U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias threaten U.S. citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad.
On March 25, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of designated U.S. government employees from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the Baghdad Diplomatic support Center, and the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil due to security conditions and restricted travel options as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On December 31, 2019, the Embassy suspended public consular services, until further notice, as a result of damage done by Iranian-backed terrorist attacks on the Embassy compound. U.S. Consulate General Erbil remains open and continues to provide consular services. On October 18, 2018, the Department of State ordered the suspension of operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah. That institution has not reopened. Due to security concerns, U.S. Embassy personnel in Baghdad have been instructed not to use Baghdad International Airport.
U.S. citizens should not travel through Iraq to Syria to engage in armed conflict, where they would face extreme personal risks (kidnapping, injury, or death) and legal risks (arrest, fines, and expulsion). The Kurdistan Regional Government stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the border. Additionally, fighting on behalf of, or supporting designated terrorist organizations, is a crime that can result in penalties, including prison time and large fines in the United States.
In between Netflix binges, take some time to read our 7⃣th SitRep on COVID-19 in #Iraq 🇮🇶.
— OCHA Iraq (@OCHAIraq) March 24, 2020
— RFI English (@RFI_En) March 26, 2020
Following the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a reduction for training from the Iraqi Security Forces and a pause in the Coalition and NATO training missions in Iraq. The Ministry of Defence has decided to redeploy some of its personnel back to the UK. https://t.co/3F7S3GC4ZN pic.twitter.com/ZOyrPVta7q
— British Army (@BritishArmy) March 19, 2020
New U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller arrived in Baghdad in early June to assume charge of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
Ambassador Tueller, of the State of Utah, is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. His other overseas assignments have included Ambassador to Yemen, Ambassador to Kuwait, Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Cairo; Political Minister Counselor at Embassy Baghdad; Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Kuwait; Political Counselor at Embassy Riyadh; Chief of the U.S. Office in Aden, Yemen; Deputy Chief of Mission at Embassy Doha; Political Officer at Embassy London; and Political Officer and Consular Officer at Embassy Amman. His Washington assignments have included Deputy Director in the Office of Northern Gulf Affairs and Egypt Desk Officer.
Ambassador Tueller holds a B.A. from Brigham Young University and a M.P.P. from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was confirmed by the Senate to be Ambassador to Iraq on May 16 and presented his credentials to the Iraqi government on June 9, 2019. Ambassador Tueller is married to DeNeece Gurney of Provo, Utah and they are parents of five children.
Ambassador Tueller’s arrival completes the top leadership roles in Mission Iraq. Joey Hood is now the Deputy Chief of Mission after serving as CDA; Timmy Davis as Consul General for Basrah (mandatory evacuated in September 2018), and Steven Fagin as Consul General in Erbil.
Welcome Ambassador Tueller!
On June 9, 2019, Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller presented his credentials to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq to President Barham Salih and Foreign Minister Mohamed Alhakim. pic.twitter.com/evxdFXdHB8
— U.S. Embassy Baghdad (@USEmbBaghdad) June 10, 2019
Productive meeting with the new United States ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Tueller today at the Barzani Headquarters. We spoke of the latest political developments in the Kurdistan Region and in Iraq. pic.twitter.com/DuKK2gPIgD
— Masoud Barzani (@masoud_barzani) June 15, 2019
— U.S. Consulate Erbil (@USConGenErbil) June 19, 2019
On May 16, the day after the State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. Government employees from Iraq, both at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil, the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Ambassador Matthew Tueller as the next Ambassador to Iraq. State also issued a new Level 4 Do Not Travel advisory for Iraq due to “due to terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict.”
We could not recall Mission Iraq ever going on “ordered departure” (mandatory evacuation). On June 15, 2014, the State Department went on partial “temporary relocation” of USG personnel from Embassy Baghdad to Basrah, Erbil and Amman, Jordan (see US Mission Iraq: Now on Partial “Temporary Relocation” To Basra, Erbil & Amman (Jordan). In August 2014, it relocated additional Baghdad/Erbil Staff to Basrah and Amman (Jordan). Note that these “temporary relocations” occurred around the targeted airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists. The State Department went out of its way to avoid the use of the words “authorized departure”, “ordered departure” or for that matter “mandatory evacuation” in describing the movement of its staff that summer. In September 2018, there was a Mandatory Evacuation For US Consulate General Basrah but limited to Southern Iraq.
