Showing posts with label US Embassy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Embassy. Show all posts

May 16, 2018

Why Trump's Move of The US Embassy to Jerusalem Was For Anything But Peace

 Tear gas with bullets rain on the Palestinians on the Gaza Side of Jerusalem

"Our greatest hope is for peace." Those were the words of Donald Trump in a recorded message at the Jerusalem ceremony. 
But the opening line in White House talking points cut straight to the top priority: "President Donald J Trump keeps his promise." 
Mr. Trump decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because he likes to keep campaign promises made to his base. 
He also likes to make big bold historic moves, especially if that means delivering where his predecessors did not. 
So far so good on the principles of Trumpian foreign policy.  
In this case, his base also lobbied hard for the move. That included right-wing American Jews whose message was amplified by the conservative orthodox Jews dominating Mr. Trump's inner circle.  

It also included evangelicals whose voice was amplified by the devout Christian in the White House, Vice-President Mike Pence. 
"God decided Jerusalem was the capital of Israel more than 3,000 years ago during the time of King David," I was told by Dallas evangelical pastor Robert Jeffress, who cited Biblical history. He and another leading voice in the pro-Israel part of the Christian world delivered prayers at the opening ceremony. 

So what about the peace process?

"The United States remains fully committed to facilitating a lasting peace agreement," Mr. Trump also said in his recorded message. 
He has declared an interest in solving the "toughest deal of all" and, despite the outrage over Jerusalem, the White House is still intent on rolling out a detailed initiative of a settlement it thinks is achievable. 
Its authors -Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner and his lawyer Jason Greenblatt - concluded that shaking up the status quo could help their efforts by giving the Palestinians a dose of reality, says former Mid-East negotiator Aaron David Miller. 
And the Palestinian deaths in Gaza make that prospect even less likely. The administration argues it is simply recognizing the obvious in accepting Jerusalem as Israel's capital and that the city's final boundaries can still be determined in negotiations. 
But confusingly, Trump has also said he has taken the issue "off the table". And he has failed to say anything about Palestinian claims to East Jerusalem. 
So whatever the intent, he appears to have sided with Israel on one of the most volatile issues in the peace process and prejudiced the final outcome of any talks.

Does this mean an explosion?

The Trump administration has also sided with Israel in its response to the deadly violence on the Gaza border. 
The White House accused Gaza's Hamas leaders of "intentionally and cynically" provoking Israel in an attempt at "gruesome propaganda" but, unlike European countries, it did not call on the army to exercise restraint. 
Hamas has been directing the weeks-long protest campaign by Palestinians frustrated with Israel's economic blockade of Gaza. 
Analysts said it was a chance for the militant Islamist movement to shift the blame for its own poor performance in government. 
The question now is whether the hundreds of casualties will trigger an uprising, or intifada, that spreads to the West Bank.

The Jerusalem decision itself did not do so and there are many reasons why the Gaza violence may not. That includes divisions in the Palestinian leadership and the high cost for Palestinians of a return to sustained conflict. 
But it is a volatile situation fuelled by a sense of Palestinian hopelessness that could lead to further escalation. 

Crossing a red line?

What seems more likely to me at the moment is a slower unraveling of the peace process framework which for the past 25 years has led to neither peace nor all-out war. 
Despite spasms of conflict, it has maintained certain fundamentals. 
The Israelis have not annexed the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority continues security co-operation, in effect helping Israel police its own people. 
The framework is held up by an American mediator that is seen by many as somewhat credible, if not neutral.

Every previous US administration has been pro-Israel but made some effort to understand and respond to the Palestinian narrative, says Mr. Miller.
This one is so "deeply ensconced" in the Israeli narrative it has crossed a red line, he says. 
If so, it will be difficult for it to keep propping up the framework, with unpredictable results. 
It is true that key Arab countries seem more willing to sanction a settlement less favorable to the Palestinians than before because they want Israel as an ally against Iran. 
But Trump's decision on Jerusalem, and Israel's heavy-handed approach in Gaza reduces their room for maneuver.

August 11, 2017

Hearing Loss By Diplomats at US Embassy in Cuba

 The two-year-old U.S. diplomatic relationship with Cuba was roiled Wednesday by what U.S. officials say was a string of bizarre incidents that left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss attributed to a covert sonic device.

In the fall of 2016, a series of U.S. diplomats began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case. Several of the diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Barack Obama’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. 

