Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

“They’re sitting on a powder keg.”  Hillary begins this chapter in January 2011 as she prepped to speak at Forum for the Future, an annual meeting where the rich and powerful of the Arab world convene.  In Morocco in November 2009, early in her tenure at the State Department, but already having set signature issues and standards of engagement, she gently and subtly prodded these leaders toward inclusion of marginalized citizens, particularly women and young people.  I have always thought of that speech as foreshadowing the events that were to come.  I have also always thought that she was clear-eyed due to her outreach to civil society.

Hillary Clinton knew the people and their concerns better than their own leaders had bothered to know them.  When she delivered that Morocco speech, she should have been seen the way an outside consultant is in a corporation.   Had she been, her findings and advice might have been heeded.

… it is results, not rhetoric, that matter in the end. Economic empowerment, education, healthcare, access to energy and to credit, these are the basics that all communities need to thrive. And the United States seeks to pursue these common aspirations through concrete actions. We know that true progress comes from within a society and cannot be imposed from the outside, and we know that change does not happen overnight. So we will not focus our energies on one-time projects, but we will seek to work with all of you in government and in civil society to try to build local capacity and empower local organizations and individuals to create sustainable change…

Earlier this year, I visited an Access classroom in Ramallah. I walked into an enthusiastic discussion of Women’s History Month. These were students who did not come from educated families, but they were students with the same ambition and motivation that we heard described by our colleague, the Palestinian foreign minister, about his own son. We want to create more opportunities for students like these to fulfill their God-given potential.

And this points to a related priority – the empowerment of women. I have said, as some of you know, for many years, and President Obama said it in Cairo, no country can achieve true progress or fulfill its own potential when half of its people are left behind. When little girls are not given the same opportunities for education, we have no idea what we are losing out on because they’re not going to be able to contribute to the growth and the development of their countries…

Our work is based on empowering individuals rather than promoting ideologies; listening and embracing others’ ideas rather than simply imposing our own; and pursuing partnerships that are sustainable and broad-based…

As leaders of countries that have a direct stake and care deeply about all of the final status issues that must be resolved, I would just ask you to think about how we can each demonstrate the commitment that is necessary for us to go forward.

Having adhered to the status quo, these leaders and elder statemen were about to experience what Hillary had seen coming all along: upheaval.

On the cusp of wide-spread revolution with Tunisia already boiling over, Hillary did not want to make a boilerplate speech.  She wanted to be clear, strong, and firm.  If they did not change the way they governed,  change would find them.  She recalls that her predecessor, Condoleeza Rice,  had paved the way in 2005 when she stated that for more than half a century the U.S. had chosen to pursue “stability at the expense of democracy” and had “achieved neither”   Hillary intended to make the case for democracy crystal clear in Doha: resisting change is nothing more than a recipe for unrest and conflict – a petri dish for terrorism.

Secretary Clinton’s Travel to the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar

Background Briefing on the Secretary Clinton’s Upcoming Travel

As she prepared to travel, the Lebanese government became shaky.  She met with Prime Minister Hariri and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in New York prior to departure.

Secretary Clinton and Escort Meet Saudi King Abdullah and Lebanese PM Hariri

 

The next day she was wheels up for Abu Dhabi.  Protests had spread all over Tunisia fueled, abetted, and broadcast by social media, the 21st century bête noire of despots.   Her first public remarks on the trip were to graduate students at a high-tech institute.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at The Masdar Institute (U.A.E.)

The old strategies for growth and prosperity will no longer work. For too many people in too many places, the status quo today is unsustainable. And the UAE is leading our work and the path we must take into the future. It is putting into practice what it means to be sustainable and laying the groundwork for economic, environmental, and social progress.

From there she proceeded to Yemen which she describes as representative of the warnings she had prepared to voice in Abu Dhabi.

Secretary Clinton’s Surprise Visit to Yemen

She met with the president and he took her on a tour of the Old City of Sanaa where she found the women veiled and the men armed with daggers and Kalashnikovs.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh After Their Meeting

 

Her next port-of-call was Oman, a monarchy, where she met with Sultan Qaboos.  In the book she offers a review of progressive change since the 1970s so impressive that in 2010 the U.N. Development Programme ranked it the most improved country in human development over that period.

Slideshow of Secretary Clinton in Oman: Part I

 

Slideshow of Secretary Clinton in Oman: Part II

 

The Hariri government disintegrated on January 12 while the prime minister was in Washington D.C.

Finally, on the 13th, the speech so carefully prepared.  This is a speech I have posted here several times.  If you have never read it, it is well worth reading.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Forum for the Future

… in too many places, in too many ways, the region’s foundations are sinking into the sand. The new and dynamic Middle East that I have seen needs firmer ground if it is to take root and grow everywhere. And that goal brings us to this Forum … You can help build a future that your young people will believe in, stay for, and defend …Those who cling to the status quo may be able to hold back the full impact of their countries’ problems for a little while, but not forever … let us face honestly that future. Let us discuss openly what needs to be done. Let us use this time to move beyond rhetoric, to put away plans that are timid and gradual, and make a commitment to keep this region moving in the right direction.

The next day Tunisian strongman,  Zine el Abidine Ben Ali,  fled the country he had ruled with an iron fist for decades.  Having played out on satellite TV and social media, the coup became an incentive in the region for other similarly oppressed populations.

Statement on Tunisia

On January 25, massive protests erupted in Tahrir Square in Cairo.  Calling for “bread, freedom, and dignity,” the crowd grew daily and increasingly became focused on driving Hosni Mubarak from office.  Hillary’s first comments on the Egyptian situation came in the context of a presser with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh

 

 As we monitor this situation carefully, we call on all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence. We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. And we urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Egypt

Hillary reviews a 20-year history of acquaintance with Mubarak and his wife noting his steadfast support of the Camp David accords as well as the disappointment that human rights were never expanded.

Inside the White House there was disagreement over the appropriate posture to assume.  Young and idealistic staffers were in the corner with the protesters.  Joe Biden and Bob Gates had misgivings about appearing to push out a long-time partner and the signal that would send.  Hillary saw the former point of view, but shared the latter concern.  It was clear, however, that, important as his partnership for peace had been, Mubarak’s autocracy could not continue to be tolerated as events in Tahrir Square spiraled into violent confrontations.

(Hillary refers to this particular interview with David Gregory but does not mention that it was one of five Sunday morning interviews on this subject that morning nor that she then left for Haiti where she submitted to three more interviews that day.  Our amazing girl!)

Secretary Clinton’s Interview With David Gregory of NBC’s Meet The Press

Long-term stability rests on responding to the legitimate needs of the Egyptian people, and that is what we want to see happen … peaceful, orderly transition to a democratic regime….

A major issue was the lack of coherence within the popular uprising.  It was leaderless, driven by social media, and the only organized body in the country was the Muslim Brotherhood which, alone, appeared prepared to leap into the void if/when the Mubarak government fell, in which case, Hillary told President Obama,  “it all may work out fine … in 25 years.”

Communications with Egyptian officials were over the phone.  She told Foreign Minister Gheit that elections were going to be necessary. He told her that Mubarak remained defiant and refused to resign.

Hillary rcommended an envoy (Foreign Service verteran Farnk Wisner was chosen) and a package deal for Mubarak.

  1.  End the emergency law of 1981 (still in effect);
  2.  Pledge not to run (in a necessary election);
  3.  Agree not to set up his son Gamal as successor.

The military issued a statement that it would not move on citizens while Mubarak made some concessions, but they were small, not major, and too little too late.

President Obama wanted change now.

Secretary Clinton’s Call to Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Egyptian Vice President Omar Soliman today to convey that today’s violence was a shocking development after many days of consistently peaceful demonstrations … also underscored the important role that the Egyptian Armed Forces have played in exercising restraint in the face of peaceful demonstrations and expressed concern that all parties recommit themselves to using only peaceful means of assembly.

