“Your previous article has really stirred things up …. a lot of retaliation against who people think might have written you…which is now a large group of suspects…”
Reconsider Travel to Turkmenistan due to the Global Health Advisory and Embassy Ashgabat’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.
On March 27, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all family members of U.S. government employees under the age of 18 in addition to the authorized departure of non-emergency personnel and family members of U.S. government employees due to stringent travel restrictions and quarantine procedures that affect commercial flights.
The Government of Turkmenistan has implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. All incoming international flights are being redirected to Turkmenabat, approximately 291 miles from Ashgabat. Passengers will be required to undergo medical screening and possibly involuntary quarantine at local medical facilities.
Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Visit the website of U.S. Embassy Ashgabat for additional information on these new measures.
Medical protocols in Turkmenistan are not consistent with U.S. standards and some travelers have been required to undergo medical testing unrelated to COVID-19. Consider declining any medical testing unrelated to COVID-19.
Due to the possibility of quarantine of unknown length, carry additional supplies of necessary medication in carry-on luggage. Contact the U.S. Embassy if you are subject to quarantine or prior to undergoing any invasive medical testing or procedures.
Updated: March 24, 12:54 am PDT
Updated: March 24, 2020 10:47 pm PDT
Updated March 26, 12:07 am PDT
QUESTION: [… ] And then secondly, I’m sure you’ve seen these reports that there are numerous embassies, or at least several embassies, where people are basically clamoring for order departure status, and that they are being discouraged from that. Can you address that?
SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Oh, no. All help is appreciated. On the second part of your question, Matt, so our embassies overseas have their emergency teams meet regularly to discuss the situation at post, and they have a process and procedure in place where they can really evaluate the transportation system, the healthcare system, and not just the status of COVID in the country. And when they reach a certain point where they feel like, okay, maybe time to request authorized ordered departure, they submit a request to the undersecretary of management, and those are coming in regularly, and the undersecretary reviews them and then makes decisions on what to approve. At this point, I think one of the biggest issues is the travel restrictions that countries are instituting around the world.
MODERATOR ONE: If I could just add on to that, those decisions are made against a robust set of criteria and decisions made based to – based on a consistent set of principles, all which are geared towards maximizing the safety for our employees.
(March 25 Special Briefing with CA PDAS Ian Brownlee: “Our posts around the world have received requests for assistance with getting back to the United States from over 50,000 U.S. citizens and we’re committed to bring home as many Americans as we possibly can.” Wowow!
Via state.gov: Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan traveled to Thimphu, Bhutan, from August 12-13. In meetings with His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Prime Minister Tshering, Foreign Minister Dorji, and Minister of Economic Affairs Sharma, Deputy Secretary Sullivan discussed a range of issues, including the importance of protecting and enhancing a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region. He also discussed the importance of expanding our two nations’ people-to-people ties and enhancing joint efforts to combat trafficking in persons. In a meeting with the Loden Foundation, the Deputy Secretary learned about efforts to promote entrepreneurship and cultural preservation in Bhutan. The Deputy Secretary affirmed the United States’ support for science, technology, engineering, and math activities that aim to benefit Bhutanese students, teachers, engineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
Posted: 2:05 am EST
On February 26, USDOJ announced the repatriation of stolen assets to the Kyrgyz Republic “from the corruption and theft of government funds” by the regime of second President of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his youngest son, Maxim Bakiyev. Bakiyev was ousted from office in 2010 during a public revolt and according to the BBC, father and son had been granted political asylum in Belarus.
The U.S. Department of Justice repatriated stolen assets to the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic arising from the corruption and theft of government funds by the prior regime of Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his son Maxim Bakiyev. The return of the funds was celebrated yesterday in a ceremony in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic attended by Ambassador Alice G. Wells, the head of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs for the Department of State and U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic, Donald Lu.
These funds were identified in the United States in the criminal prosecution of Eugene Gourevitch for insider trading in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York and a $6 million forfeiture order was subsequently entered by the Court. Following the conviction in the prosecution led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the Kyrgyz Government filed a Petition for Remission with the U.S. Department of Justice, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, claiming that the funds subject to the forfeiture order traced back to monies stolen by Maxim Bakiyev from Kyrgyz state authorities and other banking institutions. On Oct. 4, 2018, the Department of Justice granted the Remission Petition.
So far, approximately $4.5 million of the funds have been collected and are approved for repatriation of the $6 million ordered to be forfeited will be repatriated. These funds will be deposited in the account of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic (“current account of the Central Treasury of the Ministry of Finance of the Kyrgyz Republic in the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic”). MLARS attorneys working in the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative assisted in the investigation linking these funds to the corruption offenses in Kyrgystan. Additional efforts will be made by the U.S. Government and the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic to try to locate and return the remainder of the stolen assets in the forfeiture order.
Amb Wells met w/ #Kyrgyz Republic Deputy FM Madmarov & Finance Minister Jeenbaeva today to discuss strengthening US-Kyrgyz cooperation. With Fin Min Jeenbaeva, Amb Wells announced the return of $4.6M worth of assets stolen by the former Bakiyev regime to the Kyrgyz people. pic.twitter.com/c7dVICdyRq
— State_SCA (@State_SCA) February 25, 2019
The State Department’s Level 4 – Do Not Travel advisory category is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so.
As of January 4, 2019, there are eleven countries designated as Level 4 “do not travel” countries.
In Somalia, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens due to the lack of permanent consular presence in the country.
In North Korea, the State Department says that the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. Sweden serves as the protecting power for the United States in North Korea, providing limited emergency services. However, the North Korean government routinely delays or denies Swedish officials access to detained U.S. citizens.
In South Sudan, U.S. government personnel are under a strict curfew. The advisory says personnel “must use armored vehicles for nearly all movements in the city, and official travel outside Juba is limited. Due to the critical crime threat in Juba, walking is also restricted; when allowed, it is limited to a small area in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy and must usually be conducted in groups of two or more during daylight hours. Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in South Sudan.”
In Iraq, the U.S. government’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens is “extremely limited.” On October 18, 2018, the Department of State ordered the temporary suspension of operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah.
In Iran, the U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations. “The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Iran. Switzerland serves as the protecting power for U.S. citizens in Iran, providing limited emergency services.”
In CAR, the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside the Embassy compound.
The U.S. Embassy in Damascus in Syria suspended its operations in February 2012. “The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with Syria. The Czech Republic serves as the protecting power for the United States in Syria. The range of consular services that the Czech Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited, and the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Syria.”
In Mali, the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the northern and central regions of Mali as U.S. government employees travel to these regions is restricted due to security concerns.
In Libya, the U.S. government is unable to provide emergency or routine assistance to U.S. citizens as the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli suspended its operations in July 2014.
In Afghanistan: The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul. Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and the volatile security situation. Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in Afghanistan. Unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State. U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk. Additional security measures are needed for any U.S. government employee travel and movement through Afghanistan.
The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a suspended its operations in February 2015. The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Yemen.
|Somalia Travel Advisory | AF||Level 4: Do |
|North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Travel Advisory | EAP||Level 4: Do |
|South Sudan Travel Advisory | AF||Level 4: Do |
|Iraq Travel Advisory | NEA||Level 4: Do |
|October 18, 2018|
|Iran Travel Advisory | NEA||Level 4: Do |
|October 10, 2018|
|Central African Republic Travel Advisory ||
|Level 4: Do |
|October 3, |
|Syria Travel Advisory | NEA||Level 4: Do |
|September 10, 2018|
|Mali Travel Advisory | AF||Level 4: Do |
|August 13, 2018|
|Libya Travel Advisory | NEA||Level 4: Do |
|August 8, |
|Afghanistan Travel Advisory | SCA||Level 4: Do |
|July 9, 2018|
|Yemen Travel Advisory | NEA||Level 4: Do Not Travel||July 5, 2018|
During Tillerson’s brief tenure at the State Department, there was quite a shock when a large number of offices at the top of the State Department were left empty. We’re not sure if that was intentional (so control remains with the Secretary’s inner circle absent the presidential appointees), or if this was because Tillerson and the White House could not agree on the same nominees for these offices. In some cases there were career diplomats appointed in acting capacities, in others, there were only senior bureau officials. We’re almost at the two year mark of this administration, and the State Department is already on its second secretary of state in a four year term, so we’ve decided to take a look at the geographic bureau appointments. For non-State readers, note that embassies do not report directly to the secretary of state, just as ambassadors do not report directly to the White House; they report through the geographic bureaus. Of course, these days, the traditional reporting structure seems to be breaking apart (which invite chaos), but the staffing is worth taking a look nonetheless.
