Archive | February 15th, 2011

The Palestine Papers: Fallout



Al Jazeera created an uproar across the Arab world when it leaked 1,684 documents on Jan. 23 pertaining to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Today, on Feb. 15, the Jerusalem Fund held a very informative panel discussion on the contents of these leaks and the effect they may have on the future of negotiations. We recommend that you invest an hour and watch this vital discussion which features Khaled Elgindy, who served as an adviser to the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah on permanent status negotiations, Georgetown adjunct professor Noura Erakat, a Palestinian human rights attorney and activist, and journalist Mark Perry, a frequent guest commentator on Al Jazeera.

In this candid discussion of importance to the worldwide Palestinian Diaspora, as well as to Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, the panelists weigh in on how recent events in Egypt affect the legitimacy of negotiators and may even tip the balance in future negotiations. They discuss the Feb. 12 resignation of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and debate the importance of finding credible negotiators who represent Palestinians at home and abroad. The Palestinian Authority has announced the holding of presidential and legislative elections before September of this year. Learn how Diaspora Palestinians can get involved and voice their opinions on the future state.

To watch this thought-provoking discussion visit the Palestine Center/Jerusalem Fund’s Web site:

Read the Palestine Papers yourself:

We are interested in our readers’ views: Where—if anywhere—do negotiations go from here? Who should negotiate? Who should vote in Palestinian elections? Should the U.S. even be involved—when, as Mark Perry says, year after year Washington places its thumb squarely on the Israeli side of the scale? What can we do to change U.S. foreign policy?

If you have not already done so, please log in to the Washington Report’s home page to share your comments/opinions in our new chat room.

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Waiter at Birmingham balti house bombarded customer with indecent texts


by Anuji Varma, Birmingham Mail

“I thought I’d heard from the last of him but he sent me another text at around 1pm the next day.”

Asiya went to the restaurant with husband Ryan, a teaching assistant, to complain. But she said she failed to receive any apology for the waiter’s behaviour.

“I felt so degraded by what had happened and thought it would be handled properly by Akbar’s. But they were very unsympathetic towards me and just said head office would contact me.”

A spokeswoman from the restaurant confirmed that an employee had been suspended after they had been made aware of an “incident”.

She added: “We have never had an issue like this before and we will take the appropriate action. All our staff are extremely responsible and treat calls in confidence. This is not the way we work.”

A West Midlands Police spokesman added: “Officers are currently investigating a report of harassment. An enquiry was launched after a member of the public contacted the police following images sent to her mobile phone.”

The Mail called the number the texts were sent from but the man who answered refused to accept any lewd messages were sent by him.

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Waiter at Birmingham balti house bombarded customer with indecent texts


  • by Anuji Varma, Birmingham Mail


Asiya Field


A RANDY waiter at a Birmingham balti house sent a snap of his MANHOOD to a female customer who had booked a party for her first wedding anniversary, it has been claimed.

Shocked Asiya Field, 22, of Walsall, contacted the lavish Akbar’s restaurant, on Hagley Road, to make the reservation for the special occasion and handed over her mobile number.

But she got more than she bargained for when just 30 minutes later she was bombarded with texts by an employee insisting that she “get to know” him.

The devout Muslim spurned his advances, telling him she was married. But he wrote “your (sic) not even married… so give that a rest!”

Three hours later, he sent her the shocking picture of his penis.

When distraught Asiya, a school administrator, told him that she would be going to the police, he pleaded “I apologise sincerely. Only just started at Akbars”.

He then went on to text: “Sorry. Do not tell my manager please, only just started that job. Seriously that was suppose (sic) to (be for) someone else, seriously!”

He sent 15 texts in total. The waiter has since been suspended by bosses at the restaurant, which opened on the former site of nightspot Liberty’s in 2009. Police confirmed they are investigating the incident.

“I am thoroughly disgusted and horrified with the waiter’s behaviour,” said Asiya, who had visited the restaurant on two previous occasions. “I thought it was bad enough that he had got my number then sent me messages.

“Then he sent me the picture. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I told him immediately that I was going to the police. He pleaded with me not to take it further.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter



Posted By: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC


Dear Friends,

The first 4 items of the 7 below are on Israel.  The final 3 are on Egypt.

Item 1 is brief and revolting.  A Knesset committee has passed on the first (of three) readings a bill that would prohibit boycotts of Israel.  If the bill becomes law, then a good many of us will probably end up in jail.  This is hardly a democratic law. Yet there is one positive aspect to it: Israel’s leaders realize that bds is working and hurting, and, moreover, this is the case because of what Israel does.  The leaders will never be able to beautify Israel’s image, no matter how excellent the PR companies are that undertake the task. Israel alone can change its image by changing its ways, that is, by ending the occupation, expansion, land theft, political arrests, and the rest.

Item 2 is also about a bill, but a different kind of bill–one that proposes to subsidize ex-soldiers’ education.  This is another enticement to get kids into the army.  Arab kids are not obligated to enlist, and with the exception of Bedouins and Druze who have traditionally enlisted (though this is changing) other Arab youngsters will not qualify for the money.  The argument (below) that those who have not served in the military had time to work and save money for university studies does not hold water.  Many who work do not earn enough to save for tuition.

In item 3 Haaretz reveals that notwithstanding IOF denials, the newspaper has learned that the army is building a base on the other side of the so-called ‘green line.’

Item 4 argues against the U.S. policy of vetoing any resolution brought before the Security Council condemning Israel’s settlement expansion.

Items 5 through 7 turn from Israel to Egypt.  Item 5 tells us that the army has given the committee appointed to write a new constitution 10 days in which to accomplish the task; item 6 fears that the Egyptian army is hijacking the revolution.

As for item 7, when I saw the headline to it my heart dropped all the way to the floor.  The United States is going to help “stabilize Egypt” by giving money to the army!  But the call of the revolutionaries was not for stability but for freedom, for the elimination of the emergency law, for the release of political prisoners.  Stability at the price of freedom is not worth anything at all.  And the last body that the revolutionaries would wish to see receive more money is the army.  But that’s the way of the United States’ foreign policy—support dictators and armies while talking out of the other side of the mouth about peace.

Am still hoping that all who wish to convert from dictatorship to democracy will do so—in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, and wherever else that people desire freedom.



