US Embassy Khartoum’s CDA Steven Christopher Koutsis to be U.S. Ambassador to Chad

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On July 24, 2019, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate  Steven Christopher Koutsis, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Chad. The WH released the following brief info:
Steven Koutsis, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor, currently serves as Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.  Previously, he served as Director of the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Deputy Chief of Mission in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and Deputy Director in the Office of Central African Affairs.  Earlier assignments include service as Team Leader of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Diyala Province, Iraq, Political and Economic Counselor in Monrovia, Liberia, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Nouakchott, Mauritania.  Mr. Koutsis earned a B.A. from Boston University in 1979.  He is the recipient of the Department of Army Superior Civilian Service Award for his service in Iraq.  Mr. Koutsis speaks French and Arabic.
If confirmed, Mr.Koutsis would succeed Ambassador Geeta Pasi (1962–) who was appointed U.S. Ambasasdor to Chad from October 6, 2016–September 20, 2018.
According to AFSA, 21 career diplomats have been appointed as ambassador to Chad since 1960.  Chad is one of 41 Foreign Service posts with no history of political appointments.

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Post Closures, Travel Suspension, 9/11 Security Reminders

Posted: 2:07 am EDT
Updated: 11:11 am EDT
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Non-essential travel suspension:
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9/11 Anniversary reminders:

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Significant Attacks Against U.S. Diplomatic Facilities/Personnel From 1998-2012

by Domani Spero

The State Department recently released its compilation of significant attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel from 1998 to 2012.

The list notes that some attacks may not be included because, in certain cases, the motivation of the attacks could not be determined. In other cases, violence against individuals may not have been reported through official channels.  It says that the information is not an all-inclusive compilation but “a reasonably comprehensive listing of significant attacks.”

Thousands of protestors attacked the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, breaking windows, setting fire to the Consular Section entrance, and causing extensive damage. (U.S. Department of State Photos)

Thousands of protestors attacked the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, breaking windows, setting fire to the Consular Section entrance, and causing extensive damage. 2012 (U.S. Department of State Photo)

Below is the list of attacks in 2012 We have highlighted in red all attacks with death or injuries, including incidents where the casualties are non-Americans.

JANUARY 1 TO DECEMBER 31 – IRAQ: Unknown individuals targeted the U.S. Consulate in Kirkuk with indirect-fire attacks on 41 separate occasions; additional indirect-fire attacks were launched against other U.S. interests in Iraq.

*FEBRUARY 2, 2012 – BAMAKO, MALI: Demonstrators attacked a U.S. Embassy vehicle with stones while the vehicle was en route to evacuate Mission dependents from a local school. A second Embassy vehicle also was attacked in a different location. There were no injuries in either incident.

FEBRUARY 20, 2012 – KANDAHAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown individuals attacked a U.S. Army convoy carrying one Embassy employee, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding two others.

MARCH 2, 2012 – ADEN, YEMEN: A gunman fired three rounds into the side window of a U.S. Embassy vehicle. No one was hurt in the attack.

MARCH 17, 2012 – FARYAB PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: Insurgents fired two rockets at the U.S. provincial reconstruction team compound. No injuries or damage were reported.

MARCH 24, 2012 – URUZGAN PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: An explosive device detonated against a vehicle outside an entry control point of the U.S. provincial reconstruction team compound, killing four Afghan National Police officers and one local national.

MARCH 26, 2012 – LASHKAR GAH, AFGHANISTAN: An individual dressed in an Afghan National Army uniform killed two International Security Assistance Force soldiers and wounded another at the main entry control point of the U.S. provincial reconstruction team compound.

APRIL 12, 2012 – VALLEY OF THE APURIMAC, ENE, AND MANTARO RIVERS, PERU: Presumed members of Sendero Luminoso terrorist group fired on a U.S. government-owned helicopter, killing one Peruvian police officer and wounding the Peruvian crew chief.

APRIL 15 TO 16, 2012 – KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: The U.S. Embassy compound sustained minor damage after heavily armed gunmen attacked several diplomatic missions and Afghan government buildings throughout the city.

APRIL 16, 2012 – GHOR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown individuals attacked a U.S. provincial reconstruction team compound with small-arms fire but caused no injuries.

APRIL 16, 2012 – MANILA, PHILIPPINES: Protesters stole several letters from the sign at the Embassy front gate and threw paint onto the building.

JUNE 6, 2012 – BENGHAZI, LIBYA: An explosive device detonated outside the U.S. Special Mission, leaving a large hole in the perimeter wall but causing no injuries.

JUNE 16, 2012 – PAKTIKA PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown gunmen opened fire on a U.S. Embassy helicopter, striking the aircraft and rupturing its fuel tank, but causing no injuries.

AUGUST 8, 2012 – ASADABAD CITY, AFGHANISTAN: Two suicide bombers detonated their explosives near U.S. provincial reconstruction team members walking near Forward Operating Base Fiaz, killing three U.S. service members and one USAID employee, and wounding nine U.S. soldiers, one U.S. diplomat, four local employees, and one Afghan National Army member.

SEPTEMBER 3, 2012 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden vehicle attacked a U.S. Consulate General motorcade near the U.S. Consulate General’s housing complex, injuring two U.S. officials, two locally employed staff drivers, a local police bodyguard, and several other policemen providing security for the motorcade.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2012 – ZABUL PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: The U.S. provincial reconstruction team was targeted with two improvised explosive devices, but suffered no injuries.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 – BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Unknown individuals on the ground fired at a U.S. Embassy aircraft, but caused no damage to the aircraft and no injuries to those on board.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2012 – JERUSALEM: A “flash-bang” device was thrown at the front door of an official U.S. Consulate General residence, damaging an exterior door and hallway, but causing no injuries.