According to AFSA’s appointment tracker, out of 49 total appointments at the top ranks of the State Department right now, only five are career appointees. The five appointments include three active Foreign Service officers, U/S Political Affairs David Hale (confirmed), Carol Z. Perez as DGHR (nominated, pending confirmation) and USAID’s Michael T. Harvey as Assistant Administrator, Middle East (nominated, pending confirmation). The other two are recalled retired FSOs Tibor Nagy, Jr. for African Affairs (confirmed), and Ronald Mortensen for Population, Refugees and Migration (nominated, pending confirmation). There are also two previous members of the Foreign Service (Diplomatic Security’s Michael Evanoff and Consular Affairs’ Carl Risch) who were two of Trump’s earliest appointees but are considered political appointees.
Going back to 1960, the European and Eurasian Affairs (70.6%), Near Eastern Affairs (85.7%), and African Affairs (53.8%) have the highest numbers of career appointees at the assistant secretary level. The largest number of noncareer appointees in the geographic bureaus are in International Organizational Affairs (23.1%) followed by East Asian And Pacific Affairs (42.9%). South and Central Asian Affairs (50.0%) and Western Hemisphere Affairs (50.0%) are split in the middle between career and noncareer appointees.
During Obama’s first term, the assistant secretary appointments at the regional bureaus was 57% noncareer and 42% career. On his second term, this flipped with career appointees leading four of the seven bureaus.
George W. Bush made a total of 19 appointments (career-8; noncareer-11) in the geographic bureaus during his two terms in office. This translates to 57.8% noncareer and 42.1% career appointments.
Right now, Trump’s overall State Department appointments are 89.8% noncareer and only 10.2% career appointees. His career appointments in the geographic bureaus is currently at 1 out of 7. We do need to point out that with the exception of African Affairs (AF) where the appointee is a recalled retired FSO, there are no active service diplomats tasked with leading a geographic bureau in Foggy Bottom. It is possible that this Administration will bring in a career diplomat to head the South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) bureau, but then again, if they have not found one before now, who’s to say that they will ever find a career diplomat that they like enough to nominate in the next two years?
Of course, everything’s fine. It’s not like we have an ongoing war in Afghanistan, yeah?
Below is the staffing/vacancy status of assistant secretaries at the geographic bureaus as of this writing.
CURRENT Assistant Secretary: Tibor P. Nagy, Jr. (2018-
East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP): Click here for the countries covered by the bureau. Department website notes that “The Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, headed by Senior Bureau Official W. Patrick Murphy deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. relations with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.”
CURRENT: No Acting Assistant Secretary
NOMINATED: David Stilwell (NonCareer/Pending at SFRC)
European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR): The Department of State established the position of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs in 1949. The name changed to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs on August 8, 2001. The bureau covers these countries.
Near Eastern Affairs (NEA): The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Regional policy issues that NEA handles include Iraq, Middle East peace, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and political and economic reform
CURRENT: Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs
David M. Satterfield (Career FSO)
NOMINATED David Schenker
(NonCareer/Pending at SFRC since 4/2018)
South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA): The Bureau of South Asian Affairs was established Aug 24, 1992, and is responsible for relations with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and the Maldive Islands. It has since expanded to cover these countries.
CURRENT: No Acting Assistant Secretary
NO NOMINEE ANNOUNCED
Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA): On January 12, 1999, the Bureau assumed responsibility for Canada and was renamed the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. The Department of State had first established a Division of Latin American Affairs in 1909. The bureau covers these countries.
CURRENT Assistant Secretary: Kimberly Breier (2018-)
International Organization Affairs (IO): The Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs in February 1949, using one of the six Assistant secretary positions originally authorized by Congress in 1944 (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). On June 24, 1949, Secretary of State Dean Acheson established the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) as part of the U.S. effort to meet the needs of post-World War II diplomacy. IO is the U.S. Government’s primary interlocutor with the United Nations and a host of international agencies and organizations.