1.  Ynet,

February 15, 2011

Breaking News,7340,L-4029099,00.html

Bill that prohibits boycotts of Israel approved in preliminary reading

In a first reading, the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee approved a law proposal that would prohibit boycotts of Israel. If the bill is passed, the State would place criminal sanctions on anyone wishing to boycott it. The proposal was accepted despite opposition from the Foreign and Justice Ministries, whose representatives claimed that the law might hurt Israeli interests. (Roni Sofer)


2.  Ynet,

February 15, 2011


MK Mofaz. Endorsed bill Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

Bill proposes discount in tuition fees for soldiers

Coalition MKs submit bill proposing to provide those who served in IDF, performed National Service with NIS 2,860 for university payments. MK Ahamd Tibi: Bill is racist,7340,L-4028914,00.html

Roni Sofer

A group of coalition Knesset members submitted a bill proposing to provide discharged soldiers with a NIS 2,860 (roughly $780) discount in higher education tuition fees. The MKs claim that those who did not serve could have spent their time saving money and are therefore not eligible for the benefit.

According to the MKs, there currently exists a state of discrimination between students who served in the army or did National Service and did not earn money during this time, and students who did not serve the country and could have spent this time saving money to fund their education. The bill will allow the eligible students to pay NIS 10,500 (roughly $2,860) in tuition fees a year instead of NIS 14,000.

Among the MKs who endorsed the bill are Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) and Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu). They claim that the state currently subsidizes fees for all students equally thus perpetuating the discrimination. This could even indirectly encourage draft-dodging, the MKs submit.

The MKs further noted that students who served the country are forced to work while studying and most are also called for reserve duty.

MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) slammed the bill and described it as another step in “Yisrael Beiteinu’s racist legislation against Arab-Israelis.”


3,  Haaretz,

February 15, 2011

Haaretz probe: IDF base to be built in East Jerusalem

Both the municipality as well as the Ministry of Defense claim that the base will be built within the green line, however, Haaretz has revealed otherwise based on initial plans for the IDF base.

By Nir Hasson

The Jerusalem municipality plans to construct an Israel Defense Forces army base that will house military colleges on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, reportedly beyond the pre-1967 war green line.

Both the municipality as well as the Ministry of Defense dispute this claim, stating that the base will be built within the green line, however, Haaretz has revealed otherwise and according to the plans created by the architectural firm hired by the municipality, the base will encroach upon disputed territory.

The IDF colleges to be built on the potentially controversial base will include the command and staff school, the school for national security and the military academy that are currently located on the IDF base in Glilot. Although the majority of the units at the Glilot base are meant to be moved south as part of a plan to increase IDF presence in the Negev, the IDF, Jerusalem municipality and the Ministry of Defense agreed to move the colleges to the capital. Plans have already been set into motion, and the municipality has hired architect Eli Ilan to prepare the initial blueprints for the project.

According to a document obtained by Haaretz, which includes the first draft of plans detailing the grounds of the base, it will be located on Mount Scopus, between the Mormon University and the Augusta Victoria Hospital, not far from Hebrew University. Based on the document, the base will encompass 32 dunams (a unit for measuring land area, about 1/4 acre) and will house learning institutes, a swimming pool, a gym and more. This is, however, only a first draft that is yet to be shown to the planning committee.

Although the Ministry of Defense as well as the Jerusalem municipality have claimed that the base will be within the green line, the document proves otherwise. Mount Scopus was part of Israel during the time period between the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War, and the majority of Hebrew University’s campus is within this territory. Most of the area in which the base is to be built, however, appears to be on land that belonged to Jordan during the interwar period. According to armistice agreements, it was a demilitarized zone and a small part of it was no man’s land between the two countries’ borders.

The construction of an IDF base in East Jerusalem is expected to spark criticism from the United States as well as Europe, who see all building in East Jerusalem as detrimental to the peace process and against the status quo, particularly in light of the fact that it is for military purposes.


4.  Al Jazeera,

February 15, 2011

US vs UN on Israeli settlements

Vetoing UN resolutions condemning Israeli settlements violates broader US interests.

MJ Rosenberg

Israel has been evicting Palestinians from their East Jerusalem homes to make way for settlers [AFP]

Anyone who thought that the United States has learned anything from the various revolutions upturning the Arab world has another think coming. We didn’t.

On Thursday, as the Egyptian revolution was culminating with the collapse of the Mubarak regime, the Obama administration announced that it intends to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution, sponsored by 122 nations, condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

This is from AFP’s report on what Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We have made very clear that we do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues,” Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We have had some success, at least for the moment, in not having that arise there. And we will continue to employ the tools that we have to make sure that continues to not happen,” said Steinberg.

There is so much wrong with Steinberg’s statement that it is hard to know where to start.

First is the obvious. Opposition to Israeli settlements is perhaps the only issue on which the entire Arab and Muslim world is united. Iraqis and Afghanis, Syrians and Egyptians, Indonesians and Pakistanis don’t agree on much, but they do agree on that. They also agree that the US policy on settlements demonstrates flagrant disregard for human rights in the Muslim world (at least when Israel is the human rights violator).

Accordingly, a US decision to support the condemnation of settlements would send a clear message to the Arab and Muslim world that we understand what is happening in the Middle East and that we share at least some of its peoples’ concerns.

The settlement issue should be an easy one for the United States. Our official policy is the same as that of the Arab world. We oppose settlements. We consider them illegal.  We have repeatedly demanded that the Israelis stop expanding them (although the Israeli government repeatedly ignores us). The administration feels so strongly about settlements that it recently offered Israel an extra $3.5bn in US aid to freeze settlements for 90 days.

It is impossible, then, for the United States to pretend that we do not agree with the resolution (especially when its language was carefully drafted to comport with the administration’s official position). So why will we veto a resolution that expresses our own views?

Steinberg says that “We do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues.”

Why not? It is the Security Council that passed all the major international resolutions (with US support) governing Israel’s role in the occupied territories since the first one, UN Resolution 242 in 1967.

He then adds, with clear pride that:

“We have had some success, at least for the moment, in not having that [the settlements issue] arise there.”

Very impressive. The United States has had no success whatsoever in getting the Netanyahu government to stop expanding settlements — to stop evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to make way for ultra-Orthodox settlers — and no success in getting Israel to crack down on settler violence, but we have had “some success” in keeping the issue out of the United Nations.

The only way to resolve the settlements issue, according to Steinberg, “is through engagement through the parties, and that is our clear and consistent position”. Clear and consistent it may be. But it hasn’t worked. The bulldozers never stop.

Of course, it is not hard to explain the Obama administration’s decision to veto a resolution embodying positions that we support. It is the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is lobbying furiously for a US veto (actually not so furiously; AIPAC doesn’t waste energy when it knows that its congressional acolytes — and Dennis Ross in the White House itself — will do its work for them).

The power of the lobby is the only reason we will veto the resolution. Try to come up with another one. After all, voting for the resolution (or, at least, abstaining on it) serves US interests in the Middle East at a critical moment and is consistent with US policy.

But it would enrage the lobby and its friends who will threaten retribution in the 2012 election.

Simply put, our Middle East policy is all about domestic politics. And not even the incredible events of the past month will change that.

