— Domani Spero
Via The District Sentinel/Sam Knight
Here is an excerpt from the transcript of the 12/1/14 DPB:
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the court’s decision dropping the charges against former President Mubarak?
MS. PSAKI: Well, generally, we continue to believe that upholding impartial standards of accountability will advance the political consensus on which Egypt’s long-term stability and economic growth depends. But beyond that, I would refer you to the Egyptian Government for any further comment.
QUESTION: So you don’t criticize at all?
QUESTION: What does that mean?
MS. PSAKI: It means that in general, we believe that courts should be —
QUESTION: It sounds to me like it means nothing.
MS. PSAKI: In general, we believe that impartial standards and the justice system should work as planned —
QUESTION: Yeah —
MS. PSAKI: — but I don’t have any specific comment —
QUESTION: But did —
QUESTION: But are you suggesting it wasn’t impartial?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have any more specifics on —
QUESTION: But I – wow. I don’t understand that at all. What does that mean? You believe that – of course you do. But was that – were those standards upheld in this case?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything – any specific comment on the case. I’d point you to the Egyptian Government.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) justice was served? Do you think justice was served in this case?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything specific on the case.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) not try —
MS. PSAKI: Okay.
QUESTION: — to argue with you or ask about the comment. Are you trying to understand what is – does – this decision means?
MS. PSAKI: I don’t have anything more for you.
Do we have anything more on Egypt?
QUESTION: Do Egyptians explain to you what’s going on?
MS. PSAKI: We obviously remain in close touch with the Egyptians, but I don’t have anything more to peel back for you.
QUESTION: Jen —
MS. PSAKI: Any more on Egypt? Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, but I mean, Transparency International is basically disappointed with that. And some international organizations have also expressed concern over, like, dropping all the charges against Mubarak, who’s accused of having murdered – having ordered the murder of protestors —
MS. PSAKI: I’m familiar with the case, yes.
QUESTION: — and also corruption, other things. And so you’re not willing to show your concern over that?
MS. PSAKI: Well, we speak frequently, including in annual reports, about any concerns we have about – whether its rule of law or freedom of speech, freedom of media, and we do that on a regular basis. I just don’t have anything more specifically for you on this case.
QUESTION: Can you see if – can we ask for – push your people a little bit harder? Because I mean, you call for accountability and transparency all the time from any number of governments. And so if no one is held to account, if no one is being held accountable for what happened, it would seem to me that you would have a problem with that and —
MS. PSAKI: If there’s more we have to say, Matt, we will make sure you all know.
QUESTION: But I mean, what you have said, that the – what you said says nothing. I mean, it just – it’s like saying, “Well, we support the right of people to breathe.” Well, that’s great, but if they can’t breathe —
MS. PSAKI: If we have a further comment on the case, I will make sure all of you have it.
QUESTION: I mean, aren’t you a little bit annoyed that the person who was elected by the Egyptian people, Morsy, is languishing in prison while the person who is accused of murdering hundreds of people is actually out on —
MS. PSAKI: I appreciate your effort, Said. I don’t have anything further on this case.
QUESTION: No, the reason we ask isn’t because —
MS. PSAKI: Said, I’m sorry. We’re going to have to move on.
Tsk! Tsk! Can’t imagine Ambassador Boucher accepting that kind of crap from any bureau. Next time, make the talking points drafter write in Plain English so we, the natives would understand what our government is talking about. And by the way, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010 on October 13, 2010. That law requires that federal agencies use “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” This response is neither clear, nor usable.
So — if the talking points do not improve with plain language, go ahead and please kick the door. And if that doesn’t work either, get Madame Secretary to sign a reassignment order (apparently the Secretary of State does that kind of thing) and send the drafter and/or approving officer off to Angola.
Noooo, not/not to Portugal. And check the mike next time.
