Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 20, 2023

Newsline: U.S. Diplomats Shredded Sudanese Passports and Stranded Locals

In the frantic days before American diplomats evacuated their Khartoum embassy under darkness by helicopter last month, one crucial task remained. Armed with shredders, sledgehammers and gasoline, American officials, following government protocols, destroyed classified documents and sensitive equipment, officials and eyewitnesses said. By the time Chinook helicopters carrying commandos landed beside the embassy just after midnight on April 23, sacks of shredded paper lined the embassy’s four floors. But the piles also contained paperwork precious to Sudanese citizens — their passports. Many had left them at the embassy days earlier, to apply for American visas. Some belonged to local staff members. As the embassy evacuated, officials who feared the passports, along with other important papers, might fall into the wrong hands reduced them to confetti. (https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/19/world/africa/sudan-us-embassy-passports.html) A month later, many of those Sudanese are stranded in the war zone, unable to get out. It wasn’t only the Americans: Many other countries also stranded Sudanese visa applicants when their diplomats evacuated, a source of furious recriminations from Sudanese on social media. But most of those countries did not destroy the passports, instead leaving them locked inside shuttered embassies — inaccessible, but not gone forever. Of eight other countries that answered questions about the evacuation, only France said it had also destroyed the passports of visa applicants on security grounds.

Newsline: US State Department eyes expediting weapons export process

The U.S. Department of State said it wants to update internal processes for the tens of billions worth of foreign military sales it oversees each year to speed up approvals “for an age of heightened strategic competition.” “The time has come to reassess and adapt security cooperation to meet new and emerging challenges” the State Department said in a fact sheet, adding that competition with China and Russia’s war in Ukraine were factors that led to the 10-point plan to re-tool the department’s oversight of foreign military sales. The plan, which followed an internal review at the State Department, involves “anticipatory policy decisions” for allies’ potential future purchases to begin the decision process earlier for allies’ requests. (https://neuters.de/world/us/us-state-department-wants-speed-weapons-export-process-2023-05-18/) Other items in the plan included more training for the military attaches stationed at embassies that are the front line of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process.