12 December 2012 2:51 pm | | 10


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U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf

U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf called yesterday for the U.S. to withhold aid to Tunisia until local authorities provide American investigators access to a suspect held in association with the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya three months ago.

Wolf, a member of the House State and Foreign Operations subcommittee who is in his 16th term in office, accused Tunisia of blocking access to the Tunisian-born suspect.

“These unnecessary and unfounded delays are inexcusable and demonstrate that Tunisia is no friend or ally of the United States,” the Republican representative from Virginia wrote in a public letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ali al-Harzi was detained in Turkey and extradited to Tunisia in October, suspected of partaking in the September 11 attack on the consulate that left four people dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

U.S. investigators, including members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, arrived in Tunisia to interrogate the suspect, but they returned to the U.S. earlier this month, according to Wolf.

Wolf joins U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham in invoking U.S. aid to Tunisia, which Wolf said adds up to $300 million annually, to pressure Tunisian authorities to open access to al-Harzi. In a letter to Tarek Amri, the Tunisian charge d’affaires in Washington D.C., Graham wrote in October that the partnership between the two countries could be in “serious jeopardy.”

In his letter to Clinton, Wolf added, “Should you fail to cut off this aid, I will take appropriate legislative action to end U.S. aid to Tunisia.”

A lawyer for al-Harzi, Anoir Ouled Ali, said earlier this month that al-Harzi has refused to be interrogated by U.S. investigators without members of his legal team present.

Paul Rosenfeld contributed reporting

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Comments (10)

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  1. Mahdi says:

    Fyi – Wolfe heads the congressional Committee in charge of appropriating foreign assistance money to Tunisia and all other countries for that matter. The his letter is not just to appease his constituents or push back against Obama…. He really does he the power to cut finding.

    The tunisian government is taking the country backwards, and not protecting diplomats (as required by international law), and continues to hold out its hand begging for money when it’s not doing anything to protect the its people and look after there welfare. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise…..

  2. sho9libah says:

    “shi$% happens”, the US has a history of messing up stuff on purpose or not. The bombing of the Chinese embassy in Serbia some years ago comes to me as an example.

    We are a country that doesn’t have a history of attacking embassies or other countries. There was a series of security failures and what happened happened. The government apologized in public and in private, and rightfully so.

    There is a difference between deliberate government actions and isolated actions of individuals, and the US government understood/understands that. The only problem is that there is a lot of political grandstanding in the US. There is no reason for congressmen to have a new hobby of writing poorly worded threatening letters to Tunisian officials every 2 weeks about some suspect. There are judiciary procedures to be taken, and there is no reason that our government should deal with blackmailing bullies…

    This answer the spirit of your post @youssefis, as for the letter of your post, I am afraid it is just unsubstantiated rant. Sorry mate.

    • youssefis says:

      what did i say unsubstantiated? which part is untrue? it is easy to dismiss “what happened happened” but it was not your life being threatened in such a way. such events happen in pakistan, iraq, yemen where governments are weak or not willing to protect. where is justice? you also did not answer what is blackmail? if our government gave million of dinar to a country we would not want something in return? they want to speak to a suspect. nothing is free. this does not make blackmail. if a mob in the united states attacked the tunisian embassy as revenge in response and their police stood by and allowed it to happen do you not think we have a right to outrage and something to pay for damage to property and emotional troubles of victims? please explain. it is easy to dismiss. i think it is not too much to ask for basic protection and opportunity to speak to suspect in return for aid and assistance.

      and again we know of the sins of the usa and unfair foreign policy, esp. in our region and moslim lands. this is not relevant here. one cannot say “they have sins and therefore it is ok for us to have such failures too” as an excuse. if you dismiss and say this, you commit same sins as usa by generalizing.

      • zarbiya says:

        “the americans give millions USD in aid to us, every year, the tunisian people and the tunisian government, in security training, equipment, human aid, and loans.”

        -what the US gives to Tn is peanuts, but there is no security deals with police, just the military. We are basically paid by the US to do what they do not do. This is their new strategy, to pay for others to do some dirty job they created initially. Nevertheless, they do give military financial aid, and we thank them for that as it is hopefully beneficial for both countries. As for the loans, the amount is peanuts again, and we pay them back anyway-my view though is that we do not need loans that would chain us to others.

        “what did they get as a thank you for this? a mob attacking their diplomatic compound and a school full of innocents and trying to kill them AND THEIR TUNISIAN staff and burning all of their cars, leaving working class tunisians without vehicle and with great hardship, all while our government and our police did nothing.”

        -You are implying that those rioters and uncivilized bunch that attacked the embassy is the same as the rest of us or the government. That is an unsubstantiated argument. After 9/11, some americans went on a rampage killing muslims, arabs and sikh confusing them for muslims, I do not have the right numbers, but 10s died…that doesn’t represent the entire US.

        - you are also implying the police did nothing! well, 5 Tunisians were shot dead by an untrained police. that’s another unsubstantiated argument.

        “do you expect them to just give their money to tunisia to be treated like this? ”

        -These are international relations and shit happens. This is not a fight between cousins with hard feelings. The US has interests seeing a successful indigenous Tunisian revolution. this is a mutually beneficial relationship

        “this is our revolution? this is our islamic society created in the name of the prophet (pbuh)? the koran gives protection of aman to the diplomats in our territories.”

        -Again, some idiots tried to burn American belongings, it has nothing to do with what you just said…They can claim they are salafi, they only represent themselves.

        Finally, blackmail is when someone gets you hooked on something and then threatens to cut what is supporting you if you do not do as directed. Friends do not blackmail…wait, is the US a friend ?

    • Angela says:

      Congressmen are trying to score points against Obama making it seem as if his judgement is off, and using it to attack him and his policies.. However when some idiot made a film of the prophet President Obama and every US citizen was held accountable and were blamed personally. Thousands of Muslims took to the streets…with black mailing demands from governments everywhere. so you really cant complain about some idiot congressman. Equally two letters asking for accountability from this current government does not seem to be blackmail, since they seem to double deal everyone including the Tunisian people.

      The government needs to be clear what it stands for and as yet it has not done that…..in so many areas they are vague.

      Finally the attack on the embassy constitutes an act of war for any country and any embassy. so to be asked for accountability however tiresome to some is not wrong and the very least a country can do giver that there were grave mistakes made by the government and its forces on that day.

      As for the 300 million in aid the Tunisian government is free to raise it elsewhere cos regardless of the reasons for the US giving it Tunisia takes it and there is a price to pay and a expectation because of that….in the very least the protection of its property and people.

      Simple economics really

  3. John says:

    Mr. Wolf is just another blow hard Representative who’s talking tough in order to appease a largely uninformed constituency. His announcement is very similar to the bombastic statements made by governments around the world to keep the masses at bay. Fortunately, I’m guessing that a letter from this guy won’t do much in the face of an Obama White House and will get lost in the chaos of a Congress that doesn’t know its ass from a hole in the ground.

  4. zommarah says:

    sick of this blackmailing…let them keep their money. Are we gonna keep getting a lettered every 2 weeks about some random suspect from some random convressman ????? let them keep their money, and lets stop this Mafia from having influence on our internal affairs.

    • youssefis says:

      how is blackmail? please explain…the americans give millions USD in aid to us, every year, the tunisian people and the tunisian government, in security training, equipment, human aid, and loans. what did they get as a thank you for this? a mob attacking their diplomatic compound and a school full of innocents and trying to kill them AND THEIR TUNISIAN staff and burning all of their cars, leaving working class tunisians without vehicle and with great hardship, all while our government and our police did nothing. do you expect them to just give their money to tunisia to be treated like this? this is our revolution? this is our islamic society created in the name of the prophet (pbuh)? the koran gives protection of aman to the diplomats in our territories. the americans have many many sins to pay for, too many to list here, but this is not the case here. these are our “internal affairs?” ashamed.

    • Angela says:

      why exaggerate it is not every two weeks. Yes let the US keep its money and spend it on US problems instead. Statements like yours serve no purpose and at some point someone might just listen to you….the US is working with Tunisia is many more ways than you would ever know…..believe that…

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