That is why US standing in the Middle East will continue to deteriorate. We simply cannot deliver. After all, there is always another election on the horizon and that means that it is donors, not diplomats, who determine US policy.

MJ Rosenberg is a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network. The above article first appeared in Foreign Policy Matters, a part of the Media Matters Action Network.


5.  BBC,

February 15, 2011

Egypt crisis: Army sets constitution reform deadline

Egypt’s ruling military council has announced that work on reforming the country’s constitution is to be completed in 10 days.

A committee led by a retired judge has been tasked with proposing legal changes, said the council.

It earlier suspended the current constitution, which was amended during ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s tenure to strengthen his grip on power.

Mr Mubarak stepped down last week after more than two weeks of protests.

The higher military council – which assumed power after Mr Mubarak stepped down – said on Tuesday that the amended constitution would be put to a popular referendum.

The eight-member committee is mostly made up of experts in constitutional law but it includes a senior figure from the opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is headed by Tariq el-Bishri, considered one of Egypt’s top legal minds, and on Tuesday held its opening meeting with Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

The committee is instructed to “amend all articles as it sees fit to guarantee democracy and the integrity of presidential and parliamentary elections”.

Strikes ease

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo says it looks as if the military council is fulfilling its pledge to hand the country back to civilian rule as quickly as possible.

Tahrir Square, the focus of protests in Cairo, has largely returned to normal The speed of the move will reassure the opposition, he says, although there might be some nervousness about whether it is an attempt to push through changes in too much of a rush.

The military council has also repeated its calls for an end to strikes that spread across the country during Sunday and Monday.

The stoppages are dealing a further blow to Egypt’s ailing economy, damaged by three weeks of unrest.

“The supreme council is aware of the economic and social circumstances society is undergoing, but these issues cannot be resolved before the strikes and sit-ins end,” the state news agency Mena quoted the military as saying.

“The result of that will be disastrous,” it added.

Strikes eased on Tuesday, mainly because offices and businesses were closed for an Islamic holiday.

But correspondents said some smaller protests continued in provinces outside Cairo, mainly called by workers demanding higher pay.

Meanwhile, Mr Mubarak, 82, is reported to be in poor health in his residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

The Saudi-owned daily newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said on Tuesday that the former president’s health was “declining drastically” and he was refusing to travel abroad for treatment. The paper quoted a former security official linked to the military high command.

In his final speeches to the nation, Mr Mubarak said that he would die in Egypt. He has not been seen in public since stepping down.

On Tuesday, the Egyptian ambassador to the US told American TV network NBC that Mr Mubarak was in poor health.


6,  The Guardian,

15 February 2011

Egyptian army hijacking revolution, activists fear

Military ruling council begins to roll out reform plans while civilian groups struggle to form united front

Jack Shenker in Cairo

A man takes a picture of his daughter on an Egyptian army tank in Tahrir Square, Cairo. Photograph: Hussein Malla/AP

Egypt’s revolution is in danger of being hijacked by the army, key political activists have warned, as concrete details of the country’s democratic transition period were revealed for the first time.

Judge Tarek al-Beshry, a moderate Islamic thinker, announced that he had been selected by the military to head a constitutional reform panel. Its proposals will be put to a national referendum in two months’ time. The formation of the panel comes after high-ranking army officers met with selected youth activists on Sunday and promised them that the process of transferring power to a civilian government is now under way.

But the Guardian has learned that despite public pronouncements of faith in the military’s intentions, elements of Egypt’s fractured political opposition are deeply concerned about the army’s unilateral declarations of reform and the apparent unwillingness of senior officers to open up sustained and transparent negotiations with those who helped organise the revolution.

“We need the army to recognise that this is a revolution, and they can’t implement all these changes on their own,” said Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent youth activist. “The military are the custodians of this particular stage in the process, and we’re fine with that, but it has to be temporary.

“To work out what comes next there has to be a real civilian cabinet, of our own choosing, one that has some sort of public consensus behind it – not just unilateral communiques from army officers.”

There is consternation that the army is taking such a hard line on the country’s burgeoning wave of strikes, which has seen workers seeking not just to improve their economic conditions, but also to purge institutions of bosses they accuse of being corrupt and closely aligned to the old regime.

“These protests aren’t just wage-specific,” said Abd El Fattah. “They’re also about people at ground level wanting to continue the work of the revolution, pushing out regime cronies and reclaiming institutions like the professional syndicates and university departments that have long been commandeered by the state.”

The ruling military council has called on “noble Egyptians” to end all strikes immediately.

Egypt’s post-Mubarak political landscape has grown increasingly confused in the past few days, as the largely discredited formal opposition parties of the old era seek to reposition themselves as populist movements. Meanwhile younger, online-based groups are trying to capitalise on their momentum by forming their own political vehicles, and the previously outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has announced that it will form a legal political party.

After decades of stagnation, the country’s political spectrum is desperately trying to catch up with the largely leaderless events of the past few weeks and accommodate the millions of Egyptians politicised by Mubarak’s fall. “The current ‘opposition’ does not represent a fraction of those who participated in this revolution and engaged with Tahrir and other protest sites,” said Abd El Fattah. But with a myriad of short-lived alliances and counter-alliances developing among opposition forces in recent days, uncertainty about the country’s political future still prevails.

“Despite various attempts to form a united front, there’s nothing of the kind at this point – just a lot of division,” said Shadi Hamid, an Egypt expert at the Brookings Doha Centre. “You’ve got numerous groups, numerous coalitions, and everyone is meeting with everyone else. There’s a sense of organisational chaos. Everyone wants a piece of the revolution.”

This week a number of formal opposition parties, including the liberal Wafd party and the leftist Tagammu party, came together with members of the Muslim Brotherhood and a wide range of youth movements to try and elect a steering committee that could speak with a unified voice to the army commanders and negotiate the formation of a transitional government and presidential council.

Yet those plans have been overtaken by the speed of the military’s own independent proclamations on reform, raising fears that civilian voices are being shut out of the transitional process.

Some senior figures inside the coalition believe the army is deliberately holding high-profile meetings with individuals such as Google executive Wael Ghonim and the 6 April youth movement founder Ahmed Maher in an effort to appear receptive to alternative views, but without developing any sustainable mechanism through which non-military forces can play a genuine role in political reform.

“The military are talking to one or two ‘faces of the revolution’ that have no actual negotiating experience and have not been mandated by anyone to speak on the people’s behalf,” claimed one person involved with the new coalition. “It’s all very well for them to be apparently implementing our demands, but why are we being given no say in the process?

“They are talking about constitutional amendments, but most people here want a completely new constitution that limits the power of the presidency. They are talking about elections in a few months, and yet our political culture is still full of division and corruption.

