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March 1, 2011: Libya

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As France Parachutes Weapons into Libya, UN Notes Arms Flow to W. Africa

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 9 -- The UN Office for West Africa reported on Friday to the Security Council about Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and the Cameroon - Nigeria Mixed Commission. But events in Libya, while not in West Africa, made their appearance in the report.

Along with references to the loss of remittances from migrant workers in Libya to the native Mali and Niger and a vague reference to “the cross-border impact of the Libyan crisis,” Paragraph 57 of the UNOWA report says “weapons have been transferred from Libya and fallen into the hands of terrorists in the Sahel Band, risking destabilizing the whole region.”

A Security Council member which on July 7 led criticism in the Libya Sanctions Committee of France's “parachuting” of weapons into Libya, saying it violated the Council's arms embargo, pointed to Paragraph 57 of the UNOWA report and told Inner City Press, You see? France has no way to know where its weapons go -- possibly to the Sahel groups which take French and other internationals hostage.

Sarkozy glad-hands Ban, notification under Reso 1973 and top DPKO post not shown

In fact, Algeria has expressed concerns of weapons from Libya making their way out across the Tenere Desert of Mali and Niger. The flows from Libya, into which France added fuel to the fire, were a topic at a recent meeting in Madrid, and will be at another session in Algeria in September including groups like the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism.

  Will they speak out on France's weapons drops, since the UN Security Council's Libya Sanctions Committee, which requires consensus, will clearly not take action, having in effect exempted Security Council members from the arms embargoes they impose on others? Watch this site.

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While France "Parachuting" Weapons into Libya is Criticized, UN Committee Does Not Act: Not "Masochistic," Chair Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- During an hour-long meeting of the Libya Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon, France's admitted dropping of weapons into Libya's Nafusa Mountains was criticized by Council members including Russia, South Africa and India, as violating the arms embargo in Resolution 1970.

  But afterward when Inner City Press asked the Committee's chairman, Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral, if the committee's requirement of consensus means that France could block any formal condemnation of its actions, Cabral said “we're not a kind of masochistic society.”

  One of the representatives criticizing France, who told Inner City Press that on this topic four spoke against France and three to varying degrees in support, said that “if a Permanent member violates sanctions, what can you do?”

  The representative pointed to paragraphs 13-16 of Resolution 1970 and said that if France thought that its provision of weapons into Libya was legal, it had a procedure to use, but didn't.

  Another delegation went further, saying that France “parachuted” weapons in, not knowing if they might fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, and asking, “why not weapons of mass destruction, too?” This representative said of Cabral, “He has to be serious, this is a precedent -- if you are not going to enforce them, why even have a committee on sanctions?”

  Inner City Press asked Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative what had been accomplished in the meeting. Pankin distinguished between interpretation -- “legal stuff” -- and the practical, that objections were voiced and “I hope we will not have such a [case] again, that's the most practical.” We'll see.

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At UN on Libya, France's Weapon Drop Triggers July 7 Meeting, Stalls Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 6, updated -- After France's weapons drop into Libya triggered a closed door fight in the UN Security Council on July 5, now a meeting of the Libya sanctions committee has been scheduled for July 7.

Initially, Western ambassadors said the criticism of France's action by Russia, South Africa and others could wait until the Council's July 11 session on Libya. But now there's a sanctions meeting Thursday afternoon. “Yes, that's new,” a Western Deputy Permanent Representative confirmed to Inner City Press on Wednesday evening.

In the July 5 consultations, participants tell Inner City Press, the United States insisted that they had drafted the Libya resolutions to allow for such weapons drops. Calling this “sneaky drafting,” there is now resistance to even considering the Europeans' draft resolution on Syria. This one contains no tricks, its proponents seemed to argue. But disputes about Libya have stalled action on Syria.

This is a major dynamic for now in the Security Council, sometimes alternatively presented as “the BRICS flexing their muscles.”

  A Western argument goes that it is unfair, most poignantly to the Syrian people, to sabotage all other Council issues because of disagreements about how Libya has turned out.

  But others feel that the West, France in particular, sabotaged and poisoned the concept of protection of civilians going forward. Some liken France's “this is my interpretation” arrogance to what they also call the arrogance of George W. Bush's argument that invasion of Iraq did not require UN Council approval. Why didn't France come back to the Council and ask for a rule or interpretation?

  There are also questions, in light of France's actions, about why it should be allow to replace outgoing Peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy with another Frenchman. (Click here for Inner City Press' exclusive July 5 story on candidate Bonnafont.) That too will be further discussed.

Footnote: Also on tap for July 7, Inner City Press is reliably told, is the transmission of the UN panel's flotilla report, or “Flotilla I” report. Sources within the process confirmed to Inner City Press on Wednesday night that's the plan, even with Ban Ki-moon “once again” out of town. Watch this site.

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

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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