30 years. Apparently, in 30 years of assistance to Egypt, we have given nearly $30 billion in development contribution. Before you huff and puff over that figure, and to put that number is perspective, read how much of your tax dollars go to international affairs and foreign aid here.
The US Embassy in Cairo says that the “$30 billion has been an investment in the people of Egypt and has generated far more than its face value in assisting Egyptians to build their own capacity and develop their own resources.” The statement lists the following programs:
- Expanded access to clean drinking water and sanitation to more than 20 million Egyptians where no such service was previously available.
- Contributed nearly $1 billion for public health resulting in significant extension of the lifespan of Egyptians and dramatic decreases in infant and child mortality. In 1975, about 130 out of every 1000 infants died after childbirth; the number now is about 25 – a more than 500% improvement.
- Built more than 2,000 schools and stocked 39,000 school libraries.
- Rehabilitated and refurbished important antiquity sites, such as Luxor’s West Bank and the Bab Zweila in Cairo, helping to preserve Egypt’s great heritage for generations to come and to sustain Egypt’s tourism.
- Since 2005, sent more than 2,200 Egyptians to the United States for university degrees and training programs. Over the past 30 years we have also awarded 3000 Fulbright scholarships along with 2300 high school and university level scholarships through other programs.
- Invested $1.8 billion in 13 electric power sector projects accounting directly and indirectly for roughly one third of total present capacity.
- From 1982 to 1995, USAID spent USD 140 million to rectify original design flaws and keep the Aswan Dam generating power at its full capacity.
- Invested billions of dollars in technical and financial assistance to modernize Egypt’s economy to create new jobs in fields like high-technology and manufacturing. This has directly contributed to the World Bank naming Egypt one of the top ten Doing Business locations in the world four out of the last five years.
- Helped the poorest Egyptians improve their livelihoods by supporting well over a million Egyptians with the extension of 8.3 million micro-credit loans valued at about USD 2.5 billion.
Ambassador Scobey’s statement also notes that “these projects were completed with the strictest standards of transparency and accountability of any assistance program in the world” and points out that “the United States has always included in its assistance programs funding to strengthen and expand Egypt’s civil society” and that “in the Mubarak era, this assistance was often labeled “interference,” and opposed by a government uncomfortable with hearing the voices of its own people.”
Actually according to the figures from the CRS, economic assistance to Egypt since 1979 amounts to $30.8 billion. But just as eye-popping, military assistance combined with international military education training for Egypt since 1979 amounts to nearly $40 billion.
Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East with a population estimated at 80 million people. Its reported government budget deficit is equivalent to 8.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009/10 fiscal year.
The United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of some $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979. For FY2012, the Obama Administration has requested $1.551 billion in total aid to Egypt following more or less the same amount requested in the last three fiscal years.
|Source: Congressional Research Service
Given that Egypt has been the second largest recipient of US foreign aid since 1979 (second only to Israel), one has to wonder how this aid translates to perception among regular people in the streets of Egypt.
Do the Egyptians know that the US built 2,000 schools and stocked 39,000 school libraries in their country? Or that the US extended 8.3 million micro-credit loans or helped the Aswan dam?
It’s hard to say what exactly Egyptians know/don’t know about US development assistance in their country, but no doubt, just about everyone recognized the assistance and support the USG provided Hosni Mubarak for the last 30 years.
A few things to think about:
- According to the PEW Global Attitudes Project, America’s favorability rating in Egypt dropped from 27% to 17% – the lowest percentage observed in any of the Pew Global Attitudes surveys conducted in that country since 2006. A double-digit decline. In 2009, 27% of Egyptians had a favorable opinion, but this year only 17% hold this view, tying Egypt with Turkey (17%) and Pakistan (17%) for the lowest U.S. favorability rating in the survey.
- Support for terrorism remains low among the Muslim publics surveyed. Many fewer Muslims in 2010 than in the middle of the past decade say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justified to defend Islam from its enemies. However, the new poll does show a modest increase over the past year in support for suicide bombing being often or sometimes justifiable, with a rise in Egypt from 15% to 20% and in Jordan from 12% to 20%. Still, these are below the levels of support observed mid-decade.
- In Jan 2011, a 59%-majority of Muslims in Egypt believed that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. About one-in-five (22%), however, said that in some circumstances, a non-democratic government could be preferable, and another 16% said it did not matter what kind of government is in place for a person in their situation.
So — about that huff and puff party ….
On a related note, the US Embassy in Egypt sent out a warden message to alert U.S. citizens in Cairo that groups in Egypt have announced plans to hold a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy on Thursday April 21 at mid-day.
