On August 22, 2011, President Barack Obama delivered remarks on the situation in Libya. In a statement, the President said, “…The momentum against the Qadhafi regime has reached a tipping point." The President continued, "... The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement on the situation in Libya. The Secretary addressed her conversation with the Chair of the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, and the release of $1.5 billion in Libyan assets that had been frozen in the United States. Secretary Clinton said, "The events in Libya this week have heartened the world. The situation remains fluid, but it is clear that the Qadhafi era is coming to an end, opening the way for a new era in Libya -- one of liberty, justice, and peace."
Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns led the U.S. delegation to the August 25 Libya Contact Group meeting in Istanbul, where representatives from 28 countries, the UN, EU, NATO, AU, OIC, Arab League and GCC came together to demonstrate the international community's commitment to supporting the Libyan people at this truly historic time.
The Human Rights Council held a Special Session on the Situation in the Syria on August 22. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe delivered remarks before the Special Session in Geneva, where she said, "…We condemn in the strongest terms, the ongoing slaughter and callous brutality unleashed by the Asad regime against the Syrian people." On August 23, Secretary Clinton released a statement, saying, "I congratulate the Human Rights Council for its work to create an international independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and to make clear the world's concern for the Syrian people. Today, the international community joined together to denounce the Syrian regime's horrific violence. The United States worked closely with countries from every part of the world -- more than 30 members of the Human Rights Council, including key Arab members -- to establish this mandate."
On Friday, August 26, President Obama and Secretary Clinton condemned the attack on the United Nations' offices in Abuja, Nigeria. President Obama said, “I strongly condemn today's horrific and cowardly attack on the United Nations headquarters building in Abuja, Nigeria, which killed and wounded many innocent civilians from Nigeria and around the world.... The UN has been working in partnership with the people of Nigeria for more than five decades. An attack on Nigerian and international public servants demonstrates the bankruptcy of the ideology that led to this heinous action." Secretary Clinton said, "There is no justification for this violence. These individuals were working to promote peace, expand opportunity and build a safer and more prosperous nation."
Meanwhile, the United States, Kenya, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continue to work together to assist refugees in the Horn of Africa. Ambassador Ertharin Cousin highlighted the United States' long-term commitment to relief and development work in Liberia. She said, “In Liberia, as in Somalia and throughout the region, we are combining immediate relief with longer term solutions.” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto shared about efforts being undertaken by the Somali-American diaspora to address the crisis in the Horn of Africa and the community's commitment to Somalia's future.
In Honduras, the World Summit of African Descendants spotlighted African descendants' positive contributions to Western Hemisphere countries and the world. For a broader discussion on diaspora issues, be sure to join a webchat hosted by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs' Office of Alumni Affairs on the "Role of the Diaspora in Fostering Friendship Between the Homeland and Hostland." The conversation will take place on August 30.
In other news, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah announced three USAID innovation grants to develop applications in this field and begin to create a mobile banking system that includes all Afghans. Also in Afghanistan, Assistant Information Officer Nicole Nucelli described U.S. Embassy Kabul's Iftar in honor of Ramadan. Meanwhile, U.S. Embassy Kathmandu Information Officer Heather Steil shared her experiences traveling far outside of the Kathmandu Valley to meet with members of the local press and strengthen relationships with the people of Nepal.
If you are living in an area affected by Hurricane Irene, we hope you stayed out of harm's way. Please be sure to review the potential dangers and inconveniences associated with traveling during hurricane and typhoon season.
In the meantime, I encourage all of our readers to take a look at Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nide's list of 10 things you should know about the State Department and USAID, and I'd like to thank all of you for your feedback and comments this past week. We look forward to hearing from you in the week ahead.