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Egypt

Hillary continued talking to FM Aboul Gheit by phone and your heart has to go out to him.  (I always liked him.)  He worried about an Islamist takeover and told Hillary that he wanted his little granddaughters “to grow up to be like their grandmother and like you … This is the fight of my life!”

Hillary proceeded to the Munich Conference.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Munich Security Conference Plenary Session

 

How do we offer support to Egypt for its transition to a pluralistic democracy? How do we make sure that there is not greater instability?

… part of what we have to do is to send a consistent message supporting the orderly transition that has begun, urging that it be not only transparent and sincere, but very concrete, so that the Egyptian people and those of us on the outside can measure the progress that is being made.

… it is our hope that this proceeds peacefully, that it proceeds with specific goals being achieved, so that people can see that their voices have been heard, and that there be an election with international observers and with sufficient preparation and performance that it will be viewed as free, fair, and credible when it is finally held.

Video: Secretary Clinton on Events in the Middle East: “The Status Quo is Simply Not Sustainable”

Gheit, meanwhile, submitted to an interview on PBS voicing his government’s (i.e. Mubarak’s) attitude toward commentary from the U.S.

Odds & Ends from Today’s Press Briefing

QUESTION: On Egypt, before we get into the – have you seen the interview that Foreign Minister Aboul Gheit has done with PBS?

MR. CROWLEY: I have not. I’m aware of it. I think our friend and colleague, Margaret Warner, was there today.

QUESTION: Yeah. In that interview he’s pretty angry about what he regards as interference in U.S. – in the U.S. trying to – the Administration trying to dictate to the Egyptian leadership how and when they should do this transition. Do you – what do you make of those comments?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I haven’t seen them, so I’m reluctant to comment specifically. I think from our standpoint, what’s important here is not how we view things. We’re not trying to dictate anything. As we’ve said and emphasized many times, there will be an Egyptian solution and Egyptian actions within this orderly transition. But it’s important that what Egypt does do is seen as credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. And it’s our view that what they’ve put forward so far does not meet that threshold.

Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11 and did not leave the country.  “I will die in Egypt,” he stated.

Where Hosni Mubarak Is

About a month later, Hillary visited Tahrir Square.

Secretary Clinton In Tahrir Square

To see where this revolution happened and all that it has meant to the world is extraordinary for me. It’s just a great reminder of the power of the human spirit and universal desire for human rights and democracy. It’s just thrilling to see where this happened.

 

She met with students and activists interested to hear their plans.  They had none, were disorganized, argumentative, very inexperienced politically, and showed no interest in organizing a platform.  She asked if they had considered forming a political coalition joining together on behalf of candidates and programs.  She was met with blank stares and left fearing they would just turn the country over to the Muslim Brotherhood which, of course, is exactly what they did.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks Prior to Meeting With Egyptian Prime Minister

Field Marshall Tantawi permitted elections and when Morsi defeated his candidate he allowed the result to stand.  As to the dueling conspiracy theories that the U.S. had helped/hindered the Muslim Brotherhood, she states that “logic never gets in the way of a good conspiracy theory.”

Hillary Clinton in Egypt: A Background Briefing

 

When she returned to Cairo in July 2012 she found the streets again filled with protesters – against her.  Egyptian police did nothing to help her Diplomatic Security hold the crowds back.  She could hear the anti-American chants 12 floors up in her hotel room.

Hillary Clinton with Egyptian FM Mohamed Kamel Amr

Despite the protests she insisted upon keeping to the itinerary and proceeding to the flag-raising event in Alexandria where, stateside, we heard that her car had been pelted with shoes and tomatoes.  It was a little closer and more unsettling than what we were told.  Her State Department spokesperson, Toria Nuland, was hit in the head with a tomato as they were leaving the event and being escorted very close to the angry crowd.  When Hillary’s door closed, a man pounded a shoe against her window.  No one was injured, thank heaven, but it was not for any assistance from Egyptian security.

Hillary Clinton at the Consulate Flag-Raising in Alexandria Egypt

On my visit to Egypt yesterday and today, I told people I wanted to listen more than talk. I wanted to hear firsthand the concerns, the issues, the aspirations that could be represented to me both by officials as well as citizens.

People want to know and are vigorously debating this among themselves, as you know so well, what this democratic transition occurring in Egypt will be like. Where will it lead?

I have come to Alexandria to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and for your democratic future. Yesterday in Cairo, I spoke about the immediate questions that you are facing.

The Egyptian people have every right in this new democracy to look to their leaders to protect the rights of all citizens, to govern in a fair and inclusive manner, and to respect the results of elections.

Earlier today, I met with members of Egypt’s Christian community, with a number of women leaders and advocates, and with young entrepreneurs who want to demonstrate that Egyptian young people are just as innovative and successful as young people anywhere. They have legitimate concerns….

Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority; it is also about protecting the rights of the minority.

The Morsi government failed the inclusion test, was removed by the military a year after that visit, and Egypt continues to lack credible democratic institutions in Hillary’s assessment.

_____________________________________________________________

Jordan’s King Abdullah managed to stay ahead of the wave with credible legislative elections and a crackdown on corruption.  One problem for Jordan after the fall of Mubarak was energy.  Natural gas pipelines providing about 80% of Jordan’s energy needs were often attacked and the flow interrupted.    Over a private lunch with the king at the State Department, Hillary suggested working out trade deals with Iraq and Israel.  In 2013  an agreement with Iraq was signed  and another with Israel in 2014.  Crisis averted.

____________________________________________________________

Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, all partners of ours,  are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiated by Hillary as secretary of state.   They formed a complex web.

Hillary found negotiating with them over human rights issues most ticklish but provides a lesson in diplomacy when she explains that some issues require a soapbox while others are better addressed privately.  You solve it.  We will say nothing.  It was an effective approach to some issues that arose.  She advocates different responses for different situations.

She (and her entourage ) received a welcome fit for a queen in Saudi Arabia in 2010, but women’s issues there were prickly.

Hillary Clinton Gets Royal Treatment

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks At Dar Al-Hekma College Town Hall (Jeddah)

 I, of course, believe that educating young women is not only morally right, but it is also the most important investment any society can make in order to further and advance the values and the interests of the people. The Egyptian poet, Hafez Ibrahim, said, “A mother is a school. Empower her and you empower a great nation.”

I am a graduate of a women’s college, Wellesley College, outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and I know how rewarding it is to be a member of this kind of community, where young women are the focus of attention, where our interests are identified, recognized, and nurtured, and where the friendships that you make and the lessons that you learn will enrich your lives long after you graduate.

QUESTION: …  does the prospect of Sarah Palin one day becoming president maybe terrify you? (Laughter.)  And if so, would you consider emigrating to Canada or possibly even Russia in the event of this happening?

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, the short answer is no – (laughter) – I will not be emigrating.

This event was under high security by female guards.  One heavily veiled guard approached Huma and asked for a photo.  Hillary asked whether this should be done in a private room.  Yes.  The guard removed her veil before the camera and gave a wide smile.  Click. The veil came down.  “Welcome to Saudi Arabia.”

By the next year, the Arab Spring had spread to the Gulf.  In March 2011 the issue was unrest in Bahrain and UAE and Saudi Arabia had sent security forces over the border without consulting  … anybody.  Yemen was also in turmoil.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With UAE FM Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

FOREIGN MINISTER ABDULLAH: Well, the Bahrain Government asked us yesterday to look at ways to help them to defuse the tension in Bahrain, and we have already sent roughly around 500 of our police force, who are there. The Saudis are there as well.

The Bahrain crisis and Saudi-UAE intervention was an issue.

Secretary Clinton’s Interviews In Egypt: Andrea Mitchell (NBC), Steve Inskeep (NPR), Kim Ghattas (BBC), Shahira Amin (Nile TV)

QUESTION: So what leverage do you still have on countries like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia? They’re your allies. You – they – you train their armies. You supply them with weapons. And yet when the Saudis decided to send troops into Bahrain – and I believe Washington made clear it wasn’t pleased about that – they said, “Don’t interfere. This is an internal GCC matter.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they are on notice as to what we think. And we will intend to make that very clear publicly and privately, and we will do everything we can to try to move this off the wrong track, which we believe is going to undermine long-term progress in Bahrain, to the right track, which is the political and economic track.

