Embassy Row

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PROTESTS TURN ON ENVOY

Thousands of demonstrators in Yemen on Tuesday demanded the expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Gerald Feierstein, accusing him of encouraging a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters.

Yemenis from the southern city of Taiz marched in the capital, Sanaa, three days after Yemeni troops killed at least nine protesters and wounded more than 200 in a demonstration Saturday, according to news reports from the Arab nation, which has been gripped by instability for most of the year.

The protesters denounced Mr. Feierstein for comments he made before Saturday’s demonstration that, they claimed, gave the government a “green light” to attack the unarmed civilians who traveled about 175 miles to Sanaa in what they called the “March for Life.”

The ambassador was widely quoted in the Yemeni media as predicting the march was designed to “provoke a violent response” from the interim government led by Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

“If 2,000 people decided to protest against the White House in the U.S., we [would not] consider it a peaceful act and will not allow this,” Mr. Feierstein was quoted as saying.

Members of the Yemeni parliament Sunday also criticized the ambassador. They condemned his “irresponsible statements, which [were] one of the main reasons that encouraged the regime to attack the peaceful march.” They insisted that the government “considered [the ambassador’s comments] a green light” to fire on the demonstrators.

The U.S. Embassy has declined to comment on the criticism, but one American diplomat told NewsYemen.net that U.S. officials met with the government before Saturday’s march and urged Yemeni authorities to show restraint and meet with the demonstrators.

On Sunday, John Brennan, the top counterterrorism adviser to President Obama, called Mr. Hadi to urge him to show “maximum restraint” in future protests, a White House spokesman said.

Mr. Hadi took over a transitional government after beleaguered President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to a U.S.-backed deal to transfer power in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

BYE BYE, BRYZA

Matthew Bryza, a career diplomat highly regarded at the State Department, bid farewell to top officials in Azerbaijan on Tuesday after the Senate refused to confirm him to a full term as U.S. ambassador to the oil-rich nation in the Caucasus.

Mr. Bryza met with Azeri President Ilham Aliyev and with Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, who both praised him for his 11-month tenure.

The Azerbaijan Business Center noted that Mr. Bryza “finished his bright ambassador mission.”

The ambassador’s journey from Washington to the Azeri capital of Baku was one of the bumpiest in recent U.S. diplomatic history.

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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