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Amid UN Libya Failure, Salame "Observed" Macron's Haftar Talks, ICP Asks of Italy

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive confirmed

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, amid multiple failures, moved as Inner City Press predicted June 9 and further reported June 17 to appoint former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salameh as his envoy to Libya, replacing Martin Kobler. Letter here. On July 24, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq if the UN has any role in French President Macron's talks near Paris between Khalifa Haftar and UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. Haq replied that Salame will be going "as an observer," then come to New York on July 26 to meet Antonio Guterres and presumably be sworn in as a UN official. Salameh has already been presenting himself as a UN official, before he has according to the UN Spokesman actually begun. Is this proper? On July 26, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre about detailed reports that Italy was snubbed and miffed by Macron's and Salame's meeting. As tersely transcribed by the French Mission: Inner City Press: Did Italy play any role in this meeting?
Amb Delattre: Sure, Italy, as well as the UK and many others are key players in Libya and we are in constant and close consultation with them, and with Italy in particular, on this.

  We'll see. On July 14, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here, Inner City Press: I'm not asking you to hold my hand as you said yesterday, but I do want to ask you again about Mr. [Ghassan] Salameh, because from yesterday you said that he is going to be… he is going come by the end of the month then he is going to begin shortly thereafter but he is already making calls and he is already described as the envoy.  So how are people who deal with the UN know, is he getting paid?  Does he have immunity?

Spokesman:  I think he officially starts early August.  The man is a professional.  He is not going to sit on the sidelines and I think there is nothing wrong or unethical or in any way of him starting to get to work.

Inner City Press: It's not a question of unethical, it's just a question of if he is already the UN envoy; for example, can he spend UN funds?  Most companies don't let somebody start up without actually signing a contract.

Spokesman:  He is the de facto envoy and he has started.  He is in charge.

UN July 12 transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Libya.  There's a report of the Deputy President of the Presidency Council, Ali Qatrani speaking to Mr. [Ghassan] Salamé and inviting him to visit Benghazi after liberation, et cetera. Has Mr. Salamé begun his work?  Is he full time?  Where is he working from?

Spokesman:  He is full time.  I'll have to check if he's actually taken office.  They will work, I think, mostly out of Tunis and go into other parts of Libya as needed.

Inner City Press:  Okay.  And the Libya report says he's accepted the invitation. Is that… can you confirm that?

Spokesman:  No, I'm not able to confirm it.  Obviously, you can imagine with the security conditions as they are, we would announce his trip to Libya once they've happened.

Inner City Press:  I've got more but…

Spokesman:  Carole.  I'm not going anywhere.

   But he's like Inner City Press, unlike the named AFP reported, to be further ousted from the UN as he tried and still maintains restrictions. On July 13, after Dujarric refused basic questions on UN corruption, Inner City Press asked him, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: Here’s a question you said you would answer.  Mr. [Ghassan] Salameh, the Libya envoy:  when does he begin and where is he based?

Spokesman:  We expect him to be here in New York to see the Secretary-General before the end of the month.  He will begin soon after.

  "He WILL begin"? He has already begun! Making and taking calls. Does he have immunity? What kind of operation is the UN running? We'll have more on this. On June 20 the Security Council wrote back to Guterres: Salameh was accepted. But Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, when Inner City Press asked on June 21, declined to confirm that it was done. A full day later (with Inner City Press now in Haiti covering the Security Council's mission-closing visit), the UN announced: "United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Ghassan Salamé of Lebanon as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).  Mr. Ghassan Salamé will succeed Martin Kobler of Germany, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and service, as well as for his effective leadership of UNSMIL.  Mr. Ghassan Salamé brings to this position over three decades of experience in public service and academia. In 2003, he served as the Political Advisor to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), where he played a crucial role in bringing together Iraqi factions. He was then appointed as Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General (2003-2007, 2012). In 2016, he joined the Commission on the Rakhine State (Myanmar) chaired by Mr. Kofi Annan." There is no mention of his failed UNESCO run. The UN's failings in Libya forced Guterres to order a strategic review of its presence there, head by French former UN official Jean-Marie Guehenno who traveled to the region, sources told Inner City Press. Inner City Press published the exclusive, and at noon on June 7 got on-camera confirmation from UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who still refuses, however, to say how and how much Guehenno will be paid. Now even before Guehenno's murky "strategic review" as been presented, we heard and on June 9 reported of former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salameh, a failed candidate for UNESCO, bidding for the UN's Libya post, instead of initially rumored Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed the envoy on Yemen, of whom Inner City Press asked Yemen penholder Matthew Rycroft of the UK on June 8. The UN is corrupt. From the UN June 7 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, can you… has the Secretary-General requested a strategic review of the entire presence in Libya of the UN?  And is Mr. [Jean-Marie] Guéhenno, former head of DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations], involved in it?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware, but I can check [Later]  I can confirm that there is, in fact, a strategic assessment of the UN presence in Libya that Mr. Guéhenno is leading.