That group turned out to be about 400 protesters according to Reuters. Most of the protesters said they belonged to the militant al-Gama’a al-Islamiya group. The report says the protesters gathered near the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in downtown Cairo to demand freedom for their spiritual leader Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman was jailed in 1995 and is serving a life sentence in the United States for plotting to attack the United Nations headquarters and other New York City landmarks.
Via the embassy press shop:
Cairo – The U.S. Embassy will resume visa services to the public on Sunday, April 10, 2011.
For Non-Immigrant Visas (NIV) services, Vodaphone will contact applicants whose appointments were cancelled because of the suspension of visa operations to reschedule their appointments. Applicants may also reschedule a cancelled appointment by contacting Vodafone directly at 0900-70-600 from a landline or 2100 from a Vodafone cell phone.
For Immigrant Visas (IV), the Embassy will resume interviews for all categories on April 10, 2011. The Embassy will contact immigrant visa applicants whose appointments were cancelled because of the suspension of visa operations to reschedule new appointments.
No visa applicant should come to the Embassy without an appointment. Applicants seeking information about a specific visa case should send an e-mail with case details to ConsularCairoNIV@state.gov for nonimmigrant visa cases, and ConsularCairoIV@state.gov for immigrant visa cases. Information about all categories of U.S. visas is available on the Embassy website at http://egypt.usembassy.gov and the U.S. Department of State website at www.travel.state.gov .
For American citizens, the American Citizens Services (ACS) Section of the Consular Section has resumed its normal appointment system for all non-emergency services. No walk-in clients are admitted with the exception of emergencies. Questions about American Citizens Services can be sent by e-mail to ConsularCairoACS@state.gov.
Just want to add that if the Fed Govt Great Chicken Game of 2011 actually occurs on April 8, the visa appointments that have been newly rescheduled may have to be rescheduled again.
The State Department has released an updated Travel Warning dated March 29 with information on the ongoing security and political situation in Egypt and announcing the return to Egypt of most non-emergency US Embassy personnel. Note that throughout the political upheaval in Egypt, the embassy remained staffed by core personnel.
The Ordered Departure status of embassy dependents is still on. Visa applications appears to be suspended still, but a prior notice indicates that the American Citizens’ Services (ACS) section of the Embassy will return to its previously established appointment system for U.S. citizens effective April 1, 2011. Excerpt from updated Travel Warning:
The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens planning to travel to Egypt to consider the risks and to be aware of the information below. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated February 18, 2011, to update information on the ongoing security and political situation in Egypt, including the return to Egypt of most non-emergency US Embassy personnel.
On February 1, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest. The U.S Embassy in Cairo remains on ordered departure status for dependents, but most employees have returned, and the Embassy is resuming normal operations.
Elements of the Egyptian government responsible for ensuring security and public safety are not fully reconstituted and are still in the process of being reorganized. Until the redeployment of Egyptian civilian police is fully restored, police response to emergency requests for assistance or reports of crime may be delayed. The Embassy’s ability to respond to emergencies to assist U.S. citizens is also significantly diminished. The Government of Egypt has implemented a country-wide curfew. As of March 29, the curfew hours are from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. U.S. citizens should obey curfew orders and remain indoors during curfew hours.
The security situation in Luxor, Aswan, and the Red Sea Resorts, including Sharm el Sheikh, is calm; however, the situation across Egypt remains unpredictable and subject to change.
Read in full here.
There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments. This is one of those times. The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.
This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.
And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.
As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.
Read the full transcript here.
Image via WikipediaWell, when Ambassador Frank Wisner was sent on that important mission to Cairo by the Obama Administration, we wondered out loud if this is President O’s Reagan moment. And if Mr. Wisner was this administration’s, Paul Laxalt sent to tell Mr. Mubarak to “cut and cut cleanly” in the “time has come” moment. Mr. Laxalt, of course, is forever remembered as then President Reagan‘s ultimate messenger to former Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
We don’t know what message Mr. Wisner was asked to relay. The BBC reported that he was sent by President Obama to Cairo apparently to urge Mr Mubarak to announce his departure.
Mr. Mubarak, unfortunately, did not hear the message. Or if he heard it, did not know when to cut cleanly. Either that, or there was something wrong with his ears. He could not hear the relayed message and he could not hear the thundering sound from Liberation Square? Could be that he’s hearing everything through the delusion channel? What? The kids in the square are asking him to go, are you nuts? They’re screaming and pleading for him to stay. While the voices are screaming “Leave!, Leave! Leave!”, he could only hear “Save us! Save us! Save us!” Please somebody give him the clear channel.
