US Embassy #Libya Now on Ordered Departure

I thought the ordered departure would come quickly given how fast things are falling apart inside Libya. About an hour ago, the oil companies operating in Libya are reported to be making plans to evacuate their employees.  

Today, a day after the State Department allowed the voluntary departure of dependents from Libya, it ordered the evacuation of all embassy family members and non-emergency personnel from the US Embassy in Tripoli. This means leaving Libya is no longer optional for those under chief of mission authority in the country. Below is an excerpt from the February 21 announcement:   

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the potential for ongoing unrest in Libya.  Violent clashes between protesters and security forces continue throughout Libya, including in Tripoli.  Spontaneous demonstrations, violence, and looting are possible throughout the next several days.  The Department of State has ordered all Embassy family members and non-emergency personnel to depart Libya.  U.S. citizens outside of Libya are urged to defer all travel to Libya.  U.S. citizens in Libya should minimize overall travel in-country, exercise extreme caution when traveling, and limit all travel after dark.  U.S. citizens not departing Libya should make preparations to shelter in place. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated February 20, 2011.

U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution, avoid areas where demonstrations are likely to occur such as government offices and public squares, and leave an area immediately if a demonstration begins.  Demonstrations have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between security forces and protesters, resulting in injuries and deaths.  The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment, or worse.  While demonstrations have not been directed toward Westerners, U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security.  U.S. citizens should take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.  Again, there is no indication that Westerners are being threatened or targeted at this time.

Unannounced security checkpoints and road and airport closures may occur throughout Libya, changing traffic patterns and flight availability without notice.  Due to ongoing internet and telephone service interruptions in Libya, U.S. citizens who require assistance in departing Libya should contact the U.S. State Department at the phone numbers below or via email at LibyaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli can be reached at +218 (0)21-337-3250 during business hours; the after hours emergency number for emergencies involving U.S. citizens is 091-220-5207.  The Embassy’s website is at http://libya.usembassy.gov.  Security updates can be found at http://libya.usembassy.gov/service/information-for-travelers/warden-messages.html.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located in the Ben Ashour neighborhood on Jeraba Street behind the former Libyan-Swiss Clinic.  


Read the whole thing here.


Even as the embassy orders the departure of its dependents and non-essential personnel, it must also attend to one of its core tasks – the evacuation of American citizens.  I can’t even begin to imagine the challenges of this kind of evacuation where dual nationals did not want to be identified with the Americans, or where US born nationals haven’t had their passports renewed since they were kids. (The embassy’s passport workload according to a published report consists of a continuing flow of first-time applicants who are the adult children of a group of over 6,000 Libyan students who studied in the United States between 1960 and 1980). 

 
FSO and blogger, “Fawda Munathema” (or الفوضى المنظمة meaning “organized chaos” in Arabic) is in Tripoli and presumably will be expected to stay on as one of the essential personnel since he works at the Consular Section.

Our blog friend, TSB of The Skeptical Bureaucrat, writes:
“The U.S. Embassy is surely on lock-down today, and planning to evacuate. Just as surely, local security forces detailed to the embassy will be absent or ineffective, and our local employees will be sheltering at their homes. I’m certain we’re doing everything possible to keep the entire embassy community safe while they ride out the storm of revolution.”


Take care, everyone … we’re thinking of you!


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the slow move east: hannah draper, yer famous

Istanbul, TurkeyImage via Wikipedia
Istanbul-based FSO, hannah draper and FS blogger at the slow move east made an appearance in the Sunday issue of the Washington Post. Check this out:

FED FACES:
Sunday, February 20, 2011; 9:14 PM


Hannah Draper
Department of State | Political Officer | Istanbul

Best known for: As a 26-year-old foreign service officer on her second overseas assignment, Draper seeks to promote opportunities for Turkish women through U.S.-backed programs. These include a project to teach leadership and job skills to more than 2,550 girls in Istanbul and surrounding areas, and a program for Turkish journalism students and faculty at five universities to address gender issues in the media and ways to overcome gender-based violence.

Government service: After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in Islamic studies, Draper joined the State Department and completed a year-long tour in Saudi Arabia as a consular officer. She then spent nine months in Turkish language training before becoming a political officer for the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul.

Biggest challenge: Living overseas means spending large amounts of time away from family and friends in the United States and missing out on American pop culture and music. “When I returned from Saudi Arabia in 2009, my friends had to give me a crash course on the ‘Saturday Night Live’ skits I’d missed and everything about the 2008 election.”

Quote: “You can’t always point to one thing you did that changed the world. My job with the Foreign Service is my way of supporting American citizens and U.S. goals, both domestically and overseas, and it also happens to be an interesting, challenging and fun career.”

Send your nominations for Federal Faces to fedfaces@washingtonpost.com

Via WaPo | From the Partnership for Public Service


#Libya violence and economic relations, Europe under hot pressure to act….

