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Ban's UN Silent 13 Hours as Saleh Gunmen Take Yemen Airport

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- The UN has touted as a rare success its role in Yemen, where Ali Saleh ostensibly stepped down in exchange for impunity. But now that gunmen loyal to Saleh have taken over the Sana'a airport, the UN has nothing to say.

  Early on April 7 -- 13 hours ago as of this initial publication -- Inner City Press asked UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's two top spokesman if Ban had "any comment (or calls) about the reported closing of the Sana'a airport by elements of Yemen's military?"

  Ban's office provided no comment or response, even as it sent out messages touting an upcoming "Google +" chat by Ban with young people, presumably in Yemen as well. Ban's UN likes good news, at any cost.

  The day previous, it declined any comment on the death of Malawi's president until after for example the US had chimed in an urged the transition of power to the vice president. Only once that happened did Ban timidly comment.

Some skeptics wonder if in this case, Ban wants to see if Salah emerges stronger, so that Ban is not found criticizing a strongman who is returning to the fore.

Last year when the impunity deal was announced, Ban appeared in the half light in front of the Security Council to deliver prepared quotes to selected friendly journalists. Inner City Press was there was well, as that is from where it works. After Ban delivered sound bites about his conversation that day with Saleh, Inner City Press asked if he had raised the amnesty. It wasn't discussedin detail, Ban said.

  Now Ban is silent as Saleh's men take over the capital's airport. There are others in the UN who have tried to work against impunity. But Ban is not among them -- Ban has allowed, without comment or "discussion in detail" beyond saying it's entirely up to member states, an alleged war criminal to become his adviser on peacekeeping operations. And so it goes in Ban's UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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