So anyway, Mr. Wisner was in Cairo … then he was in Munich. And when we saw him on teevee, we had to cover our eyes when he said this:
“We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes,” he told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“I believe that President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical – it’s his chance to write his own legacy.
“He has given 60 years of his life to the service of his country, this is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward.”
Video here … we won’t blame you if you want to cover your eyes, too.
According to the BBC, the State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, ever diplomatic said: “We have great respect for Frank Wisner and we were deeply appreciative of his willingness to travel to Egypt last week.”
“He has not continued in any official capacity following the trip. The views he expressed today are his own. He did not co-ordinate his comments with the US government.”
We suspect that Ambassador Wisner won’t get any invite to the WH any time soon.
In the meantime, President Obama has issued a new statement on Egypt on February 10.
As of this writing, Mr. Mubarak has so far, refused to budge from his undisclosed location. And it does not sound like he is anxious to pack his bags either. This is not/not good.
FSN Khairy Ramadan Aly was allegedly picked up by Egyptian security forces from his home and has now been confirmed dead. AP is reporting that he disappeared on Jan. 28 after he went to Tahrir Square to find his missing son and was killed in a random act of violence. We have no independent confirmation of the pick-up or that the actual shooting occurred near or at the Sq. All the confirmation we got was that his family finally found his body in the morgue with 3 bullet holes. The statement from Secretary Clinton only says that he “went missing from his home.”
Secretary Clinton’s statement on the Loss of Locally Employed Staff Member Khairy Ramadan Aly in Cairo | February 10, 2011:
On behalf of all the men and women of the State Department and USAID, I offer our condolences to the friends and loved ones of Khairy Ramadan Aly, a member of our Embassy family in Cairo who went missing from his home on January 28 and has now been confirmed dead. Mr. Aly was a carpenter in the Embassy’s Facilities Office with 18 years of dedicated service. We join his family, friends and colleagues in Egypt in mourning this loss. Throughout this period, many Egyptian employees of the U.S. Mission have continued to work alongside their American colleagues in Cairo and Alexandria. The United States is grateful for their contributions, commitment and sacrifice during this difficult time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the many Egyptians who have lost their lives or loved ones, been injured, or had their homes and property destroyed in recent days. As we have said repeatedly, the United States condemns violence against civilians under any circumstances. Abuses committed against those seeking to exercise basic freedoms must stop. There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian government, including the armed forces, to protect those threatened and to hold accountable those responsible for using violence and intimidation that threatens the aspirations of the Egyptian people. We look to the Egyptian government to demonstrate to its people that it is serious about moving quickly toward genuine change.
Our thoughts and prayers for his bereaved family and the US Embassy Cairo community.
Revised and updated on 2/14/2010
A new warden message from US Embassy Cairo:
The U.S. Embassy will be open on Saturday, February 5 from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. for U.S. citizens who need consular assistance.
A U.S. government-chartered evacuation flight will depart Cairo on Saturday, February 5. The exact departure time of the flight is not yet known but registration of those wishing to travel on the flight will begin mid-morning February 5. U.S. citizen travelers wishing to depart should proceed to Terminal 1, Hall 4 (known locally as the Hajj Terminal) after curfew is lifted. Further delay is not advisable. Given the current wide availability of commercial flights, the prospect of additional U.S. government flights after Saturday is unlikely.
U.S. citizens who wish depart Egypt for return to the United States but are having difficulty accessing funds, should contact the Embassy for assistance. Commercial airlines report that they have plenty of seats available on flights departing from Cairo. Travelers with the means to do so should make every effort to utilize commercial flights, as there are a very limited number of seats available on U.S. Government charter flights and no guarantees that there will be future charters.
U.S. citizens requesting evacuation must sign paperwork promising to reimburse the U.S. Government for flight costs at a later date. Exact flight costs are not yet available, but will be comparable to a one-way commercial flight from Egypt to the safe haven location on the date of travel. U.S. citizens who travel on U.S. government–arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from safe haven locations in Europe, including: Larnaca, Cyprus; Istanbul, Turkey; Frankfurt, Germany; and Athens, Greece. There will be a limited number of seats available on any future evacuation flights. Priority will be given to persons with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions.
Read the whole message here
In a related note, US Embassy Cairo also issued a statement about that alleged diplomatic vehicle which plowed into a crowd of protesters:
“We have seen a video that alleges a U.S. diplomatic vehicle was involved in a hit-and-run incident that injured dozens in Cairo. We are certain that no embassy employees or diplomats were involved in this incident. On January 28, however, a number of our U.S. Embassy vehicles were stolen. Since these vehicles were stolen, we have heard reports of their use in violent and criminal acts. If true, we deplore these acts and the perpetrators.”