Security Threat Prompts U.S. Embassy Turkey ‘s March 5 Closure to the Public

Posted: 2:08 pm PT
Updated: March 6, 12:28 am PT
 

 

The US Embassy Ankara announced a second day closure for Tuesday, March 6, 2017. No reopening date has been announced as of this update.

On Sunday, March 4, 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara announced that it will be closed to the public tomorrow, Monday, March 5, due to a security threat. Embassy Ankara informs U.S. citizens that the U.S. Embassy in Ankara will be closed to the public on March 5, 2018, due to a security threat.  The Embassy will announce its reopening, once it resumes services. During this period, only emergency services will be provided.  Routine services, such as passport renewals including lost or stolen passports, reports of birth abroad, and notarial services, are not considered emergencies.  Requests for these services will be processed through our online appointment system once the Embassy reopens.  Visa interviews and other routine services are cancelled; applicants will be informed directly of steps to take. Actions to take:

  • Avoid large crowds.
  • Avoid the Embassy.
  • Heighten your personal security posture and awareness if you choose to visit popular tourist sites, shopping malls, shopping districts, and sports and entertainment venues.
  • Notify family and friends of your safety.
  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Keep a low profile.

 The U.S. Mission in Turkey which includes the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and the constituent posts in Istanbul and Adana is currently headed by career diplomat Philip Kosnett who assumed the duties of Chargé d’Affaires in October 2017 upon the conclusion of Ambassador John Bass’ assignment in Turkey.   Prior to becoming CDA, he was appointed  Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey in July 2016.

Turkish media reported previously that INR’s Daniel B. Smith will be appointed as the next U.S. envoy to Ankara following Ambassador Bass’ appointment to Kabul. To-date, the Trump Administration has not publicly announced a nominee for the post in Ankara. Ambassador Smith who still heads INR has now been tapped to lead the current phase of Tillerson’s Redesign (see 2017 Redesign Ends With a Whimper as Tillerson Announces Start of “The Impact Initiative”).

Also note that the State Department has previously urged Americans to reconsider travel to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory. Read More.

#

Employees of U.S. Consulate General Monterrey (a non-danger post) face credible security threat in Mexico

Posted: 2:12 pm ET
Updated: 4:30 pm ET
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

On April 1, the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey, Mexico issued a Security Message informing American citizens of a potential security threat to its employees and announced the restriction of travel of USG employees until further notice:

Due to a potential security threat to its employees, the U.S. Consulate General in Monterrey has instructed U.S. Government personnel to avoid traveling outside the Monterrey metropolitan area until further notice. The U. S. Consulate General in Monterrey strongly advises all U.S. citizens residing or traveling in the states of Coahuila, San Luis Potosí or Nuevo Leon to review their personal security habits and maintain high levels of situational awareness. 

Monterrey currently has a post hardship pay of 15% and zero danger differential.  A source called the threat “credible.” We were told that when the allowances committee cut the previous danger pay for Monterrey from 20% to zero, the justification reportedly was that  “Americans were not directly targeted by the cartel violence.”  Note that the State Department removed danger pay for all Mexican posts last year (see New Danger Pay Differential Posts: See Gainers, Plus Losers Include One Post on Evacuation Status).

A State Department  nightingale also wants us to know that Monterrey where USG employees “remain under curfew, unable to drive virtually anywhere, and uncomfortable telling friends and family to visit” has the same hardship pay as Mexico City, apparently, the number one place to visit in 2016 according to the New York Times.  Also that “there is virtually no freedom of the press” in northern Mexico and the U.S. media only covers them when “it pertains to Donald Trump.”  The State Department’s allowances page lists the hardship differential for Mexico here.

The 2016 Crime and Safety Report for Monterrey notes the following:

Due to drug-related violence associated with Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO), U.S. government personnel are not permitted to drive between Monterrey and the U.S. border. U.S. government personnel in Monterrey may travel by land to the states of San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, and Durango, utilizing toll roads and may overnight in their capitals. Travel is permitted within the state of Nuevo Leon via toll roads. Travel to Coahuila must be done in an armored vehicle, and overnight lodging is restricted. U.S. government personnel must remain in San Pedro Garza Garcia from 0100-0600 (0500 if traveling to the airport).
[…]
The threat of Transnational Criminal Organization-related violence remains the most significant security concern in Monterrey’s Consular District. Police continue to confront the cartels and their associates, and these confrontations can result in shootouts on public roads. Following the confrontations, police frequently discover weapons and in some cases explosives.

According to a recent Daily Beast report, “from 2007 to 2014 the crime wars of Mexico claimed more lives than the combined toll of the wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. More than 164,000 Mexicans have disappeared or been killed in the conflict, and the extreme and chronic violence, coupled with great poverty, also drives much of the illegal immigration that Donald Trump and his supporters are so worried about. “  Read Why the Military Will Never Beat Mexico’s Cartels.

The top boss at USCG Monterrey is Timothy Zúñiga-Brown who arrived in Monterrey in August 2015 as Consul General and Principal Officer. According to Mission Mexico’s newly redesigned website, USCG Monterrey is “one of the largest and busiest consulates in the world.  The Monterrey consular district, includes Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí and most of Coahuila. This district has nearly 13 million inhabitants and is nearly the size of Texas.  The Consulate General staff includes 82 U.S. Officers representing eleven U.S. government agencies plus their 145 Mexican employees.”

Roberta Jacobson, President Obama’s nominee as the next ambassador to Mexico has been stuck in confirmation purgatory for months (see SFRC Clears Roberta Jacobson’s Nomination as US Ambassador to Mexico, Roadblocks Remain). U.S. Mission Mexiso is currently headed by Charge d’affairs William H. Duncan.

In June 2015, a congressional letter of concern asked Secretary of State John Kerry to examine criminal violence in Mexico as a threat to U.S. personnel working in Mexican consulates.

Here’s a good read from the Congressional Research Service on organized crime and drug trafficking organizations in Mexico via fas.org:

#

Related posts:

 

US Embassy Turkey Cancels Public Services For Dec 14 and 15 Due to Security Threat

Posted: 1:56 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

Due to a possible security threat against the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, the Embassy will have limited consular services available on Monday, December 14 and Tuesday, December 15, 2015.  Public services, including visa appointments and non-emergency American Citizen Services appointments for December 14 and 15 are cancelled and will be rescheduled for a later date. Please note the Embassy’s operating status may be subject to change as the security situation evolves. The Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Embassy on those dates.  U.S. Consulate General Istanbul, U.S. Consulate Adana and Consular Agency Izmir will operate normally.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster your personal security.

The cancellation of services follows the previously announced security threat against the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on Sunday, December 13 where Embassy Ankara urged U.S. citizens to avoid the Embassy until the afternoon of Monday, December 14, 2015. ‎

Previously on December 5, Embassy Ankara also warned of a possible security threat against posts in Turkey.

#