Inner City Press: Is he now a UN official?  That was going to be my…

Spokesman:  I'm sure he's employed on a contractual basis to conduct this.

  But what kind of contract, given his other engagements? Inner City Press has now asked Guehenno on Twitter, here, and at 3 pm on June 7 asked the Ambassadors of the UK, Sweden and France, video here. The UK's Matthew Rycroft said it was always good to review missions, how many people they should employ. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Q: The strategic review that’s being undertaken by Jean-Marie Guehenno, by the Secretariat. What’s the goal of it? Does it put into question whether the mission will remain? Or is it simply what the mission should be doing?
Amb Rycroft: I think it’s more the latter, and we support that. It’s important that every political and peacekeeping mission in the UN has an honest look at itself. What is it doing well? What areas does it need to improve on? Does it have too many staff? Does it have too few staff? And he’s been very helpful in doing that in regards to UNSMIL.
Inner City Press: Will he brief the Council when he’s done? Is that your understanding?
Amb Rycroft: I don’t know whether he will or not, but we look forward to hearing the views of the UN Secretary-General.

  Sweden's Olof Skoog said there was a need to make political decisions and that was the role of the review, which would not impact the sanctions committee he chairs. France's Delattre praised (also French) Guehenno, alluded to the trip, then went into the Security Council's Libya meeting. Will Guehenno answer what Dujarric would not? Will he brief the Council?  Could fishy Yemen envoy Ismaeil Ould Cheikh Ahmed be shifted over from the Yemen beat he's failed on to Libya, even during the review? Guterres got his choice to replace envoy Martin Kobler blocked. The UN's servile role in Libya was exemplified  on April 4, when long time UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric cut off a Press question, to Italy, about its deal with and reported arming of tribes there in an attempt to stem migrant flows. So on April 5, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko, from the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I tried yesterday at the UNMAS [United Nations Mine Action Service] press conference to ask this question.  There was a conference held in… Friday in Rome between the Italian Interior Ministry and what was described as tribes from Libya, particularly from the parts not controlled by the UN-recognized Government.  And at least some press accounts say that Italy has agreed to provide weapons to the tribes, basically to stop immigrant… migrants or refugees from coming to their soil.  So, what I wondered is, what's the UN's involvement in this?  One, what do they think of a country arming tribes, if that's what took place?  In any event, what is the UN… either Mr. [Martin] Kobler or… or… or anyone else in the UN system, UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], are they involved in any way in this Italian interchange with Libyan tribes?

Associate Spokesperson:  I mean, as you know, the UN is not a military force or has no military force in Libya, but I'm sure that the Italians are in touch with our team on the ground.  We'll check with them what they think about this development.

Question:  Right.  But, I guess… well, okay.  Check… check, if you could?

Associate Spokesperson:  Yoshita?

  Eight hours later, there was nothing, no answers. On April 4, the cut off was at a press conference co-chaired by Italy's deputy ambassador to the UN; Libya is one of the countries the UN says it does mine action work in. But when Inner City Press asked about Libya, and Italy, Dujarric cut in and disallowed the question. Later he allowed others to ask “off topic” questions. And, after Inner City Press followed up on its question about Richard Wilcox being proposed as UN envoy to Libya, Dujarric refused to confirm he has been blocked, despite loud protestation about the blocking of Salam Fayyad for the same position. This is today's UN.

   In Libya, the head of UNMAS said they work from outside of the country. Inner City Press asked her about Cameroon, too, including the Internet cut off she said she was aware of from Inner City Press - but that's another story.

After the UN's Antonio Guterres, under the advice of USg Jeffrey Feltman, had the pick of Salam Fayyad for UN Libya envoy blocked, the duo have a new, also US Democratic Party related, name for the position: Richard Wilcox. On March 24, after reporting this, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: the National Human Rights Commission in Libya has expressed concern about a proposal by Italy to open up, they say, migrant camps inside Libya, I guess, to stem the flow of people coming to them, but apparently, they… they… they… Italy believes they can open it without the Government's consent.  And I wanted to know, given that the Secretary-General is a… is something of an expert in immigrat… in migration law, does the Secretary-General or Secretariat have any view of a European country like Italy opening up migrant camps in countries of origin in order to keep people from coming even without that Government's consent?

