More Protests Expected, Post Closures: Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, HK, Lebanon, Pakistan

We’re trying to keep up with the protests breaking out across the globe over the anti-Islam movie. Here is what we know based on publicly available information:

Malaysia:   US Embassy Kuala Lumpur informs U.S. citizens of planned demonstrations on Friday, September 21, 2012. It says the embassy is not aware of specific threats to U.S. citizens in Malaysia at this time but will close to the public on mid-day tomorrow.

The U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been informed by the Royal Malaysian Police that demonstrations are scheduled to take place in the afternoon on  Friday, September 21, 2012 at the following locations:   on Jalan Tun Razak in the vicinity of the Embassy;  in front of the Tabung Haji Mosque and proceed by foot to the vicinity of the Embassy; in the vicinity of Jamek Kampung Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, approximately 3 kilometers north of the U.S. Embassy on Jalan Raja Abdullah;  at the  Taman Perling Mosque in Johor Bahru, Johor state;  and at all district mosques in Sabah state.  U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all areas noted above in Kuala Lumpur on Friday afternoon.
From noon until late afternoon on Friday vehicular and foot traffic in the area around the U.S. Embassy will be disrupted.  Given the uncertainty inherent in this situation, the Embassy will close to the public at 11 a.m.   Visa and American Citizens Services appointments scheduled for the afternoon of September 21 will be rescheduled for later dates.  In the event of an emergency, U.S. citizens may call (03) 2168-5000 at any time.   The Embassy plans to re-open for normal business on Monday, September 24.

Indonesia: US Embassy Jakarta informs U.S. citizens of the continuing closure of APP Medan, and closure of US Embassy Jakarta and USCG Surabaya on September 21, 2012:

The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, the American Presence Post in Medan, the U.S. Consular Agency in Bali, and the U.S. Mission to ASEAN will be closed tomorrow, Friday, September 21 because of the potential for significant demonstrations that might be held in front of these facilities.  The American Presence Post in Medan continues to be closed today, September 20. We apologize for any inconvenience. We advise, as always, that people should avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates, if needed.

Australia: US Consulate General Sydney informs U.S. citizens of possible new protests in Sydney and Melbourne on September 22, and September 23.

Sydney law enforcement authorities have advised of possible anti-American demonstrations in Sydney for Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.   U.S. citizens should avoid Sydney’s Hyde Park and its perimeter area and Martin Place on both Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.  Previous demonstrations in Sydney on September 15, 2012 occurred in Martin Place and Hyde Park and turned violent.

Melbourne law enforcement authorities have also advised of possible anti-American protests in downtown Melbourne on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.  Should they occur, U.S. citizens should avoid the immediate demonstration areas.

Nepal: US Embassy Kathmandu informs U.S. citizens of a planned demonstration on September 21.

A demonstration is planned for Friday, September 21 in the area of Ratna Park in Kathmandu in the early afternoon (1 pm or sometime thereafter).  (Ratna Park is located in central Kathmandu, approximately one mile south of Thamel, an area popular with backpackers and other tourists, and about a half mile east of Kathmandu’s Durbar Square, another popular tourist destination.)  Ratna Park is a major transit point for local public transportation buses, so a demonstration in the area could cause traffic disruption.

Japan: US Embassy Tokyo notifies U.S. citizens of planned demonstrations on September 21.

The Embassy has been advised that there will be a demonstration starting in the Shibuya area and arriving at the U.S. Embassy at approximately 4:00PM on Friday, September 21. The Government of Japan has designated the Japan Tobacco (JT) building as the designated location near the U.S. Embassy for these demonstrations to gather legally and peacefully.

China: US Consulate General Hong Kong informs US citizens in Hong Kong of planned demonstration this weekend:

The U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong informs U.S. citizens that local Muslim leaders have announced plans for peaceful demonstrations to take place in Chater Garden in Central in the early afternoon of Sunday, September 23. Consulate General personnel have been instructed to avoid the immediate area around Chater Garden on Sunday, September 23, and we advise you to avoid the area also.

Pakistan: The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and Consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar will be closed tomorrow (Friday, September 21). The Government of Pakistan yesterday officially declared September 21 a Love for Muhammad Day, a national holiday (see more below).

Meanwhile, the State Department has issued updated Travel Warnings for both Lebanon and Pakistan:

Travel Warning Lebanon: September 17, 2012

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. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 8, 2012, to emphasize information on security, kidnappings, and an upsurge in violence in Lebanon and the region.
[…]
The Fulbright and the English Language Fellow programs that provided grants to American scholars to live and work in Lebanon during the academic year have been suspended in country because of the deteriorating security situation and the increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon.

