Matthew Bryza: “The key to keeping American personnel safe lay with Azerbaijan’s security forces, who worked with the U.S. to keep potential attackers away from the embassy’s perimeter”

Matthew Bryza: “The key to keeping American personnel safe lay with Azerbaijan’s security forces, who worked with the U.S. to keep potential attackers away from the embassy’s perimeter”
# 04 December 2012 11:10 (UTC +04:00)

Baku. Shamil Alibeyli – APA. The Wall Street Journal has published article “My Experience With Lax Embassy Security” by Matthew Bryza, who was US ambassador to Azerbaijan in 2011-2012. APA reports quoting the newspaper’s website that first Matthew Bryza recalled killing of US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens on September 11 by the protestors of anti-Islam film of the US. He writes: “Before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack that killed him and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens documented his concerns about safety there. He made two separate requests for increased security that weren’t fulfilled to local Libyan authorities and one to the State Department in Washington. Both were similar to requests I made last year as a U.S. ambassador serving and both reflected a far too common frustration among American diplomats. During my tenure as U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan from February 2011 to January 2012, our embassy continuously faced serious terror threats. Terrorists planned to murder Israeli and U.S. diplomats and their families including, I feared, my own the capital of Baku. When the threats reached alarming levels during my first week on the job, it immediately became clear how vulnerable we would be to an attack by determined terrorists should they breach our embassy walls.

The key to keeping American personnel safe lay with Azerbaijan’s security forces, who worked with the U.S. to keep potential attackers away from the embassy’s perimeter. Azerbaijani operatives ultimately apprehended the terrorists before they struck. The preventive effort required an unusual level of collaboration between U.S. and Azerbaijani officials beyond the routine requirements under the Geneva Convention for host governments to protect foreign diplomatic facilities. The Libyan government’s security personnel didn’t provide such extraordinary protection to Ambassador Stevens and his team.

In my experience, even as Azerbaijan’s security forces went the extra mile, the U.S. government bureaucracy nearly failed us. At a particularly tense moment, I learned that for budgetary reasons the State Department planned to cut resources for a security procedure I had identified as crucial to preventing terrorists from approaching our embassy facilities. In response, I immediately instructed the head of diplomatic security at our embassy to inform her colleagues in Washington that Embassy Baku needed an increase in this capability and that a decrease under such circumstances was absurd.

I was appalled to learn weeks later that midlevel bureaucrats in Washington had implemented the cutback for Baku. My immediate and angry response got the capability restored. But for approximately two weeks, our embassy personnel all their family members left unnecessarily vulnerable because of budget decisions taken deep within the bureaucracy and against the assessment of the U.S. president’s personal representative in Azerbaijan, his ambassador”.

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