Travel Diary: Secretary Clinton Outlines New Relationship With Muslim Communities Around the World

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 3, 2009

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Today, Secretary Clinton delivered remarks at the Forum for the Future in Marrakech, Morocco. The Secretary said:

"Five months ago in Cairo, President Obama called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities around the world – a relationship that is comprehensive rather than focused on a few political and security issues, a relationship based on partnership between people as well as government, and a relationship that lasts for the long term. Those were some of the important words that President Obama spoke in Cairo, and his speech generated a great deal of enthusiasm around the world. Many people heard his call and asked, what can we do; what can you, the United States do; how will President Obama’s vision bear out in a new approach to U.S. policy; and how will that new approach translate into meaningful changes in people’s everyday lives?

As President Obama and I believe, it is results, not rhetoric, that matter in the end. Economic empowerment, education, healthcare, access to energy and to credit, these are the basics that all communities need to thrive. And the United States seeks to pursue these common aspirations through concrete actions. We know that true progress comes from within a society and cannot be imposed from the outside, and we know that change does not happen overnight. So we will not focus our energies on one-time projects, but we will seek to work with all of you in government and in civil society to try to build local capacity and empower local organizations and individuals to create sustainable change.

I have asked our Embassy to engage with local communities to solicit ideas for how the United States could be a better partner. I also appointed the first-ever U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities. The ideas we have heard have helped to shape our plan. Farah Pandith, our new Special Representative, is traveling widely and listening and coming back and expressing the concerns that she has heard from those who are living and working for a better life.

Now, we are focused on three broad areas where we believe U.S. support can make a difference. The first comes from the work and research that has been done over many years. When you ask people in all countries in this region or anywhere in the world what is the biggest concern you have and what do you want to see that happens differently in the future, the answer overwhelmingly is 'I want a better job. I want rising income. I want to give my family, especially my children, more opportunities.' It cuts across every society no matter where that society is.

I often say that while talent is universal, opportunity is not. And so we are committed to building ladders of opportunity to help develop the enormous talents that reside in the people of this region. Early next year, the President will host an entrepreneurship summit in Washington to convene people focused on creating small businesses, expanding their businesses, taking the talent that they have and translating it into income generations to assist their families.

We have launched a website for this summit. It is And I invite you to submit the names for delegates that could possibly benefit from coming to this summit, and please provide your comments on topics for the agenda. Because this summit is part of a broader effort to expand support for entrepreneurship in the region, including by establishing new business development centers. It is also my hope that together, we can launch a virtual entrepreneur network that connects the range of people engaged in such activities in the region and even beyond.

There are so many good ideas that die because the conditions are not right for bringing those ideas to market. There are so many people who work so hard every day that they can’t realize the benefits of that hard work to the extent that they should. Now we already, as you know, give billions of dollars in ongoing direct aid programs in this region, ranging from a community’s livelihood program in Yemen to a youth employment program in Jordan to our work here in Morocco.

We have invested $700 million in Morocco through a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact. And this is an approach that we are working on that grows and has a partnership between our government and the government of people of a country – in this case, Morocco – where we say we’re not here to tell you what you need from us; we’re here to ask you what we can do to help you realize your own goals. In this case, we are supporting to two agricultural sectors – fruit tree farms and small-scale fisheries – as well as artisan craft and strengthening financial services and enterprise support. Over and over, we hear from small and medium-sized businesses that cannot get the financial assistance, they can’t get the technical support that would grow their business. So working with the Government of Morocco, we are hoping to really help to see blossom a lot more economic activity at the lower level that will then, from the bottom up, build prosperity.

Our second area will be advancing science and technology, something that we have heard from many of you, to help create jobs and to meet global challenges. It’s not something you don’t know; it is your history. But it was the Islamic world that led the way in science and medicine. It was the Islamic world that paved the way for much of the technology and science that we now take for granted. And now we face global challenges. How do we address water issues? How do we solve the climate crisis? How do we eradicate disease? Well, we want to look to your societies and we want to help Muslim majority communities develop the capacity to meet economic, social and ecological challenges through science, technology, and innovation.

