Did you miss key foreign policy developments this week? We’ve got you covered. Each week, DipNote recaps the latest U.S. Department of State highlights spanning a wide range of global issues, events, and initiatives in one blog post.
Here are the highlights from this week at State:
President Trump Releases National Security Strategy
On December 18, President Trump released a new National Security Strategy (NSS). The strategy sets a positive strategic direction for the United States that will restore America’s advantages in the world and build upon our country’s great strengths. The NSS is a reflection of President Trump’s belief that putting America first is the duty of our government and the foundation for effective U.S. leadership in the world.
First and foremost, President Trump’s National Security Strategy is a reflection of his belief that putting America first is the duty of our government and the foundation for effective U.S. leadership in the world. Read more: https://t.co/jJwqnR7xoi— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 19, 2017
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement in support of the NSS, noting that the strategy brings to bear all elements of American power to protect our people, generate new economic opportunities, as well as advance our interests and democratic principles.
“The State Department will work closely with other federal agencies and our allies and partners around the world to implement this strategy.”
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
White House Highlights Trump Administration's 2017 Foreign Policy Achievements
The White House released a fact sheet highlighting ways President Trump has fulfilled his promise to put America first by prioritizing the defense of America’s borders at home and its interests abroad.
Secretary Tillerson Travels to Canada, Announces Ministerial on North Korea
Secretary Tillerson traveled to Ottawa, Canada, December 19, to meet Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and other officials. In a press availability during the trip, Secretary Tillerson underscored both the United States and Canada’s shared objectives to maintain a strong trade relationship, defeat terrorism, and to cooperate on a number of threats around the world, including North Korea.
In their press conference, Secretary Tillerson and @cafreeland announced that they will convene the #VancouverGroup for ministerial in January to show int'l solidarity against #NorthKorea's actions & to discuss how to improve the effectiveness of the pressure campaign on #DPRK.— Department of State (@StateDept) December 19, 2017
While in Ottawa, Secretary Tillerson and Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland announced that the United States and Canada will co-host a major ministerial meeting on the security and stability of the Korean peninsula. The mid-January meeting will demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s unlawful nuclear and missile programs, as well as address next steps in the pressure campaign against the North Korean regime.
U.S. Special Envoy Highlights 2017 Gains in Fight to Defeat ISIS, the Road Ahead
On December 21, Special Presidential Envoy for the Coalition to Counter ISIS Brett McGurk discussed the United States’ and the Global Coalition’s efforts this year.
.@Brett_McGurk: @POTUS made 3 key decisions as soon as he came into office – he issued a directive to prioritize the defeat of ISIS, set conditions for a political settlement in #Syria by de-escalating the overall conflict, and hold Assad accountable for his chemical weapons use. pic.twitter.com/wDFOh4hXE7— Department of State (@StateDept) December 21, 2017
The Special Envoy commented on the loss of territory that has been under ISIS control, particularly the groundbreaking battle that led to the liberation Raqqa in Syria due to the acceleration of the D-ISIS campaign.
.@Brett_McGurk: About 98% of ISIS’ former caliphate has been taken away & 50% of all territorial losses against ISIS have come in last 11 months. 7.7 million people that used to live under ISIS no longer live under ISIS & 5 million of those people were liberated in past year. pic.twitter.com/cLamsq5RIF— Department of State (@StateDept) December 21, 2017
Special Envoy McGurk also underscored the coalition’s continuing efforts to address the foreign terrorist fighters as well as efforts to counter their finances and messaging.
.@Brett_McGurk: When it comes to ISIS, we’re not just focused on the physical space of the caliphate. Foreign fighters, counter finance, counter messaging is a constant 24/7 effort from here. pic.twitter.com/rTxZVNDlR6— Department of State (@StateDept) December 21, 2017
United States Supports United Nations Action on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Counterterrorism
On December 21, Secretary Tillerson commented on the adoption of a new UN resolution that will help Member States detect and counter the threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters, especially those returning from the conflict zone in Iraq and Syria.
