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On Libya, UN's Kobler Condemns Attack on Demonstrators in Benghazi, Q to Dabbashi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 7, more here -- While in the United States the name Banghazi has one resonance, in the actual city protests and crackdowns still continue. On May 7 UN enovy Martin Kobler issued this statement:

"Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) Martin Kobler strongly condemns the attack on demonstrators in al-Kish Square in Benghazi in the afternoon of 6 May.  According to UNSMIL's information, four people, including a woman and a 12-year-old child, were killed, and dozens injured.  Reports indicate that a number of rockets or mortar shells hit the square where a group of people was demonstrating.
Martin Kobler said "I am horrified by the attack on peaceful demonstrators in al-Kish Square; I strongly condemn this heinous crime.” He expresses his deep condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to those injured.
“Whoever is responsible must be held accountable,” added Martin Kobler. Under International Humanitarian Law, carrying out direct attacks on civilians or indiscriminate attacks are war crimes. Those responsible can be prosecuted, including by the International Criminal Court, which has ongoing jurisdiction on Libya."

 In the UN, while restricted in its movements and access, Inner City Press on May 6 asked Libya's Ibrahim Dabbashi about the UN being asked to remove him as Ambassador. He told Inner City Press it was "baseless," and due to restrictions Inner City Press was not able to follow him down the hall to ask more. We'll have more on this.

Back on March 30 the US through Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the the Libyan Presidency Council’s arrival in Tripoli. But to paraphrase the Talking Heads song, How did they get there?

  They could not arrive by plane, and so it was by ship -- some or many say, Italian warship, with an assist from France (which previously airdropped automatic weapons into the Nafus Mountains, like speechifying about the control of small arms). Here's what Kerry said:

"The United States welcomes the Libyan Presidency Council’s arrival in Tripoli on March 30. The Libyan people, supported by the United States and our partners in the international community, have worked toward this moment for nearly two years.  The Government of National Accord can now begin the crucial work of addressing the full range of Libya’s political, security, economic, and humanitarian challenges.

"We reiterate calls by the Libyan Political Dialogue and the international community for all Libyan public institutions to facilitate and support a peaceful and orderly transition in the capital, and we urge all Libyans to support the Government of National Accord.

"Now is not the time for obstructionists to hold back progress, but rather for all Libyans throughout the country to embrace this historic opportunity for a peaceful and more prosperous Libya."

Similar to France's hypocrisy talking about the control of small arms and light weapons while airdropped crates of automatic weapons into the Nafusa Mountains, the UN speechifies about free press while this year in its headquarters:

(1) UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric on January 29 ordered Inner City Press out of the UN Press Briefing Room, while it sought to cover an event related to the UN corruption scandal - the UN Correspondents Association under Giampaolo Pioli, who previously rented one of him Manhattan apartments to Sri Lankan diplomat for whom Pioli then unilaterally granted a “UN” screening of his war crimes denial film, took money from Ng Lap Seng's South South News and gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon;

(2) USG Cristina Gallach on February 19 for that coverage ordered Inner City Press out of the UN on two hours notice, enforced by eight UN DSS guards who threw Inner City Press out onto First Avenue, its laptop on the sidewalk; (Gallach pals around with Pioli - and has done NOTHING even as Pioli came to the UNSC stakeout on March 24 and four times loudly called Inner City Press “an a*hole” - a teacher's pet dandy, corrupt system)

(3) USG Miguael de Serpa Soares on March 28 issued a threat of imminent eviction while ignoring a simple argument sent to him a month before (on March 30, when ICP asked Dujarric about this omission, Dujarric said to write to de Serpa Soares.) (4) on March 30, as ICP worked on this and the Security Council. Gallach had an underling say despite or because of all this she is setting a deadline - more on this to follow...

