Nahal Toosi Profile picture
Senior foreign affairs correspondent @POLITICO.
Jun 1, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
1/It took me a while to unravel what I could about this unusual diplomatic incident & there remain mysteries. Like what did South Africa really do with that Russian ship? I know some people will have strong reactions. I want to add one thing via Twitter…… 2/This was cut from the story but I think it’s interesting: Brigety is thought of as a guy who follows the rules BUT he has at times used the platform afforded to him to make a strong public statement. He was the first Black vice chancellor of the University of the South…
Nov 11, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
1/NEW: President Biden says he’s all about diplomacy. I wondered, how engaged is he with world leaders? So I analyzed one simple measure: His phone calls to global counterparts. I was genuinely shocked by the numbers. Here’s the full breakdown:… 2/Some of what I learned? The entire continent of Africa has had fewer Biden calls than some single countries in Europe and the Middle East. The Western Hemisphere numbers seem ok, until you realize a bunch are calls to Canada. And so much more...
Oct 23, 2022 9 tweets 3 min read
1/MY LATEST: I’ve spent recent months exploring a question that’s often ignored in Washington: Is US diplomacy strong enough to take on China?

My verdict: America is not up to the task.… 2/Even though both political parties agree that China is a critical challenge, that hasn’t translated into serious new resources for diplomacy – not even the kind that focuses on commercial and trade issues, China’s top diplomatic priority.
Sep 5, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
1/NEW: I just spoke to John Sullivan, who recently left his position as the U.S. ambassador to Russia. He told me the reason for his sudden departure: His wife Grace Rodriguez was very ill with cancer. She died today. 2/Sullivan and Rodriguez had been married 34 years. She’d fought cancer before, and they thought they had more time. But things took a sudden turn for the worse this past week, he told me.
Feb 9, 2022 10 tweets 2 min read
1/There’s a lot of understandable angst in DC about whether the U.S. should rejoin what will be a weaker Iran nuclear deal. But I also have to wonder why Iran’s Islamist regime would want to rejoin. Think about it: 2/Even the original version of the deal (aka the JCPOA), which was in effect for 2 years, didn’t do an amazing amount for Iran’s economy. Many sanctions were lifted, true. But, for reasons including Iran’s own management/legal failures, plenty of foreign companies stayed away.
Feb 8, 2022 14 tweets 3 min read
1/I have many thoughts on this report. One: it’s striking to see US military officials blame State/WH for not reacting fast enough to the fall of a gov’t caused by the collapse of an army trained by, heavily dependent on, & abandoned by … the US military.… 2/Yes, I know it was POTUS’ call to leave. But why did the US pull out so fast, including contractors that were so critical to Afghan army functions? Why did we make that army so dependent on our military? Moving on...
Nov 19, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
1/The Biden admin is really, really worried about Ethiopia – not just because 115 million people there are at risk, but because a meltdown risks the stability of all of East Africa. Secretary of State Blinken doesn’t use rhetoric like this lightly.… 2/In my discussions with Biden admin officials they stress that Americans in Ethiopia need to get out, and that the U.S. has NO PLANS for an Afghan-style evacuation from Ethiopia if things fall apart. Afghanistan was a special case, they say.
Nov 17, 2021 4 tweets 1 min read
1/Secretary of State Antony Blinken decides not to label India as a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom despite growing violence against Muslims there. The US Commission on Intl Religious Freedom had urged Blinken to designate India a CPC. But the Biden admin… Image 2/… sees India as too valuable a partner to upset, especially given US belief it needs India as a bulwark against China. It’s just another example of Biden team reneging on its promise to put human rights at the “center” of its foreign policy.
Nov 9, 2021 5 tweets 2 min read
I kept asking State Department officials if then-Secretary Pompeo had done this & they refused to answer me at the time. They can’t ignore the Office of Special Counsel, though. OMG it gets more 👀
Feb 20, 2021 12 tweets 2 min read
1/In yesterday’s @politico Nightly newsletter, I snuck in a tiny blurb about how I’d obtained a Feb. 15 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo that described the pandemic-related frustrations of U.S. diplomats there. In this thread, I’m going to share more details from the cable. 2/The cable, signed by U.S. Ambassador Philip Kosnett, said the embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, is “nearing the breaking point.” Even before Covid-19, Kosovo was a tough posting, with air pollution, few green spaces, little chance for outdoor activity & bad infrastructure.