SEPTEMBER 11 TO 15, 2012 – CAIRO, EGYPT: Protesters overran U.S. Embassy perimeter defenses and entered the Embassy compound. No Americans were injured in the violent demonstrations that continued for four days.

SEPTEMBER 11 TO 12, 2012 – BENGHAZI, LIBYA: Attackers used arson, small arms, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars against the U.S. Special Mission, a Mission annex, and U.S. personnel en route between both facilities, killing the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other U.S. government personnel, wounding two U.S. personnel and three Libyan contract guards, and destroying both facilities.

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012 – TUNIS, TUNISIA: Demonstrators, at the U.S. Embassy to protest inflammatory material posted on the Internet, threw stones at the compound’s fence and tried to get to the Embassy perimeter wall, before police secured the area.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 – SANA’A, YEMEN: Protesters stormed the Embassy compound, looting property and setting several fires. No U.S. citizens were injured in the attack. Throughout the day, groups of protesters harassed the U.S. Embassy and a hotel where Embassy personnel were residing.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 – CHENNAI, INDIA: Protesters outside the U.S. Consulate General threw a Molotov cocktail, causing some damage but no injuries.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 – KHARTOUM, SUDAN: An angry mob threw rocks at the U.S. Embassy, cut the Mission’s local power supply, and used seized police equipment to battle the Embassy’s defenders, damaging more than 20 windows and destroying several security cameras.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2012 – TUNIS, TUNISIA: Protesters breached the U.S. Embassy wall and caused significant damage to the motor pool, outlying buildings, and the chancery. Separately, unknown assailants destroyed the interior of the American Cooperative School. No U.S. citizens were injured in either attack.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2012 – KARACHI, PAKISTAN: Protesters broke through police lines and threw rocks into the U.S. Consulate General perimeter, damaging some windows but causing no injuries.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 – JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails and other material at the U.S. Embassy to protest inflammatory material posted on the Internet, injuring 11 police officers and causing minor damage to the Embassy.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 – BEIJING, CHINA: Protesters surrounded the U.S. ambassador’s vehicle and caused minor damage to the vehicle, but no injuries were reported.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2012 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: Demonstrators outside the U.S. Consulate threw rocks and Molotov cocktails, and pulled down a billboard showing a U.S. flag.

SEPTEMBER 23, 2012 – LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: During a demonstration by thousands of protesters outside the U.S. Embassy, an unknown individual threw a rock at the building, damaging a ballistic- resistant window.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2012 – KOLKATA, INDIA: Protesters marched toward the American Center, rushed the gates, and threw sticks and stones at the facility, causing minor damage to a window.

OCTOBER 1, 2012 – KANDAHAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: Unknown individuals opened fire on the U.S. provincial reconstruction team facility with small-arms fire, but caused no injuries.

OCTOBER 4, 2012 – KANDAHAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN:Unknown individuals targeted the U.S. provincial reconstruction team with small-arms fire, but caused no injuries.

OCTOBER 11, 2012 – SANA’A, YEMEN: The U.S. Embassy’s senior foreign service national investigator was shot and killed in his vehicle by gunmen on a motorcycle. The terrorist group Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack.

OCTOBER 13, 2012 – KANDAHAR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN: A suicide bomber detonated a suicide vest as a delegation of U.S. and Afghan officials arrived for a meeting, killing two U.S. citizens and five Afghan officials.

OCTOBER 29, 2012 – TUNIS, TUNISIA: Two men in a car harassed and threw a can at a U.S. military officer assigned to the Embassy who was driving a vehicle with diplomatic license plates. The officer was not injured in the incident.

NOVEMBER 4, 2012 – FARAH, AFGHANISTAN: An unknown individual attacked the U.S. provincial reconstruction team facility with a grenade but caused no injuries.

NOVEMBER 18, 2012 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: Two mortar rounds exploded near U.S. Consulate General housing, injuring one local guard and damaging the consul general’s residence with shrapnel.

NOVEMBER 21, 2012 – JAKARTA, INDONESIA: Demonstrators, protesting inflammatory material posted on the Internet, threw objects at the U.S. Embassy.

NOVEMBER 23, 2012 – MEDAN, INDONESIA: Demonstrators at the American Presence Post damaged a vehicle gate in an attempt to gain access to the ground floor of the building.

NOVEMBER 23, 2012 – PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN: A round of indirect fire landed near a U.S. Consulate General residence but did not detonate and caused no injuries or damage.

DECEMBER 4, 2012 – DHAKA, BANGLADESH: Demonstrators surrounded a U.S. Embassy vehicle on the road, attempted to set it afire, and threw rocks and bricks at it, shattering several windows and injuring the driver.

DECEMBER 22, 2012 – TUNIS, TUNISIA: Protesters forced their way into the Ministry of Justice to confront a visiting delegation of U.S. government investigators. No one was hurt in the encounter, but photos of the U.S. investigators inside the Ministry of Justice were later posted on social media and other Internet sites.

The complete list is accessible online here.

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US Mission Sudan: USAID Employees’ Convicted Killer Currently in Prison Designated a Terrorist

—By Domani Spero

We blogged previously about the challenge of holding the killers of USAID Officer John Granville and FSN Abdel Rahman Abbas accountable in the Sudanese judicial system. After their 2010 escape from Khartoum’s max security prison, one is reportedly dead, one is back in jail and two remains at large three years after their escape.  These two have a $5 million bounty on each head.  The State Department has now designated the third and last of the convicted murderers as a terrorist under E.O 13244.  The individual is back jail, so not sure why this designation is happening now.  Unless this is in preparation for when Hamza gets to escape again.

The U.S. Department of State has designated Abd Al-Ra’Ouf Abu Zaid Mohamed Hamza under Executive Order 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. As a result of this designation, all property subject to U.S. jurisdiction in which Hamza has any interest is blocked and any assets he may have under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with him.

