Nigel Farage’s Quest For UK Ambassadorship to the US: “No Vacancy”, Ferrero Rocher, An Op-Ed

Posted: 2:36 am ET
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So then, he had a party at The Ritz with lots and lots of Ferrero Rocher.

Now here he is with an op-ed saying “I’ve never thought of myself as a diplomat but I suppose in the changed world of 2016 anything is possible.”  He’s trying to make the case that he has “better relationships with Trump and his team in America than anybody in Westminster.” And in the most often repeated “people say” version from this election cycle, he writes that  “Fair minded people look at Downing Street’s constant rejections of the idea that I can help as being at best, small-minded, tribal politics and at worst potentially damaging our national interest.”  

If that’s not enough to convince the UK Government, here he is with Russia Today’s Sam Delaney on why he wants Sir Kim Darroch‘s  (@KimDarroch) job as UK Ambassador representing Her Majesty The Queen and the UK government in Washington, D.C. By the way, Ambassador Darroch is a seasoned diplomat with over three decades of diplomatic experience, in case you’re wondering.

The clip below  comes complete with an enlarged photo of Ambassador Darroch and his wife, and job interview questions for Mr. Farage, who obviously, is having the time of his life.

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Post-Brexit Britain: Cat Wars on Downing Street, Send Help!

Posted: 5:04 am ET
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The last time we heard from Palmerston, the Chief Mouser  at Whitehall (@DiploMog), he was saying goodbye to Philip Hammond and waiting for his new boss, Boris Johnson.  Like any good public servant, he has a second Twitter account , the unofficial version, by the way.

It turned out that Palmerston and Larry the Cat of 10 Downing Street had a nasty encounter; well, a series of nasty encounters now. And there’s also new cat in the block. Take a look!

 

In real life, this isn’t funny. Photo journalist @PoliticalPics has documented the cat fights on Twitter and he is worried that without intervention, these cats are going to “kill each other.” These cats were adopted from Battersea Dogs and Cats home.  Larry was adopted in 2011 and Palmerston earlier this year. This past week, Gladstone  joined the crew. We hope these are not just PR cats and somebody is responsible for them.  Tweet to @SMcDonaldFCO and .

 

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U.S. Embassy Juba: 47 Troops Ordered to South Sudan, 130 Pre-Positioned in Djibouti

Posted: 2:19 am PT
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On July 13, President Obama informed Congress of the deployment of U.S. Armed Forces personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan.

In response to the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan, I have ordered the deployment of additional U.S. Armed Forces personnel to South Sudan to support the security of U.S. personnel, and our Embassy in Juba. The first of these additional personnel, approximately 47 individuals, arrived in South Sudan on July 12, 2016, supported by military aircraft. Although equipped for combat, these additional personnel are deployed for the purpose of protecting U.S. citizens and property. These deployed personnel will remain in South Sudan until the security situation becomes such that their presence is no longer needed. Additional U.S. Armed Forces, including approximately 130 military personnel currently pre-positioned in Djibouti, are prepared to provide support, as necessary, for the security of U.S. citizens and property, including our Embassy, in South Sudan.

On July 13, Embassy Juba also announced two charter flights that will depart Juba for Entebbe, Uganda on Thursday, July 14. Passengers are expected to make onward travel plans themselves. A security message issued previously notes that “seating is very limited”  and that the mission “cannot guarantee availability.”  Passengers are limited to one piece of luggage (20 kg/45 lbs) each.  Pets are not included in the charter flights.  Passengers who are not documented with a valid U.S. passport “will likely not be considered for boarding.”

 

Germany and the EU have completed the evacuation of its citizens on July 13.  The UK and India are in the process of also evacuating their citizens from South Sudan.

