Tag Archives: United States Department of State

How Western media would cover Baltimore if it happened elsewhere

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April 30

If what is happening in Baltimore happened in a foreign country, here is how Western media would cover it:

International leaders expressed concern over the rising tide of racism and state violence in America, especially concerning the treatment of ethnic minorities in the country and the corruption in state security forces around the country when handling cases of police brutality. The latest crisis is taking place in Baltimore, Maryland, a once-bustling city on the country’s Eastern Seaboard, where an unarmed man named Freddie Gray died from a severed spine while in police custody.

Black Americans, a minority ethnic group, are killed by state security forces at a rate higher than the white majority population. Young, black American males are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white American males.

The United Kingdom expressed concern over the troubling turn of events in America in the last several months. The country’s foreign ministry released a statement: “We call on the American regime to rein in the state security agents who have been brutalizing members of America’s ethnic minority groups. The equal application of the rule of law, as well as the respect for human rights of all citizens, black or white, is essential for a healthy democracy.” Britain has always maintained a keen interest in America, a former colony.

Palestine has offered continued assistance to American pro-democracy activists, sending anti-tear-gas kits to those protesting police brutality in various American cities. Egyptian pro-democracy groups have also said they will be sharing their past experience with U.S.-made counter-protest weapons.

A statement from the United Nations said, “We condemn the militarization and police brutality that we have seen in recent months in America, and we strongly urge American state security forces to launch a full investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. There is no excuse for excessive police violence.” The U.N. called on the United States to make a concerted effort to make databases of police violence public to improve transparency and cut down on corruption in the justice system.

International analysts predict the seeds of a so-called “American Spring,” fomented by technology. “It’s amazing what social media is doing for the cause of justice in America,” said a political rights analyst based in Geneva. “The black youth of America are showing what 21st-century civil rights activism looks like, using technology, social media and a decentralized organizing strategy to hold authorities accountable and agitate for change. These kids represent what modern-day freedom fighting looks like. The revolution will be tweeted, Periscope-d and Snapchatted.”

Local leaders in the American township of Baltimore imposed a state of martial law this week after peaceful protests turned violent. In response, countries around the world have advised darker-skinned nationals against non-essential travel to areas noted for state violence against unarmed people of color, especially in recent hot spots such as New York, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Ohio, California, Michigan, Virginia and now Maryland.

International human rights groups have appealed to the global community to facilitate asylum for America’s ethnic black minorities. When asked whether the European Union was willing to take on more black refugees risking their lives in fleeing American state violence, an E.U. human rights spokesman said: “More black refugees? We are dealing with our own Mediterranean crisis, so now is not really a good time for that for us. Furthermore, we believe in American solutions to American problems.” The African Union has not responded to requests for comment.

American government officials took to state media, characterizing the protesters as “thugs,” a racially coded word increasingly used to describe black males in America. Commentators in national media have frequently compared the protesters and riots to various characters and events from the popular television series “The Wire,” set in early-2000s Baltimore.

America’s ethnic blacks have been displaced from many of their communities due to a phenomenon experts on the region call “gentrification,” when wealthier residents move into a lower-income area. Baltimore is no exception to this trend, with some areas seeing home values rise as much as 137 percent after corporate dollars move in on opportunities in poverty-stricken areas.

Resident Joe Smith, a member of the white majority ethnic group, said outside of a brand-new Starbucks near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, “I don’t know why these blacks are destroying their own communities. Why don’t these people follow Martin Luther King’s example? Those guys got it good from the police back then too, but they didn’t try to rise up and fight back and make everyone uncomfortable, you know?”

