I strongly condemn today's terrorist attacks, claimed by Jundallah, that targeted Iranian men, women, and children worshipping at a mosque in Chabahar, Iran. On behalf of the people of the United States, I extend condolences to the families and loved ones of all those injured and killed as they marked the eve of the last day of Ashura. This is yet another example of terrorists using cowardly methods to inflict pain and fear on innocent civilians. The perpetrators of this attack must be held to account for their actions.
The United States condemns all forms of terrorism and sectarian-driven violence, wherever it occurs, and we stand with the victims of these abhorrent and reprehensible acts. The global community must remain vigilant in combating terrorist organizations and individuals that threaten lives in every part of the world.
Secretary Clinton said today that she and the U.S. government support reintegration and reconciliation with Taliban members who meet specific criteria. We are "willing to support what's called reintegration -- namely, people on the battlefield coming off and going back into their society -- and reconciliation, which is a much more political process to work out terms of peace with people who [have] led the Taliban, but only on very clear conditions," she told ABC's Robin Roberts during an interview in Brussels, where she attended a NATO ministerial meeting.
Those "clear conditions" are:
Clinton was cautious with her remarks and said she's unsure how many Taliban leaders would agree to these conditions. In fact she said, "I think it's highly unlikely that the leadership of the Taliban that refused to turn over bin Laden in 2001 will ever reconcile. But stranger things have happened in the history of war, but it can only happen if they [are] willing to abide by the red lines that we and the Afghan government have established."
Other the other hand, Clinton sounded somewhat optimistic about lower-level Taliban members who likely joined in the first place just to get a paycheck. "I am increasingly convinced that many of the lower-level Taliban, young men who frankly went to fight for the Taliban because they got paid more than they could make anywhere else -- I believe that they are, in increasing numbers, laying down their arms and coming back into society."
She also told Roberts, "What we are seeing is a move by the lower-level fighters, many of them, to leave the battlefield, which is all to the good because they are being convinced that this fight is no longer one they want to be part of."
Anything about the Taliban joining peace talks or becoming part of the Afghan government will make most Americans nervous. Anyone can pay mere lip service to meeting the three "red line" conditions listed above; how do you tell whether someone isn't surreptitiously supporting violence and al Qaeda on the side? I also wish Clinton had reiterated that no political reconciliation should come at the price of Afghanistan's women -- which is one of the scariest things about involving the Taliban in peace talks and the government. Back in July during her visit to Kabul, Clinton made it starkly clear that Afghan women can't be marginalized in the reconciliation process, saying:
I don't think there is such a political solution that would be a lasting, sustainable one that would turn the clock back on women. That is a recipe for a return to the kind of Afghanistan -- if not in the entire country, in significant parts of the country -- that would once again be a breeding ground for terrorism. So we've got our red lines, and they are very clear: Any reconciliation process that the United States supports, recognizing that this is an Afghan-led process, must require that anyone who wishes to rejoin society and the political system must lay down their weapons and end violence, renounce al Qaeda, and be committed to the Constitution and laws of Afghanistan, which guarantee the rights of women.
Below is an edited video of today's interview:
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton blasted Pakistan's government today for not taxing its rich more, yet expecting developed countries to aid the country. She declared, "It is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part."
Clinton made the remarks at a news conference in Brussels with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton (seen above) in which they discussed flood-recovery efforts in Pakistan. Clinton mentioned that a stable Pakistan is essential to the fight against terrorism, which is when she started on her pet peeve: poor countries that don't tax their elite. Here are her demands of the Pakistani government, which you can also listen to in the video below:
We also believe that stability in Pakistan is essential to our shared fight against terrorism and to protect the security of the people of our country and friends and allies like those in Europe. Now, of course, the international community can only do so much. Pakistan itself must take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources, and in particular to reform its economy.
The most important step that Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms that will expand its tax base. The government must require that the economically affluent and elite in Pakistan support the government and people of Pakistan. We have been very clear on that, and I am pleased that the government is responding. I know how difficult this is, but it is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part. The government must also take steps to alleviate the crippling power shortages that stifle economic growth while making life difficult for the Pakistani people.
If U.S. President Barack Obama is having such a hard time repealing the Bush tax cuts on America's rich, his administration is going to have an even harder time getting another country's government to increase taxes on its rich (or begin collecting taxes from the rich in the first place). Clinton is certainly right that Pakistan's elite should pay its fair share of taxes -- the rich there pay laughably small amounts or none at all, Clinton pointed out last month. But, the United States has limited influence on the country's government. Just two weeks ago, Pakistan closed the Torkham Gate crossing into Afghanistan after U.S. forces accidentally killed several Pakistani border guards. The crossing has since been reopened, but the multiday closure held up trucks that supply international forces in Afghanistan. So, who's really in a position to be calling the shots?