Hamza, with three co-conspirators, participated in an armed attack in Khartoum, Sudan on January 1, 2008, which resulted in the deaths of a U.S. diplomat serving with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), John Michael Granville, and a locally employed U.S. Embassy staff member, Adbelrahman Abbas Rahama. The attack occurred when Granville and Abbas were leaving a New Year’s Eve party in Khartoum. Granville worked on democracy and governance programs for USAID.

The four men were convicted of murder and sentenced to death in a Sudanese criminal court in 2009. In 2010, the four men escaped from a maximum security prison, killing a Sudanese police officer and wounding another in the process. Shortly thereafter, Hamza was recaptured and is currently in prison in Khartoum. Another escapee was reportedly killed in Somalia in 2011, and the other two remain fugitives at large. These two fugitives, Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhasan Haj Hamad and Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed, were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under E.O. 13224 on January 8, 2013 and remain at large. The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program has authorized rewards of up to $5 million each for information leading to the capture of the two fugitives.

In making this designation, the Department seeks to emphasize to the public and, in particular, to the Granville and Abbas families, our commitment to justice prevailing in this case.

Active links added above.  Check out the Rewards For Justice rogue’s gallery here.

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Murder in Khartoum — Remembering Ambassador Cleo Noel and DCM Curtis Moore

This Memorial Day we remember and honor two diplomats who were killed serving their country long before we gave terrorism its own acronym in our political discourse.  On December 23, 1972, President Nixon appointed Ambassador Cleo Noel as U.S. Ambassador to Sudan.  He would be the first full-fledged U.S. ambassador in Khartoum since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The outgoing Charge d’Affairs, George Curtis Moore was asked to stay on as Deputy Chief of Mission until Robert E. Fritts, the new DCM arrived in March.

On March 1, 1973 the Saudi Arabian Ambassador Abdullah al Malhouk held a farewell dinner for DCM Moore who had been in Sudan for the last three years. Around 7 pm that night, seven men from the Palestinian terrorist group Black September Organization  attacked the embassy villa armed with automatic weapons.  On March 2, 1973, 26 hours after being taken hostages, Ambassador Noel and DCM Moore were executed by the terrorists.

“Cleo and I will die bravely and without tears as men should,” Curt Moore wrote in the closing sentence of his letter to his wife.*

After a joint funeral on March 7 at the National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C., Cleo Noel, Jr. and Curtis Moore were buried with military honors next to each other at Arlington National Cemetery.

Ambassador Noel’s wife, Lucille died of a stroke on Feb. 14, 2010 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.  She was 91 years old.  Mr. Moore’s wife Sarah Anne Stewart Moore  who shared a 23 year career with her husband in the Foreign Service passed away in 2007 and is also buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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Plot: Section 5, Lot 134

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Plot: Section 5, Lot 135

The following account is an excerpt from the Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training (ADST), an independent nonprofit organization founded to advance understanding of American diplomacy and training of foreign affairs personnel.

The BSO demanded the release of Arab militants. President Nixon said in a March 2 news conference that the U.S. would “not pay blackmail.” Ambassador Noel, Moore, and the Belgian were allowed to write final letters to their wives; they were killed 12 hours later. Demands for a plane were rejected, but the terrorists surrendered after three days to Sudanese authorities and were later put on trial, but justice was not served. Robert E. Fritts recalls how he was brought in from Washington to replace Moore as DCM, how he helped reestablish morale among the distraught embassy staff, and the frustrating pursuit of justice against the BSO. He was interviewed by Charles Stuart Kennedy in September 1999.

Foreign Affairs Oral History Project – Robert E. Fritts (Excerpt):

The embassy occupied the upper floors of a commercial office building adjoined by others on the main street. Because of the haboob [dust storm], power was out and also, I think, the Sudanese Government cut power to the Saudi embassy, and the area included us. I thus climbed five or six floors up the back steps, carrying my suitcase and my garment bag over my shoulder. The only lighting on the stairway was battery-operated dual emergency lights–very dim. I finally came to the floor where the embassy began. The administrative officer, Sandy Sanderson, was standing there with his glasses on a string hanging around his neck. I couldn’t quite see his face as he was back lighted by the emergency lamps, but I could tell he was crying. He said, “We’ve heard there was gunfire in the Saudi embassy. They may be dead. You’re in charge.”

My next thought was how could I be most useful? Others might behave differently, but I decided it was not to come in and take a high profile approach. I told Sanderson to remain in charge as he had been for the past two days, that I didn’t know the embassy, the staff, or even the city. Nor did I know Sudanese government officials, nor they me. The American embassy staff was very small: only a half-dozen American officers, two or three secretaries, all in shock and without rest. Most of our Sudanese FSNs [Foreign Service Nationals] were hunkered down at their homes. I decided the best thing I could do initially was just do whatever was helpful….

The Department and Embassy Khartoum were linked by a crude direct TTY [teletype] line that printed letter by letter. It was very slow and limited to only several sentences at a time. While talking with Sandy and others, I saw the TTY keyboard and small screen on a table with a chair in the corridor. It was unmanned and only glanced at intermittently when an officer happened to pass by. I knew how thirsty the Department was for information and its frustration with the dead time between questions and responses. So I said, “I’ll start with this.” Because of consultations, I knew who was who in the Department and thought I knew what they needed or would need. I manned the TTY for most of the next 36 hours. It became our embassy cockpit. It also freed up those who needed to be operational with the Foreign Ministry, the police, the Army, the media etc. I developed an increasingly in-depth dialogue with the Department, including sets of short evaluations, impressions, what next, etc. Versions were also being passed to Macomber, who was still in Cairo.

The haboob was still howling. They normally last hours; this one lasted three days. Even the following noon it was black. Dust and grit were everywhere, in your eyes and teeth. Every flat surface was layered. We were covered in gritty dust. The dim embassy lights were still battery powered.  It was a scene from hell.