As recently as March 31, 2019, in the LEAD IG REPORT TO THE U.S. CONGRESS says:
USCENTCOM reported to the DoD OIG that Iranian activity in Iraq has not changed from last quarter.404 Iranian-backed groups continue to monitor Coalition operations, personnel, and facilities, publish false or misleading stories about Coalition activity in the media, and, through allies within the Iraqi Council of Representatives, support legislation to compel the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.405 CJTF-OIR reported that Iran and Iran-backed groups prefer to try to diminish U.S. and Coalition presence in Iraq through soft power means rather than through direct military confrontation.406
404. USCENTCOM, response to DoD OIG request for information, 3/26/2019.
405. CJTF-OIR, response to DoD OIG request for information, 3/26/2019.
406. USCENTCOM, response to DoD OIG request for information, 3/25/2019
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on escalation of tensions with Iran, as U.S. pulls most personnel from Iraq: "I've never seen an administration that is less forthcoming about such critical information than the Trump administration. It's pretty outrageous." https://t.co/4heF5koUNf pic.twitter.com/vOByo6Xtdn
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) May 16, 2019
British Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, the No. 2 officer in the U.S.-led coalition, said there was “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces” to U.S. and other coalition troops in Iraq and Syria.https://t.co/hCpxQ2EFUx
— VoteVets (@votevets) May 15, 2019
To add on to this excellent thread: in 33 years of USG service, I don’t recall an ordered departure before for what appears to be signaling purposes. Threats in Iraq are continuous, but we didn’t draw down in 2014-15. Why now? https://t.co/xUsTrUQckV
— Barbara A. Leaf (@SafiraLeaf) May 16, 2019
Until this morning, however, I am not aware of an "ordered departure" EVER being issued for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or Consulate in Erbil. Even when ISIS was bearing down on Baghdad in 2014, the U.S. did not trigger ordered departure in light of its serious repercussions.
— Brett McGurk (@brett_mcgurk) May 15, 2019
— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) May 15, 2019
— Christina Ruffini (@EenaRuffini) May 15, 2019
@StateDept has ordered the departure of non-emergency USG employees from Iraq, both at the Embassy in Baghdad and Consulate in Erbil. Additional information on this alert can be found on the U.S. Embassy website at U.S. Citizen Services. https://t.co/iX96dAkyhT
— U.S. Embassy Baghdad (@USEmbBaghdad) May 15, 2019
Posted: 12:35 am ET
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DECISION | Complainant filed a timely appeal with this Commission from the Agency’s decision dated January 21, 2014, dismissing her complaint of unlawful employment discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Upon review, the Commission finds that Complainant’s complaint was properly dismissed pursuant to 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(1) for failure to state a claim.
At the time of events giving rise to this complaint, Complainant worked as a Foreign Services Officer at the U. S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
On December 20, 2013, Complainant filed a formal complaint alleging that the Agency subjected her to discrimination on the basis of sex (female) when she received an email from an official outside her chain of command requesting that she arrange his transportation to a happy hour.
Information in the record shows that the email stated “[Complainant], since you are such an expert could you put in a request for a vehicle.” Both Complainant and the involved official had been invited by the Australian Embassy to go to the event, and the official’s office and Complainant’s office had worked together in the past. The official said that Complainant had offered to arrange transportation to a meeting in the past. When the official learned that Complainant was upset by his email, he apologized.
Analysis and Findings
Under the regulations set forth at 29 C.F.R. Part 1614, an agency shall accept a complaint from an aggrieved employee or applicant for employment who believes that he or she has been discriminated against by that agency because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disabling condition. 29 C.F.R. §§ 1614.103, .106(a). The Commission’s federal sector case precedent has long defined an “aggrieved employee” as one who suffers a present harm or loss with respect to a term, condition, or privilege of employment for which there is a remedy. Diaz v. Dep’t of the Air Force, EEOC Request No. 05931049 (April 21, 1994). If complainant cannot establish that s/he is aggrieved, the agency shall dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim. 29 C.F.R. § 1614.107(a)(1).
The Commission has held that where, as here, a complaint does not challenge an agency action or inaction regarding a specific term, condition, or privilege of employment, the claim of harassment may survive if it alleges conduct that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the complainant’s employment. See Harris v. Forklift Systems, Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 23 (1993). We find that Complainant’s allegations, involving a one-time isolated email, are insufficient to state a claim of a hostile work environment.