* * *
Updated below on 12/15/14 @ 2:09 am via Ali Weinberg of ABC News:
— Ali Weinberg (@AliABCNews) December 5, 2014
* * *
— Domani Spero
That did not take long. On June 25, the SFRC cleared President Obama’s nominees for Iraq and Egypt. Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nominees for those two posts:
Stuart E. Jones, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq; Confirmed: 93-0
Robert Stephen Beecroft, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Arab Republic of Egypt (voice vote)
Yesterday, the Senate also confirmed the nomination of our next ambassador to Djibouti:
Thomas P. Kelly III, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.
* * *
- US Mission Iraq: Now on Partial “Temporary Relocation” To Basra, Erbil & Amman (Jordan) (diplopundit.net)
- Obama nominates new American ambassador to Egypt (dailynewsegypt.com)
- Obama nominates new US Ambassador to Iraq (iraqinews.com)
- SFRC Clears Ambassadorial Nominees for South Korea, Honduras, Qatar, Egypt, Iraq, Vietnam, Algeria (diplopundit.net)
- US to appoint ambassadors to Egypt, Iraq and Qatar (dailystar.com.lb)
- US expected to tap Iraq envoy for Cairo (backchannel.al-monitor.com)
Catch up post on additional Fourth of July celebrations around the Foreign Service this year that caught our eye. The previous one we did is here: Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service Round-Up.
US Mission Mexico
US Embassy Paris, France
Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin at the 4th of July Garden Party, Ambassador’s Residence, July 4th, 2012. More photos via FB here.
US Embassy Nassau, The Bahamas
On Tuesday, July 3 the United States Embassy commemorated the 236th Anniversary of Independence of the United States of America by hosting a celebration in Nassau, The Bahamas aboard the U.S. Naval Ship USS ANZIO docked at Prince George Wharf. The event was held in partnership with the United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and included more than 200 of The Bahamas’ top leaders, representing the government, the business community, civil society, media, and the arts.
US Embassy Dublin, Ireland
On July 4 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia celebrated American Independence Day and hosted at their Residence in the Phoenix Park in Dublin the Third Irish American Flag Football Classic. Over 2,500 guests were in attendance for the Independence Day celebrations.
US Consulate General Chennai, India
US Embassy Afghanistan
U.S. Ambassador Stephen G. McFarland, the Coordinating Director of Rule of Law and Law Enforcement shakes hands with a Marine after he received his naturalization certificate on 29 June 2012 at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan. Click on image for more photos
US Embassy Cairo, Egypt
US Mission Pakistan – Islamabad
US Mission Pakistan – USCG Lahore
Consul General Nina Maria Fite hosted U.S. Independence Day reception at her residence. She was joined by Chief Guest Senior Advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, U.S. Army Attaché Colonel Kurt H. Meppen, and USAID Punjab Director Theodore Gehr, and 400 guests from various walks of life. The event included the playing of the Pakistani and U.S. national anthems and a cutting of a cake.
US Embassy Rome, Italy
US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
The theme of U.S. Embassy Bangkok Independence Day Celebration for this year is “The Great American Roadtrip.”
US Embassy Vientiane, Laos
US Embassy Beijing, China
US Consulate General Hong Kong & Macau
Probably the most popular US mission online post for this Fourth of July, 11,000 forward and still counting. Via the WSJ:
For the July 4 commemoration of U.S. Independence, it stepped back into history to tweak the Party with its own words. Accompanied by an exuberant image of the Stars and Stripes, its Weibo posting said:
On this day each year, joy and glory is felt by every good and honest person in this world. From the birth of this new nation, democracy and science were seeded beneath the foundations of a new liberal world… Day and night, the god of liberty shines her torchlight of freedom into the darkest corners of the earth, providing warmth for those who have suffered and reminding them there is still hope left yet.
This post quickly gained popularity and has now been forwarded more than 11,000 times.
Let’s see how long before the Chinese tigers bite.
