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Secretary of State Clinton is Wheels Down in Tunisia *updated*

March 17, 2011

I’ll update when more information becomes available.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is greeted by officials after arriving in the early morning hours in Tunis, Tunisia, Thursday, March 17, 2011.

Here’s a little info.:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, visiting Tunisia on Thursday for the first time since protesters toppled their longtime autocratic ruler, urged the country’s interim leadership to enact the economic and political reforms demanded by the public.
“We need a plan for economic development, for jobs,” she said. “The Tunisian people deserve that.”

During a visit to a Tunisian Red Crescent training center, Clinton said, “The revolution created so many hopes, and now we have to translate those hopes into results.”

Tunisian Red Crescent, which has received donations from the United States, has taken the lead in helping refugees from its war-torn neighbor Libya.

“We know you are stretched and you have really stepped up and performed in a humanitarian way with such professionalism,” Clinton told Red Crescent workers. “Yet we also know that Tunisia has its own needs right now and we want to be sure that we help you meet both the humanitarian needs on the border and the humanitarian needs inside Tunisia.”

She donated the first of two U.S. ambulances to the training center.

Clinton is also meeting Thursday with Tunisian civic leaders, students and rights activists to encourage them to keep up pressure for change as she wraps up a Mideast tour that took her to Egypt with a similar message earlier this week. Her trip underscores U.S. concern that gains made since the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt may be lost to impatience or to the rise of new extremist or authoritarian leaders.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks with Tunisian interim President Foued Mebazaa (R) during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Tunis ON March 17, 2011.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is presented flowers as she tours the Red Crescent with U.S. Ambassador Gordon Grey during an official visit in Tunis March 17, 2011.

Secretary Clinton’s remarks at the Tunisian Red Crescent Training Center:

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress) impressed the world is by Tunisia’s remarkable humanitarian response to the crisis on your border, and that the United States is very proud to be your partner, to help with this center, to help with the ambulance and the training for the Red Crescent.

PARTICIPANT: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want to be supportive of these efforts (inaudible). We’re proud to be your partner, and thank you for the compliments for our ambassador, our Embassy, but this really comes from the American people.

PARTICIPANT: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to see the center, too. But you have handled this unexpected crisis extraordinarily well.

PARTICIPANT: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Inaudible) we have a lot of information to be collected, and we also have models from different countries around the world. But I think the idea of working with the Red (inaudible) is unique. So I’m going to follow up on that. (Laughter.) Yeah, good. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m going to be discussing that with the president, the prime minister, the foreign minister, the new government, and also with other Tunisians who understand that we need a plan for economic development, for jobs; the Tunisian people deserve that. There’s going to be a donors’ conference that will be held in some months. I’m going to be sending a delegation from the United States. So we want to know what Tunisia wants. We don’t want to come in and say here’s what the United States believes. We want to hear from Tunisians, and then we want to work on plans, just as I was talking to the doctor – a plan for health. We want to help do what we can to have a plan for jobs. And I think that is so important. The revolution created so many hopes, and now we have to translate those hopes into results, and that comes through economic reform and political reform.

QUESTION: Thank you.

More photos:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton smiles during a press conference in Tunis, Thursday, March, 17, 2011.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    March 17, 2011 8:33 am

    From the BBC, an interesting development for Palestinians:

    “16 March 2011 Last updated at 14:36 ET Share this pageFacebookTwitterShareEmailPrint
    Abbas to meet Hamas in Gaza for Palestinian unity talks

    Mahmoud Abbas has not visited Gaza in almost four years
    Continue reading the main story
    Israel and the Palestinians

    Israel hunts ‘Palestinian killer’
    Excerpts: Leaked Palestinian ‘offers’
    Jerusalem’s troubled geography
    Palestinian views: Anger at leaks
    Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says he is ready to travel to Gaza to try and end the division between his Fatah party and the Islamist movement Hamas.

    Mr Abbas has not set foot in Gaza since the violent split in 2007 which left Fatah in power in the West Bank while Hamas was left to run Gaza.

    Hamas, who on Tuesday invited him to come, has welcomed the move.

    The thaw in relations comes after mass demonstrations in several Palestinian cities calling for national unity.

    “I am ready to go to Gaza tomorrow in order to end the division,” Mr Abbas said in a speech to the central council of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).

    A senior official from Hamas, Sami Abu Zuhri, gave a positive response to Mr Abbas, saying preparations would be made for his visit.

    Both parties seem to be responding to the recent demonstrations that were inspired by the uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East, reports the BBC’s Jon Donnison from Ramallah.

    But Palestinians will not be holding their breath that the feud will end, says our correspondent.

