Monday, July 11, 2011

US Consulate General Erbil Officially Opens, Embassy Baghdad Posts One Postage Sized Photo as Proof

US Embassy Iraq
Website Photo
Now they're talking - via US Embassy Baghdad on July 11, 2011. I know it opened over the weekend, but, but ...the work week in Iraq is Sunday through Thursday:
On July 10, U.S. Ambassador James F. Jeffrey and Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides officially opened the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil, Iraq.  In attendance at the ceremony were Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, Iraqi First Lady Hero Talabani, Iraqi Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Barham Salih, Legal Director of the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Arshad Tawfik and Director of Consular Affairs Ambassador Ismet Ageed, along with Ministers and Members of Parliament, civil society representatives, media, business leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps.

The U.S. Consulate General covers the three provinces of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region; Erbil, Sulymaniyah, and Dohuk, and succeeds the U.S. Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT), which has operated in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region since 2007.  Civilian U.S. agencies, working in partnership with military colleagues in the RRT, have made memorable and lasting contributions to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, including projects to provide water treatment, schools and other educational facilities, and an orphanage.

In remarks during the ceremony, Ambassador Jeffrey said “It is our fondest wish that a strong and vibrant Kurdistan Region within a democratic and federal Iraq arise from the tragic history of this region.  Our goal is to build an Iraq for all its citizens... Arabs and Kurds, Sunni and Shia, Christian and Muslim, Yezidi and Shebak, one that respects all its citizens and one which is governed by the rule of law.”  Ambassador Jeffrey also announced the appointment of Mr. Alexander Laskaris to the position of Consul General.

Today’s event also marked a celebration of the 235th anniversary of U.S. independence.  Noting the date, Ambassador Jeffrey said “I believe there is no better place to celebrate our Independence Day than here in a partner country fighting for its democracy.”

For further information please contact Selim Ariturk, Public Affairs Officer, Consulate General Erbil (phone 0770-443-0117, email:

Active links added above.  Um, would somebody please, pretty please inquire with the PAO at US Embassy Baghdad why they bother posting one postage sized photo of the event when no one can tell who's who in that snapshot? That rightmost guy in the photo above looks like Leon Panetta; sure does look like the new SecDef, doesn't he? And why post only one photo? Are they all camera-shy or something? Or are they afraid the Iraqis would stick pins at their photos?

Oops, wait, wait -- I'm told that the rightmost person in the photo is not Leon Panetta but the new Consul General of ConGen Erbil, Alexander Laskaris. See below, the same photo posted on its Facebook page:

Photo from US Embassy Iraq/FB
Sorry, it's not Leon Panetta! How in heaven's name could I have made that mistake?

The largest US embassy in the universe, and they don't have on-time, fresh from the oven news? And they can only share stamp-sized photographs? And the new consulates have yet to have an online presence ... minor things done badly.  I feel much better thinking about the transition to a civilian-led mission already.

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