- Independence Day Celebrations 2012 – Around the Foreign Service Round-Up (diplopundit.net)
- US Embassy 4th of July Parties Just Around the Corner, How’s Your Solicitation Going? (diplopundit.net)
But annual average in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979 is $2 billion
The US Embassy in Cairo has recently released a statement by US Ambassador Margaret Scobey with a brief summary of US Government assistance to Egypt in the last 30 years. Apparently, in 30 years of assistance to Egypt, we have given nearly $30 billion in development contribution. Before you huff and puff over that figure, and to put that number is perspective, read how much of your tax dollars go to international affairs and foreign aid here.
The US Embassy in Cairo says that the “$30 billion has been an investment in the people of Egypt and has generated far more than its face value in assisting Egyptians to build their own capacity and develop their own resources.” The statement lists the following programs:
- Expanded access to clean drinking water and sanitation to more than 20 million Egyptians where no such service was previously available.
- Contributed nearly $1 billion for public health resulting in significant extension of the lifespan of Egyptians and dramatic decreases in infant and child mortality. In 1975, about 130 out of every 1000 infants died after childbirth; the number now is about 25 – a more than 500% improvement.
- Built more than 2,000 schools and stocked 39,000 school libraries.
- Rehabilitated and refurbished important antiquity sites, such as Luxor’s West Bank and the Bab Zweila in Cairo, helping to preserve Egypt’s great heritage for generations to come and to sustain Egypt’s tourism.
- Since 2005, sent more than 2,200 Egyptians to the United States for university degrees and training programs. Over the past 30 years we have also awarded 3000 Fulbright scholarships along with 2300 high school and university level scholarships through other programs.
- Invested $1.8 billion in 13 electric power sector projects accounting directly and indirectly for roughly one third of total present capacity.
- From 1982 to 1995, USAID spent USD 140 million to rectify original design flaws and keep the Aswan Dam generating power at its full capacity.
- Invested billions of dollars in technical and financial assistance to modernize Egypt’s economy to create new jobs in fields like high-technology and manufacturing. This has directly contributed to the World Bank naming Egypt one of the top ten Doing Business locations in the world four out of the last five years.
- Helped the poorest Egyptians improve their livelihoods by supporting well over a million Egyptians with the extension of 8.3 million micro-credit loans valued at about USD 2.5 billion.
Ambassador Scobey’s statement also notes that “these projects were completed with the strictest standards of transparency and accountability of any assistance program in the world” and points out that “the United States has always included in its assistance programs funding to strengthen and expand Egypt’s civil society” and that “in the Mubarak era, this assistance was often labeled “interference,” and opposed by a government uncomfortable with hearing the voices of its own people.”
Actually according to the figures from the CRS, economic assistance to Egypt since 1979 amounts to $30.8 billion. But just as eye-popping, military assistance combined with international military education training for Egypt since 1979 amounts to nearly $40 billion.
Egypt is one of the most populous countries in Africa and the Middle East with a population estimated at 80 million people. Its reported government budget deficit is equivalent to 8.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009/10 fiscal year.
The United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of some $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979. For FY2012, the Obama Administration has requested $1.551 billion in total aid to Egypt following more or less the same amount requested in the last three fiscal years.
|Source: Congressional Research Service|
Given that Egypt has been the second largest recipient of US foreign aid since 1979 (second only to Israel), one has to wonder how this aid translates to perception among regular people in the streets of Egypt.
Do the Egyptians know that the US built 2,000 schools and stocked 39,000 school libraries in their country? Or that the US extended 8.3 million micro-credit loans or helped the Aswan dam?
It’s hard to say what exactly Egyptians know/don’t know about US development assistance in their country, but no doubt, just about everyone recognized the assistance and support the USG provided Hosni Mubarak for the last 30 years.
A few things to think about:
- According to the PEW Global Attitudes Project, America’s favorability rating in Egypt dropped from 27% to 17% – the lowest percentage observed in any of the Pew Global Attitudes surveys conducted in that country since 2006. A double-digit decline. In 2009, 27% of Egyptians had a favorable opinion, but this year only 17% hold this view, tying Egypt with Turkey (17%) and Pakistan (17%) for the lowest U.S. favorability rating in the survey.