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting on terrorism today, Secretary Clinton said when it comes to human rights and the rule of law, "We cannot sacrifice those values in our zeal to stop terrorists."
Alluding to the horrific maltreatment of females by Islamist extremists, Clinton went on to say, "Our values are what makes us different from those who are trying to tear down so much of the progress that has been made over the course of history, and I have to add, especially for women and girls."
Clinton said that members of the international community must work harder in their joint efforts against terrorism and strengthen the multilateral institutions in place to tackle the problem:
[O]ur joint efforts [are] only as strong as our shared commitment. And today, let me emphasize that the United States is committed to working through multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, to confront the threats posed. We are also committed to strengthening this multilateral architecture. We believe it can do better. So although we are very supportive, we want to work with all of you to improve it.
Clinton also reminded the Security Council that efforts must be made to stop people from becoming terrorists in the first place, which means "addressing the political, economic, and social conditions that make people vulnerable to exploitation by extremists." She went on to say:
For people whose lives are characterized by frustration or desperation, for people who believe that their governments are unresponsive or repressive, al Qaeda and other groups may offer an appealing view. But it is a view rooted in destruction, and we have to provide an alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility.
This sounds like a huge, daunting "save the world" job, but Clinton is right -- improved political, economic, and social conditions would go a long way toward giving people an outlook of hope and opportunity and a sense that there's more to be lost than gained by joining or supporting terrorists. But giving people an "alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility" (if outsiders can even do so) would be a long-term, multiyear effort that would span generations -- 25 or even 100 years, depending on whom you ask. Would the American public be up for such a long-haul effort? Perhaps if it didn't involve too much money or too many American lives lost. But this does seem to be the only true way to ultimately nip terrorism at its roots.
Here is the video of her remarks:
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
"The United States condemns terrorism and all forms of violence against innocent people, wherever it occurs," Secretary Clinton said today in a statement in response to the bombing at a military parade in Mahabad, Iran, which has killed 12 people and wounded about 75 others, mostly women and children, including the girl in the photo.
In her complete statement, she said:
I condemn the bombing targeting Iranians attending a parade in Mahabad today and offer my sympathy to the families and loved ones of those injured and killed. The perpetrators of this attack should be brought to justice and held accountable.
The United States condemns terrorism and all forms of violence against innocent people, wherever it occurs, and stands with the victims of these crimes. This attack underscores the international community's need to work together to combat terrorism that threatens the lives of innocent civilians all around the world.
As sincere as Clinton is, Iranian authorities might not take her seriously. Although the attack is thought to have been perpetrated by Kurdish militants, Iranian officials are -- surprise, surprise -- blaming the United States and Israel.
"As the investigations indicate, the attack has foreign backing," Vahid Jalalzadeh, governor of West Azerbaijan province, where the bombing occurred, told state TV. "Unfortunately, the Americans and their allies are in the region. From the first day of their presence and their slogan to establish security in the region, we can see that the unrest has increased."
And we have this from Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, referring to the U.N. General Assembly in New York and Iran's "Sacred Defense Week," this week's commemoration of the Iran-Iraq War:
The terrorist attack in Mahabad is the reaction of Israeli agents and the supporters of the Zionist regime [of Israel] to the country's defensive prowess in the Sacred Defense Week and the successes of the Islamic Republic of Iran's active diplomacy in the biggest international arena in New York.
Thumbnail image from Press TV (http://www.presstv.ir/detail/143598.html)
As Americans marked the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Secretary Clinton said, "Today I join with all Americans in honoring those who lost their lives on that terrible day. My thoughts and prayers are with their friends and families." She made the remarks in the following statement:
Nine years later, the memories of September 11, 2001 remain searingly vivid. Loved ones and friends whose lives were cut short. Brave first responders who rushed into burning buildings to save people they had never met. Dedicated construction workers and volunteers who searched tirelessly through the smoldering wreckage for survivors. Families and communities who pulled together to turn tragedy into a new birth of service and tolerance. We remember the pain of loss, but also the pride in our people and our country.
Today I join with all Americans in honoring those who lost their lives on that terrible day. My thoughts and prayers are with their friends and families, with those people who continue to suffer lasting health effects, and with the courageous men and women who are fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere to defeat those responsible for the attacks. Let us keep all of them in our hearts today and every day.
In the photo above, the Tribute in Light shines in downtown Manhattan, as seen from near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
In Islamabad today, Secretary Clinton announced a whole slew of development projects for Pakistan: hydroelectric dams, refurbishment of municipal water-supply systems, hospital renovations, agricultural projects, etc. In the photo above, she points to a map marking the location of many projects, while Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi looks on.
