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In Egypt Coup-Volution, UN Tells ICP Feltman Met with MB, Not When Planned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- So amid continued crackdown in Egypt, in what Inner City Press has dubbed that country's coup-volution, ex-US now-UN Feltman has left Cairo and headed to, where else, Doha.

On Friday August 23 at the UN, Inner City Press asked again about Feltman: did he even meet with Muslim Brotherhood leaders in his four days in the country? From the UN's August 23 transcript:

Inner City Press: Mr. Feltman, in his visit to Egypt, there is a quote from the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Darrag, saying that they weren’t reached out to and that they had no meeting with Mr. Feltman. Given that they are the party that was ousted in what many people call a coup, did Mr. Feltman seek to meet with them? It seems like a clear question.

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Well, Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman today concluded his three-day visit to Cairo, meeting with a broad range of interlocutors. He listened to diverse view points and conveyed the United Nations’ full support for an Egyptian-led peaceful path to resolving the crisis.

Inner City Press: A final follow-up. Does that broad range include the Muslim Brotherhood that was removed from power?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: As mentioned, Mr. Feltman saw and spoke with a broad number of interlocutors from the Government, civil society, human rights and political parties, including from the Muslim Brotherhood.

  So Feltman and the Muslim Brotherhood was left to an "If-Pressed." And looking at the phrasing, it only says that Feltman "SAW" the Brotherhood. A cynic later on Friday asked Inner City Press: was this conversation with Muslim Brotherhood in a taxi? With the driver? Thomas Friedman style?

  After Inner City Press first reported with on-the-record audio that Feltman's trip would happen but was arranged before the killing of hundreds of protesters on August 14, the UN spoon-fed its confirmation of the trip to Reuters, which did not mention that the trip was planned before the killings, nor that Feltman used to represent the US State Department in the same region.

  This is the UN's and Reuters' alliance: spoon-fed scoops for shallow coverage that makes the UN look good (and for spying for the UN like here.)

  Then the UN battens down the hatches, refusing to answer basic questions (not only about the spying but also) about even WHEN Feltman's trip was arranged. On at the August 21 noon briefing Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's now retired and DC-bound deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey:

Inner City Press: the spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has given their readout on the meeting with Mr. Feltman. They have said that it shouldn’t be internationalized, it has no international implications, but they also said, this is a quote, that the trip by Mr. Feltman was arranged “a few weeks ago”. So, I wanted to know, either now or when you can check in your office, when was this trip arranged, because it is presented as sort of the Secretariat’s response to the killings of 14 August, but they are saying it was weeks ago. When was the trip arranged?

Deputy Spokesperson Del Buey: Matthew, when we have an answer to that we will let you know.

  And, surprise surprise, they still haven't. On August 21 the US State Department's Voice of America, on whose Broadcast Board of Governors John Kerry serves, reported positively on Feltman's trip to Egypt, with no mention of Feltman's previous position with the US State Department.

  It would be good to hear from Feltman, for him to take press questions for example about when his Egypt trip was arranged, with whom he met, and how whatever message he is taking from Ban Ki-moon (other than, of course, "just listening" to the coup-volution) is different from the US position. Watch this site.

Footnote: these are the type of routine press briefing by UN Under Secretaries General that the new Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info is demanding not only of Feltman (and the ever-resistant Herve Ladsous) but also the UN's incoming chief counsel, replacing Patricia O'Brien. More on that to come.


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