“Many of us are now realising that a very well thought-out plan is unfolding step by step from the military, who of course have done very well out of the political and economic status quo. These guys are expert strategic planners after all, and with the help of some elements of the old regime and some small elements of the co-opted opposition, they’re trying to develop a system that looks vaguely democratic but in reality just entrenches their own privileges.”


7,  LA Times,

February 14, 2011

U.S. tries to line up aid to help stabilize Egypt

Eager to show they are helping a key ally and amid fears that continued economic hardship could stoke further unrest, U.S. officials are working with allies to cobble together an aid package, possibly in the hundreds of millions.,0,3393006.story

By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Washington

As anti-government protests threaten additional change across the Middle East, the Obama administration and its allies have been quietly collaborating on plans to shore up Egypt’s fragile transition government with a transfusion of economic aid.

U.S. officials, eager to demonstrate they are helping stabilize a country that has been a bulwark of American interests in the region, are soliciting contributions to an emergency financial package for Egypt, fearing that further strains on its overtaxed economy could kill the fledgling reform effort and lead to a new round of chaos.

In the four days since President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in the face of a public uprising, U.S. officials who helped facilitate his exit have been working to put together a package that will probably total several hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as funds to help build political parties and other institutions, U.S. and foreign diplomats say. The United States currently gives Egypt about $1.5 billion per year, most of it going to the Egyptian military, the most respected institution in the nation.

Public anxiety over Egypt’s struggling economy, including high unemployment and rising prices, was one of the key forces driving the 18-day uprising that toppled former Mubarak. Now that the authoritarian leader is gone, analysts say Egyptians may be overly optimistic in expecting rapid economic improvements.

Michele Dunne, a Middle East specialist who has advised the Obama administration on Egypt in recent weeks, said the economy is “one of the greatest vulnerabilities for a country that’s in a transition like this.”

The Egyptian Finance Ministry has estimated that the unrest cost the economy about $310 million a day, and some private analysts have estimated that investors have been withdrawing funds at a rate of about $1 billion a day. Before the protests, Egypt was expected to have 5% annual economic growth; now the consensus is closer to 1%.

Dunne, with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said if Egyptians have high expectations about economic opportunities and instead conditions worsen, “it could really sour relations between people” and the transitional government.

U.S. officials, who have been consulting widely on Egypt in recent days, declined to discuss their aid goals in details, saying they were in the early stages of discussions. They said they expect international development banks may also play a part in the effort.

The push for more aid comes at a difficult time for the United States and many allies, who are already struggling with severe austerity budgets. The Obama administration is trying to prevent Republicans from imposing steep cuts on foreign aid.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) on Monday and expressed her concern about proposed reductions for the State Department and aid programs. Clinton said she hoped that as Congress considers “the national security and economic consequences of these cuts, they will chart a different course.”

The United States must promote stability in countries such as Egypt or “we will pay a higher price later in crises that are allowed to simmer and boil over into conflicts,” Clinton said.

Mubarak’s overthrow has been welcomed by Democrats and Republicans, and some analysts predict there will be bipartisan support for at least some increase in Egypt’s aid, to ensure its stability as well as that of neighbor Israel and other Middle East states.

“I think they’ll feel this cause is worth it,” said Stephen McInerney, executive director of the Project on Middle East Democracy.

Congressional Republicans, and especially those in the House, have made it clear they intend to target overall foreign aid for reductions, at a time when both parties are looking for ways to reduce the projected $1.6 trillion federal deficit.

Clinton wrote a letter Monday to Republican Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, complaining that the committee’s proposal for foreign affairs funding for the next fiscal year was would reduce the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development budget by 19% from the amount sought by the administration, and would reduce funding for humanitarian aid by 41% from 2010 spending.

She wrote that such cuts would be “devastating to our national security” and would damage U.S. leadership around the world.

However, there remains considerable Republican support for a number of U.S. national security missions overseas, including those in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and lawmakers say it is unclear how much Republicans would want to cut the civilian aid related to those efforts.

A spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief, said the EU is considering aid for Egypt, perhaps through loans by the European Investment Bank, an EU international finance arm.

President Obama, in a statement last weekend, said the United States was committed to offering aid to Egypt “to pursue a credible and orderly transition to democracy, including by working with international partners to provide financial support.”

The aid discussions have come at a time when the administration has been reaching out to allies in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere, trying to work out a common position on how to encourage democratic change in Egypt.

U.S. officials and allies have been closely watching Cairo’s new military leadership take a series of steps, including some that have raised concerns among the Egyptian protesters.

The military leaders have resisted pressure to lift the emergency law that limits rights, and they have given mixed signals about how long they would retain Cabinet members who were part of the Mubarak regime. Some demonstrators have been upset that the military has sought to clear out the remaining protesters from central Cairo.

But Clinton praised the military leaders and offered a strong endorsement of their actions to date, which include announcements that they would dissolve the parliament, draft amendments to the constitution, and set elections within six months.

In an appearance on Capitol Hill with Boehner, Clinton said “the steps they have taken so far are reassuring,” and that “thus far they’ve demonstrated a seriousness of purpose and a commitment to pursuing the kind of transition that we hope will lead to free, fair elections.”

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Latest Events in Egypt






Zaid Hamid of returns to the program from Pakistan to discuss the latest events in Egypt and how they are more than likely part of the century-old plan of breaking up the larger states of the Middle East into smaller ones as a precursor to IsraHell expanding her borders to encompass her 3,000 year old dream of owning all the land between the Nile and Euphrates rivers.


Download here

Please check out the brand new book detailing Israhell deliberate attack on the USS LIBERTY here

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Dear friends,

Zionist Mu-Barak may have stolen $70 billion from Egyptians — one third of their national income! Getting it back will require immediate action from governments around the world.Sign the emergency petition to freeze Zionist Mu-Barak’s assets now, and then forward this message! 

Sign the petition!

Mubarak is out — but he may take unimaginable wealth out with him. Estimates of his stolen fortune range as high as $70 billion, more than a third of the entire Egyptian economy.

Time is running out for world governments to freeze Zionist Mu-Barak’s assets before they disappear into a maze of obscure bank accounts — like so many other dictators’ stolen fortunes. Switzerland has already frozen his finances, and some EU ministers have offered help — but without an immediate global outcry, action may come too slowly to stop Zionist Mu-Barak billions from vanishing. 

Let’s call on leaders of all nations to ensure that Egypt’s money is returned to the people. Our petition will be delivered, if we reach 500,000 signatures, to G20 finance ministers when they meet this Friday in Paris. Let’s add our names now and spread the word!