    For years, they have heard promises and pledges that their leaders would try to end the division, all of which have come to nothing, he adds.

    Meanwhile, doctors in Gaza said at least two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike in the central Gaza Strip.

    The Israeli army confirmed the attack, saying it was responding to rockets fired from Gaza.

    Israel says militants have sent dozens of rockets into Israeli territory since the start of the year.

    Before Wednesday’s incident, UN figures showed at least eight Palestinians had been killed by Israeli military action in Gaza in 2011…”

    There’s more but I computer-challenged when itcomes to links!

    • March 17, 2011 8:51 am

      You saw this that i posted last night, right?

      The PA is really worried about the protests sweeping through the Arab world- the PA is not democratically elected and is very unpopular.

      Unity between Fatah and Hamas has usually been undermined by the US and Israel, even on the rare occasion when it seems to be going somewhere. The two groups hate each other so it’s hard to see it being successful.

      I think an intifada is coming and Bibi would like nothing more than to have Cast Lead Part 2.

      The murder of the settler family in Israel is horrible, but it’s not a reason to not move the peace process forward but that’s Bibi’s latest excuse. He has many excuses and when one dissolves, he finds another one. Sadly, he has the US and Congress on his side in this.

      I wonder how all these anti-peace, pro-status quo enablers are going to like a one-state solution and apartheid? This growing obsession with creating a society where laws and rights are based on “Jewishness” (ie. cultural, religious, racial purity) is not going anywhere good, that’s for sure. Marriage rights, property rights, citizenship rights, where one can live, freedom of movement- it’s getting harder and harder to justify this as a democratic secular state-As usual, they’ve taken things way too far.

  2. March 17, 2011 8:57 am

    BTW, as for deaths of Palestinians, here’s something you won’t hear or see in the MSM:

    The killing of Israelis always makes news, but not so much when Palestinian civilians are killed by Israelis. Interesting, that. My point is not that there should be no coverage of violence against Israelis, but rather that violence against ANY person or group should be treated the same- it’s ALL tragic.

    In our society we seem to privilege killing when one side is wearing a uniform, as though that always legitimizes it. Whenever the IDF kills a Palestinian we assume the Palestinian must have been doing something to deserve it, or that Israel was justified in the name of “national security.” We need to start questioning these assumptions more. That goes for not just Israel, but the US military- all nation’s military. The military in every country has tremendous authority and power and with that comes tremendous opportunity for abuse of that power- usually under the guise of security. Look at Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    • PYW permalink
      March 17, 2011 11:09 am

      stacy, what do you think of this?

      • March 17, 2011 11:15 am

        Sounds like total BS. Not a single named source, lots of conjecture and just seems silly.

        • rachel permalink
          March 17, 2011 11:31 am

          Fox has jumped on it.

        • PYW permalink
          March 17, 2011 12:00 pm

          i was a dubious, too. what’s your opinion on a no-fly zone for libya?

      • Thain permalink
        March 17, 2011 1:58 pm

        That story is silly. I’d love to know who their sources are.

        The media relies too much on anonymous sources- it used to be they were only used when you really needed to protect your source. Now it’s used to launch political attacks against people, spread rumors and defer blame without ever having to be held accountable.

  3. March 17, 2011 11:46 am

    @rachel- of course they have, because that’s what Fox’s idea of news is- gossip, innuendo and anything that hints at a rift between Obama and Clinton, even if they have to make one up or repeat what someone else has made up. It’s all very Dick Morris and I wouldn’t be surprised if he appears on Fox News at some point to add his worthless two cents- after all, Dick works for Fox News.

    • rachel permalink
      March 17, 2011 11:55 am

      You are right stacy.

    • PYW permalink
      March 17, 2011 12:00 pm

      maybe dick morris was the source for the original story, lol.

  4. March 17, 2011 1:14 pm

    All the right wing rags are now picking up the story:

    The media has been praying for signs of a division between Obama and Clinton since day number one- it never came and they will jump on anything to try to create a story that is divisive and pits Hillary vs. Obama- I’m sure some pro-Hillary folks are jumping on this too.

