An example of John Kerry's State Department at its finest.
On Wednesday it was reported that the department's Syria hotline, tasked with fielding calls from people within the war-torn country about the situation on the ground, was staffed with non-Arabic speakers.
Clearly this is not helpful. The Washington Examiner reports:
That move led to confusion this week as people who speak Arabic, which is Syria's official language, tried to call with information about violations of the Syria cease-fire, only to get hung up by volunteers who didn't have a perfect understanding of the language.
"In order to help monitor the cessation of hostilities in Syria, we did set up an information hotline that was staffed 24/7, where violations could be reported I think via a number of different apps," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Wednesday.
"There were some language issues among some of the volunteers," he added. "And granted, these again are State Department employees who are doing this in addition to their usual jobs."
"We are aware that there were some language issues, as you note, and we're working to correct those, obviously, because it's important that we have Arabic speakers who are able to field incoming calls," Toner said.
Toner was asked whether proficiency in Arabic was a requirement for volunteering to work the hotline.
"It was, just but, you know, given the time limits on setting this up, probably some of the language skills weren't properly vetted," he said.
"Agreed, we should have people ... agree," Toner said when pressed further. "So, we're working to address that."
Embarrassingly, Syria Direct reported Wednesday that one Syrian reporter called into the hotline and was completely unintelligible to the official on the other end of the receiver.
So the State Department can't vet its own employees to determine who can, and cannot speak Arabic among them, but its perfectly capable of properly vetting thousands of Syrian refugees and determine their intentions.