US Consulate General Cd. Juarez Warning: Threats of Violence Against USG Interests

Ciudad Juarez lies on the border between Mexic...Image via WikipediaThis was issued today, July 15. Chihuahua is the largest state in Mexico by area.  The three most important economic centers in the state are: Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, the state capital; and Delicias.

Threats of violence against U.S. government interests in Chihuahua

The U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez is issuing this Emergency Message for U.S. citizens in the state of Chihuahua (“Emergency Messages” were formerly known as “Warden Messages”).  The Consulate has distributed the following message to our staff:

Mexican authorities have captured key members of the cartels active in Juarez. These successes also bring with them the potential for an increase in violence. The cartels may seek to retaliate and increase their attacks against rival cartel members, Mexican law enforcement and/or the public in general.

Information has come to light that suggests a cartel may be targeting the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez or U.S. Ports of Entry.  In the past, cartels have been willing to utilize car bombs in attacks.  We ask American citizens to remain vigilant.

If the Consulate should receive any credible threat information that provides a specific time and place, that information will be disseminated immediately.

Read the whole thing here.

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Near Eastern Affairs Bureau in Action Gets High Marks: Outstanding Job, High Morale Amidst Intense Workload and Regional Chaos

Jeffrey Feltman heads the Burea of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA). He is supported by PDAS Ambassador Ronald Schlicher, six deputy assistant secretaries, and 10 office directors.  Domestically, NEA has 321 employees. Overseas, 1,346 U.S. direct-hire and 7,007 locally employed staff work in 17 U.S. missions in the region. The total FY 2010 budget resources (domestic and overseas) for NEA were $1.2 billion (excluding salaries for direct-hire Americans). The bureau covers all the hotspots in the news lately and more: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman meets with
Iraqi Prime Minister Noori Al Maliki in Iraq on August 14, 2010.
Photo from state.gov/Flickr

State OIG recently posted its review of the bureau. Excerpts below:

The crises in the Middle East gave inspectors an opportunity to see the NEA leaders in action in a time of enormous change and significance to the United States. Their extensive regional expertise, collegiality, and esprit de corps set the tone for all levels of the bureau. Employees knew their front office team was working as intensely as they were and that each person’s work counted. This knowledge contributed to generally high morale, although the intense workload and lack of progress on some issues influenced it negatively. Most importantly, the outstanding and timely products of their efforts, including policy recommendations for the Secretary and President, underscored the reputation of the bureau as one of the finest in the Department.

Some Key Findings:

  • The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) does an outstanding job pursuing U.S. interests in the region under particularly challenging circumstances. The Assistant Secretary has built a strong front office team dedicated to its mission and to sharing the often overwhelming workload with its employees.
  • This inspection took place during a period of change in the Middle East unprecedented in its intensity and impact, region-wide. NEA managed crises in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and elsewhere, while dealing compassionately with evacuated families. At the same time, the bureau was able to maintain its focus on its important work on Iran, Middle East peace, and the transition in Iraq.
  • Morale among employees is generally high, due to pride in working on critical issues and recognition from the front office. Morale is good despite an often inadequate working environment, and competition is keen for many NEA positions, domestically and overseas.
  • Interagency interlocutors praised the bureau for its leadership, inclusiveness, mastery of policy issues, and operational effectiveness.
  • The transition from a military- to a civilian-led presence in Iraq poses challenges for the Department of State (Department); it must ramp up its presence there quickly and securely, even with resource questions affecting its mission not yet decided. Department planning and coordination have been thorough with the Department of Defense (DOD) and other agencies dedicated to the transition. The appointment of an Iraq Transition Coordinator for the Department is a welcome addition, as the date for completing the transition approaches.
  • Staff in the Iraq office is not used effectively, and NEA needs to reorganize the staffing pattern.
  • A separate team in the executive office focuses solely on planning for the upcoming military-to-civilian transition in Iraq. Team members are proud of what they have accomplished so far. However, communication and coordination issues with the NEA Iraq policy office, as well as the unclear budget picture and occasionally confusing strategic guidance, are hurting the planning process.

According to the inspectors, the NEA bureau was also required to staff two 24/7 task forces and a number of “shadow task forces” through mid-March, in large part to make sure that the evacuations of the U.S. citizens from Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen proceeded smoothly, and to manage the effects of additional Wikileaks disclosures of purported embassy cables.

Related item:
Inspection of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Report Number ISP-I-11-49A, May 2011

 
 
 

July 13 SFRC Hearings: Wohlers, Moser, Heffern, Countryman, DeLaurentis

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held nomination hearings on July 13 on the following nominees:

Presiding: Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Time:  03:00 PM
Location: 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building

Panel One

    Mr. Paul D. Wohlers,
    of Washington, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Macedonia
 
    Mr. William H. Moser,
    of North Carolina, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Moldova
   
    Mr. John A. Heffern,
    of Missouri, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia
   
Panel Two

Mr. Thomas M. Countryman,
of Washington, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (International Security and
Non-Proliferation)    

Mr. Jeffrey DeLaurentis,
of New York, to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, and Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations

Hearing video and prepared statement of nominees are available here.