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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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At UN, As Ban Launches Al Khatib to Libya, Jordan Protests & Business Links Not Answered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 11 -- In an absurdly limited press availability Friday morning, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon introduced his Special Envoy to Libya, Jordan's former foreign minister, Senator and businessman Abdul Alah al Khatib.

Neither Ban nor al Khatib could say if he would speak with the rebels in Benghazi. Ban said he would also travel to the Egypt, although only Egypt and Tunisia, after stopping in Guatemala to confer with Central American leaders. (The connection was and is not clear.)

Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq closely controlled who could ask questions, directing the UN boom microphone to the media outlets he would accept questions from. Ban himself gestured at Haq, indicating that he was deciding.

Inner City Press asked, “What about Jordan itself?” The microphone was put down, the press session was ended. But many question whether a long time official of what even a Ban administration insider called an “autocracy” in Jordan is the right envoy to the battle in Libya.

Earlier in the week, Inner City Press had asked Ban's lead spokesman Martin Nesirky if al Khatib would stop his outside business activities, including as a director of Jordan Ahli Bank which, along with Gaddafi's Libyan Central Bank, is a top 20 owner of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

Nesirky said that “those involved” would discussing that, presumably before al Khatib was unveiled and confirmed on March 11. But no question was allowed. Watch this site.

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UN Envoy Al Khatib Is On Board of Jordan Ahli Bank, Links With Libya Central Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- In selecting Abdul Ilah al Khatib as the UN's envoy on Libya, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moved quickly -- maybe too quickly.

 Since serving as the foreign minister of Jordan, describe even some close to Ban as an autocracy, al Khatib has served on the boards of director not only of Lafarge Jordan Cement Company but also of Jordan Ahli Bank.

Jordan Ahli Bank is active beyond that country's borders. A sample connection: along with Libyan Foreign Bank, a fully owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Libya, Jordan Ahli Bank is a top 20 shareholder of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

   Could there be conflicts of interest? Did the UN's Ban administration even consider these?

Ban & al-Khatib in 2007, directorships not shown: or considered?

   Ban previously claimed that 99% of his officials have made public financial disclosure. But when Inner City Press showed this is not true -- even Ban's close ally Choi Young-jin, his envoy in Cote d'Ivoire, declined to make public financial disclosure -- Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban's statement had been “metaphorical.”

Now Ban names and injects al Khatib into a struggle about democracy and free press, when as Inner City Press noted yesterday

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."

  By what process was al-Khatib vetted and selected? Watch this site.

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UN's Envoy al-Khatib Has Attacked the Press, Commitment to Democracy Questioned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 7 -- Faced with armed and unarmed struggles for democracy in North Africa and the Middle East, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week decided to name a UN envoy to the region.

 But sources close to Ban tell Inner City Press, shaking their heads, that democracy seemed the last thing in Ban's mind when he assembled his short list.

  Ban offered the post to Lakhdar Brahimi of Algeria, where the election of an Islamic party was simply annulled.

  Ban offered the post to Kemal Dervis, which the Ban administration sources say was ridiculous, given that Dervis is mostly an economist and academic, and given his record at the UN Development Program, reviewed below.

  Finally, as what the sources called a “fall back,” Ban gave the post to a former foreign minister of Jordan. According to Human Rights Watch's World Report 2008, this Jordanian

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."


  Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky, who did not allow a question at Monday's noon briefing about Libya from Inner City Press, instead telling another reported that "this will be the last question," said that al-Khatib will not be based in Libya. If he will not speak with the rebels, will Gaddafi speak with him, given Gaddafi's characterization of Jordan as a stooge of the US and Israel? So how was he selected?

  At Friday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked if Ban has had any contact with Libya's Ali Treki, now nominated by Gaddafi to be his new ambassador to the UN, since Treki left his post as President of the UN General Assembly. From the March 4 UN transcript:

Inner City Press: can you describe what, since Dr. Treki was the President of the General Assembly, since that time, the Secretary-General’s contacts, if any, with Mr. Treki?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I am not aware of anything particular. Obviously, within the context of Dr. Treki being the President of the General Assembly for the sixty-fourth session, they obviously interacted with him, he with him in that capacity. I am not aware of any specific interaction since then.

Inner City Press: Did he have any other UN system role since he left being the President of the General Assembly?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Not to my knowledge, but if colleagues have details, I am sure that they will correct me, but not to my knowledge. I think it is important to point out that this was a letter from the Libyan authorities, and naming Dr. Treki as the person they wish to have as the Permanent Representative.

