Trump Names Hostage Envoy Robert O’Brien His Fourth National Security Advisor

 

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SFRC Confirmation Hearing: Marshall Billingslea to be Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J)

 

On September 19, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will have a confirmation hearing for  four Trump nominees including Marshall Billingslea to be the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (J) at the Department of State. This office oversees five bureaus and four offices.
Mr. Billingslea was originally nominated in 2018, and re-nominated in January 2019.

Via WH, August 21, 2018:

Marshall Billingslea of Virginia, to be Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the Department of State.

Mr. Billingslea currently serves as Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing of the Treasury Department. Previously, he worked for Deloitte as a Managing Director; the Department of Defense as Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Negotiations Policy; the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, as Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment; and the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations as a senior staff member in national security affairs. Mr. Billingslea is the recipient of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Outstanding Public Service, the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic, and the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana of Estonia. Mr. Billingslea earned his B.A. from Dartmouth College and M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

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Under Secretary Keith Krach Gets a Ceremonial Swearing-In as @State_E

 

 

@StateDept Re-Issues Level 2 Travel Advisory For Saudi Arabia Over Threat of Missile and Drone Attacks on Civilian Targets

 

On September 17, the State Department issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory (Exercised Increased Caution) for Saudi Arabia due to “terrorism and the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets.” It previously issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory on June 26, 2019 but the advisory was reissued “with updates to security information.”
Via travel.state.gov:

Exercise increased caution in Saudi Arabia due to terrorism and the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets.

Do not travel to:

Within 50 miles of the border with Yemen due to terrorism and armed conflict.

Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Saudi Arabia. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Terrorists have targeted both Saudi and Western government interests, mosques and other religious sites (both Sunni and Shia), and places frequented by U.S. citizens and other Westerners.

Regional actors hostile to Saudi Arabia have conducted destructive and sometimes lethal attacks against a variety of targets including critical infrastructure, military facilities, airports, and energy facilities throughout the country, as well as vessels in Red Sea shipping lanes. Riyadh, Yanbu, areas in proximity to Jeddah, the civilian airport in Abha, military installations in the south, and specific oil and gas facilities are examples of recent targets. The Islamic Republic of Iran has supplied Yemen-based Houthis and other regional proxy groups with weapons, including drones, missiles, and rockets. Houthi militants continue to plan and conduct attacks against locations in Saudi Arabia. Violence associated with Iran-supported groups represents a significant threat. U.S. citizens living and working near military bases and critical civilian infrastructure, particularly in the Eastern Province and areas near the border with Yemen, are at heightened risk of missile and drone attack.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the following locations, as U.S. Mission personnel and their families are restricted from travel to:

    • Within 50 miles of the Saudi-Yemen border, including the cities of Jizan and Najran, and
    • Qatif in the Eastern province and its suburbs, including Awamiyah.

U.S. Mission personnel and their families are not permitted to use the airport in Abha without Chief of Mission approval.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman region, including Saudi Arabia, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an advisory Notice to Airmen (NOTAM). For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Saudi Arabia:

    • Stay alert in locations frequented by Westerners.
    • Obtain comprehensive medical insurance that includes medical evacuation.
    • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
    • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for Saudi Arabia.
    • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Yemen Border

Violence in Yemen has spilled over into Saudi Arabia on a number of occasions. Rebel forces in Yemen fire artillery at Saudi border towns and launch cross-border attacks against Saudi military personnel. Civilians who are near the border with Yemen are at risk.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the Saudi-Yemen border as U.S. government personnel and their families are restricted from travel to this area.

Visit our website for information on travel to high-risk areas.

 

ALSO THIS:  Who’s going to do it, and what kind of props will he/she bring to the United Nations? The last time one of our guys did it, he brought a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq’s alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council in 2003.

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U.S. Announces Exchange of Ambassadors With Belarus After Meeting With Lukashenka

 

Via state.gov:

Since Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka came to power in 1994, he has consolidated power through widespread repression. In 1996, Lukashenka reacted to western criticism of a referendum that dissolved Parliament and expanded the authority of the presidency by temporarily expelling the U.S. and EU Ambassadors. After a presidential election in 2006 that violated international norms and was neither free nor fair, the United States implemented travel restrictions and targeted financial sanctions on nine state-owned entities and 16 individuals (including Lukashenka). In 2008, after the United States tightened sanctions due to worsening human rights abuses, Belarus expelled the U.S. ambassador – a position that has remained vacant – and 30 out of 35 U.S. diplomats. Over this period, Belarus became almost wholly dependent upon Russia – politically, economically, and militarily. In August 2015, Lukashenka released all six of Belarus’ political prisoners. In response, the United States provided limited sanctions relief, suspending sanctions on the state-owned entities. Since sanctions relief began, Belarus has taken some steps to improve democracy and human rights. Increased bilateral engagement depends on Belarus making additional progress on human rights and democracy issues.

Today, the State Department’s Under Secretary For Political Affairs (P) David Hale who is in Belarus announced a “joint efforts to move our bilateral relationship forward” and the “exchange ambassadors” as the next step in normalizing the relationship.