- Support for terrorism remains low among the Muslim publics surveyed. Many fewer Muslims in 2010 than in the middle of the past decade say that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians are justified to defend Islam from its enemies. However, the new poll does show a modest increase over the past year in support for suicide bombing being often or sometimes justifiable, with a rise in Egypt from 15% to 20% and in Jordan from 12% to 20%. Still, these are below the levels of support observed mid-decade.
- In Jan 2011, a 59%-majority of Muslims in Egypt believed that democracy was preferable to any other kind of government. About one-in-five (22%), however, said that in some circumstances, a non-democratic government could be preferable, and another 16% said it did not matter what kind of government is in place for a person in their situation.
On a related note, the US Embassy in Egypt sent out a warden message to alert U.S. citizens in Cairo that groups in Egypt have announced plans to hold a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy on Thursday April 21 at mid-day.
- CRS: Egypt in Transition | March 29,2011
- CRS: U.S. Foreign Assistance to the Middle East: Historical Background | June 2010
Via the embassy press shop:
Cairo – The U.S. Embassy will resume visa services to the public on Sunday, April 10, 2011.
For Non-Immigrant Visas (NIV) services, Vodaphone will contact applicants whose appointments were cancelled because of the suspension of visa operations to reschedule their appointments. Applicants may also reschedule a cancelled appointment by contacting Vodafone directly at 0900-70-600 from a landline or 2100 from a Vodafone cell phone.
For Immigrant Visas (IV), the Embassy will resume interviews for all categories on April 10, 2011. The Embassy will contact immigrant visa applicants whose appointments were cancelled because of the suspension of visa operations to reschedule new appointments.
No visa applicant should come to the Embassy without an appointment. Applicants seeking information about a specific visa case should send an e-mail with case details to ConsularCairoNIV@state.gov for nonimmigrant visa cases, and ConsularCairoIV@state.gov for immigrant visa cases. Information about all categories of U.S. visas is available on the Embassy website at http://egypt.usembassy.gov and the U.S. Department of State website at www.travel.state.gov .
For American citizens, the American Citizens Services (ACS) Section of the Consular Section has resumed its normal appointment system for all non-emergency services. No walk-in clients are admitted with the exception of emergencies. Questions about American Citizens Services can be sent by e-mail to ConsularCairoACS@state.gov.
Just want to add that if the Fed Govt Great Chicken Game of 2011 actually occurs on April 8, the visa appointments that have been newly rescheduled may have to be rescheduled again.
The State Department has released an updated Travel Warning dated March 29 with information on the ongoing security and political situation in Egypt and announcing the return to Egypt of most non-emergency US Embassy personnel. Note that throughout the political upheaval in Egypt, the embassy remained staffed by core personnel.
The Ordered Departure status of embassy dependents is still on. Visa applications appears to be suspended still, but a prior notice indicates that the American Citizens’ Services (ACS) section of the Embassy will return to its previously established appointment system for U.S. citizens effective April 1, 2011. Excerpt from updated Travel Warning:
The U.S. Department of State urges U.S. citizens planning to travel to Egypt to consider the risks and to be aware of the information below. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated February 18, 2011, to update information on the ongoing security and political situation in Egypt, including the return to Egypt of most non-emergency US Embassy personnel.
On February 1, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency government personnel and family members from Egypt due to the ongoing political and social unrest. The U.S Embassy in Cairo remains on ordered departure status for dependents, but most employees have returned, and the Embassy is resuming normal operations.
Elements of the Egyptian government responsible for ensuring security and public safety are not fully reconstituted and are still in the process of being reorganized. Until the redeployment of Egyptian civilian police is fully restored, police response to emergency requests for assistance or reports of crime may be delayed. The Embassy’s ability to respond to emergencies to assist U.S. citizens is also significantly diminished. The Government of Egypt has implemented a country-wide curfew. As of March 29, the curfew hours are from 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. U.S. citizens should obey curfew orders and remain indoors during curfew hours.
The security situation in Luxor, Aswan, and the Red Sea Resorts, including Sharm el Sheikh, is calm; however, the situation across Egypt remains unpredictable and subject to change.