Millions of Egyptians live on less than $2 per day — yet experts say that corruption costs Egypt more than $6 billion in public money per year. Zionist Mu-Baraks themselves have benefited massively from a web of business deals, crony-capitalist privatization schemes, and state-guaranteed investments throughout Zionist Mu-barak’s 30 years as president. Estimates of their wealth run from a “mere” $2-3 billion to the staggering $70 billion figure, which would make Hosni Mubarak the world’s richest man. And 25 senior government officials are already under investigation for amassing fortunes above $1 billion while serving under him. 

But the days may finally be over when corrupt rulers can escape with their fortunes intact. The new United Nations Convention Against Corruption explicitly calls for the return of corruptly-gained assets to the countries of origin, and Egypt’s military government has already asked European Union governments to freeze Zionist Mu-Barak’s fortune. The key question now is whether action will come fast enough: all the laws in the world won’t help if Zionist Mu-Barak billions are shuffled out of sight before authorities can seize them. 

Our voices as citizens can help the people of Egypt make good on the promise of their revolution. Join the call for Egyptian wealth to go back to the people of Egypt:

As millions of Egyptians risked — and even gave — their lives for democracy, there was little that we around the world could do beyond send our hopes and solidarity. But now we have a special responsibility: to do our utmost to restore the national property stolen by a dictatorship that our own governments tolerated for far too long. 

The people of Egypt are ready now to build a new nation. Let’s ensure that they regain the resources that were taken from them, as they create the future that few dared to dream possible. 


Washington Post: “Egyptians focus their attention on recovering the nation’s money” 

Egypt’s Zionist Mu-barak Likely to Retain Vast Wealth; Zionist Mu-Barak Family May Have as Much as $70 Billion Stashed Away, Experts Estimate 

Seize Money Stolen by Zionist Mu-barak and Return it to Egypt

EU Yet To Agree Action On Egypt Asset Requests

The United Nations Convention Against Corruption 


Yemen Revolution


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The U.S Department of State: Explaining its own Hypocrisy


Philip J. Crowley

Assistant Secretary
Daily Press Briefing

Washington, DC

February 14, 2011



Anniversary of the Assassinations of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri / Refer to Statement by Secretary Clinton

Tomorrow Secretary Clinton will meet with Indian Foreign Secretary Rao / Meetings with Other U.S. Officials

Tomorrow Secretary Clinton Will Deliver a Second Major Address on Internet Freedom

USAID Administrator Shah Will Deliver the David E. Barmes Global Health Lecture at the National Institutes of Health

SCA Assistant Secretary Blake Departs Tomorrow for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

PRM Assistant Secretary Schwartz Departs Today for Liberia

Watching Situation in Iran Very Closely and the Government’s Response to Peaceful Protests / Condemns Violence

U.S. Watching Ongoing Legal Process Regarding Syrian Blogger Tal al-Mallouhi


American Detained in Pakistan / U.S. Continues to Insist Pakistan Certify His Diplomatic Immunity and Release Him / Ongoing Investigation

Postponement of Trilateral Meetings


Using Social Media to Engage People Directly / Tweeting in Farsi


U.S. Watching Developments in Other Countries Including Yemen, Algeria and Bahrain / U.S. Advice is the Same / Reforms Will be Different Country by Country


Transition Underway / Not U.S. Judgment that Counts, but Judgment for the Egyptian People

Funds Associated with President Mubarak


Palestinians and Israelis Are Assessing the Situation in Light of What Has Happened in Recent Days / U.S. Will Continue to Engage Both Parties


Arrests of Journalists

U.S. will Continue to Engage Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan


Uribe Immunity Request / Department of Justice / Matter Is Still Under Active Consideration


U.S. and Argentina Have Had a Number of Discussions on Actions Taken by Argentine Officials


Food Assistance


Budget / Engaging Both Houses of Congress / Two Budgets Being Considered




3:33 p.m. EST

MR. CROWLEY: Just to tick off a few things, obviously, just refer you back to the statement by Secretary Clinton yesterday that we do keep in mind today the sixth anniversary of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

Tomorrow, the Secretary will meet with Indian Foreign Secretary Rao. Primarily, they will focus on preparation for the upcoming Strategic Dialogue in New Delhi, but she’ll have the opportunity to meet with Under Secretary Bill Burns, and during the course of her visit to Washington, Raj Shah, other officials of the State Department, Commerce Department, Defense Department, and Energy.

Tomorrow at 12:30, the Secretary will deliver a second major address on internet freedom at George Washington University. The speech will call on the global community to choose to keep the internet open as a space for free expression, ideas, innovation, and economic growth, and will discuss the contemporary versions of age-old challenges that arise in this new digital age.

Tomorrow, Raj Shah will deliver the David E. Barnes Global Health Lecture at the National Institutes of Health. And this is the first appearance at NIH by a sitting USAID ambassador.

Assistant Secretary Bob Blake departs tomorrow for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In both places – in Ashgabat he’ll conduct the midyear review of the annual bilateral consultations and in Tashkent actually will conduct the second annual bilateral consultations.

Assistant Secretary Eric Schwartz departed – will depart today for Liberia. He’ll meet with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other Liberian Government officials. One of the focuses of his trip will be the – looking at ways to help Liberia, given that roughly 35,000 people have crossed the border to escape violence in Cote d’Ivoire, unleashed as a result of the ongoing presidential election crisis.

We obviously are watching the situation in Iran very closely and the government’s response to peaceful protests. We are deeply concerned about reports that one person has been killed and two wounded in clashes with security forces. Those security forces are arresting, beating, and using tear gas against protestors, as well as blocking them from using public transportation, cell phones, and other means of communication. Iran reportedly continues to jam news coverage in the country. Both major opposition leaders remain under house arrest, and this is in conjunction with a wave of other arrests of opposition figures, including women’s rights advocates, leading up to the protests.

We condemn in the strongest terms any use of violence against people peacefully assembling and expressing their views – expressing their desire for freedom and reform, and call on Iran to refrain from violence. And as the Secretary said in her remarks on the Hill – I believe she used the term hypocrisy – it’s well earned – in the contrast between the words that Iran used relative to the protests in Egypt, but its ongoing crackdown of its own people and their universal right to demonstrate.

And finally, we continue to watch the ongoing legal process regarding blogger Tal al-Mallouhi. She’s 19 years old, which is remarkable. But she’s – we don’t know her status right now. We’ve seen conflicting reports, but we continue to watch her case very closely.

QUESTION: Well, what does that mean, you don’t know her status? Yesterday, you said she was convicted in a secret trial.

MR. CROWLEY: Well, no. But there have been reports today that she’s been sentenced to five years. There’s reports today that she’s actually been released. We can’t verify either of these reports at this point.

QUESTION: Is there anything new on the Lahore case in Pakistan?

MR. CROWLEY: Nothing new. This Thursday, February 17, the higher court in Lahore will examine several petitions and the issue of diplomatic immunity. Unfortunately, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations clearly states that this not a matter for local courts to decide. And we continue to insist that Pakistan certify his diplomatic immunity and release him.

