Retired Army General John P. Abizaid to be U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

 

On November 13, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate retired U.S. Army four-star General John P. Abizaid to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The WH released the following brief bio:

John P. Abizaid of Nevada, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
General Abizaid currently serves as the first Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and works as a private consultant at JPA Associates. Previously, he held the Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He has worked with the Preventative Defense Project at Stanford University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  General Abizaid began his career in the U.S. Army as an infantry platoon leader and rose to become a four-star general and the longest serving commander of United States Central Command.  He served as the Director of Strategic Plans and Policy on the Joint Staff and then Director of the Joint Staff among other leadership positions.  General Abizaid was a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and earned his M.A. in Middle Eastern Area Studies from Harvard University.  He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.  General Abizaid is a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star.

If confirmed, General Abizaid would succeed Joseph William Westphal (1948–) who was Ambassador to the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh from March 28, 2014–January 9, 2017.  Ambassador appointments to Saudi Arabia going back to the mid-1990’s have all been noncareer political appointees. The last career diplomat appointed as Ambassador to Saudi Arabia was Charles W. Freeman Jr. who served from 1990-1992 under George H. W. Bush.

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Career Diplomat Matthew Tueller to be U.S. Ambassador to Iraq

 

On November 7, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. The WH released the following  brief bio:

Matthew H. Tueller of Utah, to be to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq.

Ambassador Tueller, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister-Counselor, is currently United States Ambassador to Yemen. Previously, he served as United States Ambassador to Kuwait, Deputy Chief of Mission at  United States Embassy Cairo, Political Minister Counselor at United States  Embassy Baghdad, Deputy Chief of Mission at  United States Embassy Kuwait, Counselor for Political Affairs at  United States Embassy Riyadh, and Deputy Director for the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs in the Department of State.  Ambassador Tueller received his B.A. from Brigham Young University and his M.P.P. from Harvard University. He is the recipient of the CIA Director’s Seal Award, two Presidential Meritorious Honor Awards, and the Department of State’s Baker-Wilkins Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission.  Ambassador Tueller is fluent in Arabic.

Related posts:

Career Diplomat Kate Marie Byrnes to be U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia

 

On November 7, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate career diplomat Kate Marie Byrnes to be the U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Kate Marie Byrnes of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Macedonia.

Ms. Byrnes, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy Athens, Greece. Previously, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission and Deputy United States Permanent Representative at the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Vienna, Austria.   During her career, she has served as Public Affairs Counselor at the United States Embassy Madrid Spain, Department of State Senior Civilian Representative to Task Force Bastogne/Bronco, Jalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan, and the Public Affairs Advisor to the United States Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Brussels, Belgium.  Ms. Byrnes earned B.S. and M.A. degrees from Georgetown University. She is also the recipient of the Secretary’s Expeditionary Service Award and the United States Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award.  Ms. Byrnes speaks Spanish, Hungarian and Turkish.

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Republican Lawyer Arthur B. Culvahouse, Jr to be U.S. Ambassador to Australia

 

On November 5, the White House announced the president’s intent to nominate Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Australia. The WH released the following brief bio:

Arthur B. Culvahouse, Jr., of Tennessee, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of Australia.

Mr. Culvahouse is Chair Emeritus and Of Counsel to O’Melveny & Myers LLP, an international law firm.  Previously, he served as Chair of the firm.  He started his career as Chief Legislative Assistant to Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr., and served as Counsel to the President of the United States from March 1987 through January 1989.  Mr. Culvahouse served on numerous boards and commissions, including the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, the Intelligence Oversight Board, the Nuclear Command and Control System Federal Advisory Committee, and the Supreme Court Fellows Commission.  He currently serves as a member of the Board of The Brookings Institution and the Board of the Howard H. Baker, Jr., Center for Public Policy.  Mr. Culvahouse earned a B.S. from the University of Tennessee and J.D. from the New York University School of Law.  In January 1989, President Reagan awarded Mr. Culvahouse the Presidential Citizens Medal, and, in December 1992, Secretary of Defense Cheney awarded him the Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

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Former Virginia Gov James Gilmore to be U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE

The White House announced the president’s intent to nominate James Gilmore, the former Governor of Virginia to be the next Ambassador to the OSCE. The WH released a brief bio:

James S. Gilmore of Virginia, to be the Representative of the United States to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe with the Rank of Ambassador.

