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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On Libya, UN Denies AU Rift, Calls Khatib's Mediation a "Success" As Sources Describe "Amateur" Moves

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- After the failure of UN envoy Abdul Ilah Al Khatib to mediate in Libya between Gaddafi and the Benghazi based National Transitional Council culminated in street fighting in Tripoli, top UN political official Lynn Pascoe on Thursday told the Press that Khatib did an "extraordinary job."

  Actually, well placed UN sources tell Inner City Press that early on Al Khatib fastened on an idea -- not even his -- that the solution in Libya would involved a five person structure: two from each side, and one "independent."

  Whatever the wisdom of the idea, the UN sources say, Khatib's "amateur" error was to explicit propose, or dictate, the idea in his first meetings in Libya. The idea was rejected, and Khatib was well on his way the failure of mediation culminating in heavy weapons in Tripoli.

  Pascoe called detailed Press reports of in-fighting between Khalif and the UN's British "post-conflict" envoy Ian Martin a "fantasy that some of you spin out." The problem is that the details and complaints about Martin, and Khatib, come from all over, including inside Pascoe's Department of Political Affairs.

 (Some surmise that the "fantasy" that most bothered Pascoe was the Press report that that he's told a close American friend that he wants to leave, and others in DPA say he's promoting Martin for the Libya job so that no Brit succeeds in succeeding him atop DPA. The quotes were not run maliciously, merely reportorial.)

  Pascoe also denied any rift between Ban Ki-moon's Secretariat and the African Union, despite for example a recent public point / counterpoint between Thabo Mbeki and Ban's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar,. (It is not know who wrote Nambiar's letter, which has a pro-democracy tone that Nambiar has not brought to his "Good Offices" work on military dominated Myanmar.) Pascoe said Nambiar chairs the Libya meetings when Ban is away, which is often.

  On the African Union, Pascoe said "we have from the first tried to be inclusive with everyone" on "what can and what cannot be done." He cited the invitation to the AU for Friday's meeting, which he said will now largely be by video; he mentioned French president Sarkozy setting a September 1 meeting in Paris, which Ban Ki-moon will attend, presumably in person.

  The report on Libya to Ban Ki-moon, written by outside consultant Dirk Vandevalle then transmitted by Martin to Ban, has caused complaints by saying don't count on the African Union.

  On August 24, Ban's associate spokesperson wouldn't confirm or deny the line, saying that the report is someone "not a UN document." But wasn't it created entirely with UN money?

Ban & Khatib, use of UN planes, salary from Jordan not shown

  Pascoe replies ran this way

I won't say anything on the fantasy that some of you spin out about who's saying what... We've had more cooperation inside the UN than almost any issue I can remember. We worked early, inclusive, everyone talking, to avoid the last minute pushing and shoving that's a possibility around here. It's clear that process has been working well and it will continue to work well. There's a relatively clear division of labor [between Martin and Khatib], we're near the end of it.... We're very close to post conflict.

  But there's disagreement about whether the situation in Libya can or should be called "post-conflict." Click here for that.

Footnote: despite Khatib's lack of success in mediating, now various Security Council powers call for a UN role in Libya, each for its own reason: as a legitimator, or to steer power away from the Contact Group / Group of Friends. Because its (video) phone still rings, the UN Secretariat appears to learn little, or at least won't admit publicly to learning anything. We'll continue to cover this.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

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

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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