Last Words

One human vignette I recall vividly is that the BSO operatives “permitted” Noel and Moore to write “last words” to their wives, who were together throughout at the residence. The murdered men’s notes, sealed in incongruously embossed Saudi embassy envelopes, were given to Sanderson by the Foreign Ministry. He asked me if I would deliver them? I said, “Sandy, I’ve never met Mrs. Noel and Mrs. Moore in my life. I’m even here as a live substitute for Moore. They’ve got enough to handle without factoring me in. You know them well, they know you. It’s better if you deliver the letters.” He left for the task in tears. He returned to say how appreciative the wives were for all everyone was doing, including me by name. And he commented that neither wife had shown any tears.

After much too long, the bodies were retrieved from the Saudi embassy basement, where they had been gunned down against a wall. Sandy identified them and he and Braun assisted in the preparation of the remains and putting them into the caskets that every embassy has for emergencies. They lay “in state” in one of our embassy houses overnight and the next day. We had a Marine Security Guard in dress blues in formal attendance, plus the American and ambassadorial flags. It was like a wake: embassy officers and Sudanese staff would come and go and come again. I think a few VIP Sudanese stopped by as well, even though the condolence book was at the embassy.

[…]

Then there was the departure ceremony. With the haboob over, Air Force One or Two, which had staged to Cairo, arrived with Macomber. We and the Sudanese arranged a tarmac exit ceremony for the coffins and the widows, attended by the government and diplomatic corps. In one of those poignant paradoxes you often see in Africa, the coffins, carried by the Marine Guards with the wives, me, and the other embassy officers following, were accompanied by Sudanese troops slow-marching to a Sudanese military bagpipe band playing Auld Lang Syne as a dirge.

In-Box Exercise, This Time for Real

You know, there’s an “in-box” exercise for Foreign Service applicants where they arrive at a post to replace an officer who’s died suddenly. They have to go through the contents of an in-box and determine priorities. Well, I now had two in-boxes and it was for real.

[…]

Among the papers in Noel’s box was a photo, taken by the desk where I now sat and developed at the embassy, of his taking the oath as ambassador on the day of his capture. He had come to the Sudan on an interim appointment and been confirmed by the Senate in absentia. Curt Moore had delivered the oath of office. The two men and their wives were wrapped in laughter and friendship. Hours later, both men were dead. If I had arrived in Khartoum directly from Jakarta, I might have been with them.

I learned later that Moore had possibly been at least vaguely aware of being under surveillance, but had discounted it. Noel had also been advised to be cautious, but, with his deep experience in Khartoum, had said that very day, “Nothing will happen to me in the Sudan.” He was right about the Sudanese, but wrong about the BSO, Libya, and, maybe, Yasser Arafat.

Among the papers in Moore’s box was a hand-written welcome letter to me. It ended with “So at the close of three and one-half of the finest years of my life, I welcome you to Khartoum and hope you will be able to make the same statement when you leave.”

Patching Up a Shattered Embassy

The small embassy was in psychological shock and depression. Although the Americans did not know Cleo Noel well, they knew his reputation. His few months at post had been impressively reassuring. They virtually revered Curt Moore. The Sudanese [Foreign Service Nationals] appreciated both men as friends of the Sudan and everyone knew that Noel and Moore were as close as brothers. The embassy was shattered, absolutely shattered.…

The first week or two was just terrible; each day worse than the one preceding. Aside from lack of knowledge and contacts, it was a challenge to resuscitate and inspire officers from such a trauma. I set initial personal and embassy goals, at first day-to-day and then longer. I soon realized the American officers found solace in focus. They also had been bonded by a crisis that encompassed me. It was March and they began to respond to my game plan of rendering honor to the fallen by having the embassy rebound as a fully functioning professional entity by July 4, 1973. If successful, we could top it off symbolically with the first formal July 4 celebration in an Arabic state since 1967. If we could do that, I would have done what I could as Charge. The embassy would then be a proven, ready, and able vehicle for a new ambassador with shoulder patch to move forward. Sounds rehearsed, but it was embedded in my mind and recallable today.

In retrospect, I consider Khartoum the formative period in my Foreign Service career. It justified the approach I had always taken of wanting responsibility and across-the-board experience. Frankly, when I left the Sudan, I felt I could handle any task the Foreign Service could assign.

Going to Court, Conviction, Release and the Big Picture

It was a tortuous process. The Sudanese Government’s initial chagrin and outrage became progressively modified by internal and foreign policy concerns. The first step, which took months, was a magisterial inquiry, sort of like a grand jury. After fits and starts and a series of our demarches to the government, the magistrate finally lodged charges of murder against the principal BSO assassins.…

[…]

Months further…they were convicted in a trial on charges of murder. The good news was that our foremost policy goal had been met: the conviction of anti-American terrorists in an Arab state. The sentence was life imprisonment, which the Sudanese Supreme Court commuted to X years. The bad news was truly bad. They were eventually turned over surreptitiously to the PLO to “impose the sentence” and spirited out by plane to Cairo. I think then-Ambassador Brewer only found out about it after the fact. The USG pressured the Egyptians not to release them and they were put in a form of progressively loose house arrest in a Nile mansion. Eventually, they evaporated. A travesty!

One of the controversies in later years was that the White House and State eased the pressure, partly for Middle East foreign policy reasons and partly because the major State principals were progressively transferred in a normal career sequence. Kissinger is cited as having a bigger picture in mind and State as viewing the matter as “an” issue, but not “the” issue it had been.…

Read ADST’s The Terrorist Attack on the Saudi Embassy – Khartoum, 1973.

You may also read the entire Robert Fritts’ interview here.

*Former FSO David Korn has written a book on this in Assassination in Khartoum.