Some of the diplomats’ symptoms were so severe that they were forced to cancel their tours early and return to the United States, officials said. After months of investigation, U.S. officials concluded that the diplomats had been exposed to an advanced device that operated outside the range of audible sound and had been deployed either inside or outside their residences. It was not immediately clear if the device was a weapon used in a deliberate attack, or had some other purpose.

The U.S. officials weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. retaliated by expelling two Cuban diplomats from their embassy in Washington on May 23. She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they had suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had “a variety of physical symptoms.”

The Cuban government said in a lengthy statement late Wednesday that “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory is used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.”

The statement from the Cuban Foreign Ministry said it had been informed of the incidents on Feb. 17 and had launched an “exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government.”

It said the decision to expel two Cuban diplomats was “unjustified and baseless.”
The ministry said it had created an expert committee to analyze the incidents and had reinforced security around the U.S. embassy and U.S. diplomatic residences.
“Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including U.S. citizens,” the statement said. 

U.S. officials told The Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children had been involved. The FBI and Diplomatic Security Service are investigating.

Cuba employs a state security apparatus that keeps many people under surveillance and U.S. diplomats are among the most closely monitored people on the island. Like virtually all foreign diplomats in Cuba, the victims of the incidents lived in housing owned and maintained by the Cuban government.

However, officials familiar with the probe said investigators were looking into the possibilities that the incidents were carried out by a third country such as Russia, possibly operating without the knowledge of Cuba’s formal chain of command.

Nauert said investigators did not yet have a definitive explanation for the incidents but stressed they take them “very seriously,” as shown by the Cuban diplomats’ expulsions.
“We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some U.S. personnel’s assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents,” she said. “Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats.”

 The Photographer's handle name here is Steve. The photograph shows the American Embassy on the right and the large much taller building on the left which appears to be the Russian Embassy. People that visit this area in Cuba know that the Russian Embassy is in the same neighborhood but it's so interesting to see how close they are in this non-official picture. I have not been to Cuba myself so I don't know the real distance between the two structures. I don't think the distance in feet or yards is not as important as to know the Russians are close to the US embassy and there might be an intensity of micro waves hitting the structure and inhabitants of that structure. It is general knowledge this goes on in most embassies. So the question is who was responsible but regardless, Cuba is the official host and official blame taker because one takes responsibility for the safety of people invited to your house.
U.S. diplomats in Cuba said they suffered occasional harassment for years after the restoration of limited ties with the communist government in the 1970s, harassment reciprocated by U.S. agents against Cuban diplomats in Washington. The use of sonic devices to intentionally harm diplomats would be unprecedented.


July 9, 2016

Russian Policeman Attacks US Diplomat on his way to Embassy



The State Department condemned Russian security services Friday for an attack on an American diplomat, the latest incident in what U.S. officials said is increasing intimidation of its personnel.
The U.S. diplomat "was attacked by a Russian policeman" while attempting to enter the American embassy last month in Moscow, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters, speaking just days after a video of the altercation was broadcast on Russian TV.
“The action was unprovoked and endangered the safety of our employee," he added. Kirby said that Russian officials' claims that the policeman was attempting to protect the embassy were "simply untrue." 
He called this a "very graphic and violent example" of two years of "increased harassment" of U.S. diplomats in Russia. 
He noted that Washington had initially sought to handle the affair via direct government-to-government channels but said that Russian officials' public allegations compelled the U.S. to make the rebuke public. 
He described Russian behavior as "unprovoked and unnecessary." 
"There's no need for this when there's so many more important things for us to be working on with Russia," he added. 
Washington had delivered high-level complaints to Moscow about accusations of increasing intimidation of American diplomats in Russia, the State Department said in June.
Secretary of State John Kerry last discussed the matter with Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 24, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters last month.
"We see an increase and we take it seriously," she said.
Other Western embassies had reported the same behavior toward their diplomats stationed in Moscow, Trudeau added.
Moscow, however, has charged that Washington has also engaged in problematic behavior.
In June, the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow has "felt a significant increase in pressure on the Russian Embassy and consulates general of our country in the United States."
According to Zakharova, staff members of Russia's consulate missions abroad "regularly become the objects of provocations by the American secret services, face obstacles in making official contacts and other restrictions," including travel. 
Kirby dismissed the Russian complaints about their U.S.-based diplomats receiving similar treatment, calling the claims “without foundation.”

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