The projects are being funded through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation passed in the United States last year that provides $7.5 billion over five years to fix Pakistan's infrastructure and promote its economic develpment. The U.S. government is trying to dispel the distrust that many Pakistanis have toward the United States, and Clinton was trying to make it clear that the development aid is for helping Pakistan itself and is not just for advancing U.S. security interests. At the news conference with Qureshi, as seen in the photo above, Clinton said:
"There's a legacy of suspicion that we inherited.… It's not going to be eliminated overnight. But it's our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the U.S. is concerned about Pakistan for the long term, and that the partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies."
"We are committed to building a partnership with Pakistan that of course strengthens security and protects the people of Pakistan, but goes far beyond security."
It seems pretty naive to think this aid package isn't primarily about security. Regardless of intent, however, will it win Pakistani hearts and minds? Methinks not. As of last October, when President Obama signed the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation, only 15 percent of Pakistanis surveyed supported it. Many think the aid money comes with too many strings attached and compromises Pakistan's sovereignty.
I wish Clinton good luck, though. With her star power, you never know.
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton condemns the bombings in Uganda that took place while people were watching the World Cup final yesterday:
I join President Obama in strongly condemning today's attacks in Kampala, Uganda targeting innocent spectators watching the World Cup final.
We understand that American citizens may have been injured or killed and our embassy is reaching out to assist. Our condolences go out to the families and friends of the victims, in the United States and Uganda.
At this tragic moment, the United States stands with Uganda. We have a long-standing, close friendship with the people and Government of Uganda and will work with them to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.
In the photo above, taken just moments after the bombings yesterday, survivors look frightened and dazed at an Ethiopian restaurant, one of the sites of the bombings.
Secretary Clinton appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes yesterday and discussed the attempted bombing at Times Square, among other foreign-policy topics. Just like she did last year when she was visiting Pakistan, she said that somebody, somewhere, in the Pakistani government knows where Osama bin Laden is:
I'm not saying that they're at the highest levels, but I believe that somewhere in this [Pakistani] government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture, or kill those who attacked us on 9/11."
When asked by 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley why the Obama administration isn't putting more pressure on the Pakistani government to apprehend Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Clinton responded:
I have to stand up for the efforts the Pakistani government is taking. They have done a very significant move toward going after the terrorists within their own country."
On a lighter note, Clinton also talked about daughter Chelsea's upcoming wedding:
Secretary Clinton said today that Yemen's instability is "an urgent national security priority." She made the remarks in London where she attended a meeting about Yemen in the wake of the Christmas Day underpants bomber. In a news conference after the meeting, she said:
To help the people of Yemen, we -- the international community -- must do more.… The government of Yemen must also do more. This must be a partnership if it is to have a successful outcome."
At the meeting, she said, according to prepared remarks:
Yemen's challenges are not going to be solved by military action alone."
Progress against violent extremists and progress toward a better future for the Yemeni people … will also depend on fortifying development effort."
Clinton also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (below) and pushed for tough international sanctions against Iran if it can't prove its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Photos, top to bottom: Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images, Lefteris Pitarakis - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is meeting today with President Obama in the White House's Situation Room to discuss the security weaknesses that led to the near bombing of the U.S.-bound plane from Amsterdam on Christmas Day. Other high-level administration officials in attendance will be: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Muller, and CIA Director Leon Panetta. The would-be bomber's father had reported him to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, but that wasn't enough to prevent the son from boarding a U.S.-bound plane. As head of the State Department, Clinton will most certainly want to ensure that information given to embassies is promptly and effectively acted upon.
Other Clinton news:
•Clinton barely edged out Sarah Palin (16 percent versus 15 percent) as most-admired woman in a USA Today/Gallup poll.
•A new book has Clinton's name in the subtitle: Notes from the Cracked Ceiling: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, and What It Will Take for a Woman to Win.
•A list of contributors to the William J. Clinton Foundation has been released as part of an ethics promise by Secretary Clinton. The diverse group of donors includes Norway, Oman, the PGA Tour Inc., Donald Trump, and Bug Works Pest Control Co.
TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images
Hope my fellow Americans had a great Labor Day weekend. Here's today's Hillary Clinton news brief:
•A plot by al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants to bomb the hotel where Secretary Clinton was staying during her visit to Nairobi, Kenya, last month (shown above) was foiled at the last minute, The Australian reports. Very scary.
[Update (Sept. 10): This story might not be true -- see stacyx's comment below. FP regrets any error; at the time of posting, the story seemed credible.]
•This morning Clinton and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg celebrated the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival in New York Harbor by welcoming Prince Willem-Alexander of Orange and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands.
•This afternoon, Clinton will be back in Washington to bilateral with Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates.
•Clinton's husband Bill gave an interview with Esquire magazine. The print version will be available in the October issue, which'll hit newsstands Sept. 14.
•Do any of you live in the Orlando, Fla., area? An exhibit at the Presidents Hall of Fame features the roughly 35 women -- most from lesser-known parties -- who have made a bid for the U.S. presidential nomination. Included is a replica of a navy-blue suit worn by Clinton.