The State Department’s Office of the Historian has now released the FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, 1969–1976, VOLUME XXV, ARAB-ISRAELI CRISIS AND WAR, 1973.  On page 156 is the following:

“The Khartoum operation was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval of Yasser Arafat, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the head of Fatah. When the terrorists became convinced that their demands would not be met and after they reportedly had received orders from Fatah headquarters in Beirut, they killed the two U.S. officials and the Belgian Charge ́. Thirty-four hours later, upon receipt of orders from Arafat in Beirut, the terrorists released the other hostages unharmed and surrendered to Sudanese authorities.”

Following the 1993 Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat, and two Israelis, the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, were named the winners of the 1994 Nobel peace prize.

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$10 Million Bounty for Sudanese Killers of USAID Employees Killed in 2008

Almost five years to the day a USAID officer and FSN were killed in Khartoum, the U.S. Government announced a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture of two of their killers.  The announcement says to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  The embassy, however, has no arrest power, so presumably the arrest and capture can only be done with the cooperation of the host country.  What we don’t want to see is for these criminals to be arrested in the Sudan (again), the USG paying off the $10 million bounty and for the killers to escape once more, as they have done once before from what purportedly was the country’s maximum security prison.

Convicted Killer of USAID Employees in Sudan, and 2010 Escapee Reportedly Killed in Somalia

How much does a US diplomat’s life worth? About $1,800 US dollars, and look there’s no raging mob…

US Embassy Sudan and Those Critical Pool and Picnic Resources
Here is the announcement:

The U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program is offering rewards for information on two individuals involved in the January 1, 2008 murders of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) diplomat John Granville and USAID employee Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama.

The Department has authorized rewards of up to $5 million each for information leading to the capture of Abdelbasit Alhaj Alhasan Haj Hamad and Mohamed Makawi Ibrahim Mohamed, two of five individuals convicted in Sudan for the murders.

Granville, a U.S. citizen, and Abbas, a Sudanese national, were leaving a New Year’s Eve celebration in Khartoum, Sudan, when gunmen opened fire on their car, killing both of them. Granville worked on democracy and governance programs for USAID. He was credited with being the driving force behind the distribution of over 200,000 solar-powered radios used to inform citizens in remote areas of Sudan of their rights and responsibilities under the historic 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and subsequent 2010 national elecions. Abbas was born in Juba, now the capital of South Sudan, and began his USAID career in 2004 as one of the original members of the USAID Disaster Assistance Response Team for Darfur.

Five men were tried and convicted in 2009 by a Sudanese court for their involvement in the murders. Four of those men – including Abdelbasit and Makawi — were convicted of murder and sentenced to death but escaped from prison on June 10, 2010, before their sentences could be carried out. Of the four escapees, one was recaptured. A second was reportedly killed in Somalia in May 2011. Abdelbasit and Makawi remain at large and are believed to be in Somalia.

Makawi had ties to the Sudan-based terrorist organization al-Qaida in the Land of the Two Niles, which conspired to attack other U.S., Western, and Sudanese targets. He was the leader of the attack that killed Granville and Abbas and was identified as one of the gunmen. Makawi was born in 1984 in Sudan and speaks English and Arabic.

Abdelbasit was the second shooter in the attack. He was born in Sudan and has used birthdates in 1979 and 1983. He also speaks English and Arabic.

More information about these individuals is located on the Rewards for Justice web site at www.rewardsforjustice.net. We encourage anyone with information on these individuals to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, or the Rewards for Justice office via the website (www.rewardsforjustice.net), e-mail (RFJ@state.gov), or mail (Rewards for Justice, Washington, DC 20520-0303, USA). All information will be kept strictly confidential.

The Rewards for Justice program is administered by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Since its inception in 1984, the program has paid more than $125 million to more than 80 persons who provided actionable information that put terrorists behind bars or prevented acts of international terrorism worldwide.

Shortly before the fifth death anniversary of the USAID employees, the Sudan Tribune reported  that a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda has published a video purportedly showing the escape of four men accused of killing John Granville and his Sudanese driver from a maximum security prison in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.  The four managed to escape in June 2010 from Kober Federal prison under mysterious circumstances. The report says that the YouTube video produced by a group calling itself ’Al-Hijratain for Media production’ explained in extensive details how the escape was planned and executed. Apparently, a substantial portion of the 41-minute video was filmed from inside the prison in broad daylight raising questions about the level of security the prisoners were subject to.  The warden of Kober prison, according to the Sudan Tribune was suspended from duty over the incident but was later reinstated after being cleared from negligence.

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Where are the Accountability Review Boards for Embassy Breaches in Tunisia and Yemen?

The Accountability Review Board regulations for convening the Board has a good description of a security-related incident:

“A case of serious injury, loss of life, or significant destruction of property at or related to a U.S. Government mission abroad, or a case of a serious breach of security involving intelligence activities or a foreign government directed at a U.S. mission abroad (other than a facility or installation subject to the control of a U.S. area military commander).”

In early October, Secretary Clinton officially convened the ARB to examine the circumstances surrounding the deaths of personnel assigned in support of the U.S. Government mission to Libya in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. Unless the Board requests additional time, the ARB report should be available to the secretary on or about December 4.

We recognize that the Benghazi attack has practically sucked out all the oxygen in the room.  The four deaths in Benghazi included that of an ambassador, a high profile attack against a top American official which has not happened in over three decades.   The attack also happened amidst a political campaign, so inevitably reactions are all over the place as well as numerous competing agendas. But — it is worth noting that in addition to Benghazi, there were multiple US embassies attacked on that week of September 11.  We understand from people inside the building that with the exception of Benghazi (which had a vague diplomatic status), the attack on US Embassy Tunis was the worst since Islamist militants attacked the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2004. In that incident, attackers used explosives and machine guns, and while there were no American casualty, five locally employed staff and one local guard were killed.