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US Fails to Verify Number of ‘Russian Troops’ in Ukraine

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US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that the United States lacks precise figures and is unable to confirm the number of Russian military units reportedly stationed in eastern Ukraine. WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States lacks precise figures and is unable to confirm the number of Russian military units reportedly stationed in eastern Ukraine, US State Department spokesperson Marie Harf stated at a press briefing. “It is really hard to get precise information about Russian troop numbers specifically, but we know there is a substantial Russian presence,” Harf said on Thursday. It is difficult for the United States to verify figures, Harf claimed, because Russia deliberately camouflages its involvement in the region. On Wednesday, the US State Department accused Russia of violating the Minsk agreement by sending weapons and forces and conducting joint training exercises with pro-Russian “separatists” in eastern Ukraine. Last week, the US Army announced that some 300 US paratroopers arrived in the western Ukraine city of Yavoriv to train Ukrainian troops, which the Russian Foreign Ministry has said is a violation of the Minsk agreement. On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry expressed concern over the training of the Ukrainian National Guard by US military instructors along the separation line between Kiev-led forces and armed militia in eastern Ukraine. Moreover, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday re-iterating that the arrival of US paratroopers could signal a first step toward supplying Ukraine with advanced weapons, and the support of Ukrainian war hawks could lead to new bloodshed. Kiev is planning to hold three joint exercises with US troops. Besides Fearless Guardian 2015, which is underway in Yavoriv and planned to last for six more months, Ukrainian and US army will have joint drills dubbed Sea Breeze 2015 and Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident 2015 later this year. The armed conflict in Ukraine began in April 2014 when Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in the country’s southeast. Relations between the West and Russia soured amid the Ukrainian crisis as Western countries accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Readout of the President’s Call with President al-Sisi of Egypt | The White House

Mr_ President al-Sisi

Mr. President al-Sisi

President Obama spoke with Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi today to discuss the U.S.-Egyptian bilateral relationship and developments within the region.  The President affirmed the United States’ continuing commitment to the strategic partnership with Egypt and emphasized the importance of bilateral cooperation to promote shared interests in counterterrorism and regional security.  President Obama expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people for the spate of terrorists attacks they have suffered.  The two leaders agreed on the importance of continuing their countries’ close military and intelligence relationships and encouraged President al-Sisi to invest in the political, economic, and social aspirations of the Egyptian people.  The two leaders agreed to stay in touch in the weeks and months ahead.

The White House.

US evacuates Baghdad embassy staff as ISIS militants overrun another town in northwest Iraq

A U.S. flag flies in front of the Chancellery building inside the compound of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad

Sunni insurgents led by ISIS jihadists captured the northwestern Iraqi town of Tal Afar on Sunday, reports say, as the militants continue their advance on Baghdad. The US says it is relocating some of its embassy staff to other Iraqi cities.

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The militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS/ISIL) overran the town after fighting with security forces, several people in the town told Reuters over the phone.

Iraqi Gen. Mohammed al-Quraishi confirmed to CNN that the city fell to Sunni rebels. Tal Afar is located in the Nineveh province and has a population of about 80,000 people, most of whom are Iraqi Turkmen.

ISIS has also reportedly captured two villages in Diyala province.

Meanwhile the US is increasing security at its embassy in Baghdad, the US State Department said, adding that some personnel will be moved out of the capital.

“Some additional US government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad; other staff will be temporarily relocated – both to our Consulate Generals in Basra and Arbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman,” the statement said. However, the “substantial majority” of embassy staff will remain in Iraq.

A US official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that less than 100 US Marines and other military personnel are headed to Iraq to reinforce security at the Baghdad embassy.

The Embassy of the United States in Baghdad remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders — supporting them as they strengthen Iraq’s constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats,” State Department spokeswoman said in a statement.

Meanwhile, US citizens have been advised to limit travel in five Iraqi provinces, including Anbar and Kirkuk.

On Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered that the USS aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush be moved to the Persian Gulf in case Washington decides to use military force in Iraq to help fight ISIS.

ISIS insurgents managed to seize the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit with an estimated 7,000-strong force. On Friday, Shia fighters attempted to counter ISIS momentum near Muqdadiya, just 80 km (50 miles) from Baghdad’s city limits.

The UN said ISIS forces have carried out summary executions and rapes as the group battles to take over the country.

Once an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, the hyper-fundamentalist group active in Iraq and Syria fell out with the global terrorist network. It gained notoriety for its ruthless tactics, which include publicly crucifying and beheading those who violate their strict religious interpretations.

Iraq came under the influence of a Shia-majority government after the US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein’s Sunni-dominated regime in 2003. Since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, sectarian tensions have boiled over, resulting in Sunni insurgents increasingly waging war against the central government.