QUESTION: Wait, so —

QUESTION: The foreign minister – I’m sorry. The foreign minister said that he actually did not have diplomatic immunity.

MR. CROWLEY: The former foreign minister.

QUESTION: The just foreign – foreign minister said that he did not have diplomatic immunity and it was only – and he changed that only after getting pressure from the U.S. Can you explain this?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, Pakistan – he does have diplomatic immunity. Pakistan has an obligation to certify that under the Vienna Convention, and we continue to engage Pakistan to insist that he be released.

QUESTION: Why do you think someone in the foreign ministry wouldn’t know that or have a different —

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll defer to Mr. Qureshi.

QUESTION: So is that – well, did – was there ever an answer to my question, whether after you tell him that he’s coming or he’s there and that you say that he has diplomatic immunity, do they need to certify that for him to actually have that immunity?


QUESTION: So just your claim alone is enough —

MR. CROWLEY: No, no, no, no. There are specific positions agreed upon by the governments as to which positions carry diplomatic immunity. He is in a position that carries diplomatic immunity.

QUESTION: Well, then why —

MR. CROWLEY: And once the – once we notify the Pakistani Government that he’s in the country, at that point he has diplomatic immunity.

QUESTION: Well, then why is there this question about certification?

MR. CROWLEY: That’s a very good question to – one to ask the Pakistani Government.

QUESTION: So what it really is is that you notified the Pakistani Government that he was there as this position?


QUESTION: Isn’t there some kind of written document that would – that you could point to? I mean, people have to sign the U.S. —

MR. CROWLEY: Well, like I say, there are existing agreements over which positions among the American diplomats carry diplomatic immunity. Some do, some don’t.

QUESTION: No, no. I mean —

MR. CROWLEY: Or some carry full diplomatic immunity, some carry partial.

QUESTION: No, I just – I mean, when he went into the country, the same as when you stamp a passport, wouldn’t there – when you acknowledge that he’s in the country, wouldn’t there be some sort of a stamp, a document, that would say he’s in this country that would exist so you could point to this and say, see he’s – we acknowledged he was here?

MR. CROWLEY: It’s a fair question. Not that I’m aware of.

QUESTION: Is it safe to assume –

QUESTION: There’s a – the spokeswoman for – spokesman for the ruling party in Pakistan for the first time today invoked the Geneva Convention discussing this case and then said that those with diplomatic immunity must be released. Do you consider this kind of an opening in some way or encouraging comments from somebody related to the government that this might be resolved?

MR. CROWLEY: We want him to be released. That’s the only step that we want to see.

QUESTION: Sorry. Did you say the Geneva Convention?

QUESTION: He did. I think he meant the Vienna Convention.


QUESTION: The – but is – but do you consider this any kind of an aperture in any way, or is this kind of just noise?

MR. CROWLEY: Again, we feel that Pakistan has an international obligation to release him because he has diplomatic immunity, and that we continue to press this point with the Pakistani Government.

QUESTION: P.J., you understand the position the Pakistani Government’s in. I mean, there could be a huge public outcry if they release him. And wouldn’t that just – wouldn’t that do just as much to damage U.S.-Pakistan relationships as they already are?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, as we’ve said, we’re building a strategic partnership with Pakistan. We’re going to build this relationship for the long term. We respect our international obligations, and we expect other countries, including Pakistan, to do the same.

QUESTION: But hasn’t the U.S. gone out of its way to try to rebuild relationships with the Pakistani people? All the flood assistance, all the efforts that have gone into making American – to giving America a better image in Pakistan, wouldn’t this just destroy that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we have done that. We will continue to do that. We continue to make clear that we’re supporting Pakistan because it’s in our mutual interest to do so. We are committed to Pakistan for the long term, but we do expect that international obligations will be respected.

QUESTION: Can you talk about how – I mean, people have said that you’re cooperating with the investigators. I mean, how are you cooperating? Have you given, for instance, this other car or access to the people in that car?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is an ongoing investigation. There’s a court case underway. And like I say, on Thursday we will present a petition to the court to certify that he has diplomatic immunity and that he should be released.

QUESTION: And in terms of investigating at all – in terms of the investigation at all in – I mean, there are also another person killed who was just a bystander. I mean, are you helping —

MR. CROWLEY: That is still being investigated.

QUESTION: P.J., I understand that diplomats customarily would carry a card that indicates that they have diplomatic immunity, as they would do in this country. Had he actually been issued one of these cards or not?

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take that question. I believe the answer is yes, but I’ll double-check that.

QUESTION: He had the get out of jail free card from a Monopoly game.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, clearly from the outset, he identified himself right away as a diplomat. He made clear to the police officers who responded to the scene that he had diplomatic immunity. And unfortunately, he was taken into custody.

QUESTION: And Ambassador Munter met today with someone about this?

MR. CROWLEY: I did not get an update on what he did today.

QUESTION: That trilateral meeting – is it safe to assume that’s not going to take place before this is resolved?

MR. CROWLEY: I actually wouldn’t say that. Just to go back over the announcement that we made on Saturday, as we said, first and foremost, there’s a practical issue here. Since the Pakistani Government is reforming its government and a number of the ministers have not yet been appointed who would be relevant to the trilateral, we thought it was prudent to postpone it.

QUESTION: Is there any resolution yet on who was driving the vehicle that allegedly hit the civilian?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, how would I describe it?

QUESTION: Or whether it was even U.S. Embassy staff at all? You mentioned —

MR. CROWLEY: It was U.S. Embassy staff driving the car.

QUESTION: The State Department sent – started sending direct messages to Iranians in Farsi yesterday. Can you talk about that, and is this a new social media initiative from the State Department?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I would put it in a broader context. And actually, if you’re interested, we’ll bring Judith McHale down to explain it in greater detail. As you’ve seen, we are making more significant use of social media. It’s a key element of our plan to – and our strategy to engage people-to-people around the world. As the Secretary has made clear, we do engage governments, but we also want to engage people directly. And as we use social media, we’re also employing – using languages in key parts of the world. So last week we began Tweeting in Arabic, and this week we begin Tweeting in Farsi.

QUESTION: Are these the only two foreign languages?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, not necessarily. I think also embassies around the world have their own Twitter accounts. So I won’t – we do employ a number of languages. But obviously, this is a little more targeted.

QUESTION: So you’re trying to create —

QUESTION: There’s your own language.

MR. CROWLEY: My own language.

QUESTION: Are you trying to create a revolution then in Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that – what has guided us throughout the last three months and guides us in terms of how we focus on Iran is the core principles – the Secretary mentioned them again today – of restraint from violence, respect for universal rights, and political and social reform. There is a – it is hypocrisy that Iran says one thing in the context of Egypt but refuses to put its own words into action in its own country.