 Back on February 5, after UNCA's ouster but before Gallach's, while other member states in the UN have dodged the bullet of losing their right to vote in the General Assembly for non-payment of dues, it seemed Libya has not. And Inner City Press keep hearing challenges have been raised to Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi's accreditation as the country's Ambassador. So on February 5 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: you often read out the honour roll.  I guess I want to ask you about a… either a dishonour roll or just factual question.  It’s widely reported that, while others got exemptions, Libya has lost its vote in the GA (General Assembly).  And given that… given what an oil-rich country it is and given that the UN has a Mission there, one, can you confirm that that’s taken place?  And, two, I wanted to ask you, has the Secretariat received any correspondence concerning the… the, I guess, credentials of Ambassador [Ibrahim] Dabashi?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t have anything to report on Ambassador Dabashi.  Regarding Libya, we had provided and you’ll have seen the list of countries that fall under Article 19 for losing their vote.  I believe, in recent days, several of them have paid sufficient dues so that they are no longer on that list.  But you might need to check with our colleague Dan [Thomas] in the Office of the General Assembly Spokesperson whether Libya is in that category or not

 On November 16, Inner City Press asked the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, transcript here

  Leon's predecessor as UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri, however, got a formal "Note" from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, signed by Ban's chief of staff Susana Malcorra and cc-ed to Under Secretaries General Jeffrey Feltman (Political Affairs), Yukio Takasu (Management) and Joan Dubinksy (Ethics Office) approving outside activity for Mitri, which Inner City Press is putting online here, and embedded below.

  Among the continuing outside engagements approved by Ban Ki-moon were for Mitri to be on the Board of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, in Beirut and Doha.

  Did Leon get, or even seek, such a Note from Ban? The leaked emails show that Feltman knew of Leon's job search with the UAE by August 27, at latest.
  Now after more leaked emails, of the UAE about embargo / sanctions violations and that the UN's Jeff Feltman knew of Leon's UAE job search as of August 27 at latest, Leon on the evening of November 12 issued this:

"I am aware of the report today in the New York Times about Libya and alleged activities in contravention of United Nations Security Council resolutions. In light of this report, I have decided to request a full clarification of the issue, including from the United Arab Emirate (UAE) authorities, as I take time to reflect on the next steps in my professional career."

 While Leon said that "I" have decided to request clarification from the UAE, Reuters reported that the UN is seeking an explanation. But Leon did not say he will share the UAE's explanation with the UN, much less with the public. And shouldn't the UN Security Council's Libya sanctions committee be seeking the explanation, or asking for action against the UAE?

 So is Leon no longer taking the UAE job? What about Feltman and what he knew? We'll have more on this.

UN Gave Ethics Waiver to Libya Envoy Tarek Mitri, ICP's Ethics Q to Leon UNanswered by Matthew Russell Lee

  For Leon, it's about more than optics. Inner City Press has researched and compared Bernardino Leon's conduct, as reflected by the emails he does not dispute, to the UN Charter and UN staff rules which apply to him. And after publishing the rules, Inner City Press on November 6 asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about them. Video here.

  A check of Ban Ki-moon's Public Disclosure website, where his officials are supposed to make rudimentary disclosure of the finances and outside business interests, does not even list Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed (while numerous other Deputy SRSGs are listed). His is not in the most recent database, for 2013 - and may escape any disclosure by become an Under Secretary General with a mere nine month stint at UNMEER. Then what? We'll stay on this.

  When the UN Security Council met about Mali on January 6, it was Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop, and not UN Peacekeeping official Herve Ladsous, who distributed his speech and came to take Press questions. (Ladsous has a policy against it, here and here.)

  Inner City Press asked Diop about the Mali talks in Algiers, and about the impact of Libya. On the latter, Diop said that “in 2012 the Mali crisis started when the war started in Libya and many Malian elements who were part of the Libyan army decided to come back home with the arms and ammunition. This started the destabilization of Mali.”

   Diop added, "In the southern part of Libya there is a group that has declared allegiance to the Islamic State.” (When asked to name the group he could not or would not.)

On Leon: To try to counter Libya's lawless power struggle, the UN engaged in one of its own.

  And unlike most of the member states that make up the UN, and most other inter-governmental organizations, this UN does not answer questions, at least not directly.

  After Inner City Press repeated asked about it, including at the UN's noon briefings on August 11 and 13, on August 14 the UN said Bernardino Leon will take over as its Libya envoy on September 1.

  When Inner City Press asked if that is really Leon's starting day, given that he's said he'll go to Tripoli as early as next week representing the UN, Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said Leon is merely "familiarizing" himself with the work he will be, and Mitri remains in place until September 1. Really?