The State Department has established a science envoys program, and I’m pleased to announce today that the first envoys will be three of America’s leading scientists: Dr. Bruce Alberts, a former president of our National Academy of Sciences; Dr. Elias Zerhouni, a former director of our National Institutes of Health; and Dr. Ahmed Zewail, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Each of these men has agreed to travel to North Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia to fulfill President Obama’s mandate to foster scientific and technological collaboration. The State Department will also expand positions for environment, science, technology, and health officers at our embassies. To finance these solutions, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation known as OPIC is launching a technology and innovation fund.

Our third area of engagement is education. Last week, I announced our support for a new program for higher education in Pakistan. We have also begun a program to support partnership between U.S. community colleges and institutions in Muslim communities to share knowledge and to train students for good jobs. We are expanding our scholarship opportunities, particularly for underserved secondary school students. One of our most successful education programs is called Access. It provides English language instructions to bright students in poor communities. I am personally committed to this program, and I look for ways to provide additional support, because I have seen firsthand its power.

Earlier this year, I visited an Access classroom in Ramallah. I walked into an enthusiastic discussion of Women’s History Month. These were students who did not come from educated families, but they were students with the same ambition and motivation that we heard described by our colleague, the Palestinian foreign minister, about his own son. We want to create more opportunities for students like these to fulfill their God-given potential.

And this points to a related priority – the empowerment of women. I have said, as some of you know, for many years, and President Obama said it in Cairo, no country can achieve true progress or fulfill its own potential when half of its people are left behind. When little girls are not given the same opportunities for education, we have no idea what we are losing out on because they’re not going to be able to contribute to the growth and the development of their countries.

The United States has named our first-ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Ambassador Melanne Verveer. We strongly support the call made at last year’s Forum for the Future for the creation of a regional gender institute to help advance women’s empowerment across the board politically, economically, educationally, legally, socially, and culturally. And we look forward to working with other governments and civil societies to launch this initiative soon. And we will provide initial funding to make it a priority.

We seek to support civil society efforts worldwide because we believe that civil society helps to make communities more prosperous and stable. It helps to drive economic growth that benefits the greatest number of people. And it pushes political institutions to be agile and responsive to the people they serve. So the United States is launching an initiative called Civil Society 2.0. This organized effort will provide new technologies to civil society organizations. We will send experts in digital technology and communications to help build capacity.

Now, these are some of the ways that the United States is pursuing President Obama’s vision for a new relationship. Our work is based on empowering individuals rather than promoting ideologies; listening and embracing others’ ideas rather than simply imposing our own; and pursuing partnerships that are sustainable and broad-based. We believe that despite our differences, there is so much more that unites us. Fathers and mothers everywhere want safety and opportunity for their daughters and sons. People everywhere want to have a role in the decisions that affect them, to express their needs to their leaders to be heard, and to help chart their own futures."Full Text



Texas, USA
November 3, 2009

David in Texas writes:

As President Obama and I believe, it is results, not rhetoric, that matter in the end. Secretary Clinton most cetainly is the "results" oriented representative that Americans respect and admire. Her continuing leadership on MidEast issues over many years serves our country well.

Virginia, USA
November 4, 2009

Jack in Virginia writes:

I remain deeply supportive of Secretary Clinton's efforts and the administrations outreach to the Muslim world. Yet, I am feeling as many Americans are these days about the promise for a better tomorrow and for hope: change is not coming quickly enough. President Obama's speech was almost five months ago and I'm not sure the United States has been able to show the Muslim world that change is coming. Certainly, our ability to engage - and, more specifically, Secretary Clinton's style of engagement - has won us credibility among those in the Middle East who are distrustful of our intentions. But, I wonder what are we really doing? This Special Representative to Muslim Communities, what is she up to? I commented during a Ramadan blog posting that I wanted to hear more about her efforts. I hoped the appointment of Ms. Pandith was more than just window dressing. Can someone from her office write a DipNote post about what she's actually doing? Yes, I know she's listening. But, what else?