Most of the protests on September 11, 2012 were angry and loud, but even the largest ones like those in Pakistan did not get into the embassy compound.  In countries where governments stood by their obligation under the Vienna Conventions, policemen and riot control forces successfully defended US personnel and premises.  This was not just a burden to the host government forces. In fact, in some cases it had dire consequences as policemen were killed or wounded during the mob attack.

We will not list the names of all our missions attacked that week, but we’ll make special mention of the mob attack at the US Embassy in Cairo because that’s where it started on Tuesday, September 11, 2012.  Protesters scaled the embassy wall and tore down the American flag to replace it with a black Islamic flag. The President of Egypt had no official reaction to the attack until Thursday, two days later.

On September 13, protesters stormed the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Sana’a where they smashed windows, burned about 60 cars and the US flag. Police reportedly fired into the air in an attempt to hold back the crowds, but failed to prevent them from gaining access to the compound and setting fire to vehicles.

for ARB_yemen

On September 14, protesters reportedly breached the outside wall of the US Embassy compound in Khartoum and clashed with guards. There were press accounts that protestors were transported to US Embassy Khartoum in host government green buses.

In Tunis, on September 14, protesters entered the compound of the U.S. embassy after climbing the embassy walls, looted USG properties, torched several facilities including the pool and over 100 vehicles. The protesters also attacked the American Cooperative School of Tunis and set it on fire. Below is part of a series of photos posted in as-ansar.com a domain reportedly associated with one of the most popular Salafi-jihadi forums online.

as-ansar image from US Embassy Tunis

These certainly were not just protesters mad over a no-rate video. Their handiwork were on display. At the US Embassy in Tunis, they left notes all over the embassy buildings. One says “You killed Bin Laden and we are all Bin Laden.” Another one says, “We are all Osama.

Fortunately, no one died in Tunis, but as in USCG Jeddah, the US Embassy Tunis compound was breached, several structures were torched including the motor pool and over 100 vehicles. There is obviously significant destruction of property.  There was an extensive collection photos of the damage to the embassy compound following the attack but those photos are no longer publicly available.

Congress allows the Secretary of State 60 days from the date of a security incident to convene an ARB.  Except for the one on Benghazi, the State Department has yet to announce if an Accountability Review Board will be convened for any of the embassy breaches.

screen capture_tunis after

This blog believes that the ARB for the worst breaches like those in US Embassy Tunis and US Embassy Sana’a are needed if only to answer some questions:

  • What does it mean when a mob comes over embassy walls and the situation does not get under control by host country authorities for 4 or more hours. Does it mean the host country does not have enough resources to protect the diplomatic premises or does it know and allow what is about to happen possible? When host country response is slow or non-existent, is it a case of political posturing – agreeing to let extreme elements of that country into the American compound thinking this is a harmless game only to have it spin out of control?
  • This will happen again. What should be the USG’s policy for countries that do not strongly adhere to their international obligation to protect diplomats and our diplomatic premises? Sure we want to support these new democracies but we are not doing ourselves any favors by not having a well understood policy on the consequences for this abrogation of host country obligation.
  • If a mob can scale 9-foot walls that easily, and help from host country authorities are slow or not forthcoming, what are the recommended options for the embassy staff short of getting into a safehaven and waiting to be roasted like ducks? What lessons were learned from these mob attacks? Were these lessons collected and disseminated back to all posts?
  • If the safehaven rooms are to function as the embassy’s “safe haven” for employees under attack, shouldn’t these rooms require not only fireproofing but also be fully smoke sealed?  Alternatively, are smoke masks available?  Inhalation injury from smoke may account for as many as 60-80% of fire-related deaths.  Fireproof rooms would not be of much used if the protectees subsequently die of smoke inhalation.
  • In the Iran hostage crisis, an embassy official went out to try and talk to the mob only to be captured. The mob threatened to execute him and that was how they got to open the secured doors.  What guidance is available to US employees and local staff on what to save/not save in terms of outside the hardwall embassy properties when there is a mob attack? How is that risk balanced with the potential to be taken hostage?
  • In the Iran hostage crisis, an earlier attack was a prelude to the hostage taking later in the year. The attackers were able to scoped out the location of unsecured windows and used it to get into the building during the later attack. The attackers also presumed quite correctly, that no one would fire on women, so the mob had women march on front.  What current vulnerabilities within the compounds could have been learned by the attackers and potentially useful in the next attacks?
  • What are the standard operating procedures for shutting off the fuel and gas lines, chlorine, other utilities for the embassy compounds? Are there any? Are the locations easily identified and accessible?
  • Is it more advantageous to continue the path of co-location of facilities and other agencies inside one hardened facility (and provide a single target) or does the policy of co-location provide more vulnerabilities than acceptable?
  • The protesters used hand tools like sledgehammers, bolt croppers , cutters, other tools to attack the buildings inside the compounds. Were these tools brought in by attackers or were these embassy tools? If these were embassy tools, how and where were they secured prior to the attacks?
  • How did the protesters easily got on top of the chancery buildings? Were these buildings constructed with built- in ladders? If so, is it time to revisit this and if the built-in ladders are there for “aesthetics” maybe it is time to screw that? As a precaution, what has been done to the current buildings constructed with built in ladders?tunis_up the built in ladder
  • Where should the motor pool be located?  Inside a compound or elsewhere? The motor pool has cars, cars have fuel, fuel can go kaboom and set the next building, which might just be the Chancery, on fire.
  • How well did the local guard force respond to the attacks? Are there lessons to be learned?
  • Has the State Department updated its use of force policy since the embassy attacks? If so, what red lines require the corresponding response of active use of force? If not, why not?  Should Senator McCain’s amendment 3051 becomes law and the Department of Defense changes its rules of engagement for Marines stationed at embassies and consulates “so they could engage in combat when attacked,” how would this affect embassy operation and outreach? Who gets to make that call to engage in combat, the RSO or the ambassador?

domani spero sig

 

 

Protests Spread, Embassy Warnings and Temporary Suspension of Public Services

The Atlantic Wire’s John Hudson mapped on Google the protests breaking out across the globe due to a 14-minute YouTube clip of an anti-Muslim movie.   The protests are directed primarily against U.S. embassies, but also against institutions and businesses like the American International School in Tunis (burned and looted, also photos here of the US Embassy Tunis from an Arabic website), and the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hardee’s in Lebanon (burned and ransacked).

