David Welch

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This article is about the diplomat. For other uses, see David Welch (disambiguation).
C. David Welch

Charles David Welch (born 1953) is an American diplomat who served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs in the United States Department of State from 2005 through 2008. On August 14, 2008 in Tripoli, Welch signed the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement paving the way for the restoration of full diplomatic and commercial relations between the two countries after a 25-year break.[1] Welch is currently the president of the Europe, Africa & Middle East division of Bechtel.

Background[edit]

David Welch was born in Munich in 1953 to U.S. foreign service parents, and lived with them in Germany, Brazil, Morocco, Ecuador and Mexico. He studied at the London School of Economics (1973-4), and is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service of Georgetown University (1975). Welch holds a graduate degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. He speaks Spanish and Arabic.

Career diplomat[edit]

From 1977 to 1979, David Welch served in the Office of the Under Secretary for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. He was appointed political officer at the U.S. embassy in Islamabad (1979–81) and returned to the State Department where he was desk officer for Syria (1981) and Lebanon (1982-3).

Welch was assigned to the U.S. embassy in Damascus as head of the political section (1984-6), and then to Amman (1986-8). From 1989 to 1991, he was a member of the National Security Council staff at the White House and became executive assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs at the State Department (1991-2). He served as chargé d'affaires at the U.S. embassy in Riyadh (1992-4), continuing there as deputy chief of mission in 1995.

Between 1996 and 1998, Welch served in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, playing an important role in achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives in Iran, Iraq and Libya. In October 1998, he became Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs implementing U.S. policy towards the United Nations and other international organizations.

In August 2001, David Welch was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Egypt (2001-5).

On March 18, 2005, Welch was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.[2]

On December 18, 2008 Welch resigned from his position as the top U.S. diplomat in the Middle East to pursue work in the private sector. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice bid Welch farewell in a speech that reviewed his service to the United States. Welch was the first US Assistant Secretary of State to resign in transition to the Obama administration.[3] Welch is currently the president of the Europe, Africa & Middle East division of Bechtel.[4]

Controversy in Egypt[edit]

In Egypt, Sheikh Goma'a delivered a fatwa, an Islamic opinion issued by Islamic scholars, which states that anyone who detonates himself among Israelis is a martyr. David Welch, the United States ambassador to Egypt, stated that this fatwa was an attempt to justify and promote terrorism. He also formed a committee intended to inspect the Egyptian schools to remove curriculum that promote terrorism. Welch's statements aroused anti-US sentiments amongst Egyptians as Muslims believed that the United States ambassador had no authority to interfere in religious matters of foreign country. Egyptian media criticized him for describing Palestinians who carry out martyrdom operations against Israel as terrorists, labeling Hizbollah as a terrorist organization, and excluding Israel from countries required to disarm its nuclear weapons.[5]

The ambassador criticized the process of editing, calling it "recklessness in checking the facts of serious matters." He criticized the Egyptian media by accusing Egyptian journalists of lacking precision and professionalism, and often fabricating and sensationalizing news. The Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Maher, in return, said that the Egyptian press is worth respect and the attack on the Egyptian press does not correspond with the principles of democracy and freedom of opinion promoted by America. He added that the Egyptian press is expressing independent opinions that might or might not be in accordance with the government’s policy.

He has also previously appeared on Egyptian television and confirmed that America would cut off its aid to Egypt because of the stand of the Egyptian judiciary toward the case of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian liberalist and political activist. He has also attacked the Azhar and the Friday sermon that described the Jews as the "descendants of monkeys and pigs." He sent a message of objection to this sermon confirming that it creates a climate that is hostile to Jews and justifies terrorism. Welch has also sent a letter to the Minister of Culture requesting the safeguard of Jewish monuments after rumors spread that mosques would be built over those monuments.[6]

Egyptian intellectuals sarcastically criticized him, stating that he acts like "the American High Commissioner in Egypt,” referring to the authority that the British High Commissioner once had during British occupation, as they considered his statements a severe interference in domestic issues. [7]

Work in Libya[edit]

U.S.-Libya agreement in 2008[edit]

Following months of bilateral negotiations, the passage through Congress of the enabling legislation at the end of July 2008 and the signature of the Libyan Claims Resolution Act by President George W. Bush,[8] the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement was signed in Tripoli by David Welch on August 14, 2008.

Welch described it as a very important agreement that turns a new page in the U.S.-Libya relationship, and said:

"Under this agreement each country's citizens can receive fair compensation for past incidents. When fulfilled, the agreement will permit Libya and the US to develop their relations".

He estimated that the amount of compensation in question was $1.5 billion for the families of American victims of terrorism incidents of the 1980s that were blamed on Libya, and $300m for the Libyan families of victims of the U.S. bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1986.[9]

In October 2008 Libya proceeded to pay $1.5 billion into a fund which will be used to compensate relatives of the

  1. Lockerbie bombing victims with the remaining 20% of the sum agreed in 2003;
  2. American victims of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing;
  3. American victims of the 1989 UTA Flight 772 bombing; and,
  4. Libyan victims of the 1986 U.S. bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi.

As a result, President George W. Bush signed an executive order restoring the Libyan government's immunity from terror-related lawsuits and dismissing all of the pending compensation cases in the US, the White House said. [10]

Support of Gaddafi in 2011[edit]

According to Al Jazeera, papers found in the headquarters of the former intelligence agency of Libya indicate that during the 2011 Libyan civil war David Welch met officials of Muammar Gaddafi's regime on 2 August 2011, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo a few blocks from the US embassy.[11] Welch reputedly advised the Gaddafi regime on how to win the "propaganda war" by passing information on potential connections between anti-Gaddafi forces and terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda to the American government via the intelligence agencies of other countries such as Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.[11] According to it he also recommended that the regime refers to the Syrian situation to expose what he viewed as a double-standard in American foreign policy relating to the Arab Spring.[11] He also criticised Qatar's role in the intervention, calling it a cynical effort to distract from the unrest in nearby Bahrain.[11]

Moroccan Conflict over Western Sahara[edit]

David Welch also played a significant role in Morocco – United States relations particularly in regards to the ongoing conflict over Western Sahara. Speaking at a Congressional hearing for the House of Representatives in 2007, Welch articulated that the Department of State sided with Morocco on the issue of Western Sahara. He explained that the conflict is a, “…destabilizing element [which] thwarts regional ties, which are necessary for economic expansion, and it has had an effect on government-to-government cooperation within the Maghreb.”[12] He then affirmed the State Department’s role stating, “We have welcomed Mr. Chairman, Morocco’s recent initiative to resolve the dispute…. We consider the Moroccan proposal to provide real autonomy for the Western Sahara to be serious and credible.”[12] Conversely, in regards to the Polisario’s proposal Welch Stated, “The Polisario proposal…does not seem, in our judgment, to contain new ideas…”[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Briefing on the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Settlement Agreement". 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2008-08-16. [dead link]
  2. ^ "U.S. Department of State, Biography, C. David Welch". Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  3. ^ "Farewell Ceremony for Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch". 
  4. ^ "Bechtel Leadership". 
  5. ^ http://www.arabwestreport.info/?q=node/16373 Arab West Report : art. 06, 52 - 2004
  6. ^ http://www.arabwestreport.info/?q=node/11905 Arab West Report Art. 4, Week 44/2003, October 29 - November 04
  7. ^ http://www.arabwestreport.info/?q=node/11132 Arab West Report art. 04, 19 - 2003
  8. ^ "Bush signs Libya compensation law". The Times (London). 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  9. ^ "US-Libya compensation deal sealed". BBC News. 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2008-08-16. 
  10. ^ "Libya compensates terror victims". BBC News. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  11. ^ a b c d Elshayyal, Jamal (August 31, 2011). Secret files: US officials aided Gaddafi. Al Jazeera. Accessed August 31, 2011
  12. ^ a b Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of House of Representatives. “U.S. Policy Challenges in North Africa.” Serial No. 110-76, June 6, 2007, Pgs. 5-6. http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/35873.pdf Accessed March 21, 2010
  13. ^ Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of House of Representatives. “U.S. Policy Challenges in North Africa.” Serial No. 110-76, June 6, 2007, Pg. 13. http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/35873.pdf Accessed March 21, 2010
Government offices
Preceded by
Princeton N. Lyman
Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
October 22, 1998 – November 19, 2002
Succeeded by
Kim Holmes
Preceded by
William Joseph Burns
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs
March 18, 2005 – December 18, 2008
Succeeded by
Jeffrey D. Feltman