Read in full here.
Image via WikipediaWell, when Ambassador Frank Wisner was sent on that important mission to Cairo by the Obama Administration, we wondered out loud if this is President O’s Reagan moment. And if Mr. Wisner was this administration’s, Paul Laxalt sent to tell Mr. Mubarak to “cut and cut cleanly” in the “time has come” moment. Mr. Laxalt, of course, is forever remembered as then President Reagan‘s ultimate messenger to former Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.
We don’t know what message Mr. Wisner was asked to relay. The BBC reported that he was sent by President Obama to Cairo apparently to urge Mr Mubarak to announce his departure.
Mr. Mubarak, unfortunately, did not hear the message. Or if he heard it, did not know when to cut cleanly. Either that, or there was something wrong with his ears. He could not hear the relayed message and he could not hear the thundering sound from Liberation Square? Could be that he’s hearing everything through the delusion channel? What? The kids in the square are asking him to go, are you nuts? They’re screaming and pleading for him to stay. While the voices are screaming “Leave!, Leave! Leave!”, he could only hear “Save us! Save us! Save us!” Please somebody give him the clear channel.
So anyway, Mr. Wisner was in Cairo … then he was in Munich. And when we saw him on teevee, we had to cover our eyes when he said this:
“We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes,” he told the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“I believe that President Mubarak’s continued leadership is critical – it’s his chance to write his own legacy.
“He has given 60 years of his life to the service of his country, this is an ideal moment for him to show the way forward.”
Video here … we won’t blame you if you want to cover your eyes, too.
According to the BBC, the State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, ever diplomatic said: “We have great respect for Frank Wisner and we were deeply appreciative of his willingness to travel to Egypt last week.”
“He has not continued in any official capacity following the trip. The views he expressed today are his own. He did not co-ordinate his comments with the US government.”
We suspect that Ambassador Wisner won’t get any invite to the WH any time soon.
In the meantime, President Obama has issued a new statement on Egypt on February 10.
As of this writing, Mr. Mubarak has so far, refused to budge from his undisclosed location. And it does not sound like he is anxious to pack his bags either. This is not/not good.
FSN Khairy Ramadan Aly was allegedly picked up by Egyptian security forces from his home and has now been confirmed dead. AP is reporting that he disappeared on Jan. 28 after he went to Tahrir Square to find his missing son and was killed in a random act of violence. We have no independent confirmation of the pick-up or that the actual shooting occurred near or at the Sq. All the confirmation we got was that his family finally found his body in the morgue with 3 bullet holes. The statement from Secretary Clinton only says that he “went missing from his home.”
Secretary Clinton’s statement on the Loss of Locally Employed Staff Member Khairy Ramadan Aly in Cairo | February 10, 2011:
On behalf of all the men and women of the State Department and USAID, I offer our condolences to the friends and loved ones of Khairy Ramadan Aly, a member of our Embassy family in Cairo who went missing from his home on January 28 and has now been confirmed dead. Mr. Aly was a carpenter in the Embassy’s Facilities Office with 18 years of dedicated service. We join his family, friends and colleagues in Egypt in mourning this loss. Throughout this period, many Egyptian employees of the U.S. Mission have continued to work alongside their American colleagues in Cairo and Alexandria. The United States is grateful for their contributions, commitment and sacrifice during this difficult time.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the many Egyptians who have lost their lives or loved ones, been injured, or had their homes and property destroyed in recent days. As we have said repeatedly, the United States condemns violence against civilians under any circumstances. Abuses committed against those seeking to exercise basic freedoms must stop. There is a clear responsibility by the Egyptian government, including the armed forces, to protect those threatened and to hold accountable those responsible for using violence and intimidation that threatens the aspirations of the Egyptian people. We look to the Egyptian government to demonstrate to its people that it is serious about moving quickly toward genuine change.
Our thoughts and prayers for his bereaved family and the US Embassy Cairo community.
Revised and updated on 2/14/2010