Putting Out Fires

Amid ongoing turmoil in Tunisia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke yesterday with the country’s foreign minister as well as its prime minister. During a press conference with her Spanish counterpart, Clinton said that she is “encouraged by the direction that they are setting towards inclusive elections that will be held as soon as practicable.” Despite positive signs, there’s still a long way to go, she added. Jeffrey Feltman, an assistant secretary of state, is in Tunis this week.

Meanwhile, the unrest in Tunisia has inspired similar demonstrations in Egypt. Secretary Clinton called on the Egyptian government to show restraint in dealing with protestors, saying Washington believes the Egyptian government is stable and attempting to serve the needs of its people.

Also during her press conference with Spanish Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimnez, Clinton touched on Guantanamo Bay. Though the process is taking a while (soon after entering the White House in 2009, Obama announced the prison would be closed), the secretary of state said that “there is no doubt about our commitment”—Washington is “absolutely committed to closing” the detention facility.

Richard Falk, the UN Human Rights Council’s expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories, suggested earlier this month that there was a cover-up over the 9/11 attacks by U.S. authorities. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has now issued a statement calling for Mr. Falk to be fired: “In my view, Mr. Falk's latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the U.N.” She said his comments were “despicable and deeply offensive.”