The British and German Embassies in Khartoum, Sudan were attacked, and there were reported protests as far away as Kashmir and Kut and also against the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, the United States protecting power in Iran.

Over the weekend, there were also protests in Adana and Istanbul in Turkey,  in Chisinau, Moldova and in Sydney, Australia.  It looks like the protesters range in number from as small as 30 individuals to as much as 2,000.

Map of Muslim Protests via The Atlantic Wire
(click on map to view the large interactive map)

Several posts overseas have announced temporary closure and suspension of services.

The US Embassy in Yemen sent an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens in Sana’a informing them of continuing demonstrations in the vicinity of the embassy, and consular services closure through Saturday, September 29.

US Mission Pakistan issued an Emergency Message for U.S Citizens in the country announcing the temporary suspension of consular services in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi on September 17  due to the potential for demonstrations in the vicinity of the Embassy. A second message informs U.S. citizens living in Pakistan that the U.S. government has instituted travel restrictions for its employees throughout the country. U.S. government employees can now undertake essential travel only, including within the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, due to possible demonstrations moving along major routes.

US Embassy Tunisia announced that the embassy, including the Consular Section and American Citizen Services (ACS), will be closed to public access on September 17, 2012.

US Mission India announced that due to planned demonstrations in New Delhi and Kolkata on September 18, 2012, the American Center including the library and USIEF in the two cities will be closed.

Other posts have issued warning messages of possible protests:

In Azerbaijan, the U.S. Embassy Baku informs U.S. citizens of a planned demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy at 3:00 pm on Monday, September 17.  The demonstration is assumed to be connected to other anti-American demonstrations ongoing worldwide.

US Embassy Lebanon issued an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens on “the reaction to the controversial film and internet event and says that “The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon is concerned about the continued threat of demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. interests in Lebanon.” The AP’s Matt Lee reports that “A State Department status report obtained Monday by The Associated Press said the Beirut embassy had “reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.”

Here is part of the Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens from the US Embassy Jakarta on 9/17/2012:

“The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia has been informed of planned demonstrations in Jakarta and Medan. Today, Monday, September 17 there will be a demonstration in Jakarta starting at 12:00pm. Approximately 1,000 people are expected to march from the Hotel Indonesia Circle outside of Grand Indonesia to the U.S. Embassy. A demonstration also started in Medan today at around 9:00am. Another protest is planned in Medan for tomorrow, Tuesday September 18. The U.S. Embassy has been informed by the Indonesian National Police that approximately 150 police will be present in Medan and approximately 1,500 police will be present in Jakarta during the demonstrations. We advise, as always, that people should avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent.”

US Embassy Conakry informs U.S. Citizens of anti-American demonstration at the U.S. Embassy on Monday, September 17. Embassy staff have been told to remain at home Monday morning. U.S. citizens are urged not to attempt to come to the Embassy. The American International School was also closed on Monday.

In Afghanistan, the US Embassy in Kabul restricted travel for Chief of Mission personnel across Afghanistan until further notice.

US Embassy Sudan: On Ordered Departure, No FAST Team for Now

Protestors in Khartoum targetted the U.S., British and German embassies after Friday prayer last week. Time.com reports that since it was Friday, the weekend in the region, Western embassy staff were not on their compounds.  The report adds that while initial reports suggested that there was a widespread breach of the U.S. embassy perimeter, this was not the case. “Some U.S. government property was damaged. But U.S. officials maintained control of the embassy compound and accounted for all mission personnel.”

The Sudan Tribune reports that over 5,000 protesters moved to the well protected US embassy compound located some 20 kilometers south east of Khartoum. The report also says that 250 police officers posted there were able to contain the protesters at a security perimeter, 150 meters from the main gate of the embassy for some time.  Two protestors were reportedly killed while 50 policemen were wounded.

Also on Friday, September 14, DOD says that a Marine Corps fleet antiterrorism security team, called a “FAST team” arrived on the ground in Yemen to help with security at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a.  Another one is reportedly scheduled to arrive in Khartoum.  This is the second and third FAST team, consisting of about 50 Marines (the first FAST team went to Libya) authorized by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to bolster security at U.S. diplomatic installations in the past two days.   The move comes a day after protesters also  attacked the U.S. Embassies in Sana’a and Khartoum.

On September 15, Al Jazeera reports that Yemen and Sudan have rejected US plans to have marines protect the American diplomaticfacilities, after a wave of violent protests targeting western embassies.

The Sudan Tribune citing the country’s official news agency SUNA says that Foreign minister Ali Karti “has declined to authorise the deployment of these forces affirming Sudan’s ability to protect foreign diplomatic missions in Khartoum and reiterated the State’s obligation to protect its guests members of diplomatic missions.”  Apparently, the Marines had already set off for Khartoum but had been called back pending further discussions with Sudan.

Meanwhile, on September 15, the US Embassy in Khartoum issued a U.S. Embassy Emergency Message alerting U.S. citizens that on September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. The airport in Khartoum is reportedly open and commercial service is available. The Embassy also closed all Consular Services until further notice.

Also yesterday, the State Department updated its The Travel Warning:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan, urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States, and advises you to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan.  On September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning issued on September 7, 2012.

While the Government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level throughout Sudan, and particularly in the Darfur region, remains critical, and the U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel assigned to Sudan. These measures include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles for official business, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Khartoum. In addition, family members under age 21 of U.S. Embassy personnel are not allowed to reside in Sudan.