 

Hillary Clinton’s Press Availability in Paris

I also had the opportunity to engage today with my Arab counterparts, including Foreign Minister Zebari of Iraq representing the presidency of the Arab Summit, Secretary General Amr Moussa of the Arab League, Prime Minister Hamid bin Jasim of Qatar, Sheikh Abdallah bin Zayid of the UAE, Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri of Morocco, and Foreign Minister Judeh of Jordan.

We also had a constructive discussion on Bahrain. We have a decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future. Our goal is a credible political process that can address the legitimate aspirations of all the people of Bahrain, starting with the Crown Prince’s dialogue, which all parties should join.

With all of these partners, we have discussed the urgent humanitarian needs arising from the crisis in Libya. I thanked the Arab leaders for their generous contributions to aid refugees fleeing Qadhafi’s violence, and we agreed that this will be a critical concern in the days ahead. Egypt and Tunisia, in particular, will need all of our support. The United States has made significant pledges of assistance, and we look to all our allies and partners to join us in this work.

 

Video: Secretary Clinton at the National Democratic Institute’s 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner

Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others? Well, the answer starts with a very practical point: situations vary dramatically from country to country. It would be foolish to take a one-size-fits-all approach and barrel forward regardless of circumstances on the ground. Sometimes, as in Libya, we can bring dozens of countries together to protect civilians and help people liberate their country without a single American life lost. In other cases, to achieve that same goal, we would have to act alone, at a much greater cost, with far greater risks, and perhaps even with troops on the ground.

As a country with many complex interests, we’ll always have to walk and chew gum at the same time.

CLINTON

It was more complex, of course than walking and chewing gum. It was more like keeping a dozen plates spinning on sticks, but the different approaches to different situations strategy was effective.

Secretary Clinton Lauds Signing of GCC-Brokered Agreement in Yemen

We urge all parties within Yemen to refrain from violence and to move swiftly to implement the terms of the agreement in good faith and with transparency — including credible presidential elections within 90 days.

Video: Secretary Clinton with Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani

Today, Sheikh Hamad and I had a productive and wide-ranging discussion about the path forward. We spoke about the importance of helping Libya complete its transition from an armed revolution to a peaceful, unified, and orderly democracy under the rule of law. We discussed Yemen, where Qatar is working as part of the Gulf Cooperation Council to ensure that all parties honor their commitment to take part in a peaceful transition to democracy. We also spoke about the importance of responding to people’s economic needs. So many of these revolutions and uprisings that we have seen were rooted in the economic grievances that people had – not enough jobs, not jobs that paid an adequate wage for a family, too much corruption, and so much else. And we are working together to assist countries to provide more economic change for their people.

Video: Hillary Clinton at the U.N. Security Council

As Yemen unraveled into violence last year, this Security Council stood behind the efforts of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemeni stakeholders to find a peaceful solution. In the face of setbacks, we held firm. Now many challenges lie ahead. But last month’s successful presidential election and inauguration were promising steps on the path toward a new, democratic chapter in Yemen’s history.

Hillary ends this chapter in post-revolution Tunisia, now markedly changed, where a question at a town hall with students highlighted an issue that certainly backlit all of our dealings with partners during the turbulence of the Arab Spring: that of trust in the face of compromise.

Hillary Clinton’s Town Hall in Tunisia

QUESTION:  I think that there exists among many young people in Tunisia across the region a deep feeling of mistrust towards the West in general and the United States in particular. And many observers partly explain the surge of extremism in the region and in Tunisia by this skepticism. And even among the mainstream of moderate and pro-Western youth, there is a sense of despair and fatalism when it comes to the possibility of building a real and lasting partnership that is based on mutual interests. So is the United States aware of this issue? And how do you think we can address it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I can speak for both President Obama and myself. We are aware of it. We regret it. We feel that it doesn’t reflect the values or the policy of the United States. And there are several reasons as we understand them. Some people say, well, you supported the prior regimes in these countries. Well, those were the governments. If you’re a government, who do you deal with? You deal with the governments that are in place. And yes, we did. We dealt with the governments that were in place, just like we deal with the governments elsewhere.

I will be the first to say we, like any country in the world, have made mistakes. I will be the first to say that. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. But I think if you look at the entire historical record, the entire historical record shows we’ve been on the side of freedom, we’ve been on the side of human rights, we’ve been on the side of free markets and economic empowerment. And that is where the bulk of the evidence, in my view, rests.

You said you were a lawyer? (Laughter.) I used to be one. (Laughter.) So I think we can make a very strong case, and that’s what we’re doing, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here, to do it in person.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participates in a Town Hall meeting at the Baron d' Erlanger Palace in Carthage, Tunisia, February 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed (TUNISIA - Tags: POLITICS)

This chapter demonstrates a great deal about how Hillary Clinton thinks and approaches problems and conflicts.  Versatility, flexibility,  the ability to multitask are key.  No single situation is clone of another, therefore one-size-fits-all approaches are doomed to fail.  In any conflict of any kind, true settlement will never fully satisfy either side.  Compromise, the ability to effect it and to accept it are also key.

These are the lenses through which Hillary Clinton looks at issues.  This point of view informs her path.  She places her camp chair in the center and surveilles the theater of operations with an eye to finding solutions that mutually benefit the parties.   This is what makes accusations of extremism about her nonsense.  She never puts that chair in an extreme spot.  She knows you do not get the clearest view from there.

__________________________________________________________

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

__________________________________________________________

####

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Remarks With Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Presidential Palace
Cairo, Egypt
November 21, 2012

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) We welcome our guests. Yes. We’ll begin with a talk from Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, then Her Excellency Minister Clinton will address the press.

FOREIGN MINISTER AMR: (Via interpreter) Thank you. A press release, under the auspices of His Excellency President Mohamed Morsi and stemming from Egypt’s historic responsibility towards the Palestinian cause and Egypt’s keenness to stop the bloodshed and preserving the stability of the conditions and security in the region, Egypt has exerted efforts and conducted intensive discussions since the renewed outbreak of hostilities in the Gaza Strip with all parties: the Palestinian leadership, the various resistance factions, the Israeli side, and the international community, most notably the United States of America.

These efforts and communications managed to reach an agreement to a ceasefire and the return of calm and halt of the violence and the bloodshed that was witnessed recently.

The ceasefire is set to start at 9 p.m. Cairo time today, Wednesday, 21st of November 2012. Egypt affirms its commitment to the Palestinian cause and the need to achieve a comprehensive and just resolution. The Government of Egypt will continue its efforts to achieve this noble objective through ongoing attempts to end the divisions between the various Palestinian factions and to assist them in achieving Palestinian national unity on the basis of genuine Palestinian values and interests.

Egypt appreciates the role of the Arab League, the valuable contributions of Turkey and Qatar, and those of the Secretary General of the United Nations to support the efforts of the Government of Egypt to end the violence. At the same time, Egypt calls upon the international community to be engaged in monitoring the implementation of the Egyptian-brokered agreement and to ensure all parties adhere to these agreements. The agreement will be distributed to you after this conference.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Amr. I want to thank President Morsi for his personal leadership to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and end the violence. This is a critical moment for the region. Egypt’s new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace. The United States welcomes the agreement today for a ceasefire in Gaza. For it to hold, the rocket attacks must end, a broader calm return.

The people of this region deserve the chance to live free from fear and violence, and today’s agreement is a step in the right direction that we should build on. Now we have to focus on reaching a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security, dignity, and legitimate aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis alike. President Morsi and I discussed how the United States and Egypt can work together to support the next steps in that process. In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners across the region to consolidate this progress, improve conditions for the people of Gaza, and provide security for the people of Israel. Ultimately, every step must move us toward a comprehensive peace for all the people of the region.

As I discussed today with President Morsi, as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas, there is no substitute for a just and lasting peace. Now that there is a ceasefire, I am looking forward to working with the Foreign Minister and others to move this process. Thank you very much, Foreign Minister.