Inner City Press: And what does this mean, what’s the next step in terms of the Secretariat? Does this go to the General Assembly or do you just automatically process and begin, and give Mr. Treki a pass?

Spokesperson: It doesn’t go to the General Assembly. As I think you know, recognition of countries is a matter for Member States. Libya is a recognized member of the United Nations, and it is in that context that, when any country sends a letter naming the Permanent Representative, that person is the person who will be recognized as the Permanent Representative. But that is a question of presenting credentials; the person comes to present credentials.

Inner City Press: One last thing on this, because I remember in the case of Côte d'Ivoire, the Secretary-General went and gave a speech; he said the General Assembly should take up the matter and take on the [Alassane] Ouattara people as opposed to the [Laurent] Gbagbo people.

Spokesperson Nesirky: That’s a very different matter; this is entirely different. This was, as you know very well, this was a question of new Government being recognized by Member States, by the Credentials Committee; it is entirely different. You can’t compare the two.

     Treki has yet to arrive in New York, and in fact may not any time soon to replace current Ambassadors Shalgam and Dabbashi, sources tell Inner City Press. We'll have more on this.

  Regarding Kemal Dervis, when he left the UN system in early 2009 Inner City Press wrote that his

"tenure was marked by a series of scandals in UNDP, from funding violent disarmament in Uganda anddiamond mining in Zimbabwe to procurement fraud cover-ups and financial irregularities in its North Korea program. Through it all, Dervis largely avoided the media, repeatedly telling Inner City Press that he refused to answer questions in the hallway of the UN, as even the Secretary General and his top officials do. He presided over retaliation, and then fought to keep UNDP exempt from the UN system's Ethics Office."

   So why did Ban offer Dervis the job, then turn as a fall back to a Jordanian minister who has threatened the press?

Footnote: on Dervis, all that said, Inner City Press has a semi-positive memory. On his way into the Secretariat building one blue-skied day, Dervis stopped and mused that, you only have so many mornings like this in your life, you have to enjoy them. We hope he does -- and that the next UNDP Administrator does a better job. At the UN noon briefing then, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson if he will at least commit to what his predecessor did, releasing a short list of candidates for the post. I don't know yet, the Spokesperson said then.
 And now, this secret fall-back process and this result.

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At UN, Libyan Dabbashi Predicts Inaction by UN on Gadhafi's Ouster Letter, Visa & Shalgam Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- Hours after the UN confirmed receiving a letter from the Gadhafi government to withdraw the credentials of Ambassadors Ibrahim Dabbashi and Shalgam, Inner City Press asked Dabbashi what he thought the UN would do.

  “Nothing,” Dabbashi said. “The regime is already illegitimate.”

  But while a senior UN official on Wednesday night told Inner City Press about the letter and the possibility of referring it to the UN Office of Legal Affairs for a long consideration, others say it is an open and shut case. Gadhafi is still viewed the UN as the head of state, and his government gets to choose who represents him at the UN.

  “Even though we'd have to hold our nose,” a well placed Secretariat official told Inner City Press, “the principle is bigger than this one case.”

  The principle is that each country has one recognized head of state -- even if like Alassane Ouattara in Cote d'Ivoire they control only a single hotel -- and that person chooses their representatives.

Dabbashi at UN microphone, Gadhafi's letter not shown

   Others have guessed that the United States could try to deny visas for any new diplomats whom Gadhafi might send. But under the US' Host Country Agreement with the United Nations, the US has to allow in people accredited to the UN.

  At most the US can impose resistrictions on them such as not being able to travel more than 25 miles from Columbus Circle, or not being able to visit Ground Zero.

So despite Dabbashi's statement, it seems clear that through time, if Gadhafi is not ousted, Shalgam and Dabbashi will be, from the UN. The US, one assumes, won't revoke their visas and make them go back to a Gadhafi-fun Libya....

 At Thursday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm receipt of Gadhafi's letter. Nesirky confirmed it and said it is being studied. He said he didn't know the date on the letter, since he hadn't actually seen the letter.

Footnote: Shalgam is being sought to explain his role in a deal struck between Italy, Gadhafi and Saddan Hussein, under which Saddam would have been given asylum in Libya. Shalgam is head to have cut the deal in Rome. Then, the US is said to have intervened with Gadhafi to stop it. Might this give Shalgam some leverage? Might he want to talk about it more at this time? Watch this site.

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the 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

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