US Embassy Kuwait: Construction Vehicle as Weapon Targets U.S. Military Personnel

Posted: 4:12 am ET
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On October 9, the US Embassy in Kuwait issued a Security Message to US Citizens in Kuwait about a failed terrorist attack against deployed U.S. troops:

U.S. Embassy Kuwait confirms that what at first appeared to be a routine traffic accident involving three deployed U.S. military personnel on a Kuwaiti highway on Thursday, October 6, was in fact an attempted terrorist attack.  An Egyptian national deliberately rammed a construction vehicle into a passenger vehicle containing the three U.S. personnel.  The Egyptian driver was incapacitated by the impact.  The three U.S. military personnel, who were uninjured, pulled the driver from his vehicle, which had caught fire.  The perpetrator was subsequently hospitalized and is in Kuwaiti custody.

We are not aware of specific, credible threats against private U.S. citizens in Kuwait at this time.  Nonetheless, this attack serves as a reminder to maintain a high level of vigilance, and the Embassy advises U.S. citizens to review their personal security plans and remain alert to their surroundings at all times.

Read in full here.

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Mr. Smith Writes to Washington, Goes to Bat For Local Staff in the Persian Gulf’s Unfair Labor Markets

Posted: 2:43 am ET
Updated: 10:17 am PT
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Via AFSA:

William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by a Mid-Career Officer – Jefferson Smith, U.S. Embassy Kuwait

Jefferson Smith receives this year’s William R. Rivkin Award for Constructive Dissent by a Mid-Career Officer for his commitment to combatting unfair labor practices and his push for compensation reform for locally employed (LE) staff at posts in the Persian Gulf.

While posted to Kuwait, Management Counselor Smith observed that the nine embassies and consulates in the Persian Gulf region are staffed almost exclusively by third-country nationals (TCNs) who did not enjoy the rights of citizens and earned wages and benefits so low that they could not support their families. U.S. Embassy Kuwait employs more than 200 TCN men and women from 27 different nationalities—and employs no Kuwaitis because the U.S. government does not pay enough to attract them.

Mr. Smith gathered data, framed his arguments and then brought his views to a regional management officers’ conference, where he found allies and organized a regionwide approach. He then wrote a detailed, thoughtful cable to Washington, signed by the six regional ambassadors, proposing that the department should define a new standard for compensating its LE staff at posts employing a majority of TCNs in unfair labor markets.

In short, Mr. Smith challenged the department to lead—not just follow—local practice in these markets. All of his preparation and action had an effect: The under secretary for management approved a Public Interest Determination (a policy exception) to create housing and education allowances for LE staff, and moved U.S. Embassy Kuwait to the top of the list for the next tranche of wage increases. The result was an average 22-percent salary increase in addition to the new allowances.

Mr. Smith’s success in winning a more just compensation package for the LE staff of U.S. Embassy Kuwait was an important milestone that will serve as a model as he and others continue to fight for a more equitable way to compensate employees under these conditions.

Mr. Smith has served in Kuwait since 2014. As a management-coned Foreign Service officer, Mr. Smith has had opportunities to serve in consular, economic, political and management functions in four regional bureaus and six overseas assignments, including Kingston, Dar es Salaam (twice), Yaoundé, Dublin and Kuwait.

The annual award is named after Ambassador William R. Rivkin (1919–1967) who served as ambassador to Luxembourg, Senegal, and Gambia in the 1960s.  He is the father of Charles Rivkin, the current U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, and the former U.S. Ambassador to France (2009-2013). Read A/S Rivkin’s Honoring Constructive Dissent: The William R. Rivkin Award on DipNote.

We should note that this is one of AFSA’s three dissent awards and is separate from the State Department “Dissent Channel.” The FAM precludes the use of the official Channel to address “non-policy issues (e.g., management or personnel issues that are not significantly related to substantive matters of policy).”