The Commission finds that the complaint fails to state a claim under the EEOC regulations because Complainant failed to show that she suffered harm or loss with respect to a term, condition, or privilege of employment for which there is a remedy. See Diaz v. Dep’t of the Air Force, EEOC Request No. 05931049 (April 21, 1994).
Accordingly, the Agency’s final decision dismissing Complainant’s complaint is AFFIRMED.
The text of the entire decision is available to read here.
Posted: 1:54 am ET
Remember the Americans reported missing in Iraq early this year? (see US Embassy Baghdad: “Several” Americans Missing in Iraq). It turns out there were three American contractors who went missing: Waiel El-Maadawy, an Army veteran and former Florida sheriff’s deputy, his cousin, Amr Mohamed, of Bullhead City, Arizona, and Russell Frost, of Wichita, Kansas.
McClatchyDC has their story:
[T]he men were released to Iraqi middlemen who took them to the Green Zone, the government complex where the U.S. Embassy is housed. That day, Feb. 16, was the last the Americans saw of Abu Marina, the Iraqi held captive with them. Attempts to reach him via his Facebook account failed; his whereabouts are unknown.
Coverage of the kidnapping is a case study in the unreliability of newsgathering in Baghdad, where fear and sectarian agendas shape how incidents are reported, especially given the difficulties of Western journalists to move freely around the city.
Every news organization that covered the case reported inaccurate information, typically focusing on the brothel angle based on the accounts of unnamed “Iraqi security officials.” Virtually everything else in the reports was wrong, too: the men’s names, nationalities, genders, employer and time of capture.
Posted: 2:48 am ET
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The 2016 summer rotation brought in new faces at the U.S. Mission in Iraq. On September 1, the U.S. ambassador designate Douglas Silliman arrived in Baghdad. As far as we can tell from social media posts, he has yet to present his credentials to the GOI. His new DCM, Stephanie Williams preceded him in Baghdad by a month. Ambassador Ken Gross, the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan from 2009-2012 is now the Consul General in Erbil. In August, Win Dayton also assumed responsibilities as principal officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah. At the US Consulate in Kirkuk, Roy Perrin assumed office as principal officer. Mr. Perrin is also the current Deputy Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil. Below are brief bios:
Douglas A. Silliman | Ambassador
He arrived in Baghdad on September 1, 2016. He served as Ambassador to Kuwait from 2014 until July 2016. In 2013-2014, he served as a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the Department of State in Washington, D.C., working on Iraq issues and the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. He was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2012 to 2013 and Minister Counselor for Political Affairs in Baghdad from 2011 to 2012. He was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008 to 2011. He joined the Department of State in 1984 and is a career member of Senior Foreign Service.
Ambassador Silliman earlier served as Director and Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Southern European Affairs, as Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan, and as the Regional Officer for the Middle East in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Ambassador Silliman worked as political officer in Islamabad, Pakistan, in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, as Lebanon Desk officer, and as Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. He began his career as a visa officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and a political officer in Tunis, Tunisia.
Ambassador Silliman received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science summa cum laude from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a Master of Arts in International Relations from the George Washington University in Washington, DC.
He has received numerous awards from the Department of State, including the Secretary’s Award for Public Outreach in 2007 and senior performance awards. The American Foreign Service Association gave Ambassador Silliman its Sinclaire Language Award in 1993 and the W. Averill Harriman Award for outstanding junior officer in 1988. He speaks Arabic and French.
Stephanie Williams | Deputy Chief of Mission
Ms. Williams has been the Deputy Chief of Mission since August 2016. She is a senior member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor. She has served as: Deputy Chief of Mission in Amman and Manama, as well as the Director of Maghreb Affairs, the Deputy Director of the Egypt and Levant Affairs Office and the Jordan Desk Officer at the Department of State. Other overseas assignments include serving as the Political Section Head in Abu Dhabi, Consular and Political Officer in Kuwait, and Assistant General Services Officer in Islamabad. She has studied Arabic at Georgetown University, FSI Tunis and the University of Bahrain and attended the National War College.