Travel Warning Pakistan | September 19, 2012

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan.
[…]
Movements by U.S. government personnel assigned to the Consulates General are severely restricted. 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.
[…]
There have been several terrorist attacks in the past few years, targeting civilians and security personnel. 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.  On April 5, 2012, a suicide bomber attacked a police vehicle in the Malir Area of Karachi, not far from the airport, causing a number of deaths. On November 16, 2011, a vehicle driven by suicide bombers exploded in the Defense Area of Karachi, killing the three bombers and two police officers. On May 20, 2011, a U.S. Consulate General vehicle in Peshawar was attacked, killing one person and injuring a dozen, including two U.S. employees of the Mission. On April 5, 2010, terrorists carried out a complex attack on U.S. Consulate General Peshawar, with several Pakistani security and military personnel killed or wounded.  On February 3, 2010, ten persons, including three U.S. military personnel, were killed and 70 injured in a suicide bombing at a new girls’ school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A side note here.  Pakistani news report that the Federal Cabinet meeting on Wednesday has decided “to observe September 21 as ‘Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh)’ day to express reverence for Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) and register the government’s protest against the recently released anti-Islam film in the US.” The day has been declared a national holiday.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, addressing the Cabinet meeting, was quoted as saying: “At this moment, I call upon the people of Pakistan to register their protests peacefully but to observe restraints and not to damage their own property.”

On Radio Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has reportedly said that special security arrangements will be made on Friday on the occasion of “Day of Ishq-e-Rasool and that no one will be allowed to take the law into his own hands and damage private or public properties during the protests.

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SFRC Clears Villarosa, Liberi, Mull, North, Olson, Macmanus with Looming Senate Holds

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee(SFRC)  cleared the following ambassadorial nominations on September 19, 2012.

  • Sharon English Woods Villarosa, of Texas, 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 Mauritius, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Seychelles.
  • Dawn M. Liberi, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.
  • Stephen D. Mull, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Poland.
  • Walter North, of Washington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
  • Richard G. Olson, of New Mexico, 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 Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
  • Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.
  • Joseph E. Macmanus, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the rank of Ambassador

Two nominees for UNGA were also cleared:

The Honorable John Hardy Isakson, of Georgia, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, of Vermont, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Sixty-seventh Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations

The nominations will now go to the Senate for the full vote.

The SFRC, by the way,  just held its confirmation hearing for Ambassador Robert Beecroft (US Embassy Iraq) on September 19, so he was not included in the cleared nominees on Wednesday.  The Cable says that according to committee aides, “there was broad support for dispatching the Beecroft nomination out of committee without a formal vote so he could be confirmed this week before the Senate leaves town.”

However, all these nominees could get entangled in Senator Rand Paul’s hold.  He has reportedly placed a hold on the Olson nomination over Pakistan’s Afridi case. And according to The Cable, there is also the the ongoing dispute between Senate leadership and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) over Paul’s demand for a floor vote on his amendment to cut off all U.S. aid to Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt.

We don’t think Dr. Afridi should be in jail, but taking away what, $33 million from over a billion US aid to Pakistan, and a very public congressional pressure to released the good doctor — is not going to help much. No country, particularly one like Pakistan would like to be seen as publicly relenting to such foreign pressure, especially one coming from the United States, a perceived enemy by a great number of its population. To do so is contrary to the laws of political self preservation.  Can you imagine any US President acceding to a foreign senator’s demand to release a prisoner from one of our jails?  Of course not.

Senator Paul says, “If Pakistan wants to be our ally — and receive foreign aid — then they should act like it, and they must start by releasing Dr. Afridi.” He has more here.

Even if the elected Government of Pakistan may be amendable to releasing Dr. Afridi, it would be foolish to do so now, in the most public way. Or if it does, and it falls, who would we have next to deal with?

If screaming from the Senate chamber works perfectly in conducting foreign relations, why the heck do we have a diplomatic corps?  More congressional shock and awe is not going to help the cause of Dr. Afridi, it just drags it longer.  Senator Paul should understand this.  It’s not about him, it’s about them.  He should lift his hold so Ambassador Olson can join his embassy in Islamabad and our diplomats can do the work they need to do.

 

 

SFRC Clears Three for Personal Rank of Career Ambassador

The SFRC cleared the following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, for the personal rank of Career Ambassador in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period:

 

Correct me if I’m wrong but Ambassadors Brownfield and Kenney may be the first tandem couple with personal ranks of Career Ambassador.

Ambassador Kristie Kenney with A/S William Brownfield
Via

This one from the Office of Historian:

The class of Career Ambassador was first established by an Act of Congress on Aug 5, 1955, as an amendment to the Foreign Service act of 1946 (P.L. 84-250; 69 Stat. 537). Under its provisions, the President with the advice and consent of the Senate was empowered to appoint individuals to the class who had (1) served at least 15 years in a position of responsibility in a government agency, including at least 3 years as a Career Minister; (2) rendered exceptionally distinguished service to the government; and (3) met other requirements prescribed by the Secretary of State. Under the 1980 Foreign Service Act (P.L. 96-465; 94 Stat. 2084), which repealed the 1946 Act as amended, the President is empowered with the advice and consent of the Senate to confer the personal rank of Career Ambassador upon a career member of the Senior Foreign Service in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period.

 

In over fifty years, the Office of the Historian only has 53 career diplomats listed with the personal rank of Career Ambassador. That list includes William Joseph Burns (State’s Deputy Secretary), Anne Woods Patterson (current US Ambassador to Egypt), James Franklin Jeffrey (former US Ambassador to Iraq), Ryan Clark Crocker (former Ambassador to Afghanistan and six other countries), Nancy Jo Powell (current US Ambassador to India), Marc Isaiah Grossman (current S/RAP) and Earl Anthony Wayne (current US Ambassador to Mexico).

The full list is here.