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British Diplomats of the Future — More Like ’24’ or ‘Spooks’? Read ‘Future FCO’ Report

Posted: 9:31 am PT
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This is an interesting read; may require registration/subscription via ft.com:

Last year, there was a discussion at Chathamhouse on 21st Century Diplomats: The Changing Role of British Diplomats. Below is an excerpt from Ambassador Tom Fletcher’s talk:

I recently put in a very audacious and cheeky bid for a senior position in the Foreign Office and part of my application was to say, I think my age may be a problem. Up front, I think my age is a problem, I think I’m too old for the job. My point was that in so many of the countries that we’re now trying to influence, and this was one of them, as one of the bigger emerging economies, the people that we most need to get to are actually much younger than me. So we need to reflect on that as we work out how to engage with those new groups.
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Diplomats have always been told they’re about to go out of business and we have always found ways to evolve. It’s a Darwinian profession and we have found ways to move forward and use new tools and that’s what we’re going to do in this phase. The basic qualities of a diplomat through that period, I would argue, haven’t really changed that much either. I’ve been writing recently about the history of diplomacy and consistently find that the people who make good diplomats tend to have a certain amount of courage, tend to have a certain amount of tact and can probably eat anything. That will be the case for diplomats in 100 years’ time as it was for diplomats 200 years ago and beyond.
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The scientists tell us that the change that we’ll see in the next century is equivalent in sociological terms to the change we’ve seen in the last 43 centuries. So imagine that’s like going from the cave painting to the atom bomb in three generations of diplomats. This change as we’re seeing in all sorts of industries is disruptive. It is going to put a lot of businesses out of business. It’s going to put a lot of states out of business, though not I would argue states altogether. It’s going to put a lot of ideas out of business and for all of us who care about diplomacy, we have to make sure that we’re not one of those businesses that is disrupted.

The FCO has just released the Future FCO report by Ambassador Fletcher. Give it a read below or read here (PDF) to see what’s in store for the cousins across the pond.

The Future FCO report notes that the skills mix required to deliver successful diplomacy is changing. In 2020 and beyond, it will need to retain and bolster the FCO’s traditional strengths: geographical and multilateral expertise; languages; policy-making; networking, influencing and negotiating. By 2020, the FCO will also need to build or strengthen the following skills: Programme; open source data; digital diplomacy; stabilisation and mediation, particularly in volatile and/or ungoverned space; smarter use of cross-Whitehall resource, including financial, economic, diplomatic, intelligence and legal measures (as pioneered by the ‘full spectrum’ approach on security issues); working with business and non-state actors.

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UK Foreign Office’s Top 10 Weirdest Consular Calls — Bacon, Butlers and Spanish Nudists

Posted: 1:48 am ET
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We are a huge fan of the UKFCO’s annual report on consular requests from British citizens overseas.   We kept waiting for the State Department to release it own report.  (See UKFCO: Straight Talk on Consular Work, and Consuls Don’t Do Chicken Coops, All right? and British Foreign Service Tackles Bizarre Requests: Monkey, Tattoo, Online Love and More).

On April 7, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office released the top ten weirdest consular calls it received this past year.  Not quite as memorable as the listicle that the former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs once cited when he gave a speech on the role of the British consular service:

I have to say that we are not the people to turn to:

  • if you can’t find your false teeth, 
  • if your sat nav is broken and you need directions, 
  • if you are unhappy with your plastic surgery
  • if your jam won’t set, if you are looking for a dog-minder while you are on holiday, 
  • if your livestock need checking on, 
  • if you would like advice about the weather, 
  • or if you want someone to throw a coin into the Trevi fountain for you because you forgot while you were on holiday and you want your marriage to succeed.
  • And our commitment to good relations with our neighbours does not, I am afraid, extend to translating ‘I love you’ into Hungarian, as we were asked to do by one love-struck British tourist. There are easier ways to find a translation.

The list below seems pretty tame:

UK Foreign Office’s Top 10 Weirdest Consular Calls — Bacon, Butlers and Spanish Nudists via fco.gov.uk.

Confused callers looked to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for advice on bizarre issues ranging from where to buy English bacon in Europe, how to recruit a butler in Lebanon and how to avoid nudists in southern Spain, it has been revealed.

The FCO has released details of the ten weirdest consular calls it has received in the past year, as a reminder to the public that they should only look to use its services for genuine emergencies.