Mr. Gilmore currently serves as President and CEO of American Opportunity Foundation. Previously, he served as Governor of Virginia, Attorney General of Virginia, and as Chairman of the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, a national panel established by Congress to assess Federal, State, and local government capabilities to respond to the consequences of a terrorist attack. Mr. Gilmore served in the United States Army for three years, where he was assigned to United States Army Intelligence in West Germany. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia School of Law. Mr. Gilmore is the recipient of the Air Force Exceptional Service Award and the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Service to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

 

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DHS PDAS John Barsa to be Asst Administrator for USAID/Latin America and the Caribbean

The WH announced the president’s intent to nominate John Barsa, currently with DHS to be the next USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin American and the Caribbean. The WH released the following brief bio:

John Barsa of Florida, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean).

Mr. Barsa currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Partnership and Engagement (DHS OPE).  Previously, he served as the Acting Assistant Secretary for OPE. Mr. Barsa served with the United States Army Reserves for nearly a decade and was a member of the 11th Special Forces Group and the 450th Civil Affairs Battalion. In the U.S. Congress, he worked for Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, focusing on foreign policy and national security issues.  During the Bush Administration, Mr. Barsa served in external engagement roles within the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. He is a graduate of Florida International University and is a native Spanish speaker.

Reax:

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Halloween 2018: A Great Day For Scaring Kids, Also a Frightful Time For All Else

 

ALSO IN FRIGHTFUL NEWS: The United States could deploy 7,000 armed troops to the US-Mexican border a week before Election Day. It could go up to 15,000, roughly what we have in Afghanistan and three times what the United States deployed to Iraq. Since Mexico refused to fund that wall, the President of the United States now says “”We have to have a wall of people”. Presumably, our friends to the south are not going to pay for this “wall of people” either, so U.S. taxpayers are already saddled with this tab. And since the deployment to the border number will likely kept growing the next few days, the Pentagon probably should ask how deep is this “wall of people” the Commander-in-Chief is talking about.

Meanwhile in Yemen, people have been dying the last three years. Now 14 million people face starvation as the U.S. government continue its military support of Saudi Arabia’s war (see Secretary Pompeo Saves $2Billion Weapons Sales From Jeopardy). USG is now seeking a cease-fire over there. Why now? Is it because half of Yemen’s population is on the brink of famine? Or is it because the world is finally paying attention to US-support of the war in Yemen after the Khashoggi murder?  Former USNATO Ambassador Robert Hunter writes that “blanket U.S. support for the Saudi air campaign means that it cannot escape its own share of responsibility.”

Also back in 2010, a State/OIG report estimated that the Yemeni-American community in that country was about 55,000. There were no USG-organized evacuations when war broke out. For those covering Yemen, please ask the Secretary of State his department’s estimate on how many Yemeni-Americans were killed in this war.

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USG Sends 5,200 Armed Troops to Border Against Purported Migrant “Invasion” a Week Before Elections

DHS/CIS clearly states that people may only apply for asylum if they are arriving in or already physically present in the United States. To apply for asylum in the United States, foreign nationals may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or, if they are already in the United States, they may file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center. They may apply for asylum regardless of their immigration status, whether they are in the U.S. legally or illegally.