  Ignoring the previous questions and the power-play, wire services like Reuters merely retyped ("reported") the UN's August 14 announcement that Leon will start September 1. And now?

 Back on August 1, Inner City Press exclusively reported that UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri was being "pushed out" of the post, including by UK envoy to Libya Jonathan Powell, and cited his brother Lord Powell's extensive business in Libya through Magna Holdings.

  The UK mission, usually responsive, did not provide comment on written Press questions on this; at UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant's August 4 press conference Inner City Press asked about Powell's and Mitri's relationship, without direct answer, see here.

  Then the UK's Ambassador to Libya Michael Aron has announced, on Twitter no less,  that Mitri is out and Ban Ki-moon has installed a new UN envoy, former Zapatero diplomat Bernardino Leon Gross.

  The UN, at least at its August 8 noon briefing and in emails since, has not announce anything about replacing Mitri, much less by whom.

  In 2011 when France had already gotten its Jerome Bonnafont in place to replace its Alain Le Roy atop UN Peacekeeping, Bonnafont's bragging about it in India, where he was French Ambassador, led to Ban rescinding the "offer."
  France countered with three time loser Herve Ladsous, Inner City Press reported each step -- including Bonnafont in July 2011 being tapped for the post, and even congratulation cards to Bonnafont, here, and threats from AFP then the UN Correspondents Association -- and the rest is, well, a type of history (coverage in UK New Statesman, here).

  Ladsous refuses all Inner City Press questions, video compilation here; Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq on August 8, alluding to Ladsous and now UNDP, said it is because of "people skills." Or reporting?

  So Ban has accepted or done nothing to stop this P3 power grab to oust Mitri. But can "his" successor be pre-announced and Ban accept that too?

Footnote: Inner City Press is exclusively informed that UNSMIL deputy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed also has business, literally: fisshing business. Ban and those in control of this play accept that too? Watch this site.

Background: Inner City Press on August 1 asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric what UN envoy Tarek Mitri is doing; Dujarric said he was not aware but would check.

  Inner City Press had reported that Mitri, unlike the other UN international staff who relocated to Tunis, went back to his native Lebanon. Sources in the region exclusively told Inner City Press that Mitri had been hoping for a government post in Lebanon, describing him as less than committed to remaining with the UN.

   Now we can report more. These knowledgeable sources say that Mitri is being "pushed out," mostly they say by the UK's envoy to Libya, former Tony Blair aide Jonathan Powell.

  "Mitri was expected to take on a mostly support function," one source told Inner City Press. "He stood up and said no, headquarters didn't back him up and now he's being pushed out." We'll have more on this.

  It was nine days after Libya's foreign minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz at the UN Security Council stakeout told the Press his country wanted international help to protect oil fields and ports, including airports, that the US announced it had relocated its Tripoli embassy staff out of the country to Tunisia.

  Inner City Press asked, where is UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri? He briefed the Security Council from Beirut -- sources tell Inner City Press he has been on vacation there, and this deputy, too, was out of the country.

  Back on July 17 when Libya's foreign minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz emerged from the UN Security Council to take questions from the media, Inner City Press asked him to be more specific about what type of “support” force he is asking for.

  Mohamed Abdel Aziz replied that the request is not for a “military” force -- but then went on to say say the force should protect oil fields and ports. If that's not military, what is it?

  Inner City Press also asked Mohamed Abdel Aziz for Libya's current position on the US arresting Abu Khatallah. Compared to the complaints of others, Mohamed Abdel Aziz said that even though under international law it is unacceptable, since Libya can't protect witnesses, maybe it is okay.

  Given the current state of affairs, what is “Libya's” position?

  Meanwhile on July 17 the UN's envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri told the Security Council -- by video from his native Lebanon, while other UN international staff are in Tunisia -- that the fighting has “cast a shadow over the election on 25 June of the 200 member Council of Representatives.” Ya don't say.

 Mitri said that barely forty percent of the 1.5 million registered Libyans went to the polls. He said 12 seats will remain vacant; 41 candidates were disqualified under the post-Gaddafi Law on Political and Administrative Isolation. Final results are supposed to be announced on July 20. Watch this site.


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