Deputy Spokesman:  First, we'll check with UNHCR what they're saying about this.  I believe that they'll be looking at this matter, and they've been in touch with the relevant authorities.  So we'll have to see what the response is.

Inner City Press: Also on Libya, I wanted to ask you, the former ambassador here, Ibrahim Dabbashi, has written that the Secretary-General is considering naming Richard Wilcox, in a… he says… according to Dabbashi, an Obama-era official to be Special Representative to Libya.  And I wanted to know, where does the process stand?  Is that the case?  And, if so, would… this is… is this something that the Secretary-General would go through a more extensive process with the P-5 than was the case in the former nominee?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the consultations on this issue continue.  There's nothing to announce in terms of any names, and the process that will be followed is the same one that we've been following.

Inner City Press:  But did it work last time?

Deputy Spokesman:  We will continue with our consultations.  Of course, what we want and expect is the cooperation of all parties.  Yes, in the back?

  One wonders if Guterres (or Feltman) will claim they got Nikki Haley sign off. Or, as a high ranking official on the 38th floor of the UN on March 23 asked Inner City Press, who actually has an interlocutor in the White House right now? Watch this site.

  The US blocked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' nomination of the Palestinian Authority's Salam Fayyad to be UN envoy to Libya.

  On February 20, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if there was any progress in replacing Fayyad as candidate -- apparently not - about an assassination attempt and travel ban on women in the East. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about Libya.  Do you have anything on the attempted assassination attempt against Mr. Serraj?  And, also, there’s a reported ban on women… unaccompanied women traveling from the east.  Do you have anything either on that?  And any update on the selection of an SRSG that was previously blocked?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the selection of an SRSG, that process… the consultations are ongoing, and I don’t have any… any further details to share for you beyond what the Secretary-General himself said to the press on this over the weekend.

Regarding… regarding the assassination… the reports, I don’t have a confirmation of those reports, so I don’t have any reaction to provide at this point.

Inner City Press: And I’ve noticed that António Guterres has put out a sort of a global call, generic call, for SRSGs to be in some sort of pool to become UN envoys to conflict zones.  I wanted to know, like, on the Libya one, given… given the apparent miscommunication about whether it would be accepted or blocked, is there any thought of doing an open process such as is being done with Department of Management and Department of Public Information, or is there any thought of having that more public or at least routinized process as opposed to a behind-the-scenes process?

Deputy Spokesman:  If there’s any changes to make in the current process, we’ll announce it.  We don’t… while we’re considering certain things, there’s nothing to announce at this point.

  On February 13 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to explain what the "usual consultations" mentioned in the February 8 letter to the Security Council from Guterres consisted of. Haq refused to elaborate, nor to explain Guterres reportedly preparing to give the top post in UN Peacekeeping to France to the fifth time in a row. Video here.

  Questions for once came in fast and on the same topic at the day's UN noon briefing. Many questioners bemoaned what they've described as "Trump blocking a Palestinian." Among those lines, Inner City Press notes in light of the reports and questions about Tzipi Livni being offered an Under Secretary General job, and an arrest warrant in Belgium, this line from the vacancy notice of noted UN censor Cristina Gallach:

"Individuals who are either nominated by Member States or who seek to serve with the United Nations in any individual capacity will be required, if short-listed, to complete a self-attestation stating that they have not committed, been convicted of, nor prosecuted for, any criminal offence and have not been involved, by act or omission, in the commission of any violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law."

  Sources tell Inner City Press that under consideration for the Libya envoy post is a Tunisian; we note Guterres transition team member Radhouane Nouicer of whom no more has been said since the transition ended January 31. We'd ask, but Guterres' two spokesmen answered only two and a half of Inner City Press' 22 questions, and his deputy on February 13 when Inner City Press asked about the spending of UN funds said "get over it."

  Meanwhile Guterres' holdover UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric selectively spins that Guterres had somehow received a "green light" from the US - like when Ban Ki-moon invited Iran to the Syria talks in Montreux, then disinvited them on Monday.

  This time, Dujarric "told" at least three favored media the exact same thing: "Based on the information available to him at the time, the secretary-general had the perception, now proven wrong, that the proposal would be acceptable to Security Council members." Why not send this out more widely? To Inner City Press, Dujarric answered a mere two and a half of twenty-two questions. These holdovers have no credibility.