Per 2 FAM 220 on asylum cases, U.S. embassies and consulates may not/may not grant or in any way promise “asylum” to any foreign national:

Although foreign nationals may request “asylum,” posts should be aware that the term has specific meaning in U.S. immigration law. Persons may apply for asylum under U.S. law only if they are physically present in the United States or at a land border or port of entry and may be granted asylum only if they meet the definition of a refugee under U.S. law and are otherwise admissible. The United States does not recognize the granting of asylum at posts abroad. Requests for asylum by persons in the United States are handled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the immigration courts of the Executive Office for Immigration Review within the Department of Justice. Refer questions relating to such procedures to the Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Office of Multilateral and Global Affairs (DRL/MLGA).

On Refugees:

Posts may not in any way promise that an individual will be admitted to the United States as a refugee. A U.S. embassy may refer any individual who appears to meet the definition of a refugee to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for consideration. Embassies may refer someone to ensure protection or provide a durable solution in compelling circumstances. Due to resource constraints and other foreign policy concerns, posts usually refer individuals only because of a significant humanitarian concern; a particular U.S. Government interest; or an especially close link to the United States. Acceptance of a referral by the program does not guarantee that an individual will be admitted to the United States as a refugee.

So when POTUS says “If they want to come into the country, you have to apply, like other people,” that’s what people are actually trying to do: presenting themselves at a U.S. border crossing because U.S. law requires that for people applying for asylum.

AND NOW THIS: “NO ONE IS COMING TO GET YOU”

MEANWHILE, ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD OF LIGHT WHERE FEAR IS NOT A STRIKE ANYWHERE MATCH HEAD:

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Foggy Bottom’s State of Affairs: No Active Service Diplomats as Lead in Geographic Bureaus

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.

African Affairs (AF): The bureau covers these countries in sub-Saharan Africa but not those in North Africa.

CURRENT Assistant Secretary:  Tibor P. Nagy, Jr. (2018-
Retired FSO/Confirmed

 

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.

CURRENT Assistant Secretary: A. Wess Mitchell (2017-)

NonCareer/Confirmed

 

Near Eastern Affairs (NEA): The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with AlgeriaBahrainEgyptIranIraqIsraelJordanKuwaitLebanonLibyaMoroccoOmanPalestinian TerritoriesQatarSaudi ArabiaSyriaTunisiaUnited 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-)
(NonCareer/Confirmed)

 

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-)
NonCareer/Confirmed

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Travel Alert: 72 Hours of Hate in America

 

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice current as of October 29 notes the reporting on a number of suspicious packages and devices have been sent to prominent locations in New York City and Washington DC in the last few days, including the CNN offices at the Time Warner Center and the homes of former Presidents Clinton and Obama. “The FBI continue to investigate, but there is currently nothing to suggest that there is a specific threat to British nationals.” It also says “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in the USA. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should monitor media reports and remain vigilant at all times.”

Ireland’s travel advice, current as of October 28 notes that “There is an increased threat of terrorism and extremist violence worldwide and this should be borne in mind by Irish citizens living and working in the USA. The USA has also witnessed a number of mass shootings in recent years.”  They forgot to add that massshootingtracker.org indicates that there has been 363 mass shootings in the United States in 2018 alone (a mass shooting defined to be an incident of violence in which 4 or more people are shot). 

Australia’s travel advice says The United States has more violent crime than Australia, although it rarely involves tourists. Shootings, including mass shootings, can occur in public places.” (We must add that these public places include a concert venue, a nightclub, elementary schools, colleges, churches, synagogues, a fast food restaurant, post office, a movie theater, private residences, military headquarters, neighborhoods, an immigration center, workplaces, and cafeterias).

New Zealand’s alert is the only one that specifically mentions the risk of domestic-based extremists that we’ve seen in 72 hours: The United States remains a likely target for terrorist activity by domestic-based extremists and internationally-trained individuals and groups, and we continue to receive reports that terrorist groups are planning attacks against the United States. Terrorist attacks have occurred in the United States in recent years and a significant number of terror plots have been disrupted.”

AND NOW THIS FROM CANADA’S BRUCE MACKINNON:

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