Calling All Diplomats
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was back on the phone over the weekend “making calls to regional and global leaders to gain a shared perspective on Egypt, recent developments and the way forward,” according to State Department spokesman PJ Crowley. The consultation list was a long one: India’s foreign minister, Greece’s prime minister, the UAE’s foreign minister, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, the British foreign secretary and PA President Mahmoud Abbas to name a few. Vice President Joe Biden also called the leaders of the UAE, Iraq and Kuwait. Meanwhile, a few top-level U.S. officials traveled to the region to try to smooth things over. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns flew to Jordan this weekend to meet with the country’s King Abdullah II and demonstrate Washington’s support.
Mullen headed to Israel today to discuss Egypt with Israeli President Shimon Peres. He stressed U.S.-Israel military ties, calling them “something we both depend on" and also sat down with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
National Security Adviser Tom Donilon criticized Iran on Saturday for refusing to allow protestors to rally. Opposition leaders wanted to hold a demonstration today to show support for the protests in Egypt and Tunisia. Donilon pointed out Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hypocrisy: “By announcing that they will not allow opposition protests, the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed was noble for Egyptians.”
The Obama administration has officially postponed this week’s meetings between Secretary Clinton and Pakistani and Afghan diplomats. This is the latest step in a tense exchange between Washington and Islamabad in the wake of an incident in which a U.S. embassy worker shot two Pakistani men.
Republicans in the House of Representatives have been threatening to withhold dues for the UN, citing the need for “real, sweeping reform.” One suggested reform is allowing governments to fund their preferred programs instead of paying blanket dues. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice responded on Friday, arguing that the House plan “is short-sighted, and it plain doesn't work.” Answering the call for a pick-and-choose approach to funding, Rice said, “If we treat our legally binding financial obligations like an a la carte menu, we invite others to do the same.”
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg said during testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Washington’s support for Israel’s security is “unwavering.” With all the turmoil in the Middle East, the Obama administration remains dedicated to making sure “new dangers for Israel or the region” don’t crop up, according to Steinberg.