The calls included:

  • a man planning to move to Spain who was worried he would encounter nudists walking through the streets
  • a homesick expat asking where he could buy English bacon
  • a lady in Lebanon looking for help to recruit an English butler
  • a holidaymaker trying to find Travel Advice for a visit to Coventry
  • a European filmmaker looking for an English pensioner to play a part in his new film
  • a woman who was disappointed the British Embassy has not sent someone to give her a tour of St. Petersburg on her arrival in Russia
  • a British man asking for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore
  • a mother asked for the contact details of a young British YouTuber, as her son was a fan of his Minecraft videos
  • a confused businessman looking for information on the construction of plug sockets
  • a man in South Korea asking what he could do with his old pound notes

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister James Duddridge said:

Our consular staff are a helpful bunch and do an amazing job helping out Brits in trouble around the world – but it is important that people remember they are there to help with genuine emergencies and not as an alternative to directory enquiries.

Every minute they spend handling a call requesting advice on butlers or nudists is time taken away from dealing with life and death cases, so I urge the public to think before picking up the phone.

Latest FCO figures show that over the last year almost half a million calls were made to its consular service –which provides emergency help to Britons in trouble overseas.

The vast majority were from people with genuine requests and the FCO assisted with numerous cases, helping 3,250 Brits who were hospitalised, 4,770 who were arrested, and the families of 3,670 who died overseas. Almost 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.

FCO staff are able to support Brits abroad in many ways – including arranging to visit Brits in hospital or in prison, advising on how to transfer money and helping those caught up in crisis situations. However, recent research* revealed that almost three quarters of Brits (74%) thought the FCO could get them out of jail if they were arrested, almost a quarter (22%) thought the FCO could arrange for them to get home if they lost their ticket and 15% presumed the FCO would lend them money if theirs was lost or stolen.

 

Related post:

How many spring breakers drink too much and fall off hotel balconies? #SpringBreakingBadly (April 1, 2016)

 

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Turkey Warns UK Diplomat Over Selfie, Summons German Diplomat Over #ErdowieErdowoErdogan Video

Posted: 3:34 am ET
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The British Consul-General to Istanbul Leigh Turner (@LeighTurnerFCO) tweeted these on March 25:

 

Apparently, that selfie with Cumhuriyet journalist Can Dundar did not sit well with Turkey’s President Recep Tayipp Erdoğan:

 

And then there’s this:

According to the Guardian, Germany’s ambassador to Turkey, Martin Erdmann, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Ankara last week and asked to justify the contents of the short video made by Extra 3, the popular satirical television program.  “We demanded that the programme be deleted,” a Turkish diplomat told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.”

The video is still online, now has English and Turkish subtitles, and over 2.5 million hits on YouTube. Newsweek reported on Tuesday that the song’s title and melody are inspired by German pop star Nena’s 1984 love song “Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann” (Anyhow, Anywhere, Anytime). The rewritten lyrics in English is available here, but you don’t need German to get this:

 

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US Embassy Cairo’s Security Message Baffles Egyptian Foreign Ministry

Posted: 12:39 pm EDT
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On November 2, the US Embassy in Cairo issued a security message to U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Egypt:

As a precautionary measure, the United States Embassy has instructed its employees not to travel anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula pending the outcome of the investigation into the tragic crash of a Russian passenger jet in Egypt on October 31. The Embassy will issue another message when this measure is lifted.

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US Embassy Cairo, like all posts and bureaus, is required to adhere to the State Department’s  ‘no double standard policy (pdf).  So thumbs up for them for doing this.  The security message is part of the agency’s consular information program and is not/not an internal memo.  What this means is if the Department shares information about potentially dangerous situations with the official U.S. community, it should also make the same or similar information available to the non-official U.S. community if the underlying threat applies to both official and non-official U.S. citizens/nationals.

The decision to issue a Travel Alert, Travel Warning, or a Security or Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens for an individual country is based on the overall assessment of the safety/security situation there. By necessity, this analysis must be undertaken without regard to bilateral political or economic considerations. Accordingly, posts must not allow extraneous concerns to color the decision of whether to issue information regarding safety or security conditions in a country, nor how that information is to be presented.

In related news, various media is now reporting that hundreds of British tourists are stranded in Sharm el-Sheikh: .

