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On Nepal US Pompeo Spoke With FM Including on North Korea After IMF Praised Nepali Federalism

By Matthew Russell Lee, CJR PFT NY Post

NEW YORK CITY, December 18 – When the International Monetary Fund on Nepal issued a statement on December 13, it praised moves toward federalism while citing underserved populations outside the major cities, something of a global trend. Now on December 18, from US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino, this read out: "Secretary Michael R. Pompeo met with Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali of Nepal today in Washington.  Secretary Pompeo highlighted the enduring strength of the U.S.-Nepal partnership and the close people-to-people ties that form the foundation of the relationship.  The two leaders discussed Nepal’s $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation compact; Nepal’s central role in a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific; and global issues, including North Korea.  The Secretary noted that today’s historic meeting demonstrates the U.S. commitment to its strong partnership with Nepal.  He emphasized the great potential for the further development of U.S.-Nepal ties." We'll see.  Here was the IMF Article IV statement: "An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Geert Almekinders, visited Kathmandu and Pokhara during December 2-13 to hold discussions for the 2018 Article IV consultation. The team met with Minister of Finance Dr. Yuba Raj Khatiwada, Central Bank Governor Dr. Chiranjibi Nepal and other high-level government officials as well as representatives from the private sector and donor community. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Almekinders issued the following statement:

“Following a prolonged period of subdued growth, economic activity in Nepal has picked up in recent years. Supported by greater political stability and a more reliable supply of electricity , growth is expected to reach 6.5 percent in FY 2018/19, on expanding post-earthquake reconstruction activity, services, and manufacturing.

“The improved outlook provides an opening to address deep-seated structural weaknesses and boost long-term growth. At the same time, the current economic expansion also comes with challenges that need to be carefully managed. The fiscal deficit has risen substantially, reaching 6.5 percent of GDP in FY 2017/18, and credit growth has been high, accelerating to 25 percent most recently in October. The resulting expansion of domestic demand has contributed to a sharp increase in Nepal’s current account deficit, which reached 8.2 percent of GDP in FY 2017/18 and has led to some outflows of reserves.

“To manage fiscal and external-sector pressures and promote a more durable economic expansion, the IMF team’s assessment is that a measured tightening of policies is warranted—higher interest rates, tighter macroprudential policies, and a smaller fiscal deficit than currently budgeted would be more suited to current economic circumstances. These adjustments would reduce pressure on the current account by constraining import growth and foster a pace of expansion more consistent with the economy’s current domestic productive capacity. Measured adjustments to policies today could pay dividends in terms of more stable and higher future growth.

“Good progress is being been made with putting in place the fiscal framework for Nepal’s new federal system, which has the potential to improve the quality and delivery of government services. As Nepal implements fiscal federalism, the general government budget envelope must not expand unduly. With substantial devolution of responsibilities and resources to local and provincial governments, ultimately the central government will need to shrink. In light of this, the team welcomes the authorities’ efforts to reform the tax system and review options to consolidate central government expenditure by forming the Public Expenditure Review Commission. To make fiscal decentralization work, it will be important to build policy implementation capacity and put in place a sound public-financial management framework at the sub-national level.

“While credit growth has helped spur growth over the past several years, the rapid pace of expansion raises stability concerns. Macro-prudential measures to temper excessive credit growth are appropriate to reduce risks to the economy. The team supports the authorities’ intention to maintain the 80 percent limit on the credit-to-core capital cum deposit (CCD) ratio. Pressures to make changes to the calculation of the CCD ratio to expand the room for credit growth should be resisted. Banks should also be encouraged to build additional capital and provisioning buffers against potential losses, and ongoing reforms to strengthen financial-sector oversight and regulation should be accelerated. Overall, these policies would help mitigate financial vulnerabilities and contribute to a more sustainable expansion of credit going forward.

“Actions to make Nepal’s economy more competitive and generate a more conducive environment for investment will be critical to lift Nepal’s medium-term growth prospects and create jobs for its young population. In this regard, the team welcomes the government’s ongoing efforts to improve the business climate, including by revising investment-related laws and regulations ahead of the Investment Summit to be held in March 2019. The team encourages swift implementation of the authorities’ structural reform agenda aimed at easing obstacles to firm entry and operations. Increasing foreign direct investment, strengthening governance and institutions, and enhancing access to finance, particularly for the underserved population outside major cities, are top priorities.