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Syria COH Coordination Team: Now With Native Arabic Speakers at US Embassy Kuwait

Posted: 3:07 am EDT
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We previously posted about the Syria Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Team reportedly run by the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) (see Syria Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Hotline Fail: Ceasefire Violations in the Land of Pepsi (Updated)).

On March 7, US Embassy Damascus/FB posted an updated announcement noting the addition of native Arabic speakers at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and a third contact number to received calls with reports of incidents and possible violations.  The new announcement also says it encourage conveying reports via text options “as it promotes clarity and assist in our record keeping.”

 

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Terrorist Attacks Rock France, Tunisia, Kuwait: Three Countries. Three Continents. All Soft Targets.

Posted: 4:41  pm EDT
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Terrorists attacked sites in France, Tunisia and Kuwait today. At least 37 people including British, Belgian and German nationals were killed by gunmen at a beach resort in Tunisia, one person was reportedly decapitated in France at a US-owned factory, and at least 25 people were killed at a suicide bombing at a mosque in Kuwait. Three countries, three continents and  all soft targets.
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The US Embassy Paris released the following security message on 

The U.S. Embassy in Paris informs U.S. citizens that a terrorist attack took place at approximately 10 AM today at a U.S.-owned factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, Isere, France, southeast of Lyon, at a large industrial park. One person was killed and two others were reported injured. None of the deceased or injured was a U.S. citizen. The motivation for the attack is unknown, and one suspect is in French government custody.   The Government of France maintains a threat rating system, known locally as “Vigipirate,” similar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory System. Following the January 2015 terrorist attacks, the Government of France raised the “Vigipirate” level and continues to evaluate its security posture on a regular basis. Up-to-date information is available on the “Vigipirate” website in French.

 

Under this system, the government routinely augments police with armed forces and increases visibility at airports, train and metro stations, and other high-profile locations such as schools, major tourist attractions, and government installations. Over the last few years, there have been arrests of suspected militant extremists allegedly involved in terrorist plots. French authorities have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions for terrorist attacks in Europe.

 

U.S. citizens in France are encouraged to remain vigilant. Immediately report unattended packages observed in public places, or any other suspicious activities, to French law enforcement authorities. French authorities are proactive and will respond immediately. If there is a security incident or suspicious package, do not linger in the area to observe.

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The  US Embassy in Tunis released the following  message:

The U.S. Embassy wishes to alert U.S. citizens to a terrorist attack in Tunisia around the Kantaoui area at the Imperial Riu Marhaba and Soviva hotels in Sousse.   The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Kantaoui area and surrounding vicinity. The U.S. Embassy reiterates our standing guidance that U.S. citizens in Tunisia should exercise caution when frequenting public venues that are visited by large numbers of foreigners, such as hotels, shopping centers, and tourist sites and restaurants.

U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility of kidnapping.  U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and avoid areas where large gatherings may occur.  Even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.  U.S. citizens should monitor local events, report suspicious activity to the local police, and take appropriate steps to bolster their own security.

Travelers contemplating trips to the interior of the country should assess local conditions and routes when making travel plans.  In particular, all travel south of the designated military zone in the south must be coordinated in advance with Tunisian authorities.  Also, travel to either border should be avoided if possible given the periodic security incidents along the border regions.

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The US Embassy in Kuwait issued this: Explosion at Mosque in Al-Sawaber neighborhood of Kuwait City – Security Notice for U.S. Citizens 2015

There has been an explosion at a mosque in the Al Sawaber neighborhood of Kuwait.  There have been reports of deaths and injuries.  U.S. citizens should avoid the area.  Please stay current with media coverage of local and regional events. U.S. Mission personnel have been advised to continue to practice personal security awareness and we advise the U.S. citizen community to do the same.

