Remarks by Walid Maalouf
Director, Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs
Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce
West Bloomfield, Michigan
Friday, September 9, 2005
The Public Diplomacy office for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was created to increase communications between the Agency and the greater Middle Eastern community in America and the region. We are committed to improving knowledge of American political values in the greater Middle East and promoting a better understanding of the policy goals of Presidential Initiatives and the mission of USAID. We also provide essential information about these programs and policies.
Since the establishment of the Public Diplomacy Office at USAID we developed contacts with the ChaldoAssyrian American Community nationwide. We are very much aware of your presence in the states of Michigan, Illinois, California and many - many others.
The migration of Iraqis to America has continued non-stop for the last thirty years, and you have participated fully in the American way of life. You are teachers, lawyers, doctors and your entrepreneurial spirit has enabled many of you to own your own businesses. You also have your own TV stations, community newspapers and many NGO organizations that are speaking of the plight of Iraq and the ChaldoAssyrian community in particular.
When my office organized the Middle Eastern Media Summit on May 7, 2004, several of your community newspapers were invited. Among the attendees were representatives of the Assyrian Star Magazine, the Zinda Magazine , the Assyrian Media Center just to name a few.
On October 25, 2004 we organized the Middle Eastern NGO Summit at which the leadership of the Assyrian National Council of Illinois, Assyrian Aid Society, and Iraq Institute for Studies were invited and attended.
I also visited several communities in Chicago and San Diego. On December 18, 2004 I participated in the inauguration of the new $3 million facilities of the Assyrian National Council of Illinois in Skokie and delivered the keynote address. USAID put the speech on our website. Please visit our website at http://www.usaid.gov/about_usaid/presidential_initiative/diplomacy/
I visited as well the Assyrian Democratic Movement and the ChaldoAssyrian Syriac Association of San Diego on July 25, 2005. After the meeting I received the concerns of the community in writing which I then forwarded to the appropriate people at State and USAID.
And as recently as August 16, 2005, the office of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs received members of the board of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, headed by its Chairman Sabah Hermiz and its Executive Director Martin Manna to discuss and prepare the present day Iraq conference.
My office maintains consistent communication with your leadership and others by sending our Front Lines to more than 300 Middle Eastern leaders in the United States, keeping them abreast of new developments and press releases. We organize seminars for different segments of the community, putting them together with senior officers of the administration for frank and open discussions. We visit and keep the Middle Eastern Ambassadors in Washington and at the United Nations informed and aware of all our humanitarian and economic developments. Our plan for the future includes traveling the region to meet & build relationships with civic and social leaders to familiarize them with our USAID projects and programs in the field; visiting with student leaders; building bridges with the working class; offering interviews with local media about President Bush's initiatives in the region; and many other activities here and abroad.
I cannot tell you how committed we are to make Iraq a success story. From the President down we believe that all Iraqis deserve a free and democratic state in which all citizens can live in equality in a safe environment and with a prosperous economy.
Thank you for including me in this conference and I look forward to your questions if there are any.