US Ambassador to Yemen Visits Yemeni Americans
By: Adel A Mozip
In an unprecedented step from the Embassy of the United States of America in Yemen, the Ambassador visited the Yemeni American community in Metro Detroit and New York City. His visit to the Yemeni American community in Detroit was on Monday the 24th of January 2011. Mr. Gerald Feierstein, the US Ambassador for Yemen had his first stop at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. In coordination with the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University, Mr. Feierstein gave a lecture at the University on the United State’s policy in Yemen.
Mr. Feierstein explained the important issues to the United States and Yemen such as the issue of democracy, economic growth, counter-terrorism efforts, and giving the aid in the areas of intelligence, capacity, and border protection.
The Ambassador mentioned that the recent visit of the Secretary of State, Madam Hillary Clinton proofed that the partnership between Yemen and the United States is developing and growing tremendously.
The audience at the University’s event asked the Ambassador many questions ranging from US policy to economic growth. Ambassador Feierstein answered questions with concise and clear statements. “The relationship between the United States and Yemen isn’t just to serve the United States’ interest, but
it’s a partnership between two people, the Americans and Yemenis” Ambassador stressed.
Following the event at Wayne State University, the Ambassador was welcomed by a town hall meeting conducted by the Yemeni American community. The town hall meeting was held at the Greenfield Manor in Dearborn. The meeting
began about 15 minutes late as people were still filling out complain forms about the embassy. The events attendance was estimated at 300 people. After welcome remarks by event’s organizers, Mr. David Staples, Public Relations Officer at the Secretary of State introduced the ambassador.
Ambassador Feierstein began his half-hour speech with thanking the audience for coming.
The Ambassador said “I hope this is the first of many opportunities of our conversations.” He then went on to talk about the recent visit of Madam Hillary Clinton to Yemen and its uniqueness since Madam Clinton met not only with government officials, but business leaders, opposition leaders, and students.
“I explained to Mrs. Clinton that Yemenis are not anti-Americans but rather lack familiarity of America and the reason for that is our absence in the region.” Ambassador added.
The Ambassador explained the improvements that have been done to the US policy in Yemen since he was appointed last September. Ambassador Feierstein then gave the opportunity to audience to ask him direct questions and many lined up at the hall to ask questions.
Questions varied from US political involvement in Yemen to current political problems there but the overwhelming concerning issue was immigration. Audience complained to Ambassador Feierstein on the way the Consulate of the
United States is treating visa applicants in Yemen. Many mentioned how difficult is it to get an appointment at the Consulate and the vast amount of documentations asked. Others complained about the strenuous laws the Consulate is implementing such as DNA testing to proof relationship,
requiring medical exams to make sure applicants are not Qat users for at least three years prior to taking the exam, and other complications such as not following up, long periods of waiting.
The Ambassador promised the attendees that his team will look into the individual complaints. He also promised the community members attending that this won’t the last meeting between the Embassy and the Yemeni American community but rather the start of a long-term relationship.
Gerald M. Feierstein was sworn in on September 17, 2010, as the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen. Prior to his appointment, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ambassador Feierstein, a specialist in Near East and South Asian Affairs, entered the Foreign Service in June 1975 and has served overseas in eight postings: Islamabad (1976-1978), Tunis (1983-1985), Riyadh (1985-1987), Peshawar (1989-1992), Muscat (1995-1998), Jerusalem (1998-2001), Beirut
(2003-2004), and Islamabad (2008-2010).
In Washington, he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Coordinator and Deputy Assistant Coordinator for Programs in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism from 2006-2008. Ambassador Feierstein holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Point Park College and an M.A. in International Relations
from Duquesne University.
Source: Yemeni American News; http://yemeniamerican.com/show.php?mnid=557