Tellurian

Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Clinton Suggests Link to al Qaeda Offshoot in Deadly Libya Attack :

In Africa, al Qaeda, Libya, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on September 27, 2012 at 12:26 am

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday suggested there was a link between the Qaeda franchise in North Africa and the attack at the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the American ambassador and three others. She was the highest-ranking Obama administration official to publicly make the connection, and her comments intensified what is becoming a fiercely partisan fight over whether the attack could have been prevented.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meeting with President Mohamed Magariaf of Libya.

Mrs. Clinton did not offer any new evidence of a Qaeda link, and officials later said the question would be officially settled only after the F.B.I. completed a criminal inquiry, which could take months. But they said they had not ruled out the involvement of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — an affiliate of the international terrorist group with origins in Algeria — in an attack the administration initially described as a spontaneous protest turned violent.

(…)

Mrs. Clinton made her remarks at a special United Nations meeting on the political and security crisis in the parts of North Africa known as the Maghreb and the Sahel, particularly in northern Mali, which has been overrun by Islamic extremists since a military coup helped lead to the division of that country this year.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has long operated in the region, she said, and was now exploiting a haven in Mali to export extremism and terrorist violence to neighbors like Libya.

“Now with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions,” Mrs. Clinton told leaders assembled at the meeting, including President François Hollande of France and the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon. “And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions under way in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi.”

Mr. Ban called the meeting to lay the groundwork for a possible international military intervention — to be led by African troops — to help the new military government in Mali re-establish control over a part of the country that Mr. Hollande noted was the size of France and is now under the grip of Islamist extremists imposing their vision of law and order.

“We cannot stand by and allow terrorists to take over an entire territory,” Mr. Hollande said.

Top militia leaders in Benghazi have dismissed the possibility that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb played a role in the attacks or had a foothold in eastern Libya. Benghazi residents have said they believe the brigade that conducted the attack could not have managed the assault on its own, because it included more than 100 heavily armed fighters.

Mrs. Clinton’s connection of the turmoil in the Sahel with the violence in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, echoed remarks made last week by Matthew G. Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. He said that intelligence analysts were investigating ties between local Libyan militias and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but had not yet come to any conclusions.

A senior administration official said that Mrs. Clinton intended to underscore the rising threat that the Qaeda affiliate and other extremist organizations pose to the emerging democratic governments in countries like Tunisia and Libya, adding that the group clearly intended to make contact with extremists in Benghazi and elsewhere. The final determination of the group’s role, the official said, would await the investigation by the F.B.I.

Mrs. Clinton has also ordered a review of diplomatic security that is being led by Thomas R. Pickering, a veteran diplomat and former undersecretary of state.

It was not clear whether Mrs. Clinton’s remarks foreshadowed any possible retaliation against those who carried out the attack, whether they operated in sympathy with, or on orders from, Al Qaeda leaders. But she reiterated the administration’s vow to bring those responsible to justice, telling the conference that American intelligence and law-enforcement agencies were working not only with Libya but with other nations in the region to investigate the attack.

The cooperation with other nations beyond Libya in the investigations also seemed to indicate that the attack’s planning and execution might have crossed international borders and not simply have been a local, spontaneous eruption of violence in response to an amateurish Internet video denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

(…)

From the start, Libyan officials have sought to blame foreigners, even as they move to crack down on extremist militias that took part in the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi last year and clearly had a role in the attack. Mr. Magariaf said at least 40 suspects had been questioned, but there was no definitive conclusion about those involved. “It was a preplanned act of terrorism directed against American citizens,” Mr. Magariaf said in remarks broadcast on NBC’s “Today” show Wednesday.

The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, defended the administration’s evolving version of events. “Over the course of the past two weeks, this administration has provided as much information as it has been able to,” Mr. Carney told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Ohio on Wednesday. “We made clear that our initial assessment and interim reports were based on information that was available at the time.”

Read the story in it’s entirety here: NYT

Advertisements

SOS HILLARY CLINTON, headliner CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE…

In Clinton Legacy, Madame Secretary Clinton, Madame Secretary Hillary Clinton on September 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

 

Hillary Clinton On Smart Diplomacy And Development For The 21st Century

September 24, 2012

by Penelope Chester, reporting-

Topics: Clinton Global Initiative; Hillary Clinton;, Diplomacy, Human Rights, U.S. Politics

The Clintons took over the stage this morning at the Clinton Global Initiative. Bill introduced Hillary, who got not one, but two standing ovations from the crowd. Kicking off the day’s proceedings, Secretary of State Clinton spoke about designing diplomacy for the 21st century. Her speech was focused on how the United States can deploy smart diplomacy strategies, that work alongside development and defense, to consolidate American interests across the world.

