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After PA's Fayyad Blocked, UN Says It's Meritocracy, French-Only DPKO

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 11 – The US blocked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' nomination of the Palestinian Authority's Salam Fayyad to be UN envoy to Libya. 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. Dujarric wrote:

"In answer to questions asked regarding the proposal of Salam Fayyad to serve as Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Libya, the Spokesman had the following to say:
The proposal for Salam Fayyad to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya was solely based on Mr. Fayyad’s recognized personal qualities and his competence for that position.

United Nations staff serve strictly in their personal capacity. They do not represent any government or country. 

The Secretary-General reiterates his pledge to recruit qualified individuals, respecting regional diversity, and notes that, among others no Israeli and no Palestinian have served in a post of high responsibility at the United Nations. This is a situation that the Secretary-General feels should be corrected, always based on personal merit and competencies of potential candidates for specific posts."

  It sounds 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 - watch this site.

  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.

   Nikky 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 has written 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.

  Already significant forces in Libya are opposing the nomination; others are linking 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 this sit with Washington?

  On February 10, Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman, Transcript here:

Inner City Press: there's a silence procedure.  Right?  Because the letter dated 8 February is out, and it says that António Guterres, following the usual consultations, is… is proposing Salam Fayyad as the new… I mean, people have seen the letter.  So I guess what I'm wondering is, what were these consultations?  Did he speak to the US Mission?  Did he speak to people in control in Benghazi?  Can you give some sense… I guess there's already some questioning of this, and I'm wondering, what consultations?  Is it only with the Security Council or with others?

Deputy Spokesman:  There's a normal process of consultations that occurs when envoys are selected, and part of that policy for envoys that report to the Security Council involves informing the Security Council.  That's the only real detail I'd be able to share at this stage.

   The president of the Security Council, Ukraine, told Inner City Press silence expires at 5 pm on February 10...

  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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