The embassy also released a statement calling the explosion “a senseless terrorist attack on worshipers in the Al-Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque”, condemning the attack and says that “the United States stands ready to assist our friend and ally Kuwait in any way possible.”
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Below is the WH statement on the three attacks:

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September 11 Remembrances From Around the World

— Domani Spero
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U.S. Embassy London, UK

Via U.S. Embassy London/Flickr (2013)

Via U.S. Embassy London/Flickr (2013)

U.S. Embassy Singapore

Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, U.S. Embassy Singapore

Commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, U.S. Embassy Singapore (2011)

U.S. Embassy Canada

Hundreds of fire and rescue workers and their supporters participated in the 9-11 Memorial Ride.  Here, riders arrive at the Peace Arch. Photo via US Embassy Canada/Flickr (2011)

Hundreds of fire and rescue workers and their supporters participated in the 9-11 Memorial Ride. Here, riders arrive at the Peace Arch. Photo via US Embassy Canada/Flickr (2011)

U.S. Embassy Santiago, Chile

The Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S Embassy in Santiago, Stephen M. Liston, presided over an official ceremony of remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania occurred on 09/11/2001 (US Embassy Chile - 2013))

The Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S Embassy in Santiago, Stephen M. Liston, presided over an official ceremony of remembrance for the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania occurred on 09/11/2001 (US Embassy Chile – 2013)

  U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, Israel

The U.S. Embassy, Keren Kayemet Leisrael (KKL-JNF and KKL-USA), the city of Jerusalem and families of victims, gathered at the “9/11 Living Memorial” site at Emek Arazim, Jerusalem Hills Park to commemorate 10 years to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Photo by US Embassy Tel Aviv/FB (2011)

The U.S. Embassy, Keren Kayemet Leisrael (KKL-JNF and KKL-USA), the city of Jerusalem and families of victims, gathered at the “9/11 Living Memorial” site at Emek Arazim, Jerusalem Hills Park to commemorate 10 years to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Photo by US Embassy Tel Aviv/FB (2011)

U.S. Embassy Beijing, China

September 11th Ceremony, 9/11/11 via US Embassy Beijing/FB (2011)

September 11th Ceremony, 9/11/11
via US Embassy Beijing/FB (2011)

U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia

10th Anniversary of September 11, U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia. (2011) (Official U.S. Embassy photo by Adam P. Wilson)

10th Anniversary of September 11, U.S. Embassy Canberra, Australia. (2011)
(Official U.S. Embassy photo by Adam P. Wilson)

U.S. Embassy Wellington, New Zealand

10th Anniversary of 9-11. Commemoration Service, Wellington, New Zealand (2011)

10th Anniversary of 9-11. Commemoration Service, US Embassy Wellington, New Zealand (2011)

Christchurch, New Zealand

9/11 Memorial Service, Christchurch, New Zealand, September 11, 2010

9/11 Memorial Service, Christchurch, New Zealand, September 11, 2010

U.S. Consulate General Vancouver

Plaque Presentation at Vancouver International Airport  YVR Managing Director Larry Berg with U.S. Consul General Anne Callaghan beside a plaque expression thanks, presented to the airport by the Consul General on September 11, 2011.

A memorial plaque thanking the people of British Columbia for the assistance they extended to Americans and others on and after September 11, 2001. ‘In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 the United States Consulate General in Vancouver, on behalf of the people of the United States, wishes to thank the people of British Columbia for their support and generosity following the events of that day. Canadians received diverted passengers unable to land at their U.S. destinations, opening not only their airports, but also their homes and hearts.’ 
Plaque Presentation at Vancouver International Airport YVR Managing Director Larry Berg with U.S. Consul General Anne Callaghan on September 11, 2011.

 U.S. Embassy Chisinau, Moldova

Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Eugen Carpov, today laid flowers at the Chisinau-based US embassy, in the memory of the victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack in the USA.

Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Eugen Carpov, laid flowers at US Embassy Chisinau, Moldova in memory of the victims of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attack. (Photo via gov.md 2013)

 U.S. Embassy Yaounde, Cameroon

Embassy Yaounde Pauses to Remember 9/11 Colonel Morgan plays the bagpipes during the ceremony. [Photo by U.S. Embassy Yaounde] 2013

Embassy Yaounde Pauses to Remember 9/11
Colonel Morgan plays the bagpipes during the ceremony. [Photo by U.S. Embassy Yaounde] 2013

U.S. Embassy Kuwait, Kuwait

U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, Deborah K. Jones and Brig. Gens. William Frink and James Walton, commander, 311th Sustainment and 335th Signal Commands, lead over 500 participants during the Freedom Walk held at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, Sept 11, 2008.

U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, Deborah K. Jones and Brig. Gens. William Frink and James Walton, commander, 311th Sustainment and 335th Signal Commands, lead over 500 participants during the Freedom Walk held at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, Sept 11, 2008.

U.S. Embassy Paris, France

Ceremony at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris, September 11, 2011 Drapeau américain sur la Place du Trocadéro. Photo P.Maulavé U.S. Embassy Paris, France - 2011

Ceremony at the Trocadero esplanade in Paris, September 11, 2011
Drapeau américain sur la Place du Trocadéro. Photo P.Maulavé
U.S. Embassy Paris, France – 2011

U.S. Embassy Tokyo, Japan

(September 10, 2014) Flowers at a memorial for the Japanese victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, participated in the memorial at the Mizuho Bank. The victims were working in the offices of Fuji Bank (now incorporated into the Mizuho Financial Group) in the World Trade Center in New York City. [State Department photo by William Ng/Public Domain]

 

U.S. Embassy New Delhi, India

 

 

 U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan

A steel carving of the lower Manhattan skyline on display during a during a 9/11 commemoration at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2011. DOD Photo by Master Sgt. Michael O'Connor

A steel carving of the lower Manhattan skyline on display during a during a 9/11 commemoration at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, 2011. DOD Photo by Master Sgt. Michael O’Connor

 

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Confirmations: Douglas Silliman (Kuwait), Dana Shell Smith (Qatar), Darci Vetter (USTR)

— Domani Spero
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Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed by voice vote President Obama’s nominees for Kuwait and Qatar:

  • Douglas Alan Silliman, Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait
  • Dana Shell Smith, Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Qatar

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate also confirmed the nomination of  Darci L. Vetter, of Nebraska, to be Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Office of the United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Officially In: Douglas Silliman — From Iraq to Kuwait

— Domani Spero

On December 12, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Douglas Alan Silliman as the next Ambassador to the State of Kuwait. The WH released the following brief bio:

Douglas Alan Silliman, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, was most recently Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, a position he held since 2012.  From 2011 to 2012, he was Counselor for Political Affairs in Baghdad.  Before serving in Iraq, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara, Turkey from 2008 to 2011.  Mr. Silliman was Deputy Director and then Director of the Office of Southern European Affairs in the Department of State from 2004 to 2007. From 2000 to 2004, he was Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan.  His previous assignments in the Department of State include Regional Officer for the Middle East in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Desk Officer in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, Lebanon Desk Officer and Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.  His overseas assignments with the Department of State include Political Officer in Islamabad, Pakistan, Visa Officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Political Officer in Tunis, Tunisia.  He joined the Foreign Service in 1984.

He received a B.A. from Baylor University and an M.A. from the George Washington University.

This is Mr. Silliman’s first ambassadorial appointment.  If confirmed, he would succeed career diplomat, Matthew H. Tueller who was appointed to post in 2011. Kuwait is one of the 42 posts where the appointees have traditionally come from the career service.All of the last 17 ambassadors appointed as chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait came from the Foreign Service.