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UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond Reopens British Embassy @UKinIran in Tehran

Posted: 1:46 pm EDT
Updated: 2:31 pm EDT
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Speaking at the re-opening ceremony of the British Embassy in Iran, the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, has said:

I am delighted to be here today. I am the first British Foreign Secretary to visit Tehran since Jack Straw in 2003, and only the third British Minister to visit since 1979. It’s a huge pleasure and privilege to be here.
[…]
This Embassy, and this beautiful compound, is a special place. Britain acquired in it 1869 for 20,000 tomans, then £8,000. A huge sum, in those days, but it has repaid us many times.

It has witnessed great moments in the history of both Iran and Britain. The Bast of 1906 that led to Iran acquiring its first Constitution and National Assembly, for example. And the Tehran Conference of 1943, when Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin dined here and planned a second military front in Europe.

The attack in 2011 which forced our Embassy to close was a low point. But since the election of President Rouhani, we have seen our relationship steadily improve, step by step. In 2014, we appointed non-resident Chargés. Last autumn, Prime Minister David Cameron met President Rouhani in New York, the first meeting at that level since 1979 between the leaders of our countries.

Last month’s historic nuclear agreement was another milestone, and showed the power of diplomacy, conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect, to solve shared challenges.

Re-opening the Embassy is the logical next step. To build confidence and trust between two great nations.

Iran is, and will remain, an important country in a strategically important but volatile region. Maintaining dialogue around the world, even under difficult conditions, is critical. And Embassies are the primary means of achieving this.

Mr. Hammond thanked the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish Embassy, represented by their Chargé, Ewa Nilsson, “for their generous and unstinting solidarity over the last four years, initially acting as the UK’s protecting power, and continuing to help us with all manner of ways in areas from consular to finance,” and its Embassy staff, for their “commitment and loyalty over the years.”
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UK Ambassador to Lebanon Signs Off With a Memorable Blog Post: So…Yalla, Bye

Posted: 12:58 am EDT
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“The driving quest of diplomacy is for imperfect ways to help people not kill each other.”
-Tom Fletcher

The Naked Diplomat is done for now.  Tom Fletcher, the British Ambassador to Lebanon signed off from his diplomatic assignment recently. Quite a valedictory address blogpost. Excerpt below:

Dear Lebanon,

Sorry to write again. But I’m leaving your extraordinary country after four years. Unlike your politicians, I can’t extend my own term.

When I arrived, my first email said ‘welcome to Lebanon, your files have been corrupted’. It should have continued: never think you understand it, never think you can fix it, never think you can leave unscathed. I dreamt of Beirutopia and Leb 2020 , but lived the grim reality of the Syria war.

Bullets and botox. Dictators and divas. Warlords and wasta. Machiavellis and mafia. Guns, greed and God. Game of Thrones with RPGs. Human rights and hummus rights. Four marathons, 100 blogs, 10,000 tweets, 59 calls on Prime Ministers, 600+ long dinners, 52 graduation speeches, two #OneLebanon rock concerts, 43 grey hairs, a job swap with a domestic worker, a walk the length of the coast (Video). I got to fly a Red Arrow upside down, and a fly over Lebanon’s northern border to see how LAF is enforcing Lebanese sovereignty. I was even offered a free buttock lift – its value exceeded our £140 gift limit, so that daunting task is left undone.

Your politics are also daunting, for ambassadors as well as Lebanese citizens. When we think we’ve hit bottom, we hear a faint knocking sound below. Some oligarchs tell us they agree on change but can’t. They flatter and feed us. They needlessly overcomplicate issues with layers of conspiracy, creative fixes, intrigue. They undermine leaders working in the national interest. Then do nothing, and blame opponents/another sect/Sykes-Picot/Israel/Iran/Saudi (delete as applicable). They then ask us to move their cousin’s friend in front of people applying for a visa. It is Orwellian, infuriating and destructive of the Lebanese citizens they’re supposed to serve. But this frustration beats the alternative – given potential for mishap, terror or invasion, there is no substitute for unrelenting, maddening, political process.

Continue reading,  So…Yalla, Bye, running on over 300 comments right now.

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