“The successful adoption of UNSCR 2396 demonstrates the United States’ unwavering commitment to the complete defeat of ISIS. It also shows that the Security Council—along with the 66 countries that co-sponsored the resolution—remains firmly, unquestionably united in the face of the common threat of transnational terrorism. We look forward to working with countries, UN bodies, civil society, and the private sector to implement this groundbreaking resolution.”
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
State Department Officials Share Update on the Situation in Yemen
During a press briefing at the Department on December 21, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs Timothy Linderking provided an update on the situation in Yemen.
Deputy Assistant Secretary Lenderking: No one has put more attention and more funding into the #Yemen conflict than the United States. Since the ongoing violence that broke out in March 2015, the United States has provided more than $1.3 billion to help the Yemeni people. pic.twitter.com/bdxzYwdUbt— Department of State (@StateDept) December 21, 2017
Deputy Assistant Secretary Linderking’s comments followed Saudi Arabia’s announcement, this week, that the Saudi-led Coalition will open the Yemeni port of Hudaydah to all humanitarian and commercial goods, including fuel, and move cranes funded by the United States to Hudaydah. He also underscored that as the largest humanitarian donor to the people of Yemen, the United States remains committed to alleviating the dire human suffering in Yemen.
United States Vetoes UN Security Council Resolution on Jerusalem
Prior to a United Nations Security Council meeting on Jerusalem on December 21, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivered remarks addressing the United Nations’ hostility and disproportionate focus on Israel.
"What we witnessed here today in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten. It’s one more example of the @UN doing more harm than good in addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."— US Mission to the UN (@USUN) December 18, 2017
-Amb. Haley after vetoing a UNSC resolution on Jerusalem: https://t.co/ipDIorG7KY pic.twitter.com/rhRLzZXWFr
The Ambassador defended the United States’ recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to move its Embassy there.
.@USUN Ambassador Nikki Haley: The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for attack in the @UN General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation...America will put our embassy in Jerusalem…This vote will be remembered. pic.twitter.com/pShm51nzFJ— Department of State (@StateDept) December 21, 2017
United States Implements Magnitsky Human Rights and Rule of Law Accountability Acts
This week, the State Department submitted to Congress the fifth annual report on the U.S. government’s actions to implement the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act and the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
“The Department is committed to protecting and promoting human rights and combating corruption with all of the tools at our disposal. Today’s actions advance our values and promote the security of the United States, our allies, and our partners. We must lead by example, and today’s announcement of sanctions demonstrates the United States will continue to pursue tangible and significant consequences for those who commit serious human rights abuse and engage in corruption.”
- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Statement on Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act
Troika Welcomes Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities in South Sudan
On December 21, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway issued a joint statement congratulating parties to the conflict in South Sudan for signing the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, Protection of Civilians, and Humanitarian Access in Addis Ababa and for “their willingness to compromise for the benefit of the people of South Sudan.”
United States Condemns Houthi Missile Strike Against Saudi Arabia
Spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the December 19 Houthi missile attack on Riyadh.
“We remain deeply disturbed by aggressive Houthi actions supported by Iran’s provision of advanced weapons, which threaten regional security and prolong the Yemen conflict. The United States calls on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to stop arming and enabling the Houthis’ violent actions against Yemen’s neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.”
- Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert
United States and India Host First Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue
“The establishment of this mechanism reflects shared U.S. and Indian commitments to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats. The U.S. and Indian delegations exchanged information on procedures for pursuing designations against terrorist groups and individuals through domestic and international mechanisms. They also discussed best practices for effective implementation of the designations. The United States will host the second U.S.-India Counterterrorism Designations Dialogue in 2018.”
United States Applauds Conclusion of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia
Secretary Tillerson congratulated the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) on its many achievements in a December 21 statement. The Secretary said, “We applaud the Tribunal’s record, which includes indicting 161 senior leaders of regional governments, militaries, and paramilitaries for their roles in atrocities committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.”
The Secretary added, “The pursuit of justice in the Balkans is not over. We call on national authorities to resolve remaining cases in their jurisdictions and to cooperate with one another and the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals to that end.”
Editor’s Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State’s publication on Medium.