Briefing Skipper: Mladic, ASEAN, Yemen, Libya, Rafah
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Thursday’s briefing by spokesman Mark Toner: Toner opened the press briefing by celebrating the arrest of Ratko Mladic by Serbian security services and commending Serbian President Boris Tadic. "This is a great day ...
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department's daily presser so you don't have to. These are the highlights of Thursday's briefing by spokesman Mark Toner:
In which we scour the transcript of the State Department’s daily presser so you don’t have to. These are the highlights of Thursday’s briefing by spokesman Mark Toner:
- Toner opened the press briefing by celebrating the arrest of Ratko Mladic by Serbian security services and commending Serbian President Boris Tadic. "This is a great day for justice in the international system," Toner said. "Mladic’s arrest serves as a statement to those around the world who would break the law and target innocent civilians. International justice works; if you commit crime, you won’t escape judgment and you will not go free." For more on this theory, click here.
- Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell hosted senior officials from the 10 ASEAN member countries and the ASEAN Secretariat for the 24th ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue and the Lower Mekong Initiative Thursday. The event was held at the United States Institute of Peace, which was also in the news today because the House of Representatives voted to eliminate it (seriously). Yesterday the ASEAN officials met with undersecretary of defense Michele Flournoy and Treasury undersecretary Lael Brainard, who just happens to be Campbell’s wife.
- The State Department has directed all non-essential personnel in the Yemen embassy to get the heck out of there, as the capital of Sanaa descends into chaos and violence. "So our message to American citizens in Yemen is to seek a way out via the airport. There are flights available. And for those planning to travel to Yemen, we’d ask them to defer travel," said Toner. Toner was asked if he thinks American citizen turned terrorist and assassination target Anwar al–Awlaki will take the State Department’s advice to leave Yemen. "Yeah. We have a special flight for him," Toner replied. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein has been in constant contact with President Ali Abdullah Saleh and was with him when the government forces temporarily imprisoned several ambassadors at the UAE embassy on Sunday.
- Toner acknowledged that the Pakistani government has asked the U.S. to scale down its military presence at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, which peaked at about 300 people after a long buildup over the last couple of years. "We’ve been recently notified that the Pakistani Government would like to reduce that footprint, and our understanding is that that footprint has been reduced to about 200." The reductions could be continue, Toner said, because "they’re there at the invitation of the Pakistani Government and are certainly – we will do our best to accommodate their wishes."
- State is aware that the Libyan government sent around some letters asking for a ceasefire, but the U.S. didn’t get one and anyway, it doesn’t change anything, Toner said. "The bottom line… is that our core principles haven’t changed. Qaddafi needs to step down from power. He’s lost legitimacy as a leader, and he needs to step aside so that a peaceful democratic transition can take place."
- Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Feltman was in Libya earlier this week, where he asked the Transitional National Council to open an office in Washington (even though they already have one). Feltman is now in Egypt, where he met with Deputy Foreign Minister Wafaa Bassim, Major General Mohammad Al Assar, Major General Murad Muwafi, Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa, and some political activists. Toner said there was no real objection to the news Egypt would open the Rafah border crossing with Israel permanently. "I would imagine that they’re well aware of our concerns," Toner said. "We also believe that the Egyptians are fully aware of and capable of providing that kind of security."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
More from Foreign Policy
Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?
The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.
Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World
It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.
It’s a New Great Game. Again.
Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing
The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.