QUESTION: How about other countries – Bahrain, Yemen, or Algeria, or Jordan? Why you are not talking about those countries and you are condemning what is happening in Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, actually, in the other countries there is greater respect for the rights of the citizens. I mean, we are watching developments in other countries, including Yemen, including Algeria, including Bahrain. And our advice is the same. As the Secretary made clear in her Doha speech, there’s a significant need for political, social, and economic reform across the region, and we encourage governments to respect their citizen’s right to protest peacefully, respect their right to freedom of expression and assembly, and hope that there will be an ongoing engagement, a dialogue between people in governments, and they can work together on the necessary forms.

Now, those reforms will not be identical. They’ll be different country by country. But clearly, the people in the region, emboldened by what’s happened in Tunisia and Egypt and well connected through social media, are gathering together, standing up, and demanding more of their governments.

QUESTION: Can I have just two follow-ups on that? One, are you, in sending these Twitter messages to Iranians, are you also sending a message to the Government of Iran?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we always give Iran our best advice. (Laughter.) They seldom follow it.

QUESTION: In Egypt —

QUESTION: Are Egyptians also – have you Tweeted directly with the Egyptians as well?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, that’s – last week, we expanded our use of social media, including Twitter, to communicate in Arabic. And obviously – I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but they’re growing very significantly in both the Arabic Twitter and the Farsi Twitter accounts.

QUESTION: So far in Egypt, from what you’re seeing from the military government, are they doing enough? Are they going in the right direction, taking the steps that you believe are sufficient to move toward real democracy?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, there is a transition underway. It’s not going to be our judgment that counts. It’s going to be the judgment of the Egyptian people. They’ve issued a number of communiqués over the course of the last three or four days. They are taking steps. They have had broader conversations with members of civil society, and this kind of engagement needs to continue. But clearly, those who assembled last week in Tahrir Square will be watching closely to see what steps the supreme council is taking and to make sure that they’re moving towards free and fair and legitimate elections.

QUESTION: Egyptian army also stated that they need six months to figure out how to conduct elections. Do you think six months is –

MR. CROWLEY: Again, that will be a judgment made in Egypt. As the Secretary said on the Hill today, clearly, they’ve got a lot to do. We just think it’s important that there be broad-based participation in this transition process, and they should take whatever time is necessary to get to the finish line, which is free, fair elections – free and fair elections, and that produces a more democratic government.

QUESTION: P.J., on Egypt, there have been some talk and indeed there’s been some action going for freezing Mubarak and Mubarak family assets. I’m wondering if the U.S. thinks that’s a good idea. Have you been approached about trying to look into their assets – possible assets here? Is there anything that the U.S. could do to help reclaim some money if it had been –

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that there has been any specific request regarding any funds associated with President Mubarak. Obviously, if the Egyptian Government makes a particular request, we will take appropriate action.

QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about what’s happening in the Palestinian Authority? Because Abbas is reshuffling his cabinets. Erekat has offered to resign. They’ve disbanded the negotiating support unit. It sounds like this peace process is really dead if it wasn’t already dead.

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, these are Palestinian decisions. They have made some announcements over the last couple of days and they will be reforming a government, and we look forward to working with that new government.

QUESTION: But what – I mean, the U.S. has made Israeli-Palestinian peace such a priority. I mean, what can you possibly do to revive these talks right now? Or is it time to rethink it altogether?

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously, both the Palestinians and the Israelis are assessing the situation in light of what’s happened in recent days. It’s not going to change what we do. We’ll continue to engage both the Israelis and the Palestinians. But obviously, everyone is still absorbing what has happened, what the impact is on the process.

QUESTION: So they’re assessing it, but you’re not – what’s happened in the last few days?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, we’re going to continue to work on the substance and we’ve had meetings recently. We will plan to have meetings here very soon, and we’ll keep you posted on that.

QUESTION: I’ve got two Latin America questions. One, another –

QUESTION: Can we stay in the region for a second? In Turkey, today, since we are talking about the freedom of press, three journalists got arrested – linkage — what their news complication on the alleged coup from 2003. Do you have any take on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not familiar with that. We’ll check and see what we have.

QUESTION: I always thought Turkey was in Europe. At least (inaudible).

MR. CROWLEY: It is in the region. It’s connected to the region.

QUESTION: It’s half. Half and half.

QUESTION: Can I go to Latin America? Uribe – this diplomatic immunity request?

QUESTION: During the crisis in Egypt, it looked like Turkish administration was very much parallel with the U.S. Administration. Is the – the statements came from Ankara always confirm what came from Washington. Would you be able to give us any kind of detail on that? How was the – your negotiations with Ankara (inaudible)?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, let me make it a little more broadly. We have stayed well-connected with countries in the region. The Secretary made a very significant number of calls yesterday. But throughout these last three weeks, we’ve had conversations across the region. I believe both the President and the Secretary have had conversations with their counterparts during this. So it’s part of our effort to – as we’ve gone through this and certainly at this point – stay in close touch so that the international community, including the United States and others, is poised to support Egypt as it identifies its needs during this transition process.

QUESTION: Are we –

QUESTION: And last question on Turkey.

QUESTION: No, go ahead.

QUESTION: Last question on Turkey in other subjects with Armenia. Armenia’s President Sargsian just stated today that the normalization process with Turkey is dead, and the U.S. has invested so much work and time on this process. What’s next step you are taking*?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, there have been – it’s been something that we’ve placed a great deal of emphasis in. The Secretary herself has been fully engaged in this. We’ve understood for a number of months that there have been obstacles to progress. We will continue to engage Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and see how we can move forward.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Argentina, Uribe very briefly, which I think will be even briefer, the Uribe immunity request?

MR. CROWLEY: I think the Department of Justice has requested an extension.



QUESTION: Why? Because you asked for one?

MR. CROWLEY: Yeah, we asked.

QUESTION: No, I mean, the State Department – I mean, the judge gave the State Department until midnight on Friday.

MR. CROWLEY: No, I understand that.

QUESTION: So you asked Justice to ask for an extension?


QUESTION: Can I ask why?

MR. CROWLEY: We are still – the matter is still under active consideration.


MR. CROWLEY: And we – Justice requested 30 days additional to continue to evaluate the case.

QUESTION: Is it that difficult a decision to make?

MR. CROWLEY: Obviously. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Okay. So here is a guy who is requesting diplomatic immunity, and you’ve asked for 30 days extension. And you have a guy in Pakistan, and the court there – the people there want to decide, and that’s unacceptable?

MR. CROWLEY: I would not draw – they are not comparable cases.

