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

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UN New Libya Envoy Al Khatib Torn Between Politics & Aid, Too Big For Photos, Wants Via Rome Not Malta

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, 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 Press.

  Is Al Khatib's mandate political or humanitarian? Several UN Security Council 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 example, Somalia.

  Secretary General 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 Tripoli.

  Perhaps in keeping 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 Press.

  Two examples 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 tears.

  Also, 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 extra expense.

  At the beginning 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.

  Nesirky said that “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

But 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.

Haq insisted that 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.

  Inner City Press 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 exist.

  He just got the post, Haq answered, insisting again that Al Khatib will file in the future.

  Another journalists followed up, saying that conflicts of interest are serious.

Haq said 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.)

Haq 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.

From the UN's transcription of its March 11 noon briefing:

Inner City 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]…?

Acting Deputy 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 everyone else.

Inner City Press: On what time frame? Has he filled it out yet? Has OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services]…?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: He was only just appointed, Matthew!

Inner City Press: I understand, but it seems to raise possible conflicts of interest even as his service begins.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: You don’t file a financial disclosure the minute you get appointed.

Inner City Press: That’s only the UN, that’s an official has to file a form after the person is already named?

Acting Deputy 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 appointment.

Question: 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 he is…

Acting Deputy 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?

No. Watch this site.

* * *

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.

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.

* * *

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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