Madame Secretary, I'd like to suggest a course of action that you probably won't take, but I'll throw it out there anyway: Practice diplomacy as if Barack Obama is a one-term president and you've only got three more years to solve the problems that face us. Get Israel to stop settlements. Not slow them down, but stop them. We hold the purse strings, it shouldn't be that tough. If the Iranians don't want a better relationship with the US, then we've tried our best. Keep dialogue open with the millions of Iranian citizens who DO want a better relationship with the US, but isolate the hateful regime. Egypt may be an important Middle East player, but the Mubarak regime (no, not a government, but a regime) routinely tortures its citizens and denies its people some very fundamental rights. We need to be tougher on them in this regard - like Israel, we, too, hold the purse strings in Egypt. As for our other Arab partners in the region, hold them accountable. It is easy to speak out against violence against women in Conakry, where we have few economic interests there. But, put what really matters at the top of your agenda and urge repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and other countries to stop treating women as chattel. Secretary Rice didn't have the backing of Bush or Cheney to make these issues a priority. I would argue that you have the 100% of President Obama. You and he share similar values. Outrage over Conakry is easy. Outrage over actions in Riyadh is tougher, but we need to be outraged.

Almost every political administration I've seen in recent years waits until it is too late to make real change. They feel they need to wait until the pressure is on for real change to occur. Don't wait. Make it count now.

November 4, 2009

Tsimba in Madagascar writes:

In september 2008 I had a chance to visit the US by the Programm International Visitor . It was the first time I left Madagascar and the first time I went to US. I had this chance cause there was a time I was the first in charge of a ricefield we called Site Vitrine. The programm has been launched to bring help for all of our farmers in the whole country.

In US, like anyone else I was very amased on every thing I saw but the only one thing I was very impressed was the order. In Madagascar, when some one forbids other not to do something wrong it's always by order. They say do not this or that without explaination. THe real thing which marked me much is punctuality. It's always bad to be late but instead of saying don't be late, american said, it's not polite to be late without calling before the time.

I said that in this wall cause we Malagasy poeple need a real help from US. The educational system need to be ameliorate. In the rural area we cannot find a real school. We may find infrastructure but there is no teacher. If in other place farmers can improve their technic to ameliorate their life, from August till January children under one roof eat only two pieces of casava. Our farmers need a permanent assistance to help them to improve their knowledge even if the have no capacity to read. Now I would like to congratulate US department especially US department for its effort.

Thanks a lot

Tracy M.
California, USA
November 5, 2009

Tracy M. in California writes:

Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions
Today at 4:03pm
November 5, 2009
Italy Convicts 23 Americans for C.I.A. Renditions

MILAN ã In a landmark ruling, an Italian judge on Wednesday convicted a base chief for the Central Intelligence Agency and 22 other American C.I.A. operatives of kidnapping a Muslim cleric from the streets of Milan in 2003.

The case was a huge symbolic victory for Italian prosecutors, who drew the first convictions involving the American practice of rendition, in which terrorism suspects are captured in one country and taken for questioning in another, often one more open to coercive interrogation techniques.

Critics of the Bush administration have long hailed the case as a repudiation of the tactics it used to fight terrorism. And that Italy would actually convict intelligence agents of an allied country was seen as a bold move that could set a precedent in other cases.

Still, the convictions may have little practical effect. They do not seem to change the close relations between the United States and Italy. Nor did they reveal whether the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had approved the kidnapping. And it seemed highly unlikely that anyone, Italian or American, would spend any time in prison.

Judge Oscar Magi handed an eight-year sentence to Robert Seldon Lady, a former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, and five-year sentences to the 22 other Americans. Three of the other high-ranking Americans were given diplomatic immunity, including Jeffrey Castelli, a former C.I.A. station chief in Rome.

Citing state secrecy, the judge did not convict five high-ranking Italians charged in the abduction, including a former head of Italian military intelligence, Nicolã Pollari.

All the Americans were tried in absentia and are considered fugitives. Through their court-appointed lawyers, they pleaded not guilty.

Italian prosecutors had charged the Americans and seven members of the Italian military intelligence agency in the abduction of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, on Feb. 17, 2003. Prosecutors said he was snatched in broad daylight, flown from an American air base in Italy to a base in Germany and then on to Egypt, where he asserts that he was tortured.