 

Read Full Post »

Today, after shuttling from Israel to Ramallah to Egypt conversing with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,  Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton brokered a Middle East cease fire that officially went into effect at 2 p.m. EST today.  In a courageous ascent to a  leadership position,  Egypt is sponsoring the cease-fire.  The encouraging news is being reported by all major news sources.

Here are some photos from her busy day of shuttle-diplomacy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

God bless you, Mme. Secretary.  Now come home for Thanksgiving.   We are all thankful for your dedicated service.

Read Full Post »

Having begun her long day by arriving a tad late for a bilateral between President Barack Obama and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Phnom Penh, Cambodia,  Mme. Secretary hopped on her “Big Blue Bird” and took off for the troubled Middle East.  Her first stop was Israel where we see her with PM Benjamin Netanyahu.  From there, she will travel to Ramallah to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, and then to Cairo and a meeting with President Morsi.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Adding in, here, an interesting and informative portion of today’s press briefing from Victoria Nuland.

TRANSCRIPT:

12:44 p.m. EST

MS. NULAND:All right. Happy Tuesday, everybody. I hope you all got the notice that the Secretary has split off from the presidential party now. She’s on her way to Jerusalem. She’ll have her first meeting there with Prime Minister Netanyahu shortly after landing. It’ll be quite late this evening in Jerusalem time. To the extent that we have information to read out from her various meetings, we will do that, but as you know, her formal press posture is that she’ll have sprays at each of those – of the meetings on this trip. So we’ll try to stay in touch with you over the next couple of days as this proceeds.

Why don’t we go to what’s on your minds.

QUESTION:Do you have any news about Hamas claims that the calming down will take place tonight at 9 o’clock their time?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have any specifics to report to you either with regard to the ground situation or with regard to the state of the diplomacy. As I said yesterday, the President, the Secretary, all of us are intensely involved here, but we’re not going to be sharing details in public until there’s something to report.

QUESTION: So is it fair to assume that Mrs. Clinton will oversee the signing of calming down between Israel and Hamas under the auspices of Egypt?

MS. NULAND: Again, as you know, intensive diplomacy is ongoing. The President and the Secretary have both been on the phone nonstop with regional leaders for a number of days. The purpose of her trip is to continue and intensify that engagement now, face to face, in service to the goal of trying to de-escalate this violence and restoring calm.

QUESTION: And lastly, should we interpret her trip as a good sign that there’s something in the offing, a calming down in the offing?

MS. NULAND: Again, Said, I think we are all hoping for a de-escalation, we are all hoping for a restoration of calm, we’re all hoping to open space for deeper, broader conversations. That is obviously the goal we all share.

QUESTION: Ma’am —

MS. NULAND: Jill.

QUESTION: What about – Toria, realistically, what can the Secretary do? I mean, even if you look at a ceasefire or a calming down, a lot of that seems linked to larger issues, medium range or long range. It doesn’t appear that they are simply going to stop fighting, or at least Hamas, unless there is some resolution of other issues – issues that affect Gaza, for example. So what, realistically, do you think, even broadly, can she accomplish?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve been saying for some time, we have to obviously start with a de-escalation of this conflict. We have to see an end to the rocket fire on Israel. We have to see a restoration of calm in Gaza. And the hope is that if we can get through those stages, that will create space for the addressing of broader issues, but I don’t want to prejudge. This is obviously ongoing and live diplomacy.

QUESTION: And just one other thing: Some have said that obviously she would not go if there were going to be a ground invasion at the time that she hits the runway. Is that a fair assumption, that she – that there was some sort of knowledge that the U.S. had that there would not be a ground invasion, ergo she wouldn’t go?

MS. NULAND: As I said yesterday, I’m not in a position to speak to the ground situation at all, other than to say that I think all of the parties involved have expressed a preference to solve this peacefully, to solve this diplomatically. That is what we are all trying to support and assist, and that is what we are all hoping for.

QUESTION: On this point —

QUESTION: The United States —

MS. NULAND: Said. Said.

QUESTION: On this point, just a quick follow-up on this point, Israeli sources say that they want a period of 24 hour of calm before they sign any truce. Do you support or do you advocate such a – like a period of calm before signing anything?

MS. NULAND: Again, I’m not in a position here to get into the substance of any of the discussions that are ongoing. There are a lot of discussions going on involving a lot of different parties. When there’s something to announce, I’m sure it will be announced, Said.

Sir, can you tell me who you are?

QUESTION: Yeah, Oren Dorell from USA Today. The Hamas leaders have said that they would like the blockade to be lifted as – if they’re to stop their rocket fire. What is the United States position on that?

MS. NULAND: Again, you’re trying to take me into the tactics of diplomacy, the conversations that are ongoing among lots of different parties who are trying to support a de-escalation here. Don’t think that’s productive to the process for us to be getting into the back-and-forth here.

Samir.

QUESTION: What’s the Quartet doing in this crisis? Doing anything?

MS. NULAND: As a formal matter, the Quartet has not met, but as you know, the Secretary’s been in touch with Lady Ashton. In fact, she was in touch with some of her European counterparts today. She had phone calls with German Foreign Minister Westerwelle, French Foreign Minister Fabius again, with Quartet Representative Blair. The Quartet itself hasn’t met, but the Quartet envoys and representatives have all been active. As you know, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was just there. I think he may still be in the region, in fact.

Jill.

QUESTION: Toria, one more. Why was it so important for the Secretary to go? I mean, it involves the United States in a very obvious and maybe dangerous way because she will be on the ground in a – not physically, I mean, but diplomatically, it could all backfire. Why is it so important for her to go?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think, as we said in the statement that we released announcing her travel, and as Ben Rhodes said when he briefed the White House Press Corps earlier today from Phnom Penh, we have been, the President has been, she has been, actively engaged on the phone. But sometimes, there’s no substitution for showing up, as the Secretary herself likes to say, for talking face to face, for doing what you can in person. And the President and she obviously thought that her going and actually sitting down with leaders – with Prime Minister Netanyahu, with President Abbas, and with President Morsi – could help de-escalate the situation. So it was obviously important to leave no stone unturned.

QUESTION: Toria, I realize you don’t want to get into any of the details that we might find useful or helpful, but despite that, it is correct that the Administration would like to see this – any kind of de-escalation, whether that would be a formal ceasefire or an informal one side stops so the other side then stops; is that correct? You would just like to see – even if it’s temporary, fleeting, you would like to see a de-escalation of any kind; is that correct?

MS. NULAND: We have spoken about this in terms of a de-escalation, because that’s obviously a first step to help prepare the way for anything else. We obviously need to see this violence come down.

QUESTION: Right, right, but you would be happy with even an informal cessation of hostilities?

MS. NULAND: Again, beyond what we’ve said, I’m not going to characterize X as acceptable, Y as not acceptable. That’s a subject for negotiations.

QUESTION: Well, but I —

MS. NULAND: Matt, I’m not going to.

Nadia, please.

QUESTION: Wait, I’m not done.

MS. NULAND: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I’m not done. I don’t understand why you can’t say that any halt in violence would be a good thing in the Administration’s eyes.

MS. NULAND: Any de-escalation is a step forward. We want to see this de-escalated.

QUESTION: Okay. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a durable – meaning long-lasting, a fixed period, six months, as long – at least at the beginning – as long as the fighting and the dying of people stops, that’s okay, at least in the short term; is that correct?

MS. NULAND: Matt, I am not going to limit, characterize the steps necessary here —

QUESTION: Okay. Well, surely you’re not —

MS. NULAND: — because the parties are talking, we’re going to be part of that, and we’re not going to negotiate it here from the podium. We’re not going to characterize it here from the podium.

QUESTION: Well, okay, fine, but surely you’re not saying that you’re okay with the violence continuing, are you?

MS. NULAND: Matt, what have I said seven times now?

QUESTION: All right. Then – frankly, you’ve said a lot, but it hasn’t really amounted to an answer. So in his briefing —

MS. NULAND: We’re going to move on now. We’re going to move on to Nadia, please.