Clinton began by mentioning that we live in times of great change. Indeed, new technologies, significant demographic shifts – both in the developing and the developed world – revolutions and democratic transitions, and a global financial crisis that has contributed to reshaping world economies are complex realities global diplomacy has to take into account. “In the face of all this change,” Clinton said, “those who care about having an impact need to think and act innovatively.” She added that we must also “be willing to change ourselves to keep pace with the change around us, and stay true to our values, or we will lose our way.” From this broad statement, she went on to speak specifically about the benefits of elevating development and incorporating it into a global engagement strategy for the United States, together with diplomacy and defense.

Secretary Clinton spoke about how the Obama administration has done just that, and how development aid is being re-thought. In the past, “we focused on urgent and immediate needs at the expense of the long term”, Clinton said. She talked about how development aid dollars used to represent a much more significant proportion of the funds that flowed into developing nations. But, today, because of the dramatic increase in capital, remittances, trade and other flows, “we have to spend dollars differently.” And indeed, development aid should be in tune with the realities of the 21st century. Clinton mentioned how it used to be the case that development dollars needed to be spent on providing food assistance, helping building schools and in other basic areas when governments weren’t able to. Nowadays, however, given how different the global picture is, it’s necessary for development dollars to be invested in smart ways, so it can be leveraged for political change and sustainable growth.

“We want to move from aid to investment,” Clinton said. “Today, with new resources, development has to fit into a more dynamic economic picture”, she added, saying that development aid should be “a catalyst for sustainable growth and progress.” Building on World Bank president Jim Kim’s remarks yesterday about how the private sector should talk to the World Bank about investment opportunities in the developing world, Clinton said that one of the roles that American development can play is to “help mitigate and reduce investment risk.” Driving the point home, Clinton said that, today, the United States is not “just providing aid to people in crisis; we’re making strategic investments.”

Clinton painted a very modern picture of what development aid should be, and how it needs to move beyond traditional aid and working with traditional NGO partners. She spoke about how development intersects with business opportunities, and how “we need the private sector to give new economies opportunities.”

Clinton then spent some time defining what she believes “country ownership” – a jargon-y development buzzword – means. She started by clarifying what country ownership doesn’t mean: “it doesn’t mean that donors are supposed to keep money flowing while recipients decide how to spend it; it doesn’t mean shutting out the voices of civil society and faith-based groups; it doesn’t mean not letting beneficiaries do everything on their own.”

For Clinton, country ownership means that development should be “lead, implemented and increasingly paid for by government, civil society and other groups.” It means that developing countries need to “set priorities, manage resources, develop their own plans and carry them out.” She also mentioned that, in her view, country ownership means that “the whole country – men and women” are involved. “When more women enter the workforce, it spurs innovation and grows the economy – in short, everyone benefits.”

In the part of her remarks that sounded the most like a campaign speech, Clinton listed some of the development and diplomacy accomplishments of the Obama administration which further the goals detailed above: the ambitious reform of USAID under Raj Shah, the Feed the Future initiative, the development of “groundbreaking renewable energy investment vehicles” in Africa, public-private partnerships such as the Clean Cookstove Initiative. “But there is still a lot of work to do, and this is where you come in”, the Secretary of State said, speaking directly to the audience – one of her husband’s favorite rhetorical devices.

Clinton spoke of the need of development policy to invest more deeply in a broader range of partners, beyond traditional international NGOs. She spoke of the need to broaden and increase our network of partnerships to advance our work in development. “Let’s start viewing all of our separate efforts as a portfolio of complimentary investments,” Clinton exhorted, “let’s redouble our commitment to multi-partner approaches that bring all of us together.”Her speech then shifted to a more classic political speech – mentioning the need for the United States to advance freedom, rights and dignity across the world, the rejection of violence and underscoring American efforts in supporting democratic transitions in the Middle East. “We need your help and leadership”, Clinton told the audience, to spread development, dignity and freedom.

This is an important forum for Hillary Clinton to address – indeed, some of the world’s most powerful business, NGO and political leaders gather at the Clinton Global Initiative every year to discuss and explore partnership opportunities, something which is frankly only possible when Bill Clinton brings all these stakeholders together for meaningful engagement. The Secretary of State’s speech made clear that the United States and Americans need to rethink their approach to development aid: multisectoral, investment-based and results-oriented with the ultimate objectives of sustainability and long-term growth. While many of the people at the Clinton Global Initiative already know this, Hillary Clinton’s speech served to give these efforts broader meaning in the context of American foreign policy and the advancement of American goals and interests worldwide.

Photo credit: Clinton Global Initiative

LINK