“The team expresses its sincere gratitude to the Nepal Rastra Bank and the Government of Nepal for their warm hospitality and insightful exchanges of views.”" On December 12 on Myanmar the IMF
presented two scenarios of what it called the Rakhine crisis while it has refused to acknowledge or answer on similar group-based killing elsewhere for example in Cameroon while making loans.
Here is the IMF's statement: "An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Mr. Shanaka J. Peiris visited Myanmar from November 28 to December 13, 2018, to conduct discussions for the 2018 Article IV consultations. At the conclusion of this visit, Mr. Peiris issued the following statement:

“The economy rebounded in 2017/18 but is showing signs of slowing. Growth rebounded to about 6.8 percent in 2017/18 from 5.9 percent in 2016/17 driven by exports and a recovery in agriculture. The fiscal deficit widened slightly to 2.7 percent of GDP in 2017/18, while central bank financing of the deficit declined. Headline inflation was moderate in 2017/18 (4.0 percent on average) but has increased from higher fuel prices and a depreciating kyat. The current account deficit widened marginally in 2017/18 to 4.7 percent of GDP, largely financed by strong FDI inflows (5.4 percent of GDP) which helped keep international reserve coverage at around three months of imports. Preliminary data in the transition budget year (April – September 2018) point to a growth of about 6.2 percent due to government underspending, waning investor confidence and moderating global demand.

“Going forward, the economy is expected to slightly pick up to 6.4 percent in 2018/19 and close to 7.0 percent over the medium. The fiscal deficit for 2018/19 is projected to increase to 3.5 percent of GDP, providing a modest fiscal stimulus on the back of higher capital spending. A drop in international oil prices and a gradual moderation in inflation over the near term should support consumer spending.

“The implementation of a second wave of reforms with greater investments, in both physical and human capital, financed by higher revenues and improved spending efficiency should sustain Myanmar’s growth take-off. Economic prospects over the longer term remain favorable on the back of Myanmar’s demographic dividend and strategic location between the global growth engines. To harness this potential, Myanmar will also need to secure peace and stability while managing fiscal risks from large infrastructure projects.

“Risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside. A prolonged crisis in Rakhine state and a withdrawal of trade preferences could reduce concessional donor financing and investment, leading to lower growth and significant job losses. Macro-financial spillovers from banking sector restructuring may be more severe if banks delay recapitalization. Risks on the global front include rising trade tensions and global market volatility, higher crude oil prices and spillovers from a slowdown in China. An alternative scenario of a faster resolution of the Rakhine crisis and structural reforms could facilitate external financing, allowing for greater SDG-related spending and a rebuilding of international reserves.

“Fiscal policy should aim to raise tax revenues and SDG-related spending, while phasing out central bank financing, to ensure debt sustainability over the long term. A Public Private Partnership framework should be instituted to improve project selection and ensure value-for-money through competitive bidding, building on the project bank regulation. Strengthening profitability and governance of State Economic Enterprises including electricity tariff reforms is macro-critical. A new bidding round for petroleum production sharing contracts should rely on a revised model contract to help maximize revenues and ensure transparency.

“Continued exchange rate flexibility will help cushion the economy from external shocks. Further upgrading the monetary and FX operational framework, including by adopting a market-determined reference exchange rate and interest rate flexibility, will anchor expectations and strengthen the monetary transmission mechanism.

“The banking system is adjusting to new prudential regulations after a period of rapid credit growth and lax lending standards. The authorities should implement fully the new regulations while encouraging loan loss recognition and recapitalization to support a healthy recovery of credit growth. Strengthening credit risk management by banks, moderating concentration risks and allowing unsecured lending at rates commensurate with risks would also support financial stability and development.

“Strengthening governance and reducing the cost of doing business will help attract private investment. Capacity development to support reform implementation and institution building is critical to achieving the goals set in the MSDP.

“The staff team met with the governor and deputy governors of the Central Bank of Myanmar, the union minister and the deputy ministers of Ministry of Planning and Finance, the union minister of Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, senior government officials, parliamentary members, private sector representatives, and the financial community. We offer our sincere gratitude to the authorities for their cooperation and hospitality." Shocking. Or telling. On Malaysia, the IMF
said US tariffs on imports from China will slow Malaysian growth and that the country from try to move up the value chain. Here's from the statement: An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team, led by Nada Choueiri, visited Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya from November 29 to December 12, 2018, to conduct discussions for the 2019 Article IV Consultation with Malaysia. At the conclusion of the visit, Ms. Choueiri issued the following statement:

“The Malaysian economy has shown resilience in recent years and continues to perform well. Real GDP growth is moderating in line with expectations and is projected at 4.7 percent for 2018, driven by domestic demand. Headline inflation is declining and is expected to average around 1.1 percent this year. Credit growth has rebounded recently, and capital outflows have been manageable. The current account surplus is projected to decline to 2.1 percent of GDP.

“Looking ahead, real GDP growth is projected at 4.5 to 5.0 percent in 2019, with domestic demand remaining the main driver of growth, while the U.S. tariffs on imports from China are expected to have an overall adverse impact on Malaysia’s growth. Inflation should average 2.2 percent, as the effect of GST removal dissipates.

“The risks to the growth outlook are to the downside. On the external side, Malaysia is vulnerable to rising protectionism, a sharp tightening of global financial conditions, and weaker-than-expected growth in trading partners. Domestically, contingent liabilities could necessitate additional measures to ensure medium-term fiscal sustainability.

