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On Darfur, UN Won't "Second Guess" Motives of JEM Deal As It Falls Apart, UNAMID Still Out of Jebel Marra

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- Days after the UN praised the deal between Sudan's Omar al Bashir government and the Darfur rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement, JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim has threatened to pull out of the deal if Bashir signs similar pacts with other rebel groups.

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, his envoy Ibrahim Gambari or mediator Bassole had been aware of JEM's position when they praised the deal. Video here, from Minute 17:50.

  Nesirky said "it's not for me or the UN to second guess what is motivating JEM people to say what they're saying." Perhaps not -- but if Mr. Ban called Darfur one of him major priorities, and he praised a deal which was based on excluding all Darfur rebels except JEM, it seems fair to ask what did Ban know and when did he know it? Otherwise, as many feel, it was just a fake announcement to give the false impression of progress and peace.

  In fact, since the signing of the deal, the government and the Abdul Wahid Nur faction of the SLA have been fighting in Jebel Marra. Doctors of the World say 100,000 people have been displaced; there are reports of over 200 dead.

  When Inner City Press asked at noon on March 2, the UN's deputy humanitarian chief Catherine Bragg said that the UN would be accessing Jebel Marra. But 24 hours later when Inner City Press asked again, Mr. Nesirky said the UN had not yet gotten in and therefore "can't confirm reports." Video here, from Minute 16:06.

  Why this wasn't said at the beginning of the briefing, but rather was relegated to an "if asked," is not clear.

UN in Darfur, JEM deal and Jebel Marra not shown

  In fact, Nesirky tried to avoid having the Darfur question asked. After Inner City Press asked a first questions about the Congo, Nesirky declined to allow a second question, despite offering just that to others. Near the end of the briefing, Inner City Press got the question in, and Nesirky read an answer from a script.

Footnote: on the Congo question, about a national staff job action against MONUC, Nesirky said to "ask MONUC." After he read out a response about UNIFIL Inner City Press asked about the difference. Video here from Minute 15:45. "It's very clear," Nesirky said. "There is a difference between speaking with colleagues in MONUC and having the guidance." Moments after the briefing, one of Nesirky's assistance emailed the MONUC guidance to Inner City Press. So what about the double standard? Watch this site.

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For UN Council, Iran Rises to Second Footnote, Sudan as Truce, Lebanon Switch

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 2, updated -- As the UN Security Council's work program for March emerged to the Press as this month's president Gabon served muffins and fruit salad, what struck correspondents was a footnote. The second footnote, to be exact: "Non-proliferation." The Iranian nuclear issue, so much discussed in the press, has risen to be the second footnote of the Council for March. "Maybe by May it will actually be on the schedule," snarked one jaded reporter.

  The only late breaking development not reflected on the program of work -- which Inner City Press is putting online here, two hours before Gabon unveils it at a press conference -- is that Chad's Idriss Deby has agreed to an extension of the MINURCAT peacekeeping mission for two months, to May 15. So there will be a meeting of Troop Contributing Countries about the mission.

  On the developments in Darfur, the deal between the Omar al Bashir government and Khalil Ibrahim's JEM rebels, the public praise by the Secretary General and Security Council, and even US envoy Scott Gration, is contradicted in private meeting of the Permanent Five by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, according to inside sources. They say Ms. Rice calls it a mere "truce," not an agreement, between "two Islamist factions."

  One would like to ask Ms. Rice to speak on this, but she was not seen at the Council's Tuesday morning breakfast. Some correspondents are invited to her reception for Committee on the Status of Women delegates on Wednesday evening at the U.S. Mission. Perhaps more will emerge from there.

As Gabon got election to Council in Oct. 2009, not seen since

  On March 12, the Council will consider the periodic report on Resolution 1701, regarding Lebanon and Israel. Pro-Hezbollah sources tell Inner City Press that while UN envoy Michael Williams gave assurances to the Lebanese that the report would confirm that a shepherd captured and interrogated by Israel had been on Lebanese territory, in New York Lynn Pascoe was responsible for changing the report to say that UNFIL's investigation is not complete.

   Loss of face for Williams, the source says. And so it goes.

Update: when the program of work was issued in final form, as predicted it included a "private meeting of MINURCAT TCCs," on Tuesday March 9. It also included on more footnote: ICTY judges. Inner City Press asked Gabon's Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet about the footnote on West Africa - could it include the coup in Niger -- and about Myanmar, why it is not even a footnote for the month. Video here, from Minute 13:28.

Issoze-Ngondet replied that by West Africa being a footnote, the Coucnil "remains vigilant," including he said on Niger. But does Myanmar not even being a footnote mean the Council is not vigilant?

 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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