Ken Gross | U.S. Consul General Erbil
Ken Gross, the Consul General in Erbil, is a career member of the U.S. Department of State’s Senior Foreign Service. Mr. Gross previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tajikistan from 2009-2012. He has had two previous overseas postings in Iraq, including as Principal Officer at the Regional Embassy Office in Basrah, and he returned to Iraq as director of the Office of Provincial Affairs, the office overseeing Provincial Reconstruction Teams.
He has previously served as a Career Development Officer for senior-level officers in the Human Resources Bureau and as director of the Middle East Partnership Initiative Office in the Near Eastern Affairs Bureau.
Mr. Gross also served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Tajikistan from 2002- 2004. His other overseas postings include Haiti, Malaysia, Nepal, and Germany. In the Department of State, Mr. Gross worked in the Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs as an aviation negotiator, in the Bureau of European Affairs as desk officer for Austria, and in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research as a current intelligence analyst.
Mr. Gross joined the Foreign Service in 1987. He received a B.A. from Auburn University, a J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law, and a M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College. He speaks Tajiki, German, and French.
Win Dayton | U.S.Consul General Basrah
On August 1, 2016 Mr. Win Dayton assumed responsibilities as U.S. Consul General at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah. Mr. Win Dayton is a career member of the State Department’s Senior Foreign Service.
Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Dayton served most recently in Washington with the Foreign Service Board of Examiners and as Director of the State Department’s Counter-ISIL Coalition Working Group. His overseas service includes assignments to the U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul, where he served as Deputy Principal Officer, as well as to the U.S. Embassies in Harare, Bangkok, Tegucigalpa and Dublin.
Domestically, Mr. Dayton has served as Director of Overseas Operations in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and as Director of the Office of Transportation Policy in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. Mr. Dayton also served domestic tours in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research and in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs.
Mr. Dayton is a graduate of the National Security Executive Leadership Seminar and is the recipient of several State Department Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards.
Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1989, Mr. Dayton was an attorney in Dallas, Texas, for five years, and worked on Capitol Hill for a year. He holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in Political Science from Amherst College.
Roy Perrin | U.S. Consulate Kirkuk
A career Foreign Service Officer, Mr. Perrin is currently the Deputy Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, Iraq and Consul of the United States for Kirkuk, Iraq. He recently served several months as the Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. at the Embassy of the United States in San José, Costa Rica, where he was also the Embassy’s Counselor for Political, Economic and Narcotics Affairs.
Mr. Perrin was previously posted to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China as an economic officer and as the State Department’s Labor Officer. He also served for an extended period as acting Consul General of the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu, China. Mr. Perrin has also worked as an economic officer and vice-counsel at the U.S. Embassies in Caracas, Venezuela and Bangkok, Thailand, and in Washington, D.C. he served in the State Department’s Operations Center Crisis Management office.
Mr. Perrin received a Bachelor of Engineering degree from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and worked as a mechanical engineer at the former Avondale Shipyards in Avondale, Louisiana. He then entered law school at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Tulane Maritime Law Journal. After earning a J.D. from Tulane Law School with honors, Mr. Perrin practiced law in San Francisco, California and New Orleans, Louisiana, specializing in the defense of corporations in class action and product liability litigation. He entered the Foreign Service in 1999.
Mr. Perrin is the recipient of several State Department individual Superior and Meritorious Honor Awards, the American Foreign Service Association’s 2002 Achievement Award, and the joint State and Labor Department 2011 Award for Excellence in Labor Diplomacy. His foreign languages include Spanish, Thai, and Chinese.
Posted: 1:23 am ET
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On May 19, President Obama announced Douglas Silliman as his nominee for the next Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq. The WH released the following brief bio:
Douglas Silliman, a career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as U.S. Ambassador to the State of Kuwait, a position he has held since 2014. Ambassador Silliman was a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2013 to 2014 and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2012 to 2013. From 2011 to 2012, he was Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs in Baghdad. Before serving in Iraq, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008 to 2011. Ambassador Silliman was Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs from 2005 to 2007 and Deputy Director from 2004 to 2005. From 2000 to 2004, he was Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1984, he has also served at posts in Haiti, Pakistan, and Tunisia.
Ambassador Silliman received a B.A. from Baylor University and an M.A. from The George Washington University.
Ambassador Silliman had his confirmation hearing at the SFRC on June 21. If confirmed, he would succeed career diplomat, Stuart E. Jones, who was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to Iraq on September 17, 2014.