I am pleased to stand here today with Foreign Minister Makei to recognize our joint efforts to move our bilateral relationship forward.   Our meeting today marks an historic juncture in U.S. – Belarus relations.   It is my honor to announce that we are prepared to exchange ambassadors as the next step in normalizing our relationship.

The United States remains committed to a sovereign, independent Belarus with a prosperous future for the next generation. The United States also welcomes Belarus’ increased cooperation on issues of non-proliferation, border security, economic cooperation, and information sharing on matters of shared security.

I would like to reiterate that by normalizing our relationship, we are not asking Belarus to choose between East and West.  The United States respects Belarus’ desire to chart its own course and to contribute to peace and stability in the region.

There are still aspects of the Belarus Democracy Act with which the Belarusian government needs to contend, and the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections represent an opportunity to address the spirit of the concerns outlined in the Belarus Democracy Act. With such progress, we can discuss further easing of sanctions.

Belarus is a country with a rich culture and vibrant, talented people.  We look forward to increased cooperation and dialogue between our countries. Thank you.

 

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US Embassy Beirut Hosts #USSRamage on “One-Day Goodwill Visit,” First Ship Visit to Lebanon in Over 30 Years

 

SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas Swears-In U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau

 

The new U.S. Ambassador to Mexico had a ceremonial swearing at the State Department officiated by SCOTUS Associate Justice Clarence Thomas last week.
Ambassador Landau was officially sworn in as United States Ambassador to Mexico on August 12, 2019. His bio says that after graduating from law school, he clerked for then-Judge Clarence Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He later clerked for Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 1990 and 1991 terms.
His father, George Walter Landau (1920–2018), a career Foreign Service officer, served as U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay from October 13, 1972–October 14, 1977. Ambassador George Landau who also served as U.S. Ambassador to Chile and Venezuela passed away last year.
The new ambassador speaks fluent Spanish, and earned a Certificate in Latin American Studies at Harvard College.  He was born in Madrid, Spain, and attended the American School of Asunción, Paraguay, for five years.

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Pompeo Accuses Iran in Saudi Aramco Attacks, His Boss Tweets, US “Locked and Loaded”

 

 

@StateDept to Launch ‘Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy’ Initiative – Friday, September 13, HST

 

Via state.gov:

The Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy initiative will launch at U.S. Department of State in the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C. on Friday, September 13, 2019. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will kick-off the event, and the Director of the Foreign Service Institute Ambassador Daniel B. Smith will serve as Master of Ceremonies. The inaugural event features the first “Hero” Elizabeth “Lizzie” Slater in conversation with Director General Ambassador Carol Z. Perez. Lizzie will discuss her actions following the embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998 as she helped re-build the communications systems for both embassies, as well as the professional values she modeled throughout her career. Read more below.

The Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy initiative will run through 2020.  This initiative highlights the stories of modern-day “Heroes Among Us,” alongside heroic figures from our Department’s rich history.  These individuals displayed sound policy judgment, as well as intellectual, moral and/or physical courage while advancing the Department of State’s mission, thereby elevating U.S. diplomacy.

More about this initiative:

This initiative highlights the stories of modern-day “Heroes Among Us,” alongside heroes from our Department’s rich history. These heroes have displayed sound policy judgment, as well as intellectual, moral and physical courage while advancing the Department of State’s mission, or elevating U.S. diplomacy.

With support from the Una Chapman Cox Foundation, this initiative will include Department of State remarks and panel discussions, programming around the country, and other videos, podcasts, reading lists, and exhibits to tell these Heroes’ stories. New Heroes are announced on a semi-monthly basis. Learn about our first Hero here.

It is our hope that the Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy initiative will raise awareness about diplomacy as an instrument to advance the interests of the American people at home and around the world. This initiative will also educate current and future Department of State employees about the shared history for all foreign affairs professionals.

The Heroes of U.S. Diplomacy Steering Committee, comprised of senior Department officials, established the eligibility and criteria befitting of the Hero designation. Nominees must be affiliated with the Department of State as current or former Civil Servants, Foreign Service Generalists or Specialists, non-career appointees, Eligible Family Members, or Locally Employed Staff. To allow for historic perspective, the actions and accomplishments for which they are being recognized must have occurred at least five years prior to their nomination.

For updates and continual coverage, visit www.state.gov/HeroesofUSDiplomacy/ . You may also follow the hashtag #HeroesofUSDiplomacy on social media. For general inquiries, send message to HeroesOfDiplomacy@state.gov.

 

New @USUN Ambassador Kelly Craft Enters World Stage, Also Get Ready For #UNGA74

 

On September 12, new USUN Ambassador Kelly Craft presented her credentials to the UN Secretary General. The U.S. Senate confirmed her as US Ambassador to the United Nations in a 56-33 vote on July 31, 2019.  On September 10, she was also confirmed to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA) during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations in a 56-38 vote.

The 74th session of the General Assembly opens on Tuesday, 17 September 2019. For more information, see the Provisional Agenda of the Session. The first day of the high-level General Debate will be Tuesday, 24 September 2019.