QUESTION: In his briefing —

MS. NULAND: Go ahead, Nadia. Go ahead, Nadia, please.

QUESTION: Toria —

QUESTION: In his briefing – in – I’m sorry, Toria. I’m not done, and this is an important question. In his briefing to the White House Press Corps, Ben Rhodes was asked why he would not use the word “ceasefire,” and he said that’s essentially – I’m paraphrasing – he said no, and then he proceeded not to use it again and instead talked about de-escalation.

Does the Administration have some aversion to calling this a ceasefire or – and if it doesn’t, why not just use it? And if it does, what’s the aversion?

MS. NULAND: You know very well from having watched these kinds of situations unfold that there are many ways that this can de-escalate. I’m not going to prejudge here, and I think Ben didn’t want to prejudge how it happens. So your six efforts to get us to do that are not going to be successful.

Nadia, go ahead.

QUESTION: Victoria –

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: — you know that the U.S. has been criticized for not taking a leading role earlier to end the conflict. Just to follow up on Jill’s questions, if you felt that the Secretary needed to be there physically to meet with the leaders, why didn’t she go there in the beginning of the conflict? Was it because she was in Asia or because of the calculated decision on your part that you needed to wait a few more days?

MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, both the President and the Secretary have been extremely active. As you can see, the President, I think, in the past 24 hours has spoken with Egyptian President Morsi, for example, some three times. The Secretary’s made more than a dozen phone calls. So we have been very active in supporting all of the various efforts to try to de-escalate this. The judgment was that it had gotten to a stage where actually sitting face to face was – would be of value, so that was the decision that the Secretary and the President made.

QUESTION: I just wondered, if it’s possible, to walk us through when that decision was taken. Is it because the Egyptians have said that now we are in the process of getting a ceasefire and it’s important for the Secretary to be there? Is this the precise timing for her to be in the region?

MS. NULAND: Again, I think the President and Secretary were obviously together; they had a chance to – they have been comparing notes over the last couple of days about how this situation has been evolving. And the conclusion was that her going personally and sitting with leaders who she knows well had the potential to be helpful to the various parties in trying to seek a de-escalation. So beyond that, I don’t want to parse it too finely, Nadia.

Anything else on this subject? Please, can you —

QUESTION: I have some more on the logistical —

QUESTION: Kimberly Halkett, Al Jazeera English.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I’m just wondering how helpful it will be, though, given the fact that the Secretary is only meeting with the Palestinian Authority leader, and, who is at odds with Hamas – given the fact that the U.S. is only speaking to one of the two sides in this conflict, how productive can these discussions really be?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we’ve been saying for some time, there are different leaders in the region, around the world, who have influence with different actors in this situation. So we have Egyptians and Turks and Qataris and others making very strong representations to Hamas. The Secretary obviously thought that it was important to see President Abbas in this – on this trip because he is the interlocutor and the representative legitimately elected of the Palestinian people with whom we interface. So that is the role that we will play. We will work with the Israelis, we will work with President Abbas, and we will work with President Morsi, and others have more direct influence than we do with Hamas.

QUESTION: But do you think by shutting out Khaled Meshaal that you are going to be able to help bring about something beyond a ceasefire, a lasting solution, as I think you called it?

MS. NULAND: Again, the first step is a de-escalation, which the hope is then that can create space for something deeper. But again, we have to take this one step at a time.

Said, yes.

QUESTION: Sorry, Toria, just a quick follow-up on the humanitarian situation.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: There has been reports by the Palestinian Red Crescent, by UNRWA, by ANERA, by almost everybody speaking of a difficult humanitarian situation – shortages in water, food, medicines and so on. Suppose there is a calming-down period; would the United States send in direct aid to Gaza?

MS. NULAND: Again, you’re asking me to get ahead of where we are. But as you know, we have always supported the UN agencies and others providing humanitarian assistance through appropriate and agreed channels. Those channels do exist, and obviously the goal of all of this diplomacy is to relieve the suffering of civilians, whether they are Israelis or whether they are Palestinians.

QUESTION: So is it plausible just to break the blockade for a couple of days, or three days, or four days?

MS. NULAND: Again, there are established channels for getting humanitarian aid in, and those are the channels that should be used.

QUESTION: According to the U.S. officials, there are three —

MS. NULAND: Can you tell me who you are, please?

QUESTION: Wi Xu Diao from CCTV. So according to two U.S. officials, there are – three U.S. Navy warships are sending to – near Israel to – just in case evacuation needed. So these are supposed to be – come back after Thanksgiving. Can you confirm that and when the – how long they will be delayed, for their homecoming?

MS. NULAND: The Pentagon has spoken to that issue today or yesterday in terms of contingency planning, so I’ll send you to them for any more detail.

Goyal, still on this subject?

QUESTION: Toria – no.

QUESTION: No. I have two more, one of which – I suspect one of which is easy, and one of which is logistical and it may have been asked already.

So just the first one, which I think is the easy one: Would you – you keep the phrase de-escalate – don’t worry, I’m not going to try and get you to change that, but when you – when the Secretary is in her talks, is it fair to say that she is less about an – less talking about an imminent de-escalation than in how to hold or make durable a longer-term solution? I mean, obviously she’s not involved in mediating a truce, or whatever you want to call it, between Hamas and Israel, because you guys don’t talk to Hamas. Is it her goal to try and make whatever might come out of negotiations – those negotiations that are going on, to make that hold and be longer than just some quick, temporary fix? Is that fair?

MS. NULAND: I think everybody involved in trying to support a de-escalation here wants to see not just a tactical end to the violence, but wants to see the conditions improve for being able to address some of the underlying issues. But the way that unfolds and how much is going to be possible in the next 36 hours I think very much depends on the meetings that she has and what she finds.

QUESTION: You don’t – are you saying that you don’t want to rule out the fact that she might get involved – and obviously not with Hamas directly, but that she might get involved in trying to mediate an initial de-escalation? You don’t want to rule that out, or is that something that is —

MS. NULAND: I think it completely depends on where the situation is in the – in four hours from now or six hours from now when she lands.

QUESTION: All right. And then the second one, which is logistical and may have been asked before, is that when she is in Egypt, when she goes to Cairo tomorrow, is she going to see anyone other than Morsi? Are there other people coming in to town, like the Turks? I mean, I know Ban Ki-moon is out there. Is she going to be seeing anyone other than the Egyptians in her short time in Cairo?

MS. NULAND: The current schedule that we have is the schedule that we announced, that she will, this evening, very late Jerusalem time, see Prime Minister Netanyahu; that she will early in the morning tomorrow see President Abbas in Ramallah; and then she’ll go to Cairo to see President Morsi. That’s all I have in terms of schedule. I don’t have anything else at the moment in terms of other meetings or other third-country representatives on this trip. But you know how these go. That could change, so stand by. If we have something to announce, we will.

Please.

QUESTION: How do you view the legal status of Gaza? Is it occupied? The Israelis are not there? Is it autonomous?

MS. NULAND: I don’t think our position on Gaza has changed. There’s nothing new there.

Please.

QUESTION: When you talk about improving conditions for addressing underlying issues, can you be any more clear about what issues you’re talking about?

MS. NULAND: Well, it’s the full range of issues, but obviously this goes to the underlying security of Israel and that the end of attacks from Gaza into Israel should be halted not simply temporarily, but in a sustained way. It goes to the condition of civilians in Gaza. And it goes to the ability of Israelis and Palestinians to get back to the table about a lasting settlement, which is obviously the long-term solution for this.

QUESTION: Victoria.

MS. NULAND: Please on this, Samir – Said.

QUESTION: There were reports that there are a couple dozen servicemen, American servicemen, in – actually in southern Israel that were hurriedly removed for safety. Do you know anything about that? Do you know anything about (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: I don’t. It sounds like something to ask the Pentagon. I don’t have anything on that.

