The Foreign Service Journal, September 2023

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | SEPTEMBER 2023 19 TALKING POINTS Ordered Departure from Haiti On July 27, the State Department called for the ordered departure of nonemergency U.S. government personnel and their families from Portau-Prince as gang fighting overtook the capital. The announcement came after a week in which Haitians swarmed the area outside the U.S. embassy, seeking protection from heavy gunfire in the vicinity. Embassy employees had already been ordered not to leave the U.S. compound. Armed gangs have taken power in 90 percent of the Haitian capital since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse two years ago, The Washington Post wrote. As rival groups contest territory, they have engaged in widespread killing, rape, and displacement of civilians. To combat the gangs, vigilantes have begun forming their own armed groups. While the U.S. has expressed reluctance to lead a response to the conflict, on July 31 the State Department announced its plans to introduce a resolution to the United Nations Security Council authorizing a multinational force to Haiti, The New York Times reported. Kenya has offered to lead a force to restore order. Logjam Breaks on Confirmations Since our last update in June, 11 new nominees for high-level foreign affairs positions have been announced. Three career FSOs were nominated for ambassadorships in Haiti, Burkina Faso, and the Marshall Islands, and an additional career FSO was named for the role of U.S. coordinator for international communications and information policy. Political appointees were named for Croatia, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the U.N. agencies in Rome, and for the position of assistant secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs. There are also (finally) nominees to serve as inspectors general at State and USAID: Cardell Kenneth Richardson Sr. and Paul K. Martin, respectively. AFSA welcomes this news, as the positions have been vacant for nearly three years. For most of the summer, confirmations were minimal. Only political appointee Elizabeth Allen was confirmed to serve as under secretary of State for public diplomacy. However, on the Senate’s last day before the summer recess, a logjam was broken, and 15 total nominees were confirmed that day, 13 of whom are career Foreign Service nominees serving as ambassadors in Palau (Joel Ehrendreich, a recent FSJ Editorial Board member), Micronesia (Jennifer L. Johnson), Rwanda (Eric Kneedler), Uganda (William Popp), Georgia (Robin Dunnigan), Niger (Kathleen FitzGibbon), Sierra Leone (Bryan David Hunt), Jordan (Yael Lempert), Ethiopia (Ervin Jose Massinga), Guyana (Nicole Theriot), the Maldives (Hugo Yue-Ho Yon), the United Arab Emirates (Martina Strong), and U.S. Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Matthew D. Murray). Of note, career FSO Hugo Yue-Ho Yon will be the first ambassador appointed to the Maldives without being double-hatted as the ambassador to Sri Lanka. Two political appointees were also confirmed: Jack Markell to serve as ambassador to Italy and San Marino, and Julie Turner for the role of special envoy on North Korean human rights. As many have heard me say, diplomacy is not for the faint of heart. But its promise is possible as long as individuals of conscience and leaders of principle sustain the courage to persist and persevere, and never lose hope in the cause of justice, the pursuit of peace, and the possibility of tomorrow. —Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in a July 28 farewell email to Department of State employees before retiring. Contemporary Quote As a military coup gripped the West African country of Niger in early August, the State Department prepared to evacuate U.S. embassy personnel. The Biden administration has steered clear of calling the military-backed ouster of President Mohamed Bazoum a “coup.” More than just a word, the legal determination could trigger an end to U.S. security aid to a country that’s key to battling terrorism and curbing Russian influence in Africa, Politico wrote. Reports have also emerged that the military junta currently in power is seeking support from the Russian-backed mercenary Wagner Group. European countries, including the French armed forces, had already begun evacuating foreign nationals from the country in early August. Niger Coup Leads to Evacuations