The Foreign Service Journal, June 2023

16 JUNE 2023 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL TALKING POINTS Evacuation from Sudan O n April 23, an elite team of Navy SEALs carried out a precari- ous evacuation of American embassy personnel in Khartoum, airlifting them to Djibouti, 800 miles away, The New York Times reported. The airlift included about 70 U.S. embassy employees and a handful of diplomats from other coun- tries. The exodus continued as, hours later, a United Nations convoy carrying foreign nationals from around the world began a 35-hour journey to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, and French and British diplo- mats made use of an airfield outside the city to flee heavy fighting. Germany became one of the first countries to launch an evacuation mis- sion for all of its nationals in Sudan, fly- ing 101 German citizens to Jordan. In the week preceding the evacuation, battle for control of the country between two rival generals—Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in charge of the nation’s armed forces, and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the Rapid Support Forces military group—led to a swift deterioration in security in and around the capital. As fighting worsened, the State Department suspended operations at Embassy Khartoum on April 22. John Godfrey, the first U.S. ambassador to Sudan in a quarter century, arrived in the country just eight months prior to the evacuation. Secretary Blinken said that the State Department was exploring ways to reestablish a diplomatic footprint in the country, possibly in Port Sudan. But he cautioned it would depend on the condi- tions in the country, which he described as “very, very challenging.” The State Department is also col- lecting information from Americans in Sudan through a crisis-intake form that allows citizens to indicate they want to leave the country and need assistance. However, as themajority of Americans still there are dual citizens, the department anticipates that many will opt not to leave. At least two U.S. citizens have been killed in the conflict, Reuters reported on April 26. USAID Administrator Samantha Power said in an April 23 statement that the agency had deployed a team of disaster response experts to coordinate the humanitarian response as fighting continues. Afghanistan Dissent Message Saga T he monthslong tug-of-war between top House Republicans and the State Department continues, and the Secre- tary of State’s Dissent Channel lies at the center of the debate. In early March, the House Foreign Affairs Committee began conducting hearings to investigate the Biden admin- istration’s handling of the 2021 Afghani- stan withdrawal. As part of this process, committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has demanded that the State Department provide relevant documents. The committee demanded three documents in particular: a classified cable, transmitted by diplomats through the Dissent Channel, allegedly warning of the potential collapse of the Afghan government; an 87-page After Action Report prepared by Ambassador Daniel Smith (who was tapped to lead the State Department’s review of its role in the withdrawal); and U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Emergency Action Plan. While the State Department shared two of the documents, it did not comply Gratitude for USAID I want to take a moment to thank the men and women of USAID, including the Foreign Service nationals and the staff of your implementing partners, for their efforts to make the world a better place. We don’t say it enough, but we appreciate their service, and yours, Administrator Power, so please convey those thanks on behalf of our subcommittee. —Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, at the FY24 Budget Hearing for USAID on April 18. Aid Work Despite Danger The staff of humanitarian aid organizations have been assaulted and killed— a reminder of the dangers our diplomats, humanitarian, and development workers at USAID face as they carry out their mission every day. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say how relieved I was to hear about the successful evacuation of our officials from Sudan, but … we cannot and must not aban- don the Sudanese people, nor will insecurity deter us from our work in other parts of the continent and other places in the world. —Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at the FY24 Budget Hearing for USAID on April 26. HEARD ON THE HILL JOSH