Nov 10, 2020 8 tweets 4 min read
Jon Finer & @UzraZeya report on what @StateDept could be. Different from Trump (climate!) but similarities, too (promoting US business?). & this: “transformation also requires moving away from … risk-aversion mindset, careerism, bureaucratic layering …”… Another interesting nugget: “The State Department needs to take a hard look at what is being accomplished strategically when personnel do not leave compounds, lack expertise in the countries in question, and remain on the ground for less than a year.”…
Jul 1, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
This has become a serious problem at State. Top Pompeo aides act like they need to respond to only one party. So much for the “water’s edge.” I feel especially frustrated by this as a journalist because the department seems to modulate its responses to us the same way.
Jun 30, 2020 8 tweets 2 min read
1/Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent the State Department a 4th of July message that was largely about China. A few tidbits: 2/”As we prepare to celebrate America’s birthday as the longest-standing democracy in the world, our mission to uphold timeless American values and fight for freedom worldwide is more important than ever.
Jun 12, 2020 19 tweets 4 min read
1/I’ve obtained the letters that Sec. Mike Pompeo, Deputy Sec. Steve Biegun, etc. submitted to House investigators re: their probe of the firing of State Dept. inspector general Steve Linick. There’s some weird stuff. A few highlights: 2/Pompeo immediately slaps Eliot Engel re: his Dem primary crisis. The 2nd sentence of his 1st paragraph: “I hear you’ve been busy in your District, so let me get you up to speed on what’s been going on with your Committee.” He adds a footnote for an article on Engel’s prob.
Jun 8, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
1/Following up on this, a few tidbits from Bulatao’s email to State Dept staff: 2/Bulatao, the undersec for management, stresses that “implementation will look different for every office and is designed to be flexible so that local conditions and individual needs are the primary drivers when deciding how to transition.”
Jun 7, 2020 9 tweets 2 min read
1/This story has so many problems that I am in awe. But it represents a weird, uneven sort of classism you find in a lot of journalism, one that equates the type of education you get with the quality of person you are, but only for certain people.… 2/The piece ponders how 2 people from poor backgrounds who went to law school (Princeton, you guys! Did we mention Princeton?! An IVY!!!! Oh, and the other one went to some other law school somewhere) could allegedly engage in violence.
Jun 3, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
1/Another top @StateDept official who is not SecState Mike Pompeo has written to the department on the difficult time facing the country. The human resources chief, Carol Perez, writes: “Over the past few days I have read powerful employee testimonies…” 2/—stories of disrespect, exhaustion, and disappointment. These distressing accounts should strengthen our collective resolve; we must do better by our people and by one another. …
Jun 1, 2020 6 tweets 1 min read
1/Steve Biegun, the deputy secretary of State, just sent an email out to the State Department to take stock of the profound moment right now in the United States. A few lines from it: 2/”As Americans, it is a difficult moment for all of us…Each of us should take the opportunity to reflect upon that tragedy (George Floyd death) and what we can do in our lives to both bring about healing and to address its underlying conditions and causes.”
May 29, 2020 5 tweets 1 min read
1/I ran something of an experiment on the State Department over the past couple weeks. I inquired about the salary of Mick Mulvaney, the new U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland & former White House chief of staff. I also ... 2/asked if it was appropriate for Mulvaney to be going on TV slamming budget deficits when the Foreign Affairs Manual says US diplomats can’t publicly on issues outside their area of responsibility (unless they had permission.) These are simple Q. One answer is just a number...
May 4, 2020 4 tweets 1 min read
1/Another Twitter-only scooplet: @USAID has internally unveiled its #coronavirus return to full operations plan. The “sensitive but unclassified” document envisions 3 phases, but stresses it is all “conditions based.” 2/In phase one, up to 20% of personnel will return to facilities. In phase two, up to 33% for a week at a time. (People will be divided in Red, White, and Blue teams.) Phase three envisions unrestricted staffing of work sites.
Apr 15, 2020 7 tweets 2 min read
1/Ahem! ATTENTION all: A brief thread on what it’s like – sometimes – to deal with the State Department. 😁 2/Many weeks ago, an intrepid reporter friend pointed out to me that @SecPompeo had, in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, referred to “radical Islamic terrorism.” Around the 1:40 mark: