2013 Fourth of July Embassy Events: Sights and Sounds Around the World

— By Domani Spero

Bad news folks — US embassies and consulates have completely ignored the State Department’s guidance for zombie-themed events this Fourth of July. (See State Dept Issues New Guidance for 2013 Fourth of July Embassy Events – More Zombies, Please).  So no brain food this week.  The good news is, the parties are still on (with special mention to those that had their parties in March, way before the “guidance” was issued).   Also with the exception of US Embassy Cairo where the July 4th event was finally called off  on Sunday as the capital city burst into mega-anti govt protests with an anti-American tone.  Here is our round-up for the Fourth of July celebrations around the Foreign Service.

US Consulate General Milan, Italy

Special mention goes to the US Consulate General in Milan for “hosting” President Obama, Lady Liberty, Ambassador David Thorne and other guests for its 4th of July celebration to “To advance freedom, liberty, to celebrate the Statue’s reopening and its link to Milan.”


U.S. Embassy Kuwait

Celebrated the U.S. National Day on March 27, 2013


Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller at the US Embassy Kuwait Fourth of July celebration, March 2013 – Photo by US Embassy Kuwait/Flickr
(click on image to see more photos)

US Embassy Lithuania

June 27, 2013

Fourth of July cake courtesy of Ramada Hotels & Suites Photo via US Embassy Vilnius/FB

Fourth of July cake courtesy of Ramada Hotels & Suites
Photo via US Embassy Vilnius/FB
(click image for more photos)

US Embassy New Zealand

June 26, 2013

4th of Steel, US Embassy New Zealand

US Embassy Finland

June 19, 2013

US Embassy Finland, June 19, 2013 (click on image for more photos)

Presentation of Colors with the ambassador’s dog, Deckard on the foreground, dressed for the celebration.
US Embassy Finland, June 19, 2013
(click on image for more photos)

US Embassy Norway

June 19, 2013

On June 19, the US Embassy Oslo invited 2000 friends and contacts to celebrate Independence Day (in advance) in the Ambassador’s garden. The party included music, color guard, BBQ, ice cream and a wonderful atmosphere.


US Embassy Ghana

June 27, 2013

Ambassador Gene Cretz, Fourth of July, US Embassy Ghana (photo via US Embassy Ghana/Flickr)

Ambassador Gene Cretz, Fourth of July, US Embassy Ghana (photo via US Embassy Ghana/Flickr)

US Embassy Estonia

July 4, 2013

U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Levine,  a proud Californian will take guests on a culinary tour of his home state. The U.S. Embassy staff will trade in their suits and ties for something a bit more casual as they share a relaxing afternoon on the lush grounds of the residence in picturesque Pirita.  Guests are invited to come and enjoy the tunes of Liis Lemsalu, take a test drive on a Segway, and enjoy some delicious California cuisine by the Ambassador’s chef and provided by the embassy’s generous sponsors.

Photo via US Embassy Tallinn

Photo via US Embassy Tallinn

US Embassy Israel

July 4, 2013

On July 4, 2013 beginning at 7pm, the embassy will stream live from the Residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro the 4th of July party.  Expected guests include: Dr. Eric Huntsman to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Ms. Hagit Yassu to sing “Hatikva,” and the U.S. Ambassador, Israeli President, and Prime Minister will deliver their remarks.  Musical entertainment throughout the evening will be provided by an ensemble from the Israeli Conservatory of Music and the U.S. Military Band “Winds Aloft.” The embassy promises fireworks to “light up the night sky above the cliffs of the Mediterranean!”

US Embassy Latvia

June 29, 2013

Photo via US Embassy Latvia (click on image to see more photos)

Photo via US Embassy Latvia
(click on image to see more photos)

US Embassy Uganda

July 2, 2013

U.S. Embassy staff get a large American flag (“Old Glory”) ready for the Fourth of July.

Photo via US Embassy Uganda/FB

Photo via US Embassy Uganda/FB

Happy 4th of July everyone, stay safe!



Morsi Ousted, US Mission Egypt Now On Ordered Departure

— By Domani Spero

Shortly after noon today, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest.  We understand that the AMIDEAST has also flown out the remaining interns/Arabic students (Andrew Pochner who was killed in Alexandria was an intern at AMIDEAST), and that the Fulbrighters have also left. Excerpt from the updated Travel Warning:

If you wish to depart Egypt, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are still operating, although cancellations may occur. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Egypt are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.

Previously, on June 28, 2013, the Department of State authorized the departure of a limited number of non-emergency employees and family members.

The last time the US Embassy in Cairo was ordered evacuated was in January-February 2011.  The embassy staff did not return to post until April that year.

On 03 Jul 2013 19:36, Al Jazeera reported that the Egyptian army has overthrown President Mohamed Morsi, announcing a roadmap for the country’s political future that will be implemented by a national reconciliation committee:

The head of Egypt’s armed forces issued a declaration on Wednesday evening suspending the constitution and appointing the head of the constitutional court as interim head of state.

In a televised broadcast, flanked by military leaders, religious authorities and political figures, General Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi effectively declared the removal of  Morsi.

Sisi called for presidential and parliamentary elections, a panel to review the constitution and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth movements. He said the roadmap had been agreed by a range of political groups.

Ahram Online reported that the head of Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, the most senior Egyptian court, is Adly Mansour. He was promoted to position in June. He is now reported as the new interim president of Egypt.  The website also notes the attendees at the press conference where El-Sisi gave his speech included a number of top military and police officials who sat in two rows on either side of the podium; the Coptic Orthodox patriarch Tawadros II; the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayyeb; ElBaradei; a representative of Nour Party; Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, one of the anti-Morsi Rebel campaign’s founders; and a senior judicial figure.