    Who knows what really goes on behind the scenes but Hillary has been a fantastic SOS, she and Obama seem to have a very good working relationship and there seems to be mutual respect. Some people just can’t deal with that. Maybe Hillary disagrees with some of Obama’s policies but she’s far too loyal and far too professional to engage in these parlor games and the sniping back and forth. Also, she seems to have a significant voice in the administration’s foreign policy- something which these media hacks conveniently ignore, preferring instead to paint her as powerless.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      March 17, 2011 11:53 pm

      A storyline that seems plausible to me is that Hillary was being the loyal soldier until Egypt when “White House sources” leaked the story to the NY Times and others that Obama was “furious” that she and Biden and Gates were proceeding cautiously — like he had the slightest idea where he stood. That was the first time to my knowledge that Obama showed a willingness to throw Hillary under the bus to bolster his own image. In her shoes, I’d be pretty pissed off and inclined to tell
      Obama to take the SOS job and shove it. But she’s too much of a grown-up; besides, it would have looked like he forced her out. He is so totally spineless it makes me sick.

      • stacyx permalink*
        March 18, 2011 7:41 am

        Maybe, but at this point I am not really sure why people are putting so much stock in an article or storyline that was clearly being pushed by conservative websites and blogs (Fox, the Daily, Drudge and now Politico is of course running with it) and which seems to be based on speculation.

        These stories seem to make a big deal about the fact that she said she’s leaving at the end of this term and based on the fact that she was in the Middle East when she said it, these writers jumped the shark and are claiming those two things are connected- that she’s leaving b/c of Obama’s inaction on Libya. The problem with that theory is a) she said a long time ago she wouldn’t serve in a second Obama term and b) I don’t see any evidence of any big division within the administration on Libya- their position from the start, with the exception of Secretary Gates, has been everything is on the table but we want UN and Arab League support. How then do these writers reach the conclusion that there is some big rift between Hillary and Obama?

  5. Thain permalink
    March 17, 2011 1:56 pm

    Man, liberals are pissed at Obama! At least some Obama supporters are willing to come out and harshly criticize him unlike the GOP, who rarely criticized Bush and thus we got into a mess.

    Check out this video. Man, our CIA is out of control if this is the attitude they have. This guy is apparently a living legend in the intelligence community. He’s also a total a**hole. With this kind of attitude, no wonder the world thinks we are hypocrites:

    • stacyx permalink*
      March 17, 2011 2:11 pm

      @Thain- it’s really sad but Clarridge is the unfortunate face of how our foreign policy is perceived by many other countries, right or wrong. We talk a good game but war, coups, violence, espionage, murder, torture, cyberwarfare, etc. is all ok a) if we do it and b) if we claim it’s for our national security. The problem with that is that we don’t like when other countries do that and we get pegged as overly-moralistic and hypocritical when we point our fingers at countries like Cuba and Iran for certain things (I know we are not like Cuba or Iran-that’s not what I am saying- but you know what I mean) and we end up making our democratic values seem empty.

      The uprisings in the Middle East are exposing just how short-sighted and morally questionable our Mideast policies have been. Maybe shedding some light on our mistakes is not an entirely bad thing but only if we learn from it and change course. But thus far, it seems the status quo is fighting hard to maintain the whole “stability vs. democracy” way of doing things. I think that’s a false choice. A democratic Middle East will not look kindly on our paying off and propping up their dictators and we are already seeing evidence of that on Secy Clinton’s trip- anti-American protests in Tunisia and a lot of criticism from Egyptian activists.

      Here’s more criticism from the base, this time about domestic policy:

  6. March 17, 2011 6:41 pm

    Here we go! Another military intervention – UN Security Council approved a no fly zone for Libya.

    I feel great sympathy for the civilians of Libya, but I don’t know what the right thing to do here was. It’s a complicated situation – different from Egypt in many ways…

  7. Thain permalink
    March 17, 2011 9:03 pm

    Boy, the media is playing this fir all it’s worth:

    More unnamed sources. I think it’s list on the media that irrespective of what Hillary or anyone in the admin thinks about Libya at the end of the day the admin decided to push for a no fly zone. It’s not like Rice or Clinton are running around pushing policies the national security team, of which they are members, disagrees with. Obama must support the no fly zone or he wouldn’t have had Rice vote for it at the Security Council.

    Also, if anyone has been opposed to getting super tough with Libya it’s the defense secretary and yet despite his public doubts about it no one in the media ran around gossiping about how unhappy, powerless and frustrated he is. There’s no talk of any rifts where he’s concerned.

    Ladt year Hillary said she wasn’t going to stay on for a second term – so why all the media frenzy about it now? Why do they always have to try to make it sound like she’s so disgruntled with the job all the time and try to imply she and Obama dont get along well when there is ZERO evidence of that?

  8. PYW permalink
    March 17, 2011 9:36 pm

    That Politico story actually isn’t bad.

  9. Thain permalink
    March 17, 2011 10:03 pm

    PYW- it’s not? Why because it says she had a big win? It’s the same baseless speculation as all the others. It’s obviously based on the other one you linked above. Hillary ALREADY said she was leaving at the end of the term a long time ago- there’s no story here. Why are they saying she and Obama disagree on Libya? Says who? she seems to have been pushing for a no fly zone BECAUSE that’s the position of the national security team.