  One of the two to which Dujarric doled out his quote went on to quote French Ambassador Francois Delattre as having "full confidence" in the UN chief's personnel appointments. But of course: France stands poised to get the top UN Peacekeeping job for the fifth time in a row.

  The stories did not mention that the UK had - and now maybe still has - its own candidate for the UN Libya envoy post, Nicholas Kay. Clearly the UK didn't think Fayyad was best for the post. We'll have more on this.

  Inner City Press on-camera asked the UN about the nomination earlier on February 10, noting that its sources told it the nomination was really by Jeffrey Feltman, the Obama administration's appointee to head the UN Department of Political Affairs. Can Feltman stay on, given the new Administration in Washington?

  While Antonio Guterres' deputy spokesman dodged Inner City Press' question at noon on February 10, and his lead holdover spokesman Stephane Dujarric waited more than 10 hours to respond to Inner City Press' question tweeted at him that evening, an arch and in context laughable response was mass-emailed 11 hours later.

  It sounded reasonable - but why then for example is Guterres restricting his "search" for a head of UN Peacekeeping to a single country, France? As Inner City Press has exclusively reported, the three candidates are all French: Jean Maurice Ripert (who previously stood up the UN in Pakistan), Jean Pierre Lacroix and probably winner Sylvie Bermann. There are other examples.

  Some cynics wonder if this wasn't done as theater, just before Guterres' 12-day trip to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, where the UN's previous Libya sell-out Bernardino Leon is getting paid. Meritocracy, indeed.

  Many including those given offices by the UN professed surprise at Haley's statement, even misunderstood it as mere regret and not blocking. But neither did they cover the long failure of the UN in Libya. Ban Ki-moon appointed then undercut Tarek Mitri.

  Ban was pushed to appoint Bernardino Leon of Spain, same as he appointed and used that country's Cristina Gallach to evict the Press which asked of their corruption. Then Leon sold out to the UAE, and Martin Kobler was put in.

   Now Guterres, replacing Ban but leaving too many of Ban's officials in place, from spokesman Dujarric to DPA's Feltman, bumbled again on Libya. The UN has lost credibility. It should focus and start over - as well as reversing censorship. Watch this site.

  After Nikki Haley's announcement, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon issues a statement "on the announcement by Ambassador Haley of the US move to block the appointment of former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad as the Secretary General's Special Envoy to Libya: 'This is the beginning of a new era at the UN.'"

  So did Antonio Guterres err in nominating the PA's Fayyed on February 8, then heading out on a 12-day trip just as the US expressed disappointment and blocked the nomination? Inner City Press has asked Guterres' Office of the Spokesperson, and Stephane Dujarric personally, for a comment. None yet received.

   Nikki Haley, US Permanent Representative to the UN, issued a statement on the evening of February 10 that “The United States was disappointed to see a letter indicating the intention to appoint the former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister to lead the UN Mission in Libya. For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel. The United States does not currently recognize a Palestinian state or support the signal this appointment would send within the United Nations, however, we encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution. Going forward the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

That the UN would be naming a successor as its Libya envoy to Martin Kobler of Germany was reported by Inner City Press in December along with the name of one of the candidates, the UK's Nick Kay.

  Later, after Antonio Guterres took office at Secretary General, a Permanent Member of the Security Council confirmed to Inner City Press the candidacy of Kay adding that there was "another strong candidate" while declining to name that candidate.

  Guterres wrote to the Security Council that "following the usual consultations" he is giving the post to longtime Palestinian Authority politician Salam Fayyad, some are asking of just what these consultations consisted.

  Some in Libya opposed Fayyad's the nomination; others linked it to Jeffrey Feltman, the Obama Administration's head of UN Political Affairs who has arranged to stay on until July 4 so that his UN pension vests. How will that use of funds now sit with Washington?

  On February 10, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman about it, Transcript here.

  They note that the Trump administration, in its draft Executive Order, proposes cutting US funding to any UN entity which allows the Palestinian Authority as a member, and is discussing cutting funding to the PA. Was the US Mission to the UN consulted? Which Mission?

  And what of Nick Kay, formerly UN envoy to Somalia, now back with the US FCO? Does Kobler return immediately to the German foreign service, where he still has a position as he told Inner City Press when questioned about his predecessor at UNSMIL Bernardino Leon selling out to the UAE diplomatic academy? What Under Secretary General post will Germany get in the UN? Watch this site.


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