Read in full here.

US Embassy Sudan and Those Critical Pool and Picnic Resources

Every now and then we get tips for blog post ideas, sometimes offline, via email or sometimes via social media as was the case a few days ago:

@tradeaidmonitor
Hope @Diplopundit catches “U.S. State Dept. Sending Critical [Pool & Picnicking] Resources to Sudan” http://www.tradeaidmonitor.com/2012/08/state-dept-resources-sudan.html

Sometimes we catch the toss, sometimes we don’t, primarily because we have some time constraints.  But this one, we thought we’d catch because in a place like our US Embassy in Khartoum, pool and picnic resources are critical resources in our view.  And we’ll tell you why.

Let’s start off with Sudan as the third largest country in Africa.  Slightly less than a quarter the size of the continental United States. It achieved independence on January 1, 1956 from the British, and has been at war with itself for more than three-quarters of its existence.

The USG designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 and the U.S. Embassy operation in Khartoum was suspended in 1996. According to the no longer updated Background Notes in October 1997, the U.S. imposed comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against the Sudan. In August 1998, in the wake of the East Africa embassy bombings, the U.S. launched cruise missile strikes against Khartoum. The last U.S. Ambassador to the Sudan, Ambassador Tim Carney, departed post prior to this event and no new ambassador has been designated since.

We do have a Special Envoy to Sudan —Ambassador Lyman since 2011; he succeeded Ambassador Gration who was appointed to office in 2009.

The U.S. Embassy is headed by a series of Charge d’Affaires. Joseph D. Stafford, III, a career Foreign Service Officer has been Charge’ d’ affaires in Khartoum since June 2012. The US Embassy reportedly continues to re-evaluate its posture in Sudan, particularly in the wake of the January 1, 2008, killings of a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) officer John Granville and local USAID employee, Abdel Rahman Abbas.

(see How much does a US diplomat’s life worth? About $1,800 US dollars, and look there’s no raging mob…)

The U.S. Mission in Sudan has declared disasters due to the complex emergency on an annual basis since 1987. On October 1, 2009, President Obama renewed the Sudan complex emergency disaster declaration for FY 2010.

Sandstorm Over the Nile
(Photo by US Embassy Khartoum/Picasa)

So let’s just agree that it’s not a very nice, cushy place when its dry. And it’s not a very nice place when it’s wet.

In fact, it’s one of those places where family members of embassy personnel under age 21 are not allowed to reside.  State Department employees in Sudan also get a 30% cost of living allowance, a 25% hardship differential and a 25% danger pay differential, and for good reasons.

Cost-of-living allowance (COLA) is granted to an employee officially stationed at a post in a foreign area where the cost of living, exclusive of quarters costs, is substantially higher than in Washington, D.C.

Hardship differential is established for any place when, and only when, the place involves extraordinarily difficult living conditions, excessive physical hardship, or notably unhealthful conditions affecting the majority of employees officially stationed or detailed at that place.  Living costs are not considered in differential determination

Danger pay allowance is designed to provide additional compensation above basic compensation to all U.S. Government civilian employees, including Chiefs of Mission, for service at places in foreign areas where there exist conditions of civil insurrection, civil war, terrorism or wartime conditions which threaten physical harm or imminent danger to the health or well-being of an employee.

So in a country where Al Qaeda has a long history, what do people do to entertain and de-stress themselves?  You can go to a fitness club where the monthly fee for adults is $192.50 (or 352.94 % more than what you’d pay in WashDC) according to numbeo.com. Or you can eat out where the combo meal similar to McDonald’s is $11.14 (except that you’re a real moving target).  Or you can go to the movies for $5.00, certainly cheaper than DC but do you want to be in the dark with people with guns? Probably not.

You can stay home and surf online; 6 Mbps Internet is at $67.50 a month whether it works or not. Or have a roaring pool party. Maybe. And invite even people you can’t stand. In which case you need to shop for party food.  You can shop for chicken breasts which at $8.00/kilogram is actually cheaper in Khartoum than in DC. You can also buy 12 pack eggs at $2.93, and a kilogram of fresh cheese at $16.33. Beer, the 0.5 liter bottle is reportedly $5.00. And there goes your COLA.

Then there’s the haboob, a small one or a big one, it doesn’t matter, it gets into everything. And they don’t have haboob days like snow days back in WashDC, which frankly, isn’t fair.   We terribly missed our undiplomatic diplomat from Facts Are Strictly Optional; you betcha she would have had insightful things to say about these critical resources.

The patio furniture below is similar to those required under the solicitation mentioned above and posted by US Embassy Khartoum at fedbiz. The complete solicitation is here: https://www.fbo.gov/notices/b8deabb7df3866417121ac528cf8a837.

Wave Square 4 Seater Set”Weatherproof, Rust-Free Guaranteed, 5 Year Warranty, Durable, UV Resistant, Powder Coating, Door to Door Free Delivery, All prices include VAT.
Manufactured by Golden Barley Garden Furniture Trading as HomeGarden.co.za, South Africa
(Photo from Golden Barley Garden Furniture Trading) 

Rust-fee, weatherproof, five year warranty – what’s not to like? More to the point, and this is important — you can hose them down after a dust storm, they’re too heavy to fly away in a sandstorm and they are deliverable from South Africa, just 2900 miles from the Sudan instead of some 6,000 miles from the United States.

So frankly, we cannot find it in our hearts to quarrel with these pool and patio furniture. All that dust and sand would probably drive us nuts ala The Shining if we live down there.  And anyways — what use is a pool if you cannot sit down or lounge or have a picnic with people you see every single day at work and at play?

Dear US Embassy Khartoum – we hope you folks enjoy your new pool and patio furniture. The bronze ones look really lovely.

The end.

Domani Spero