Former Iraq Envoy L. Paul Bremer Encounters Shoe Hurling Tradition in London

Two shoes went flying targeting L. Paul “Jerry” Bremer, former ambassador and Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq following the 2003 invasion.  Mr. Bremer who was previously Ambassador to the Netherlands in 1983 and Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism in 1986 still had good reflexes.

After the second shoe flew across the room and he failed to catch it, Mr. Bremer said,  “You should improve your aim if you want to do something like that.”

The shoe hurling incident happened at a meeting organized by a think tank at the British Parliament.  As the shoe hurler was removed from the room, the man could be heard shouting profanity addressed to Bremer, who he said is responsible for destroying his country.

Peace restored, Mr. Bremer who very quickly regained his composure told the attendees, “If he had done that while Saddam Hussein was alive, he would be a dead man by now.”

Well, actually, that would only be true if Saddam Hussein was the target of the shoe attack.

Press reports identified the shoe hurler as Iraqi national Yasser al-Samarani. He was later released on condition of not attending any future meetings or activities held at the House of Commons, according to British media.

Shoe hurling is a traditional Arab gesture of disrespect. This man made an effort to attend the meeting, and waited for his turn to speak to Mr. Bremer and publicly register his disrespect. Mission accomplished. The Iraq war may have been over for the rest of the world, but it will not be over for a long while for people like Yasser al-Samarani.

US Embassy Niger: Curfew for Official Personnel From Midnight – 6:00 AM

On February 7, the US Embassy in Niamey sent out an updated security message to U.S. citizens in Niger regarding restricted travel in the country, and the embassy-imposed curfew on mission personnel.

As of February 6, anyone, i.e., U.S. citizens, foreigners and host country nationals alike, who wishes to travel beyond the Niamey’s city limits (péage), must carry with them  car registration and personal identification documents, such as a passport or Nigerien identification card.

The Nigerien authorities have stated they will not restrict or permit travel based on nationality, but they do reserve the right to restrict travel based on the intended destination and its current security climate.  If you wish to travel, please remember the security climate can change and the Nigerien authorities may decide to take additional actions for your safety.

Due to the fluid security situation in Niger, the U.S. Embassy has imposed a curfew on official Embassy personnel from midnight until 6:00 a.m. The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens remain vigilant, review their personal security plans, and take appropriate steps to increase their personal security.

Amb Bisa Williams during a trip to the Zinder region in 2011(Photo via US EMbassy Niamey/FB)

Ambassador Bisa Williams during a trip to the Zinder region in 2011
(Photo via US Embassy Niamey/FB)

On January 16, 2013, the Department of State issued a new travel warning for Niger on the risks of travel to Niger, and urges extreme caution due to the military conflict in neighboring Mali and continued kidnapping threats against Westerners in Niger.