Anything else on this subject?
QUESTION: Got one more logistical one that I forgot. Is she definitely coming directly back to Washington after Cairo or are you leaving open the possibility that she could make another stop, either in the region or in Europe, or, I don’t know, in Africa?
MS. NULAND: At the current moment, we have nothing after Cairo. If that changes, we’ll let you know.

Read Full Post »

 

 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to the Middle East

 

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

November 20, 2012

 


Secretary Clinton will depart today on travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo, leaving from the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She will meet with regional leaders, starting with our Israeli partners, to consult on the situation in Gaza.

Her visits will build on American engagement with regional leaders over the past days – including intensive engagement by President Obama with Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Morsi – to support de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm. As President Obama noted in his conversations with President Morsi, we commend Egypt’s efforts to de-escalate the situation and are hopeful that these efforts will be successful.

She will emphasize the United States’ interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel’s security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for two states living in peace and security. She will continue to express U.S. concern for the loss of civilian life on both sides.

Read Full Post »

Today was probably the most difficult day of Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State.  She always takes it hard when diplomatic and developmental personnel are hurt or killed in service, but the events in Benghazi yesterday were particularly savage, as she described them in her remarks this morning, and it was clear that she took the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens very hard.  Following her statement this morning at the State Department, she went to the White House where President Obama delivered this message.

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya

Rose Garden

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We’re working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I’ve also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

END 

After these remarks, the President accompanied the Secretary to the State Department where he signed a guest book and offered condolences  to grieving State Department staff.  Here are some photos from the State Department and the White House.

At the State Department making remarks this morning.

In the Rose Garden.

Signing the guest book at the State Department.

Offering condolences to State Department staff.

Everyone here knows that I am no fan of Obama’s, but today he did the right thing for his Secretary of  State,  her staff, and the country in much the same way as George W. Bush did when he went to Ground Zero after 9/11.

I have seen and fought about as much Islamophobia as I can stomach today.  Dear friends and colleagues of mine are Muslim.  One proudly just took her oath of citizenship recently and is so proud to be American.  Those who claim that their freedom of speech is being trampled should remember that Muslim American troops are defending that freedom and that Muslim Americans serve patriotically in embassies all over the world – some, clearly, in very dangerous places.  We are a secular nation where all religions are to be respected. These photos from Benghazi are worth a thousand words.

15 Photos Of Libyans Apologizing To Americans

A peaceful demonstration from Benghazi, the Libyan city where a U.S. ambassador was killed in a consulate attack Tuesday. “Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans.”

Finally, using the events in Benghazi and Cairo politically is shameful.  Political opponents need not disagree about everything.  I just heard former Ambassador Nicholas Burns say that this is a time for a political time-out.  This is a time for us to come together and be respectful of those we have lost.   It is not a time to criticize much less to attack and lie.  We all need to take a breath, reflect and offer our condolences to those who have lost loved ones as Secretary Clinton and President Obama did today.

To those who have suffered losses, I am so sorry.  My sympathy is with you.

To those who continue, on Secretary Clinton’s hardest day at State, to spread lies and attack our government,  have you no decency?

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks on Building Sustainable Partnerships in Africa

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
University of Cheikh Anta Diop
Dakar, Senegal
August 1, 2012

Good morning. It is such an honor and a pleasure for me to be here, and let me begin by thanking the Foreign Minister. We are very proud that you were educated in part in our country, and we are very pleased to see you in this position. And I thank you for quoting one of my favorite sayings and admonitions about what we are to do with our time on this earth. And I am grateful to you, Foreign Minister Cisse.

Let me also thank President Ndiaye for that warm welcome to this distinguished university. I have been looking forward to being here, a place that has trained so many of the leading citizens of Senegal and of West Africa, and to have this opportunity, joined by a broad cross-section of Senegalese society – government officials, religious leaders, members of the business community and civil society, young people and students, everyone representing the rich mosaic of democracy in Senegal.

I have many fond memories of my first trip to Senegal with my daughter, Chelsea, in 1997. And already last night and today, I have met people who I met for the first time during that visit. I met so many impressive and courageous men and women working to improve rural health, to protect the health of your girls, to be on the forefront of developing the economy. Even then, 15 years ago, I felt the promise and the potential that you were realizing, and I was so excited.

I remember going to Goree Island, I remember a memory of the darkest chapter in our long shared history, and feeling such despair at what human beings are capable of doing to one another, but then meeting with people who were committed to a future of hope and promise. When I went back to the White House, I told my husband he had to go to Senegal. And occasionally, husbands listen. (Applause.) So the very next year, I came back with him. Over 12 days, he took the longest trip to Africa by any American president yet. And he met with peacemakers and entrepreneurs, with students and statesmen and women. And here in Senegal, Bill talked about an African renaissance. Standing on Goree Island, he said, “As certainly as America lies over the horizon behind me, so I pledge to the people of Africa that we will reach over this ocean to build a new partnership based on friendship and respect.” And he followed through. (Applause.)

He followed through on that pledge with initiatives like the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which began opening U.S. markets to African goods, beginning to shift the focus of our relationship from aid to trade. His successor, President George W. Bush, first visited Senegal and other African nations in 2003. And he too was committed to deepening the partnership between our nations. Under President Bush’s leadership, the United States launched two landmark programs – PEPFAR to fight HIV/AIDS, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation to link our assistance with improvements in governance and accountability.

And then President Obama, a son of both Africa and America – (applause) – advanced and personalized America’s commitment in his historic 2009 speech to the parliament in Ghana. He laid out a vision for our relationship designed to build strong institutions embedded in democracy. As he memorably said, “Africa doesn’t need strong men. It needs strong institutions.” (Applause.) I certainly think Senegal has proven that to be true. (Applause.)

President Obama also acknowledged that historically, Western powers had too often seen Africa as a source of resources to be exploited or as a charity cause in need of patronage. And he issued this challenge to Africans and Americans alike: Africa needs partnership, not patronage. And we have tried to build on that challenge. And throughout my trip across Africa this week, I will be talking about what it means, about a model of sustainable partnership that adds value rather than extracts it. That’s America’s commitment to Africa.

The Obama Administration’s comprehensive strategy on Sub-Saharan Africa is based on four pillars: first, to promote opportunity and development; second, to spur economic growth, trade, and investment; third, to advance peace and security; and fourth, to strengthen democratic institutions. Our partnership with Senegal embodies all four of those pillars.

First, when it comes to development, we are building on the progress of programs like AGOA, PEPFAR, and MCC, and incorporating the lessons learned over the past decades. We are pursuing what is called country ownership of development. That means a nation’s own efforts to lift your own people out of poverty, improve health and education, grow your economy, are led, planned, and ultimately implemented by your own government, your own communities, your own civil society, your own private sector.

Now, I know that in some quarters, the phrase “country ownership” raises questions. Some worry that it means donors are supposed to keep money flowing indefinitely while a handful of unaccountable ministers pick and choose how to spend it, or conversely, that it is code for abandoning our partners. Still others fear that country-owned really means government-run, freezing out civil society and the private sector.

Well, I think it is fair to ask these questions, because like many donors, the United States has not always done the best job promoting and explaining what we mean. But as I travel across Africa, I will be highlighting progress we’ve made in translating that phrase into reality. For example, when I am in South Africa, we will be announcing that South Africa will be taking over the management of their HIV/AIDS programs that treat nearly 6 million people a year. The United States has been a partner and a donor, and we continue to provide assistance, but the South African Government and people have said, “This is our issue that we must address with our people.”

Here in Senegal, we are working in the MCC agreement and with USAID to make sure we are responsive to the needs that we hear about from our experts and yours. So when I visited a health center this morning, I saw what we were doing to work with you about malaria and tuberculosis, but I also heard that what Senegal needs is more help with maternal mortality and health for mothers, more help with child survival and increasingly more help as every country in the world with chronic diseases, like diabetes and hypertension. So rather than us sitting in the United States, in Washington, in our office buildings deciding what Senegal needs or wants, we are determined to work with you to listen, to learn, and then to produce results together. (Applause.)