Sources : DOD memo sent after Benghazi attack listed suspects with Al Qaeda ties

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A targeting memo sent to the State Department by the Defense Department’s Africa Command two days after the Benghazi attack listed 11 suspects with ties to Al Qaeda and other groups, counter-terrorism and congressional sources confirmed to Fox News.

This is significant because it arrived two days before then-UN ambassador Susan Rice appeared on television shows blaming the assault on an inflammatory video. It also came nearly a day before presidential aide Ben Rhodes sent an email also suggesting the video – and not a policy failure – was to blame for the Sep, 11, 2012 attack that claimed four American lives.

The memo, which was referred to in passing during recent congressional testimony, was drawn up by the Defense Department’s Africa command, known as Africom, and was sent to the State Department as the best available intelligence in the early morning hours of September 14, 2012.

It included the names of 11 suspects, four connected to the Al Qaeda affiliate in North Africa known as AQIM, and seven connected to Ansar al-Sharia, a group with ties to the terrorist network.

“They knew from the get-go that Al Qaeda was involved in the attack so the idea that the Obama administration didn’t know that early on or they suspected it was something else entirely basically is willful blindness,”said counter-terrorism analyst Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

“You have to look at the facts and what the intelligence says and that intelligence was clear that known Al Qaeda personalities were involved in this attack.”

In her new book, “Hard Choices,” then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed the administration made new information available as soon as it was received.

“Every step of the way, whenever something new was learned, it was quickly shared with Congress and the American people,” she wrote. “There is a difference between getting something wrong, and committing wrong.”

While the contents of the email are stamped classified, an attachment including a flow chart showing the relationship among the suspects, is not classified, according to a leading Republican on the House Government Oversight Committee who has seen the memo and wants the administration to release it.

“This is a document from military intelligence widely distributed to the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon, the intelligence community,”said Rep.Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

“This was not buried in the bowels of some email chain. This was a widely distributed document. It demonstrated that Ansar al-Sharia and specifically Al Qaeda were involved in this attack. It should have been something that was put out immediately, not nearly two years after the fact.”

The memo was among some 3,000 documents recently released by the State Department to the oversight committee. With the House Speaker establishing a select committee to investigate Benghazi, all documents from the relevant House committee investigations were handed over.

Asked about the memo, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said she was not familiar with it, adding “We described the perpetrators as terrorists from the beginning, we’ve discussed this fact over and over again of course from the podium and again that hasn’t changed.”

But a review of the State Department transcripts in the first week after the attack shows then-spokeswoman Victoria Nuland resisted the terrorism description, instead telling reporters on Sep.17, 2012 that the government was still investigating.

Asked by a reporter if the administration regarded the attack as “an act of terrorism,” Nuland replied, “I don’t think we know enough. I don’t think we know enough. And we’re going to continue to assess… We’re going to have a full investigation now, and then we’ll be in a better position to put labels on things, okay?”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

​State Dept lashes out over second Kerry subpoena to testify on Benghazi

US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The chair of House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry for the second time this month over the 2012 Benghazi consulate attack, prompting an angry rebuke from the US State Department and Democrat representatives.

Darrell Issa issued the second subpoena on Thursday for Kerry to appear on May 29 before his committee and testify on the Benghazi attack, in which four members of the US diplomatic mission, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, were killed. It came days after he revoked the first subpoena for May 21, which the State Department said was in conflict with the secretary’s schedule.

“I lifted the subpoena requiring Secretary Kerry to testify on May 21 because the State Department made reasonable arguments for an accommodation and told our committee they were seeking a suitable alternative date for his testimony on a voluntary basis. But soon after I lifted the subpoena, the State Department backtracked – stating publicly that we should accept ‘a more appropriate witness’ and refusing to commit to making Secretary Kerry available,” Issa said in a statement.

The State Department replied angrily to Issa’s move, branding his tweet announcing the second subpoena “a headline-grabbing, highly political” attack on “the integrity of the State Department itself.”