CURRENT Assistant Secretary: Kevin Edward Moley (2018-)
Per 2 FAM 800: INL/A serves as the Departments aviation service provider (with the exception of aircraft charters managed by A/LM/OPS for logistics support of nonrecurring and unpredictable requirements like oddly-sized shipments, evacuations and other emergency assistance to Posts) and is coordinator of all aviation related to AGB [Aviation Governing Board] approved acquisitions. INL/A is responsible for complying with the provisions of this chapter as well as OMB Circulars A-126, A-76, A-11, and A-94 and Federal Management Regulation 102–33. Additionally, as part of the Departments Management Control Plan (see 2 FAM 020), INL/A must establish cost-effective management control systems to ensure that aviation programs are managed effectively, efficiently, economically, and with integrity.
Excerpt below via State/OIG: Audit of the Department of State’s Administration of its Aviation Program (Sept 2018).
The Department is not consistently administering its aviation program in accordance with Federal requirements or Department guidelines. Specifically, OIG found instances in which significant aviation operations were undertaken without the knowledge or approval of the AGB, which is required by Department policy. In addition, the AGB is not fulfilling its responsibilities to evaluate the usage and cost effectiveness of aircraft services, as required by Office of Management and Budget Circulars and Department guidance. Furthermore, INL administer ed country-specific aviation programs differently depending on whether a post used the worldwide aviation support services contract. As a result of limited AGB oversight and the absence of evaluations to determine the appropriate usage and cost effectiveness of the Department’s aircraft operations worldwide, the Department is not optimally managing aviation resources and spent $72 million on unnecessary services from September 2013 to August 2017.
Snapshot: The Department’s aviation program was created in 1976 to support narcotics interdiction and drug crop eradication programs. The aviation program has since grown to a fleet of 206 aircraft and aviation operations that extend from South America to Asia and include transportation services for chief of mission personnel. In 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the Department owned more aircraft than any other non-military agency and was one of three agencies with the most “non-operational” aircraft. At the time of GAO’s analysis, the Department had 248 aircraft; the Department has since decreased that number to 206. As shown in Figure 1, as of January 2018, the aircraft inventory included airplanes (fixed-wing), helicopters (rotary-wing), and unmanned aircraft.
As of January 2018, the Department had aviation operating bases overseas in five countries —Colombia, Peru, Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq —and a support base at Patrick Air Force Base located in Melbourne, FL. The Department closed aviation programs in Cyprus and Pakistan during 2017. The Department plans to re-open an operating base in Guatemala. In addition, the Department has two dedicated chartered aircraft located in Cartersville,GA, and Nairobi, Kenya.
The Department’s Aviation Governing Board (AGB) is responsible for providing oversight of aviation activities, including approving policies, budgets, and strategic plans. The AGB was established in 2011. It is chaired by the Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and has three other voting members—the Assistant Secretaries (or designees) from the Bureaus of Diplomatic Security, South and Central Asian Affairs, and Near Eastern Affairs.
INL/A consists of approximately 60 Civil Service personnel and 13 personal services contractors. To carry out the Department’s aircraft operations, maintenance, and logistics for the country-specific aviation programs, INL/A administers and oversees a worldwide aviation support services contract that provides a contract workforce of more than 1,500 personnel. According to an INL/A official, starting November 1, 2017, DynCorp International began its fifth extension of a $4.9 billion worldwide aviation services contract.
Posted: 3:38 am ET
Posted: 12:46 am ET
Congrats, Ken Juster, the new U.S Ambassador to India! The ties between the United States and India run deep, and @POTUS & I are confident that with his leadership, integrity & experience, Ken will build an even stronger partnership that will benefit our nation & our people. pic.twitter.com/wrczzpflya
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) November 13, 2017
Ken Juster sworn in as US Ambassador to Indiahttps://t.co/lusR7PiZPa
— Zee News (@ZeeNews) November 14, 2017
Excited to welcome Ambassador Juster to #IncredibleIndia this week! Look forward to working with him to advance #USIndia bilateral relations. #WelcomeAmbassador #USIndiaDosti pic.twitter.com/3ZXcU3b5gE
— MaryKay Loss Carlson (@USAmbIndia) November 14, 2017