Ian Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said that the United States was ãdisappointedã by the verdicts in Milan. He said that since the verdicts were likely to be appealed, he could not comment on the specifics of the case.

Armando Spataro, the counterterrorism prosecutor who brought the case, said he was considering asking the Italian government for an international arrest warrant for the fugitive Americans.

Mr. Spataro said he was pleased with what he called ãvery courageousã verdicts. He said it was a victory that ãwe brought the trial to an end, and the facts were shown to be what they were.ã

In May, Mr. Magi ruled that there was enough evidence to proceed with the case even after Italyãs Constitutional Court ruled in March that any evidence of coordination between the Italian secret services and the C.I.A. violated state secrecy rules and was therefore inadmissible.

Mr. Magi also asked for $1.45 million in damages for Mr. Nasr and $750,000 for his wife, Ghali Nabila. In separate lawsuits, Mr. Nasr, who is now living in Alexandria, Egypt, is seeking $14 million in damages from the defendants, and his wife is seeking $7.4 million against the Italian authorities. In August the couple also filed a suit with the European Court of Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International applauded Wednesdayãs ruling. In a statement, Tom Parker, Amnesty Internationalãs United States point man for terrorism issues, called on the Obama administration to ãrepudiate the unlawful practice of extraordinary rendition.ã

The administration has closed secret overseas prisons but is keeping the practice of rendition in place.

- Cont.

Tracy M.
California, USA
November 5, 2009

Tracy M. in California writes:

Page 2

At the time of his abduction, Mr. Nasr was under surveillance by the Italian authorities, who suspected him of preaching violence from his Milan mosque and recruiting militants to send to Iraq in anticipation of the American invasion. He was missing for a year, finally resurfacing in Egypt, where he called his wife in Italy to say he had been tortured.

The phone call was enough to activate Italian prosecutors, who are required to investigate if there is the possibility of a crime.

Prosecutors were able to reconstruct his disappearance using cellphone records traced to the American agents. The operatives used false names but left a paper trail of unencrypted cellphone records and credit card bills at luxury hotels in Milan, suggesting they believed they were operating with latitude.

Court-appointed lawyers for several of the American defendants assert that prosecutors never adequately established their clientsã identities. They said they would appeal the ruling.

ãThe C.I.A. has not commented on any of the allegations surrounding Abu Omar,ã said Paul Gimigliano, a C.I.A. spokesman.

The Italian government has denied involvement. Through a spokesman, it declined to comment on Wednesday.

In June, Il Giornale, a newspaper owned by the brother of Mr. Berlusconi, published an interview that it said it had conducted via Skype with Mr. Lady, the former C.I.A. base chief in Milan, whose whereabouts are unknown. In the interview, he said of Abu Omarãs abduction: ãOf course it was an illegal operation. But thatãs our job. Weãre at war against terrorism.ã

Among the 22 Americans convicted was Sabrina De Sousa, who was accused of having worked closely with Mr. Lady and who has sued the State Department for diplomatic immunity.

Ms. De Sousaãs lawyer, Mark Zaid, said she would amend her lawsuit against the State Department, pending in federal court in Washington, adding as defendants Mr. Castelli, Mr. Lady and the C.I.A., because ãaccording to news reports, they were responsible for this alleged abduction.ã Ms. De Sousa has never admitted working for the C.I.A. and has denied any role in the rendition. Former colleagues have said she did work for the agency.

According to one former senior C.I.A. official, Mr. Castelli, as the C.I.A.ãs Rome station chief, was assigned to the American Embassy and would therefore be entitled to full diplomatic immunity. But Mr. Lady and Ms. De Sousa worked out of the United States Consulate in Milan and had more limited immunity.

The former C.I.A. official said that if Italian prosecutors were successful in getting an international arrest warrant, the convicted spies would probably face the threat of arrest anywhere outside the United States for the rest of their lives.

Both Mr. Castelli and Mr. Lady have retired from the C.I.A., according to former agency officials.

Most of the top C.I.A. officers said to have planned the Abu Omar rendition have left the agency, with the exception of Stephen R. Kappes, who at the time was the assistant director of the C.I.A.ãs clandestine branch.

He is now the C.I.A.ãs second ranking official.

Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.


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