“This is not the way legitimate and responsible oversight is conducted, and it’s a departure from the days when Rep. Issa himself once lamented that a Secretary of State should not be distracted from the work of national security to testify at the barrel of a subpoena,” spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with the committee to resolve their request, but we have not made arrangements for a hearing date, and we hope to explore with them whether there are witnesses better suited to answer their questions and meet their needs for oversight.”

The Oversight Committee is one of five bodies in the House currently probing the Benghazi attack. Republican representatives voted Thursday on forming a Select Committee with an intention to merge the multiple probes into a single panel. Issa, a Republican, is not part of the select committee, and Democrats believe his second subpoena works against the Republican effort.

“Chairman Issa’s subpoena of Secretary Kerry calls into question the Republicans’ stated purpose of the Select Committee on Benghazi,” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

She said “the Select Committee is a sign of no confidence in Issa just as Issa’s action today is a sign of a lack of confidence in the Select Committee.”

A similar assessment came from Elijah Cummings, senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

“I don’t know if this is Chairman Issa’s attempt to reinsert himself into this investigation after the speaker removed him, but this looks more and more like the ‘sideshow’ and ‘circus’ Speaker Boehner said he would not tolerate,” Cummings said in a statement.

But Boehner’s office said the speaker supports Issa’s subpoena, while Issa last week defended the Select Committee idea, saying it would help focus the investigation on the White House actions in the wake of the attack.

Republicans believe that President Barack Obama administration hushed up details of the Benghazi tragedy to protect his re-election campaign. Democrats accuse the Republicans of spinning the investigation to score political points ahead of the November mid-term elections.

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US flying manned intelligence missions over Nigeria in missing girls search, official says

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The U.S. military is flying manned missions over Nigeria in hopes of locating the hundreds of schoolgirls who were kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group last month, a senior official tells Fox News.

The official said the manned missions are intelligence and surveillance missions. At a press briefing Monday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. had experts in a variety of areas, including reconnaissance and surveillance, working on the case of the missing girls. However he said he did not have a “catalog” of the specific resources the experts were using.

“They are actively involved in working with the Nigerian government to provide the advice and the expertise that they can provide to assist in that effort,” Carney said.

The information comes as a new video, believed to be from Boko Haram, the group behind the kidnappings, surfaced Monday showing more than 100 of the kidnapped Christian schoolgirls praying to Allah.

The video also features the Islamic terror group’s leader – who was reportedly negotiating with the government – saying he will hold the girls until imprisoned militants are freed.

When asked about the option of trading the girls for imprisoned militants, U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said Monday, that is up to Nigeria.

“As you know, Nigeria is in the lead. We are simply supporting their efforts. As you know also the United States’ policy is to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts including ransoms or concessions,” Psaki said at a press briefing.

The video is the first sighting of the abducted girls since more than 300 were taken April 14 from their school in the northern town of Chibok by Islamist militants. Although more than 50 girls escaped their captors and are now safe, at least 276 remain missing.

The search so far has centered on the Sambisa forest, with Nigerian troops being aided by advisers from the U.S., Britain and France.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren clarified the U.S. presence in Nigeria for reporters Monday, saying there are more than 50 U.S. military personnel and advisors based at the Nigerian Embassy to help “advise and assist” in the search for the missing girls. The teams have expertise in “communications, logistics, civil affairs, and intelligence,” Warren said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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US shuts down Syrian embassy, tells diplomats to leave !!!!!?

Embassy of Syria, Washington

Washington has closed the Syrian embassy and two of its consulates, and has told all Syrian diplomats that they must leave the country, after Damascus decided to call back its mission last week.

“Following the announcement that the Syrian Embassy has suspended its provision of consular services, and in consideration of the atrocities the Assad regime has committed against the Syrian people, we have determined it is unacceptable for individuals appointed by that regime to conduct diplomatic or consular operations in the United States,” said a note from the State Department’s special envoy for Syria, Daniel Rubinstein.

As well as its mission in the US capital, Syria also operated two consulates in Troy (Michigan) and Houston.

Syria’s own decision, reported in Middle Eastern media last week, was allegedly provoked by the US, which made it increasingly difficult to obtain accreditation for new diplomats since the internal conflict broke out in 2011.