    Or is all of this talk about Libya based on the assumption that since she’s a hawk she MUST want some kind of intervention in Libya?

    I think the whole thing is stupid

    • PYW permalink
      March 18, 2011 12:36 pm

      The story pointed out that her comments were nothing new and that she likes being SoS. She’s just very tired from the job (which Hillary has said many times) and is looking forward to doing something less stressful, lol.

  10. stacyx permalink*
    March 18, 2011 7:58 am

    That Politico article seems not much different from the other speculative, gossipy articles except that it goes more out of it’s way to give props to Hillary about Libya. That’s all well and good, but as Thain said, they make it sound like Hillary and Amb. Rice scored some big win at the UN while Obama lost and yet Rice was representing the position of the Obama admin. I’m not defending Obama, but I just wonder if some in the media are trying to generate a controversy to grab headlines- because they always seem to fall back on this idea of a huge rift between Obama and Clinton and yet it never seems to pan out. These stories tend to get more coverage in the media than all the hard work she does daily for women’s rights and the day-to-day diplomatic work she does.

    I don’t trust the media- they seem to always want to portray Hillary as the Super Hawk who always wants to use the military to solve every problem and who is the source of rifts within the administration. Sometimes when they seem to be on her “side” so to speak, I wonder if they have an ulterior motive. I also become suspicious when so many of these stories originate in right wing media circles. How convenient that almost all of these stories neglect to mention she announced she wouldn’t stay on as SOS past 2012 last year. They aren’t disclosing that because then their whole “Hillary is leaving because she is fed up!” storyline falls apart.

    That said, I have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Maybe there are differences in opinion about what to do on some of these issues but is that really a bad thing? GWB should have had more diverse viewpoints and then maybe we wouldn’t have ended up in Iraq.

    Why are there no stories about Secretary Gates having a rift with Obama or Hillary about Libya? He’s the one who seemed dead-set against it. How do we know Hillary wanted a no fly zone from the get-go and that Obama didn’t? Much of the discussion about a no-fly zone in the media and among commentators seems grossly over-simplified. Many of the most prominent voices are the same neocons who seem to want war with every oil producing Muslim country in the region. Are we willing to get into a ground war if Ghadaffi slaughters huge numbers of people with his ground forces (instead of doing it by air) or if it escalates in other ways? I honestly don’t know. I do understand why the admin. wanted international support for a no fly zone- the US can’t simply storm into every Muslim country and start shooting planes down.

  11. stacyx permalink*
    March 18, 2011 8:08 am

    I agree with Taylor Marsh about this:

    Obama’s joke about Clinton throwing stones at his window etc. came across as condescending and made him look bad, particularly at a time when he looks like he is constantly wavering. That said, I agree that much of this comes from the right wing media and is filled with vaguely sexist assumptions. Rush Limbaugh has now jumped on the bandwagon and everyone is quoting the same original, poorly sourced, gossipy article from The Daily. There’s no journalism there and it’s reminiscent of the type of stories we read when she first took the job as SOS.

    Clinton and Obama had some different views on foreign policy during the campaign and they may continue to have different views. But Hillary has been a consummate professional and the idea that she would just throw down her ball and go home (or “jump ship”) because we didn’t unilaterally declare a no-fly zone seems absurd to me.

    Ok, that’s about all I have to say about this 😉

    • PYW permalink
      March 18, 2011 12:45 pm

      That is a very good post by Taylor Marsh. I didn’t realize The Daily was a Murdoch venture, which certainly explains a lot.

      It also reminds me why stories in the tabloids about Hillary’s marriage, etc. are always guaranteed to be garbage. No one Hillary would confide in about anything that personal would ever talk to the Enquirer.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      March 19, 2011 12:14 am

      Love this line from Taylor:

      “As for the “She wants to be a grandmother more than anything” line, it’s pure 20th century Rupert Murdoch “Page 6″ misogyny. As if Hillary Rodham Clinton can’t play grandmother and run the world.”

  12. Sally permalink
    March 18, 2011 3:10 pm

    Followers of Secretary Clinton’s comings and goings know she has said she does not want to continue as Secretary of State if Obama is reeleected and “No’ to all the questions Blitzer asked in his recent interview with her. Detractors pretend they have never heard her say any of this. Pshaw!

    Off topic: I have a crush on the Secret Service agent behind Secretary Clinton at the right of the first picture and always look for reassurance that he’s there with her.

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