Next talk coming up?

$1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt’s military, or as time.com puts it, the aid that’s about 20% of Egypt’s most stable public institution.  The text of Foreign Assistance Act requiring US gov to cut military aid to countries after a coup: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/8422 ….

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the removal of Mohamed Morsi as Egypt’s president:

“It is unfortunate that Morsi did not heed popular demands for early elections after a year of his incompetent leadership and attempting a power grab for the Muslim Brotherhood.  Morsi was an obstacle to the constitutional democracy most Egyptians wanted.  I am hopeful that his departure will reopen the path to a better future for Egypt, and I encourage the military and all political parties to cooperate in the peaceful establishment of democratic institutions and new elections that lead to an Egypt where minority rights are protected.  But make no mistake about it, Egypt is in for very difficult days.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also praised the Egyptian military for taking action, saying, “democracy is about more than elections.”

The folks over at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appeared to be gone for the holidays.

President Obama released a statement with the following:

The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.


And State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki apparently declined to specify earlier Wednesday what would constitute  a military coup, though she affirmed the U.S. recognition of Morsi as the democratically elected leader.

Haven’t we seen this before? Honduras. 2009 when the military removed a sitting president and flew him out to Costa Rica.  But certainly without the millions protesting like in Egypt.  Here’s what we might hear down the road.  “[O]n the ground, there’s a lot of discussion about who did what to whom and what things were constitutional or not, which is why our lawyers are really looking at the event as we understand them in order to come out with the accurate determination.”

We suspect that the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser is busy. There has not been a nominee since Avril Haines’ nomination was withdrawn so she could be nominated as CIA’s #2.  Mary McLeod, the Principal Deputy Legal Adviser is currently it.












US Embassy Dar Es Salaam: Obama, Bush at Wreath-Laying Ceremony for 1998 Embassy Attack Victims

—By Domani Spero

President Obama and former President George W. Bush honored the victims of the 1998 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the site of the memorial.

If video is unable to display, click here to view in YouTube/AP

More photos here and here.

Via the Crowe ARB:

According to physical evidence and reports from persons on the scene just prior to the bombing, on the morning of Friday, August 7, 1998, a truck laden with explosives drove up Laibon Road to one of the two vehicular gates of the US Embassy in Dar Es Salaam. Apparently unable to penetrate the perimeter because it was blocked by an embassy water tanker, the suicide bomber detonated his charge at 10:39 a.m. at a distance of about 35 feet from the outer wall of the chancery. The type and quantity of explosives are still under investigation.

The bomb attack killed eleven people; one other is missing and presumed dead. Another 85 people were injured. No Americans were among the fatalities, but many were injured, two of them seriously. The chancery suffered major structural damage and was rendered unusable, but it did not collapse. No one inside the chancery was killed, in part due to the strength of the structure and in part to simple luck. A number of third-country diplomatic facilities and residences in the immediate vicinity were severely damaged, and several American Embassy residences were destroyed, as were dozens of vehicles. The American Ambassador’s residence, a thousand yards distant and vacant at the time, suffered roof damage and collapsed ceilings.

At the time of the attack, two contract local guards were on duty inside a perimeter guard booth, while two others were in the pedestrian entrance screening area behind the booth and another was in the open area behind the water truck. All five were killed in the blast. The force of the blast propelled the filled water tanker over three stories into the air. It came to rest against the chancery building, having absorbed some of the shock wave that otherwise would have hit the chancery with even greater force. The driver of the water tanker was killed, but his assistant, seen in the area shortly before the explosion, is missing without trace and presumed dead.

Read in full here.






USAID Foreign Service Officer “Toni” Beaumont Tomasek Killed in Haiti

—By Domani Spero
USAID’s Rajiv Shah released the following statement on the death of USAID officer in Haiti:

On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the American people, I offer my deepest condolences to the family of Antoinette “Toni” Beaumont Tomasek, a USAID Foreign Service Officer who died in Haiti on Saturday, June 29, 2013. Toni had been in a car accident on June 26. Toni, age 41, was a Community Health Specialist with an expertise in water, sanitation, and cross-cultural education. She brought years of experience designing and implementing health programs, from working with migrant and seasonal farming communities in the United States to serving in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and, later, in Washington, D.C., as the health lead for the Inter-American and Pacific region.

Toni joined USAID in 2009, completing her first tour as a Development Leadership Initiative Officer in Indonesia, where she established a groundbreaking program that offered grants to local organizations working to prevent and treat tuberculosis. She was also one of the principal authors of Indonesia’s Global Health Initiative strategy, which continues to guide the work of the USAID/Indonesia Mission.

Although Toni only arrived in Haiti in May, she had quickly become a highly valued member of the Mission. She was driven by the passionate belief that individuals can make a difference. Her work helped give Haitians — particularly children — the chance to survive and thrive, and her inspiration will be felt for decades to come.

Fluent in Spanish, Indonesian, French and Guarani, Toni was born in California. She is survived by her husband, Adam and two children: a son, Alexandre, and daughter, Amelie.

Toni’s tremendous passion and enthusiasm reflects the commitment of her colleagues, who will continue to carry her work forward every day around the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones in this difficult time.


According to the AP, the July 1 statement was issued after an inquiry from The Associated Press.  As of this writing, the US Embassy in Port-Au-Prince has made no statement on the death of a member of a U.S. mission nor has it linked to the official statement from USAID.