Via

As I was putting this up, I see that the EU ministers have condemned the bloody crackdown on protesters. Via ABC news:

We condemn the repression against peaceful demonstrators and deplore the violence and the death of civilians,” said a statement issued after a meeting of European foreign ministers.

“The EU urges the authorities to exercise restraint and calm and to immediately refrain from further use of violence against peaceful demonstrators,” the ministers said, adding that “the legitimate aspirations and demands of the people for reform” must be addressed through dialogue.

Note that these words of condemnation (not even actions) did not sit well with the Libyan regime who has warned the EU against lending vocal support to the protesters.  AlertNet Reuters reports that “The Hungarian ambassador was called in in Libya on Thursday and was given the message that Libya is going to suspend cooperation with the EU on immigration issues if the EU keeps making statements in support of Libyan pro-democracy protests,” a spokesman for Hungary, which holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, said.

Apparently, Libya has frequently threatened to cancel cooperation with the EU on illegal migration in the past. In December, a minister said Libya would scale back efforts to stem the flow of migrants unless the EU paid 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) a year.

Via Reuters:

The International Organization for Migration estimates that migrants from across Africa account for about 10 percent of Libya’s six million population, although only a minority of those attempt to travel on to Europe to find work.Tens of thousands of illegal migrants try to make the journey from the northern coasts of Tunisia and Libya to islands off Italy every year, with hundreds having to be rescued by Italy’s coastguard and housed in migration centres.The European Commission said in October it would spend 50 million euros to help Libya tackle illegal migration and protect migrants’ rights.


Just after midnight in WDC on Sunday, Reuters is reporting that the US has issued its strongest condemnation yet of Libya’s violent crackdown on protesters, citing what it called credible reports of hundreds of deaths and injuries and threatening to take “all appropriate actions” in response.

   
Libya will surely have a come back for that. I suspect that the ordered departure for US personnel in Tripoli can happen quickly.

Related post:
Deadly crackdown of protesters in #Libya … paging EU’s Catherine Ashton, where are you? | February 19, 2011


FY2012 Budget Request for Civilian Power: State 197 Positions | USAID 165 Positions

In the FY2011 budget, the Obama administration requested 410 new Foreign Service positions and for USAID, an increase of 200 FS positions.  Last year, when Secretary Lew (now OMB Director) was asked by a reporter on President Obama’s  plans early on to increase the number of Foreign Service officers by 1,600 over two years, this is what he said:

DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: It was never over two years.
QUESTION: Is that –
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: No, I mean, we’ve stretched it out a little bit, but it was never over two years.
QUESTION: Well, my point is, have the cuts that he’s trying to make affected the positions that are going to be added?
DEPUTY SECRETARY LEW: I think that as I indicated in my opening statement, we have had to extend the period, but we haven’t changed the goal. And I think it’s really a remarkable statement of how important this rebuilding of the core capacity of the State Department and USAID is in a very difficult budget year when there are very difficult tradeoffs in domestic programs.

We’re maintaining the commitment to building up our capacity to have properly trained civilians available for these critical assignments. You look around the world and the fact that there are 3,000 civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq makes the case as clearly as anything that I could argue as to why we need more people. Without growing, it just means pulling civilians out of other posts. So we need to grow and I think the budget gives us the ability to continue to grow. And the pace of hiring will only slow down slightly. It will not be a dramatic change.

Since the FY2011 budget is still hung up in Congress, it’s hard to say if the 610 new positions will actually materialized. But the new request for FY2012 is already in and only totals 362 for State and USAID. The next opportunity to request a staffing increase won’t happen until February 2012 for the FY2013 budget.   

Click on image to view larger version


How much is that pony in the K Street window? How Mideast Autocrats Win Friends And Influence People In Washington

Via HuffPo:

Control of the state media is not the only way the oil-rich island kingdom polishes its reputation. A month before the arrests, one of Washington’s most powerful lobbying firms began working for Bahrain.

Qorvis, a lobbying and public relations giant with a roster of high-profile clients from Intel and the Washington Post to Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea, began work under a subcontract with Britain’s Bell Pottinger. Among its goals: to position Bahrain as a key ally in the war on terror and as an advocate for peace in the Middle East. As part of its work, Qorvis pitched major media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times, reports O’Dwyer’s PR Daily.

One Qorvis staffers working on the account, former State Department Official Matt Lauer, was recently named one of Washington’s most influential people under 40.

Lauer did not return several requests for comment. It is unclear what advice Qorvis is offering the government amid Bahrain’s current unrest, in which government soldiers have fired live rounds on thousands of protesters and at least six people have been killed and hundreds injured.


Active links added above.  Continue reading here and see who represented Libya’s King of Kings in K Street until recently. And brownie points if you can guess who was his most recent high power DC visitor in his tent in the desert …


Matt J. Lauer, according to his bio was the executive director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy at the Department of State prior to joining
Qorvis. The commission, a bipartisan panel appointed by the president, analyzes and evaluates the U.S. government’s international public relations capabilities.