Libya Envoy Al Khatib Torn Between Politics & Aid, Too Big For
Photos, Wants Via Rome Not
Russell Lee, Exclusive
March 11 -- As he prepares to go to Tripoli in the name of
the UN, Jordan's
former foreign minister, Senator and businessman
Abdul Alah Al Khatib is having his wings clipped and is rebelling
“like a prima donna,” a well placed source has told Inner City
mandate political or humanitarian? Several UN Security
members have stressed it should only be humanitarian.
But the UN
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to want to
distance itself from Al Khatib's openly (if ill-thought out)
political mission, in an attempt to keep humanitarian and political
separate in a way they are being criticized for failing to do in, for
Ban Ki-moon, who offered Al Khatib the post after it was rejected by
Lakhdar Brahimi and Kemal Dervis, and apparently without vetting Al
Khatib's outside business interests, has assigned staff of his
Department of Political Affairs to accompany Al Khatib on his trip to
with perks he gets as a board member of Jordan Cement and Jordan Ahli
Bank, Al Khatib in his brief visit to New York was “very demanding,
very high maintenance,” well placed UN sources tell Inner City
among many: to prepare for his trip, Al Khatib was supposed to go and
fill out paperwork and have his photograph taken for his UN Laissez
Passez passport. But Al Khatib thought he shouldn't have to go
through this menial process, and shouted at UN staff. There were
the UN by
default is supposed to chose the cheapest flights. To Tripoli, this
led to a booking through Malta. Al Khatib said this was unacceptable,
he wanted to go through Rome. And so it was undone and rebooked, at
of the week, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's
spokesman Martin Nesirky if Al Khatib would suspend his business
interests, including service 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.
“those involved” would discussing that, presumably before al
Khatib was unveiled and confirmed on March 11.
Ban & Khatib on March 11, disclosures not shown (c) MRLee
at the UN noon
briefing on March 11, after a press
stakeout at which Nesirky's
deputy Farhan Haq did not allow this outstanding question to be put
to Al Khatib or Ban, Inner City Press asked Haq how and if Al
Khatib's outside business interests had been vetted before he was
given the post and sent to Tripoli.
Al Khatib, like other UN envoys, will file a financial disclosure
with the UN -- one that the Ban administration allowed to remain
confidential, not available to the public.
asked if Al Khatib had at least filed this disclosure prior to being
given the post, so that the UN could assess if conflicts of interest
just got the
post, Haq answered, insisting again that Al Khatib will file in the
followed up, saying that conflicts of interest are serious.
dismissively that it was only something “he” -- presumably
meaning Inner City Press -- was raising. But the need to vet outside
hires' business interests is no small matter, as the Obama
Administration found out when it sent Frank Wisner, from a law firm
with interests in Egypt, as an envoy to Mubarak. (Weisner showed up
since that at the UN at the Richard Holbrooke memorial, as
exclusively reported on Twitter by Inner City Press.)
did not say
whether anyone at the UN had considered Al Khatib's possible
conflicts of interest before he was given the job. As Inner City
Press has reported, Ban first offered the post to Lakhdar Brahimi and
Kemal Dervis before settling on Al Khatib. Being the fall-back, are
conflicts of interest allowed? Watch this site.
transcription of its March 11 noon briefing:
Press: On Mr. Al-Khatib, earlier this week I had asked whether
his outside business interests in a Jordanian cement company, and in
the bank, that actually he is co-owner of another bank with the
Libyan Central Bank controlled by [Muammar al-] Qadhafi, whether
these will be suspended during his service for the UN as an envoy to
Libya. Is there an answer to that, given that he is [inaudible]…?
Spokesperson Haq: No, not specifically to that. Just that he
is a senior official, and just as with other officials of that rank,
he would be required to fill out the standard financial disclosure. So,
he will go through the same financial disclosure process as
Press: On what time frame? Has he filled it out yet? Has OIOS
[Office of Internal Oversight Services]…?
Spokesperson Haq: He was only just appointed, Matthew!
Press: I understand, but it seems to raise possible conflicts
of interest even as his service begins.
Spokesperson: You don’t file a financial disclosure the
minute you get appointed.
Press: That’s only the UN, that’s an official has to file a
form after the person is already named?
Spokesperson: If there is any particular conflict regarding
Mr. Khatib, it would be incumbent on him to remove any particular
conflicts before he begins work. However, in any case, any conflicts
would be determined once he goes through the financial disclosure
process, which he has to do, just as with any other senior
A follow-up on that, follow up? There will be conflict of interest
here. Someone going to Libya to mediate or work on the human rights
issues and then he has interests in the regime, within the regime, if
Spokesperson Haq: That’s not proven; that’s just based on
something that, a report that he is saying. No, no, like I said, if
there is anything that poses a conflict of interest, it would be
incumbent on him to remove that before he begins his work. He is
going through the same sort of vetting process as anyone else, which
includes of course, the financial disclosures. Yes?
Watch this site.