Now, we also believe that good governance and political will matter. Sustainable development hinges on political leaders making good choices to fight corruption and to create jobs, to prioritize investments in health and education, to put in place fair tax systems, transparent budgeting, and other responsible measures. And I heard from the President in our very constructive, comprehensive meeting earlier today about the steps that he is taking in every one of these categories. Because this goes beyond the portfolios of health or development ministers. It takes leadership from the top. And so I raised these issues with prime ministers and presidents, also with civil society, also with the private sector.

But ultimately, in a democracy such as Senegal’s, the decisions should lie with the people, with people exercising their rights of citizenship to get the kind of services that you know you need for yourselves and your families. We welcome President Sall’s focus on transparency and accountability in government and on independence for the judiciary. We believe his plans to boost agricultural production and reform land ownership rules will be very important. We also wish to help him fulfill his pledge to resolve the long-running conflict in the south. (Applause.) And we are committed to help in every way with the prosecution of former President Habre of Chad. All of these commitments are important ones that speak to the kind of government and country that Senegal is and intends to be. And the United States stands ready to help, as a partner and a friend.

The foundation for our investments in Senegal is a $540 million Millennium Challenge Compact, one of the largest in the world. Here is what it is intended to do based on the very tough competition that Senegal had to go through in order to receive this grant. It is helping Senegal improve roads, build bridges, irrigate some 90,000 acres of farm fields, make it easier for farmers to get their products to market. In addition to that, this year, the United States Agency for International Development is investing $19 million to build schools and train teachers, $17 million to strengthen the food supply, $55 million to improve public health. I saw the public health money in action at that health center this morning, because what I saw was a well-organized plan that put in one place the services that people will need. Now, that may sound obvious to you, but Senegal is leading in this area. Too many countries still have health services scattered all over. So if you’re a pregnant woman who goes for a checkup, but who also wants to get a bed net for malaria protection, you have to go two different places. But at this health center based on the model that Senegal is building, it’s more efficient, and it produces results faster. Working together, Senegal has driven child mortality down by 40 percent over the past five years. But there is still more work to be done.

The second pillar of our strategy is spurring economic growth, trade, and investment. Trade between the United States and Senegal rose 20 percent last year. We are really beginning to make progress, but as I told the President, we know there’s more we must do to get that number even higher. The IMF recently reported that Senegal’s democratic resilience has positioned you to achieve long-term growth, and the United States wants to be part of your success. Indeed, we believe – (applause) – that if you want to make a good investment in the midst of what is still a very difficult global economy, go to Africa. In Africa, you have seven of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world.

But too many businesspeople around the world don’t know that. So we’re going to do more to try to make sure businesses and investors in the United States know about the opportunities in Senegal and elsewhere across Africa. (Applause.) But in order to be meaningful, it’s not just the numbers and the statistics that count. Growth needs to be translated into widely shared prosperity. It will not be a success if a small group of people get richer. What you want to see is sustainable inclusive growth over the long term. And I will be making that point everywhere I stop.

We’re encouraging greater economic integration between regional neighbors. If one looks at Sub-Saharan Africa and you look at the barriers to growth, many of those are the barriers that exist between and among neighbors. If countries and regions of Africa traded as much between themselves as countries in Latin America or Asia do, growth would even be faster. So how can we work with you, with your businesses, with your governments to try to create more integration to fuel faster economic growth? We’re also working with resource-rich nations to help make sure that their mineral and energy wealth actually improves the lives of their citizens. The days of having outsiders come and extract the wealth of Africa for themselves leaving nothing or very little behind should be over in the 21st century. (Applause.)

The third pillar is a commitment to shared security and regional problem-solving. And here, too, the United States and Senegal are working together closely, working to combat terrorism, tackling regional threats such as drug trafficking, supporting peace and security throughout the region and the world. And I especially want to applaud and thank Senegal for your contributions to peacekeeping missions from Cote d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all the way to Haiti. I hear many compliments about the professionalization, the expertise of the Senegalese military. (Applause.) And we, for one, thank you for that.

We have also welcomed the leadership of the African Union in promoting peace, security, and democracy. The African Union sent very strong messages about Africa’s emerging norms by suspending Madagascar, Guinea-Bissau, and Mali after their coups and calling for the restoration of elected civilian governments. And I look forward to discussing the future of the African Union with its newly elected woman chair in South Africa next week. (Laughter.)

With Senegal’s participation, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has also become a leader in responding to political and security crises. ECOWAS stood up for democracy by opposing the illegitimate Gbagbo regime when it held on to power after losing the election in Cote d’Ivoire. It’s coordinating regional responses to transnational threats such as narcotics, piracy, and small arms trafficking. And we are working together to train police, prosecutors, and security forces to help strengthen the rule of law and uphold human rights.

It’s especially appropriate to emphasize the fourth pillar of our approach here in Senegal because it is the heart of the American model of partnership, and that is our enduring support for democracy and human rights, our helping other nations and people fulfill their own aspirations. By every measure, democracies make better neighbors and better partners. They are more capable of working together to solve shared challenges. They innovate more. They give people a way to devote their energies to productive political, economic and civic engagement, which reduces the allure of extremism. And open societies offer more opportunities for economic, educational, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges, which are the foundation for peace.

Now, I know there is sometimes an argument that democracy is a privilege belonging to wealthy countries, and that developing economies must put economic growth first and worry about democracy later. But that’s not the lesson of history. Over the long run, you can’t have effective economic liberalization without political liberalization. Without the rule of law, people with a good business idea or money to invest cannot trust that contracts will be honored and corruption punished, or that regulations will be transparent and disputes resolved fairly, and so many will end up looking for opportunities elsewhere, some even migrating out of their countries of origin. Last year, the World Bank reported evidence that respect for economic freedom and civil and political liberties helps explain why some countries achieve better long-term economic outcomes than others. So instead of viewing democratic reform as an afterthought, we see it as key, a key building block of sustainable development.

And if anyone doubts whether democracy can flourish in African soil, let them come to Senegal. (Applause.) Americans admire Senegal as one of the only countries in West Africa never to have had a military coup. (Applause.) And we stood firmly behind the people of Senegal as you defended your democracy and your constitution in the recent presidential elections. (Applause.) It was a compelling example for Africa and the world. We saw a handful of musicians and young activists sparking a mass movement with a simple slogan: “We’re fed up.” (Applause.) We saw diverse civil society organizations rallying together, registering and educating voters. We saw students marching in the streets proclaiming, “My voting card is my weapon.” (Applause.)

We saw soldiers and police upholding democratic principles by steering clear of politics. We saw long lines of citizens waiting to vote. We saw civil society activists monitor more than 11,000 polling stations, texting vote counts and reports of irregularities to an independent center in Dakar. We saw perhaps the most sophisticated monitoring program ever deployed in Africa or anywhere else. (Applause.) And in the end, we saw a peaceful transfer of power. We saw democracy reaffirmed. We saw Senegal’s traditions preserved. And we joined with the rest of the world in praise and respect for the Senegalese people. (Applause.)

And on a personal note, I have to add – I was particularly impressed that Senegalese voters elected women to 65 of the 150 seats in the new National Assembly. (Applause.) You probably know this, but that gives Senegal one of the highest percentage of women in directly-elected legislative bodies in the world. (Applause.) And of course, it makes perfect sense because democracies must be open to and include all of their people, men and women, not just to vote, but to have the chance to participate and to lead. And Senegalese women took a leadership role during the voting, including the Women’s Platform for Peaceful Elections, a network of more than 60 organizations. And the Situation Room, which was such an important clearinghouse – (applause) – it was such an important clearinghouse for information and activism that President Sall made it a point to visit the first day after his victory was announced.

Now sustaining this participation will be critical in the days ahead, because you know things cannot happen overnight. It takes time. But you have a leadership that you have elected that has made public commitments to the changes that you want them to make. And I know from our own work with your new leadership they are absolutely committed to see those changes happen. (Applause.) So we will stand with them and with you as you begin the hard work of translating into reality and results the rhetoric of what happens in a political campaign.

Now the resilience of democracy is being repeated across the continent. We’ve seen the restoration of constitutional order in Niger and Guinea following coups. We’ve seen credible elections in Benin, Cape Verde, Liberia, Nigeria, Zambia, and Togo over the last year alone. We’ve seen freer media, fairer justice systems, more effective legislatures, more vibrant civil societies.

Take Cote d’Ivoire, for example, which last year had to fight off a serious threat to democracy and this year is reaping the economic rewards. The World Bank, the IMF, and the Paris Club have agreed to forgive nearly $4 million in debt – $4 billion in debt. And whereas their GDP declined by more than 6 percent in 2011 during their crisis, it’s expected to soar by more than 8 percent this year. And Cote d’Ivoire, because they are now at peace and democratic order has been restored, has been able to unlock global financing for long-delayed infrastructure projects, including new bridges, hydroelectric dams, and much more.

So democracy and peace pay off. This week, all of us join the people of Ghana in mourning the passing of President Mills, a good man and a good leader for his country. (Applause.) But we are also celebrating the smooth, peaceful, constitutional transfer of power to President Mahama. The Ghanaian people will head to the polls later this year and will have an opportunity to add another accomplishment to one of Africa’s great democracy stories.

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of attending the second inauguration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, a country that only recently emerged from years of war and economic ruin. There were troubling signs that this last election might reignite the flames of conflict, but Liberia’s leaders and its young, democratic institutions proved strong and kept the country on track.

Now I know how hard it can be to keep faith in a democratic system when your preferred candidate or party loses an election. I’ve won elections and I’ve lost elections. I know that boycotting or obstructing is no way to advance an agenda or to solve a problem. It’s a recipe for gridlock and conflict.

I’m often asked, all over the world, how I could agree to serve in President Obama’s Cabinet after we had campaigned so hard against each other. I was trying to beat him, he was trying to beat me, and he succeeded. And I always give the same answer: Because we both love our country. (Applause.) Because that’s what democracy is all about, and that’s what patriotism is all about. And you know that here in Senegal. And we hope to see that spirit and experience take hold in many more countries in the region. Because as proud as we are to see the successful elections and the peaceful transitions, there are still too many places in this region and across the continent where democracy is threatened, where human rights are abused, where the rule of law is undermined. There are still too many Africans living under autocratic rulers who care more about preserving their grip on power than promoting the welfare of their citizens. Violent extremism, transnational crime, and rampant corruption all threaten democracy.

And we have seen some backsliding because we have seen that in less than a decade, the number of electoral democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa have fallen from 24 in 2005 to just 19 today. Now, that’s far better than it was 20 years ago, but not nearly good enough.

And here in Senegal, there are some worrisome developments in your neighborhood. In Guinea-Bissau, no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term, and this past April a military coup once again disrupted constitutional rule. And we thank Senegal for contributing troops to the ECOWAS stabilization force there. The already weak economy is collapsing. Cashew production is forecast to drop by half. But what is growing? Drug trafficking. Rampant corruption, greed, is taking over. And we see a very troubling trend, that Guinea-Bissau, unless the people of Guinea-Bissau with the help of their neighbors and the international community say no, could become a totally dependent state on drug traffickers from Latin America. What a terrible development. The President and I talked at length about what more we could do to help, and we stand ready to do so, because the people of Guinea-Bissau certainly deserve better.

Mali was, by most indicators, on the right path until a cadre of soldiers seized power a little more than a month before national elections were scheduled to be held. By some estimates, this could set back Mali’s economic progress by nearly a decade. It certainly created a vacuum in the North in which rebellion and extremism have spread, threatening not only people’s lives and the treasures of the past, but the stability of the region. And recent reports from Human Rights Watch raises concern about alleged torture and extra-judicial killings at the hands of the mutineers.

Now the interim President has returned and we encourage all parties to set aside their differences, work to restore democracy, schedule elections by April of next year, preserve the territorial integrity of the country, reject the appeals of violent extremism.

The African Union has suspended Mali, ECOWAS has imposed sanctions, the United States is holding back funding, and we’ve continued critical humanitarian assistance for programs in health and food, and we’re contributing $10 million to assist the more than 260,000 Malian refugees who have been displaced. And we’re well aware of the greater food crisis across the Sahel, and we’re getting more than $355 million to try to address the food and refugee crisis across the Sahel. I’ve also dispatched some of my top aides to work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to go to Mali, to go to Burkina Faso, and elsewhere to assess further what the needs are. But we cannot and will not resume assistance to the government until the military accept civilian control and a democratically-elected government once again takes office.

Now, Mali and Guinea-Bissau are just two examples. There unfortunately are more. And in places where jobs are scarce and a tiny elite prospers while most of the population struggles, people – especially young people – can turn their frustrations into social, economic, and political change. That’s the right channel. But they can also be attracted to violence, to conflict, to extremism out of frustration and anger at what they see happening around them.

It is time – it is past time – for all leaders to accept accountability, to treat their people with dignity, to respect their rights, to deliver economic opportunity and services for all. As I told the African Union in Addis Ababa last summer, leaders who hold onto power at all costs, who suppress dissent to enrich themselves, their families, and their supporters at the expense of their own people, who define democracy as one election, one time are on the wrong side of history. (Applause.) We are seeing that in North Africa, and we are seeing everywhere, where people finally say, “Enough. We’re fed up.” (Applause.)
So the links between democracy and development is a defining element of the American model of partnership. And I acknowledge that in the past our policies did not always line up with our principles. But today, we are building relationships here in West Africa and across the continent that are not transactional or transitory. They are built to last. And they’re built on a foundation of shared democratic values and respect for the universal human rights of every man and woman. We want to add value to our partners, and we want to add value to people’s lives. So the United States will stand up for democracy and universal human rights, even when it might be easier or more profitable to look the other way, to keep the resources flowing. Not every partner makes that choice, but we do and we will.

I also acknowledge that some people back in the United States say we shouldn’t bother, that we should just focus on America’s immediate economic or security interests, not worry so much about the slow, hard work of building democracy elsewhere. But I think that is shortsighted. It’s not only in what we see to be the interest of the people of Senegal and elsewhere, it’s also in our interest to have strong and stable partners in the world, and democracies are by far the strongest and most stable partners. So this isn’t altruism. This is a strategic commitment to shared prosperity, to common security.

During the recent elections here, many young people and students talked of a new type of Senegalese citizen emerging – active, engaged, committed to democracy. Well, that’s the kind of partnership we want with you, and particularly with your young people. This is a young country, and this is a young continent. (Applause.) And we know that young people are now connected to each other in ways that were not imaginable just a few years ago. A young student here at this university knows what’s happening not only in South Africa, but in South Asia. You can see what other people are doing, how they’re participating, and you begin to say to yourself: What about our talent? What about our potential? What about our future? I am here to tell you we believe in the young people of Senegal and the young people of Africa. (Applause.) And we believe that talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

So what does that mean? We believe that right now somewhere in Senegal a young boy or a young girl could be a scientist that helps discover a cure for a rare form of cancer – (applause) – could be a president in 30 or 40 years, could be an entrepreneur that creates a new business that employs hundreds, even thousands – (applause) – of other Senegalese. We believe that. And we believe the best way to test that is to do what Senegal is doing, to keep doing the hard work of education, of healthcare, of development, and especially in the rural areas, of gender parity, so you don’t lose the talents of half the population of Senegal – (applause) – as you build this new future.

We want to advance your aspirations and our shared values. We want to help more people in more places live up to their own God-given potentials. We want this to be our mutual mission. That is the work we are called to do in the 21st century. It is a race, a race between hope and fear, a race between potential realized and despair imbued in every pore of one’s body. It is a race that we are in between those who believe as you and we believe, that there is an unlimited future for those who are willing to work together.

So thank you, Senegal. Thank you for what you have done in your own country. Thank you for being a model in this region, a champion of democracy, a force for peace, prosperity, and progress. And thank you for being a partner and a friend to the United States of America. Thank you and God bless you. (Applause.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: