The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the Department. Visa crimes are international offenses that may start overseas, but can threaten public safety inside the United States if offenders are not interdicted with aggressive and coordinated law enforcement action. DS agents and analysts observe, detect, identify, and neutralize networks that exploit international travel vulnerabilities. In 2018, 1,238 new cases were opened. In addition, 1,158 cases were closed and DS made 65 arrests.
DS agents in New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and Haiti collaborated to shut down a visa fraud scheme operating in Haiti and New Orleans. The main subject, Priva, attempted to fraudulently obtain visas for more than 100 aliens, some of whom succeeded in obtaining visas to travel to the United States. Priva coached paying applicants on how to deceive consular officers encouraging some applicants to pose as priests and nuns. Priva offered his clients religious clothing to enhance their story. More information on the case can be found here. Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
President Trump identified the Indo-Pacific as among the United States’ most important priorities in a speech in Da Nang, Vietnam in November 2017. The Indo-Pacific – which runs from India’s west coast to the American west coast – is home to more than three billion people and is the focal point of the world’s energy and trade routes. It includes five U.S. treaty allies and five of our top ten trading partners.
The United States vision for the Indo-Pacific is a region of nations that are independent, strong and prosperous. Our strategy focuses on three vital areas: economics, governance, and security. Economics is at the forefront of this vision. The United States and the Indo-Pacific enjoyed over $1.8 trillion in two-way trade last year, and the cumulative value of U.S. direct investment in the Indo-Pacific reached $940 billion in 2017 – more than doubling since 2007.
At the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in July 2018, Secretary Pompeo reiterated the U.S. commitment to “economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific because of the national security benefits for the American people and our partners.” He announced new initiatives in digital economy, infrastructure, and energy. The Forum reinforced the importance of high standards in commerce, partnerships both public and private, and deeper U.S. engagement with the Indo-Pacific to unlock the power of the market for sustainable development.
With the Secretary as chairman of the board, the Department of State will play a key role in the new Development Finance Corporation (DFC) created by the BUILD (Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development) Act. The Secretary will ensure that the new DFC’s work advances U.S. national security, commercial, and foreign policy goals. This expansion of the U.S. toolkit to mobilize private sector investment will fuel more growth opportunities that benefit the United States, including in the Indo-Pacific.
Economic success depends on a regional order in which the sovereignty of all Indo-Pacific nations is respected, and open sea lanes facilitate growth and prosperity. At the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regional Forum on August 4, 2018, Secretary Pompeo announced the intent to provide nearly $300 million in security assistance to improve security relationships across the Indo-Pacific. This includes $290.5 million in Foreign Military Financing to strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and peacekeeping capabilities, and $8.5 million in International Narcotics and Law Enforcement funds to counter transnational crime.
Along with economic prosperity and security, the United States promotes responsive governments, empowered citizens, and strong regional institutions. We are working with governments and civil society to build capacity for good governance, transparency, and adherence to international rules and standards.
All of these efforts build on strong people-to-people ties, deeply rooted in trust and personal relationships. Our public diplomacy programs work to strengthen these ties, and to engage governments and opinion leaders in support of our vision. For instance, the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative builds the capabilities of emerging leaders, strengthens U.S. ties to the region, and nurtures an ASEAN community.
As Secretary Pompeo has said, “The great theme of our engagement is this: Where America goes, we seek partnership, not domination.” A free and open Indo-Pacific is in the interest of all nations, and the United States will work with any nation to advance this vision.
The Department of State advances United States’ economic interests worldwide, leveraging a network of over 1,500 Economic Officers at our diplomatic posts overseas and in Washington to support U.S. business opportunities and jobs for Americans. The Department’s work takes many forms, from engaging in international policy negotiations to helping individual American small businesses and entrepreneurs identify overseas opportunities.
The Department in conjunction with other U.S. agencies supports an open, transparent, market-based economic system that fosters a level playing field and open markets for U.S. business. For example, diplomats encourage adoption of U.S. technological solutions while also building political will to enforce intellectual property rights around the world, keeping markets open for products derived from modern biotechnology, and promoting the adoption of pro-competition, multi-stakeholder approaches to telecommunications and internet governance.
The Department also partners with the Department of Commerce to advocate for U.S. companies bidding on foreign government procurements where appropriate. In addition, the Department negotiates and enforces bilateral air transport agreements that open markets for U.S. airlines and create jobs in the Unites States.
Other activities promote ethical practices by U.S. businesses while also working with partners to foster an environment in which such practices do not create a competitive disadvantage. The Department helps the business community understand and comply with U.S. foreign and sanctions policy and leads fights against bribery of foreign officials in international business.
The Department works closely with stakeholders and offers numerous tools for U.S. businesses, many in coordination with other U.S. Government agencies. These tools include annual investment climate reports on more than 170 economies, access to information on projects funded by multilateral development banks, and webinars with Ambassadors and experts on foreign investment and export prospects.
Since the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords ended Bosnia and Herzegovina’s three-year civil war, ethnicity and identity remain sources of tension. Continued divisions – and the lack of political will to address them – hinder Bosnia’s progress towards prosperity and Euro-Atlantic integration. In an effort to promote Western values and enhance stability in the region, the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo fosters a sense of joint cultural heritage and interethnic collaboration through nation-wide civic education programs. Without a sense of a shared future, Bosnia and Herzegovina will never develop into a robust, participatory democracy. The good news is that many youth, despite differences in ethnicity and religion, are beginning to see the value of civic education and how they can shape the future of their country. Their generation can solidify Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Western perspective, making their country a stronger partner for the United States – a key U.S. foreign policy goal.
Our civic education programs reach 75 percent of elementary schools and 85 percent of the secondary schools, totaling more than 200,000 students throughout the country. They help youth develop critical thinking skills, while learning about Western models of democracy, law, and civic participation in their own country.
More than 59,500 youth take what they learn back to their communities, where they work on community improvement projects, engage in public policy debates, and engage with various levels of government. High school students from all backgrounds participate in internships with non-governmental institutions, media outlets, and municipal and local government offices across the country. Students also participate in homestays, where they develop positive, personal relationships with people across the lines of division that exist in Bosnia.
As Milica Kos, a high school student from Banja Luka (in the entity of the Republika Srpska), noted, “The school civic education program helped me and my fellow students to become active and responsible citizens. Besides learning about what public issues and public policy are and how we can influence the decision making processes, we also had the opportunity to really change something, to make a positive impact in our community.”
The C5+1 is a diplomatic forum for dialogue and development and a platform for joint efforts to address common challenges faced by the United States and the five Central Asia states. The C5+1 has emerged as a model of regional cooperation and a useful complement to other regional organizations in which the Central Asia countries participate. At his meeting with President Mirziyoyev in May 2018, Secretary Pompeo indicated that the C5+1 is a key part of our regional engagement and noted the positive role the C5+1 is playing in improving relationships in Central Asia, particularly in bolstering the region’s economy.
Under the C5+1, the countries engage in cooperative projects on economic connectivity, environment, and security. For example, USAID’s C5+1 projects Central Asia Business Competitiveness and Transport Corridor Development aim to help move goods across borders more efficiently, support the competitiveness of Central Asia’s economies in regional and international markets, harmonize export and import policies in the region, and address transport and logistics border management throughout Central Asia. These projects are also connecting Central Asian agriculture businesses with U.S. companies. For example, the Gold Dried Fruits (GDF) Processing Facility participated in a trade mission to Latvia and Lithuania in April 2018, where Central Asian firms signed over $43 million in letters of intent to conduct future trade deals. GDF signed an agreement to sell melons. As part of growing their business to meet increased demand, GDF purchased John Deere tractors and equipment.
The Department of State identifies and influences social media narratives prevalent among target foreign publics. It utilizes best of breed analytics, content development, and content distribution tools to do so efficiently, and at minimum taxpayer cost.
Early in 2018, a multilingual team of narrative specialists from the Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs reviewed African media to ascertain how growing Chinese investment and influence was viewed in the press and by Africans active on social media. Utilizing Crowd Tangle, Crimson Hexagon, and other tools, the team documented growing concern over the true cost of Chinese “development” aid, and it observed growing use of the term “debt-trap diplomacy” to describe Chinese investments.
Armed with these insights, content creators delivered a series of graphically rich, social media friendly materials that contrasted how American and Chinese aid projects work, and what those differences mean for Africans.
These materials appear on ShareAmerica, a platform for hosting multimedia content that furthers U.S. policy, promotes U.S. values, and informs foreign audiences about American society and life. U.S. embassies and consulates routinely feature ShareAmerica content on their own Facebook, Twitter, and other social media properties. Foreign end users share the content with their own friends and social networks, in this way deepening engagement with American messages and shaping the conversations and narratives that occur on social media.
In March 2018, the Department published “How U.S. aid avoids ‘debt-trap diplomacy.” The article was tailored – from its headline, to its analysis of how U.S. aid, unlike Chinese funding, benefits local workers, to its conclusion: “The U.S. seeks long-term partners rather than debtors” – for maximum impact on the social conversations that already were happening in Africa. Seventy-four embassy and consulate Facebook and Twitter properties featured the article. The content outperformed other materials on those pages, delivering higher levels of engagement (likes, comments, shares) than locally-produced materials.
Even before the content was published, the content distribution team devised an inexpensive yet highly efficient strategy to promote the article in target Francophone, Lusophone, and English speaking African countries. For a daily cost of eight dollars per platform, the team positioned the content on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of Africans selected by age and expressed interest.
The results speak for themselves: Fully 74 percent of Africans who received the link clicked through to ShareAmerica to read the article. And one-in-ten, an exceptionally high number, shared the article on their own social feeds.
The Department continues to message on this subject, delivering additional high-performing materials, including:
Harvard study warns of perilous ‘debt-trap diplomacy’
Investing in Africa without creating debt traps
Countries are waking up to the cost of predatory loans
The model utilized for the debt-trap campaign is relatively inexpensive and easily scalable. By harnessing narrative analysis, content production, and content distribution to a readily identifiable objective, the Department delivers real value at an attractive cost.
The Department uses all the tools at its disposal to address conflict, violent extremism, and humanitarian crises in the Middle East and North Africa. The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, in collaboration with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, advances Department priorities to meet these challenges by investing in education to promote regional security and stability, while also increasing American prosperity.
In a region where nearly 30 percent of the population is between the ages of 15-29, job opportunities are scarce and susceptibility to extremism is high. To address these twin issues, embassies in the region engage youth in educational activities to promote tolerance, foster community resilience, and push back on violent extremist threats. One of the most successful ways in which this is done is through English language teaching. English language programs from Rabat to Baghdad form the core of embassies’ engagement with youth, building and improving relations with the next generation of leaders and supporting economic opportunity. In addition to teacher training and curriculum development, this year the English Access Microscholarship Program taught English to more than 5,000 students in eleven countries through after-school classes geared toward economically disadvantaged youth, the group most vulnerable to recruitment by violent extremist organizations.
Using resources such as online courses and building partnerships with Ministries of Education to improve English teaching, U.S. diplomatic missions lay the foundation for educational exchanges that directly contribute to the U.S. economy and increase American prosperity. Currently more than 100,000 students from the Near East/North Africa region study in the United States, benefiting U.S. universities and long-term ties to the United States.
Beyond traditional educational programming, the Department provides opportunities for those in the most difficult situations. War-torn Syria serves as reminder of the need for and the value of education in the region. One Department-sponsored education program for youth created space for moderate dialogue and supported structured activities centered on countering violent extremism in Northwest Syria. Over the course of thirteen months, the project engaged more than 35,000 students who conducted 960 activities and 945 dialogue sessions in collaboration with local communities and local governance entities as a catalyst for greater civic participation. In Northeast Syria, the Department funded the rehabilitation of 80 schools and established 11 centers that provided support training sessions and remedial literacy and numeracy trainings. These efforts reached more than 4,000 girls and boys. Additional efforts focused on addressing the needs of children with visual, hearing, and movement disabilities in ways that promoted their access to educational services.
Investment in education is key to U.S. long-term interests in the Middle East and North Africa and is essential to countering violent extremism. By emphasizing education, the Department increases economic opportunities for the next generation, promotes security and stability, and deepens ties with the United States.
The Tangier Old American Legation, the first property acquired by the U.S. Government for a diplomatic mission, was presented in 1821 as a gift to the American people by Sultan Moulay Suliman. His generosity was inspired by the success of the Moroccan American Treaty of Friendship, of which both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were signatories. The treaty, still in force today, is among the most durable in American history. The Legation served as a diplomatic post for a record 140 years. Of special significance in the building’s history is the Cape Spartel Lighthouse Treaty of 1860, which was negotiated there. The treaty is considered to be the forerunner to the League of Nations and the United Nations as it speaks to broad cooperation within international law.
After structural cracks were noticed in the early 2000s, the Department of State began a foundation-up restoration of this entire iconic property. This work has involved reinforced concrete coated in the traditional manner called “Meblouk,” which makes use of plaster made from raw earth elements found in the Atlas Mountains. With major work now complete, the Arab Pavilion section of the Legation is now used as a venue for art exhibits that commemorate cultural ties between Morocco and the United States.
Located within the ancient city walls, the original structure, an eighteenth-century stone building, was gradually incorporated into an enlarged complex surrounding a picturesque courtyard. Under U.S. Minister Maxwell Blake, whose long tenure as Consul General in Casablanca included the period during World War I and for a decade thereafter, the building was significantly restored and renovated, resulting in a harmonious blend of Moorish and Spanish architectural traditions. During World War II, the property was used by the then-newly formed Office of Strategic Services and served as the locus of military planning operations in North Africa. When the Consulate General moved in 1961, the property became a Foreign Service Arabic language school, and in 1971, a Peace Corps training center.
Since 1976, the compound has been leased to the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies, a public non-profit organization established by a group of American citizens. The museum maintains a collection of engravings, maps, rare books, paintings, and other artifacts depicting events in the history of over 180 years of the Legation’s role in U.S.-Moroccan diplomatic and cultural relations. The Legation was designated it a National Historic Landmark on December 17, 1982. This listing was the first such designation in a foreign country.
The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) launched in 2005 as a multi-year, whole-of-government mechanism works with willing partners in the Sahel and Maghreb to build counterterrorism capacity, improve regional coordination, and address the underlying drivers of radicalization. Niger joined TSCTP in 2005 as one of the charter members and utilizes Department support to build targeted capabilities within military, law enforcement, and civilian security sector stakeholders.
Regionally, Niger participates in the G5 Sahel Joint Force to counter threats in the Sahel and the Multinational Joint Task Force to counter Boko Haram. The Government of Niger also has contributed 864 troops to the United Nations Mission in Mali and 133 troops to the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic. Despite Niger’s commitment to counterterrorism missions in the region, lack of human and financial resources, compounded by inhospitable terrain and conflicts covering three borders, limits the efficacy of their military. In an effort to bolster their numbers and improve the basic skillsets of Nigerien soldiers, the Department has invested in the construction and development of both Basic Training and Officer Schools for the military.
Improvements to the existing facilities included the construction of barracks, classrooms, office space, an obstacle course, and a firing range. The obstacle course is the only one of its kind in West Africa, and instructors have noted improvements in recruits’ fitness levels, including increased endurance and adaptability to varied terrain.
Established in 2009, the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) is a multi-year, whole-of-government initiative to work with willing partners in East Africa to build counterterrorism capacity, improve regional coordination, and address the underlying drivers of radicalization. PREACT funding supports programs in the areas of criminal justice, security, and countering violent extremism (CVE). Violent extremism is a regional threat in East Africa, where terrorist groups seek to expand their influence beyond their stronghold in Somalia by attracting vulnerable and marginalized individuals, particularly youth.
Since 2016, PREACT has partnered with the Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum to implement two flagship regional programs, bringing together local leaders from across East Africa to create cross-border networks in CVE. The “East Africa Credible Voices Exchange Program” created a forum for 129 religious and cultural leaders from four countries to exchange ideas and build their capacity in communicating the role of religion in countering youth radicalization.
The “Community Change Agents Capacity Building Program” trained social workers, counselors, and teachers – groups who work with at-risk youth – on how to recognize early warning signs of vulnerability to violent extremism and the prevention of further radicalization. The project funded training for 144 participants from five countries in counseling vulnerable youth in their communities, enhancing their network, and creating channels for cross-border sharing on using their expertise to identify and address signs of radicalization to violent extremism.
These programs create important regional networks that allow participants to collaborate and develop regional solutions to the transnational threat of violent extremism. Participants gained skills in prevention, early intervention, rehabilitation, and reintegration that will help them build personal resilience, as well as identify and respond to signs of radicalization to violent extremism. More than 90 percent of the Credible Voices program participants reported that they carried out activities in their communities that applied their knowledge of how to engage on nonviolence, advocacy, and a culture of cooperation. One program participant reported that he held four meetings uniting religious, political, and cultural leaders in Zanzibar to disseminate the skills he learned in the program. In addition, because of their experience and exposure to new learning methods, two program participants were selected as teachers on the new Madrasa Education Curriculum in Uganda. They currently are teaching on subjects related to interfaith conflict resolution and peacebuilding, using resources and materials acquired from the program.
Thank you for your interest in the U.S. Department of State and its Fiscal Year 2018 Agency Financial Report. Electronic copies of this report and prior years’ reports are available through the Department’s website: www.state.gov.
You may also stay connected with the Department via social media and multimedia platforms listed above.
In addition, the Department publishes State Magazine monthly, except bimonthly in July and August. This magazine facilitates communication between management and employees at home and abroad and acquaints employees with developments that may affect operations or personnel. The magazine is also available to persons interested in working for the Department of State and to the general public. State Magazine may be found online at: statemag.state.gov.