Photo: SIMON MAINA/AFP/Getty Images
Here are a couple of wild headlines from the British press.
From The Guardian:
From the Daily Mail:
Basically, lawyers for Binyam Mohamed, a British resident and former terrorism detainee, want the High Court to disclose a seven-paragraph summary of CIA documents that allegedly support Mohamed's claim that British intelligence agents were complicit in his torture in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Morocco.
In a written statement, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband claims that Secretary Clinton "indicated" to him in May that if the court disclosed the CIA material, it would adversely "affect intelligence sharing." Clinton and the CIA are also said to have written letters stating that the United States would review its intelligence-sharing practices with Britain if the court discloses the CIA material.
Human rights activists say Miliband is just using the U.S. threat to avoid having to reveal the "ugly truth" about British complicity in torture. Lord Justice Thomas was doubtful about the threat to limit intelligence sharing, saying: "So the U.S. has taken the position that this is so serious that it is prepared to reassess its relationship with the UK and put lives at risk?"
So what did Clinton say or write? It's hard to believe that she would threaten a complete cut of intelligence sharing if the material is disclosed. Yesterday, while meeting with Miliband, above, she even said, "The issue of intelligence sharing is one that is critically important to our two countries, and we have both a stake in ensuring that it continues to the fullest extent possible."
Photo: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
While in Mumbai, India, Secretary Clinton is staying in a three-room suite at the iconic Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotel, which was badly damaged during last November's terrorist siege of the city. The entire floor she's staying on has been cordoned off, and about 200 police officers are stationed around the hotel, reports German press agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
On Saturday, Clinton is expected to engage in remembrance events for the victims of the siege, including visits to attack sites and meeting with survivors. On Sunday, she'll be off to New Delhi, the capital.
Although Clinton with be discussing how India and the United States can strengthen their strategic partnership and forge initiatives in a number of areas -- counterterrorism, trade, agriculture, etc. -- an important focus of her talks will be nuclear cooperation. The two countries signed an important deal last year that permits American companies to sell nuclear material and equiment to India for civilian use even though India hasn't signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
It is also expected that there will be an announcement of two sites for nuclear power plants to be built by American companies for $10 billion.
Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images
I don't have time to elaborate further (gotta move on to other FP tasks), but there have been a couple of posts this week on FP blogs about Secretary Clinton and U.S. policy toward Hamas:
Over at Passport: "The Obama administration's end run around Hamas restrictions"
Over at The Cable: "Clinton articulates policy regarding Hamas"
More information is at the Los Angeles Times: "Obama move alarms Israel supporters"
Some people in Sri Lanka apparently think Secretary Clinton is aiding and abetting terrorism. Also "implicated" are British Foreign Minister David Miliband (left in posters) and Erik Solheim, the Norwegian international development minister, according to the posters photographed today in the capital city of Colombo.
Earlier this year, FP named the Sri Lanka conflict as one of world's "insurgencies that refuse to die." In a nutshell, the Tamil Tigers want an independent Tamil state*, free of control from the island's Sinhalese Buddhist majority. The group -- formally called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) -- has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organization.
Presently, some 50,000 civilians are trapped in a 4-square-mile area of LTTE-held territory. The State Department is concerned about the humanitarian situation. At yesterday's press briefing, Robert Wood, the department's acting spokesman, said: "we're calling on the government of Sri Lanka and the Tamil Tigers to cease hostilities and to do what they can to protect civilians and to allow food and medicine and other things into that area to meet the needs of the Sri Lankan people who are affected by this conflict."
Meanwhile, Miliband and the French foreign minister have been trying to get the Sri Lankan government to implement a cease-fire. As for U.S. diplomacy, Clinton phoned Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee last week, and Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher has been "heavily involved." However, no senior U.S. government official has plans to travel to Sri Lanka, and no conference regarding the conflict has been proposed.
For related FP content, read last week's "Day of Reckoning in Sri Lanka."
*This updates original wording that stated "independent Hindu Tamil state."
Photo: LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton is at The Hague in the Netherlands for today's international conference on Afghanistan. She will not be having any "substantive" discussions with Iranian officials there, but they did share a conference table earlier today.
On another note, Clinton has said the phrase, "war on terror," is finished. The Associated Press reports that on her way to The Hague she said:
"The [Obama] administration has stopped using the phrase, and I think that speaks for itself."
Clinton is in the Netherlands, so, of course, I have to include this photo with tulips:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives on March 31 with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen for the start of the international conference on Afghanistan in The Hague. Afghanistan's international backers, including Iran, are gathering to try to bring new impetus to efforts to combat the Taliban-led insurgency, help spread democracy, and rebuild.
Photos: ROBERT VOS/AFP/Getty Images
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.