QUESTION: Well, maybe the specifics –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, put it this way –

QUESTION: — of the cases aren’t comparable, but I mean –

MR. CROWLEY: Well, one is a current U.S. diplomat and one is a former diplomat. But we are still – it’s under active consideration.

QUESTION: And then the – this diplomatic spat with the Argentines, what’s – did they file a complaint with you today as they said they would?

MR. CROWLEY: We have had a number of discussions both at post and here in Washington, and I think our Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela was in touch over the weekend with both Foreign Minister Timerman and Security Minister Garre.

We are puzzled and disturbed by the actions of Argentine officials. The purpose of the visit was a training exchange between U.S. military experts and the Argentine federal police, focused on advanced hostage rescue and crisis management techniques. This is part of our ongoing cooperation with Argentina on citizen security. The visit had been fully coordinated with and approved by the Government of Argentina’s Ministry of Security and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although the cargo was manifested in accordance with existing practice and protocols between our two governments, Argentine authorities conducted an unusual and unannounced search of the aircraft’s cargo, seizing certain items. But these were items that were routine for an exercise of this kind. But the seized items include batteries, medicine, a rifle, and communications equipment.

QUESTION: Is it not the case that some of this stuff hadn’t been properly documented on the manifest?

MR. CROWLEY: I think I recall hearing that maybe one serial number was not properly documented. But this is the kind of thing that could easily have been resolved on the ground by customs officials. Like I say, we are disturbed that it was handled in this way.

QUESTION: Has the exercise been –

QUESTION: Do you know the serial number was about what? Do you have any idea?


QUESTION: The serial number that was not properly informed –

MR. CROWLEY: Like I say, these were small technical issues that could easily have been resolved by customs officials. For whatever reason, it was elevated to higher levels of the government, and we find this puzzling.

QUESTION: According to the information that has come out during the weekend, there was a suitcase among the eight items that were seized that had drugs and narcotics. So I would like to know if you could confirm that. And if so –

MR. CROWLEY: I have no information to corroborate that rumor.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Have you seen today any change in the spirit of Argentina? Do you see any collaboration spirit in how they are dealing with the thing today, or so far?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, unfortunately, what – because of the actions taken when the plane landed, the training activity was canceled and the aircraft with the training team has departed, so the opportunity to work together was lost. And we continue to seek explanations from the Government of Argentina.

QUESTION: You didn’t receive a complaint today so far?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I can’t say – I don’t – we have been engaged with the government through the weekend, expressing our great concern and puzzlement over how this was handled. And we continue to seek an explanation as to why Argentina took the steps it did.

QUESTION: If this stuff happens in other countries, is this something you’ve heard, that sometimes there are some items in this kind of cargo that have problems and are solved in a different manner? Or this is a very unusual case?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, we think the way in which this has been handled has been very unusual.

QUESTION: How does – can I follow up? How does it affect the situation, the fact that the Argentina Government or the Argentina authorities have disclosure, public disclosure, some kind of the material that was inside the plane, and it’s supposed to be a sensitive one, and so they explain what was it about?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, no, but for example, the aircraft carried various types of global communications equipment, and to ensure consistent, secure lines of communication for the purposes of this training. And this is a common practice. This kind of equipment is used in these kinds of exercises or would be used in joint operations. And we continue to call on the Argentine Government to return our equipment.

QUESTION: They say that you, on purpose, denied information.

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t believe that’s true. Like I say, we were fully prepared to resolve this routinely. And unfortunately, the matter has been escalated, and we are very concerned about it.

QUESTION: Question on North Korea: Is the U.S. reviewing the possibility of resuming food aid?

MR. CROWLEY: When last I checked, we had no plans to resume food aid. It is something that – we are watching the situation in North Korea very closely. Should a request come in for assistance, obviously, we have particular stipulations that it would be effectively managed and monitored to make sure that it got to – the food got to the intended recipients, it was not shuffled off to the elites.

QUESTION: You’re not aware of any new developments on that?

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware that we have current plans to provide food assistance.

QUESTION: Yeah. No, I’m not asking if you have plans to provide it. I’m talking – I’m asking if there are any developments towards – that might lead to a decision —

MR. CROWLEY: I’m not aware of any change from the last time this came up.

QUESTION: No, not any change. (Laughter.) Have there – are there any developments –

MR. CROWLEY: If you wish – tell you what. Ask me the question again tomorrow, and I’ll see if there’s anything new.


QUESTION: It is reported that U.S. is intending to offer to North Korea half million tons of food.

MR. CROWLEY: I’ll take the question as to whether we are evaluating any plans.

QUESTION: P.J., on Capitol Hill, the push to cut the budget for the State Department, USAID, what would be the result of some of these proposals?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I mean there’s – I mean, we will be engaging both houses of Congress on this issue. It’s very important. One of the dilemmas – it is a unique situation that you’ve got two budgets being considered simultaneously on the Hill. One of the dilemmas is: Should Congress make a substantial cut? You only have a half year to be able to make the programmatic adjustment, so one challenge for us is simply the calendar.

Ideally, you’d have your budget at the start of the fiscal year and then be able to plan and act accordingly. In this particular case, while we have reduced our expenditures from the FY 11 proposed budget back to ’10 levels, any further dramatic cuts would be very, very difficult to carry out and would cause very significant disruptions in the affected programs.

So we are studying what came out of the subcommittee, I believe, on Friday. We have great concerns about particular areas of the budget, from food security to living up to our commitments under Copenhagen and Cancun relative to climate change. I think as both the Secretary and also Deputy Secretary Nides said, we have significantly expanded our programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We’re set to assume responsibilities in Iraq. I think that’s – the key here is that there have been some proposals to take funding back down to the equivalent of 2008 levels. The challenge for us is that we live in 2011. We’re operating in 2011. It’s literally a different world. We have substantially expanded our presence – our civilian presence in Afghanistan. As we outlined in the 2012 budget submission today, we have plans to expand that presence, have our civilians working side by side with the military. And it – these areas are – will be at risk depending on what judgments Congress finally makes.

QUESTION: Sorry, can you clarify what the level is for 2011 in the CR?

MR. CROWLEY: I want to say that we’re operating perhaps something around 8 percent below the proposal for ’11, so we’re already operating – we’ve restrained spending for the first half of the year. But obviously, to be able to put additional cuts, endure additional cuts with only a half year to go in the fiscal year, would be very difficult.

QUESTION: You don’t have a round billion dollar figure for it?

MR. CROWLEY: I mean, it depends. I mean, obviously, the House will have its view; the Senate will have its view. Where it comes out, we’re going to aggressively make the case for funding for State and USAID for the simple reason that we are enacting, carrying out integrated plans, and we need to have an integrated budget that appropriately funds the military component, the civilian component, and the other elements of what we believe strongly is a national security budget.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 4:09 p.m.)

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