Reports also claimed that Damascus would follow the same course of action in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, two other countries that have staunchly supported the rebels alongside the US.

Neither Damascus nor Washington have implied that the withdrawal of representatives constitutes a severing of diplomatic ties.

“Despite the differences between our governments, the United States continues to maintain diplomatic relations with the state of Syria as an expression of our longstanding ties with the Syrian people, an interest that will endure long after Bashar Assad leaves power,” said Rubinstein.

The US vacated its own embassy in Damascus more than two years ago.

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Syrian ambassador to UN restricted to 25-mile radius of New York City

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja’afari

The US State department has banned the movement of Syria’s UN delegation, headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, to within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of New York City.

Jaafari has served as Syria’s envoy to the UN since 2006 and has been an unwavering supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the 3-year long civil war. Jaafari has not yet commented on the restriction.

The United States has not given a reason for the travel ban, but State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, said that such travel limits were not unheard of.

“UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25-mile radius. So this is not something out of the realm of what we’ve done before,” she told reporters in Washington.

North Korean and Iranian diplomats are also restricted to a 25-mile radius of the Columbus Intersection in Manhattan.

Last year Jaafari complained to the General Assembly of the United Nations about the UN’s double standards in the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which he said did not condemn the crimes of foreign backed terrorists on Syrian soil.

Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fell apart last month, with both sides repeating their previous positions and blaming each other for the impasse.

Observers also note that the Syrian opposition has now become deeply fragmented and radicalized and is not represented by those attending the Geneva peace talks.

 

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Unwelcome| Kerry says he may travel to Egypt in coming weeks | Reuters

Protesters hold banners during a march towards the foreign ministry in CairoWASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday he may visit Egypt in the coming weeks in what would be his first trip since the army toppled the country’s democratically elected president on July 3.

Ties between Washington and Cairo have deteriorated since the ouster of former President Mohamed Mursi, who was elected last year after the toppling of authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak, a longtime U.S. ally, in February 2011.

                                                                                                     ..... Did not listen

….. Did not listen

In one sign of the strains, the United States on October 9 said it would withhold deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles as well as $260 million in cash aid pending Egypt’s progress on democracy and human rights.

The military’s removal of Mursi has presented U.S. President Barack Obama with a dilemma.

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Morsi explains to Kerry his great project for egypt ..Nahda bird :
穆爾西解釋說他的偉大的埃及項目納哈達鳥克里 .. understand Mr. Kerry ?

On the one hand, he wants to maintain ties with a country of strategic importance because of its peace treaty with Israel, its control of the Suez Canal and its status as the Arab world’s most populous nation.

On the other, he is reluctant to be seen as acquiescing in the ouster of a popularly elected leader, albeit an Islamist who emerged from the Muslim Brotherhood movement and whom the U.S. government had come to view as ineffective.

Kerry raised the possibility of an upcoming trip to Egypt at a town hall meeting with State Department employees.

“I think we may be going to Cairo sometime in the next weeks and one of the meetings that I insisted on having was that we make sure we meet with a cross-section of civil society,” Kerry said in response to a question about the importance of engaging civil society groups.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters the department had not yet finalized Kerry’s upcoming travel.

Kerry has gone to Egypt once since becoming secretary of state, on March 2 and 3, when he announced plans to give Mursi’s government $190 million budget support and to release $60 million for an Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund that would support small and medium companies in the private sector.

U.S. officials said they had decided to give Mursi that support after he promised to take the painful economic reforms needed to secure a loan from the International Monetary Fund.

They were disappointed, however, by the Mursi government’s failure to move fast on such reforms.

95The U.S. government has repeatedly urged the current Egyptian authorities to govern in a more inclusive manner, code for finding a modus vivendi with the Muslim Brotherhood and making progress toward a restoration of democratic rule.

The Brotherhood refuses to work with the military, which it says staged a coup and sabotaged Egypt’s democratic gains after the revolt that toppled Mubarak. The military denies it carried out a coup, saying it responded to the will of the people.

Kerry says he may travel to Egypt in coming weeks | Reuters.