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2013 Fourth of July Embassy Events: Sights and Sounds Around the World

— By Domani Spero

Bad news folks — US embassies and consulates have completely ignored the State Department’s guidance for zombie-themed events this Fourth of July. (See State Dept Issues New Guidance for 2013 Fourth of July Embassy Events – More Zombies, Please).  So no brain food this week.  The good news is, the parties are still on (with special mention to those that had their parties in March, way before the “guidance” was issued).   Also with the exception of US Embassy Cairo where the July 4th event was finally called off  on Sunday as the capital city burst into mega-anti govt protests with an anti-American tone.  Here is our round-up for the Fourth of July celebrations around the Foreign Service.

US Consulate General Milan, Italy

Special mention goes to the US Consulate General in Milan for “hosting” President Obama, Lady Liberty, Ambassador David Thorne and other guests for its 4th of July celebration to “To advance freedom, liberty, to celebrate the Statue’s reopening and its link to Milan.”

 

U.S. Embassy Kuwait

Celebrated the U.S. National Day on March 27, 2013

4july13_kuwait

Ambassador Matthew H. Tueller at the US Embassy Kuwait Fourth of July celebration, March 2013 – Photo by US Embassy Kuwait/Flickr
(click on image to see more photos)

US Embassy Lithuania

June 27, 2013

Fourth of July cake courtesy of Ramada Hotels & Suites Photo via US Embassy Vilnius/FB

Fourth of July cake courtesy of Ramada Hotels & Suites
Photo via US Embassy Vilnius/FB
(click image for more photos)

US Embassy New Zealand

June 26, 2013

4th of Steel, US Embassy New Zealand

US Embassy Finland

June 19, 2013

US Embassy Finland, June 19, 2013 (click on image for more photos)

Presentation of Colors with the ambassador’s dog, Deckard on the foreground, dressed for the celebration.
US Embassy Finland, June 19, 2013
(click on image for more photos)

US Embassy Norway

June 19, 2013

On June 19, the US Embassy Oslo invited 2000 friends and contacts to celebrate Independence Day (in advance) in the Ambassador’s garden. The party included music, color guard, BBQ, ice cream and a wonderful atmosphere.

4july13_oslo

US Embassy Ghana

June 27, 2013

Ambassador Gene Cretz, Fourth of July, US Embassy Ghana (photo via US Embassy Ghana/Flickr)

Ambassador Gene Cretz, Fourth of July, US Embassy Ghana (photo via US Embassy Ghana/Flickr)

US Embassy Estonia

July 4, 2013

U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Levine,  a proud Californian will take guests on a culinary tour of his home state. The U.S. Embassy staff will trade in their suits and ties for something a bit more casual as they share a relaxing afternoon on the lush grounds of the residence in picturesque Pirita.  Guests are invited to come and enjoy the tunes of Liis Lemsalu, take a test drive on a Segway, and enjoy some delicious California cuisine by the Ambassador’s chef and provided by the embassy’s generous sponsors.

Photo via US Embassy Tallinn

Photo via US Embassy Tallinn

US Embassy Israel

July 4, 2013

On July 4, 2013 beginning at 7pm, the embassy will stream live from the Residence of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro the 4th of July party.  Expected guests include: Dr. Eric Huntsman to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner,” Ms. Hagit Yassu to sing “Hatikva,” and the U.S. Ambassador, Israeli President, and Prime Minister will deliver their remarks.  Musical entertainment throughout the evening will be provided by an ensemble from the Israeli Conservatory of Music and the U.S. Military Band “Winds Aloft.” The embassy promises fireworks to “light up the night sky above the cliffs of the Mediterranean!”

US Embassy Latvia

June 29, 2013

Photo via US Embassy Latvia (click on image to see more photos)

Photo via US Embassy Latvia
(click on image to see more photos)

US Embassy Uganda

July 2, 2013

U.S. Embassy staff get a large American flag (“Old Glory”) ready for the Fourth of July.

Photo via US Embassy Uganda/FB

Photo via US Embassy Uganda/FB

Happy 4th of July everyone, stay safe!

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