Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I missed being in Pittsburgh. But we carried on the traditions here in Khartoum. Had 20 fellow Embassy folks, Americans from all over the US. We all wanted to be somewhere else, with family and friends, but here we were. I said a few words of thanks, for all the loved ones and people back home who give us the reason for being here to serve and for each other. I hugged everyone who came. We all had good food and a good time. Tradition carrying on.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
It's getting hard to keep things in perspective. I went from dealing with the serious issues left by the recent threat and meeting with embassy staff (American & local) to discuss this with them to a phone call from the Director General. You can bet on how I looked forward to the Ops Center connecting him to me. Sure enough, not good news. Not a late recognition of my deserving advancement or a word on how well I was handling the current crisis. No, he wanted to tell me that AID Director* thought he had not been treated well enough during his recent visit. Then I went to see the Egyptian ambassador for a scotch and a chat. I enjoy talking with him. Home for dinner and then after dinner, I discover the back lights are out. In the current context, makes me predisposed to paranoia. Then I talk to USAID Washington about a food shipment being held up by a rebellious Agriculture Minister. There is an open feud over this pitting the Minister against the Vice President (and "strong man") and Foreign Minister who told us last month that we could ship despite GOS concerns over GMOs. (Hardliners vs "moderates.") The senior USAID official (who was on the trip) told me we have only days before the food problem will lead to costly diversions. (But "no", he knew of no problem with Andrew.) Then the RSO calls me to tell me the government is already withdrawing police from our facilities including some from my residence. I'm beginning to wonder just what the early signs of coup would be here. I call the desk just to chat. They feel good because the peace delegations had a good meeting in London. (For all I know, they were talking to dead men walking.)
What part of this do I take seriously? I don't think I can handle all of it. Think I'll concentrate on police guards.
*Note: Andrew Natsios was the Director of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), 2001-06. USAID was a hotbed of USG support for the "Christian" African rebels (SPLM) fighting the Khartoum government in southern Sudan. The SPLM boosters within the USG did not like the Embassy constantly raising the distracting issue of Darfur. But Natsios also understood the need to be seen doing something about Darfur by sending food aid while the Sudanese government went ahead with its ethnic cleansing there. (Natsios reportedly said in a 2003 interview that the total cost of rebuilding Iraq would not cost US taxpayers more than $1.7 billion.)