“While the budget deficit projected for 2018 represents a delay to the fiscal adjustment, the government’s planned pace of fiscal consolidation for 2019 is appropriate and will help build buffers and maintain financial market confidence. In the medium term, fiscal policy should follow a gradual consolidation path. The composition of adjustment should be improved to make it more revenue based, making room for increased social spending to support inclusive growth.

“Malaysia’s monetary policy framework has performed well, delivering price and output stability. The current broadly neutral monetary policy stance is appropriate given close-to-potential growth, no inflationary pressures, and gradually tightening financial conditions. Continued reliance on exchange rate flexibility and macroeconomic policy adjustments should be the first line of defense against external shocks.

 “The financial system seems well positioned to cope with standard shocks. Bank profitability and liquidity are sound, and the corporate sector is only moderately leveraged. Household debt is high, but declining as a share of GDP, and risks in the housing market appear manageable. Although the financial sector is resilient at present, the authorities’ close monitoring and active consideration of measures to mitigate risks are welcome.
“Governance reforms could help improve transparency and accountability and the efficiency of public services. It will be important to sustain the momentum in governance reforms and anchor them in appropriate legislation to secure the independence of key institutions and strengthen checks and balances.

“A comprehensive structural reform agenda, along the lines laid out in the Mid-Term Review of the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, is needed to help Malaysia achieve high-income status and inclusive economic development. Priority should be given to effective implementation of policies that lift productivity growth by, among others: (i) improving education; (ii) accelerating innovation and technology adoption; and (iii) encouraging a move up the value chain. 
“The IMF team would like to thank the officials of the Government of Malaysia and Bank Negara Malaysia, as well as representatives from think tanks, NGOs, and the private sector for the helpful discussions. We would also like to thank the authorities for their generous hospitality during our stay. We look forward to maintaining a close and productive relationship with Malaysia. The IMF team will prepare a staff report and present it to the Executive Board of the IMF, currently expected in February 2019.”"
  Two day before on Togo it was to disburse $35 million, with nothing on the opposition boycotting the upcoming election and security forces killing civilians. From Inner City Press: two persons, including a child, were shot and killed on Saturday during clashes between demonstrators and police in some parts of Lome. Togo's government has banned a series of planned opposition protests, saying the marches posed a security risk. A coalition of 14 opposition parties announced earlier this week that they would boycott a parliamentary election planned for 20 December and instead try to stop the electoral process. The opposition also boycotted the National Assembly during debates about the proposed constitutional reform. The IMF statement went like this: "On December 10, 2018, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the third review of Togo’s performance under the program supported by an

Extended Credit Facility (ECF). Program performance has been satisfactory. All quantitative performance criteria and three out of five structural benchmarks were met. The completion of the review enables the disbursement of SDR25.17 million (about US$34.9 million), bringing total disbursements since the beginning of the arrangement to SDR100.68 million (about US$139.5 million).

Togo’s three-year arrangement was approved on May 5, 2017 (see Press Release No. 17/151 ) for SDR176.16 million (120 percent of quota or about US$241.5 million at the time of approval of the arrangement) to support the country’s economic and financial reforms. The program aims to reduce the overall fiscal deficit substantially to ensure long-term debt and external sustainability; refocus policies on inclusive growth through targeted social spending and sustainably-financed infrastructure spending; and resolve the financial weaknesses in the two public banks.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion on Togo, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, issued the following statement:

“Togo’s performance under the ECF-supported program has been satisfactory despite a challenging environment. The economy shows signs of incipient stabilization, growth is projected to accelerate, and inflation remains within the WAEMU criteria. Meanwhile, the structural reform agenda is advancing. With risks abating but still on the downside, it is important that the authorities remain committed to their macroeconomic adjustment and reform agenda.

“The authorities are determined to reduce public debt to sustainable levels and advance fiscal reforms. The fiscal framework is expected to achieve the debt reduction envisaged initially under the program, and Togo is projected to comply with the WAEMU convergence criteria by end-2019. The authorities are planning to pursue a debt reprofiling operation with appropriate safeguards, aimed at reducing the present value of total public debt.

“Ongoing fiscal reforms aim to create space for much-needed social and infrastructure spending. The authorities are making efforts to improve revenue mobilization in a permanent way, shift the composition of spending in favor of growth-supporting public investment, and enhance the efficiency of overall spending. Further progress is needed to finalize the cost-benefit analysis of public investment projects and strengthen arrears management.

“The authorities have revisited their financial sector strategy and have re-launched the privatization of the two remaining public banks. Implementation of the agreed safeguard measures will be important to ensure that the privatization is in line with international best practices.

“Efforts are underway to implement measures under the National Development Plan and the Compact with Africa, with a view to promoting Togo as a major logistical hub, a dynamic financial center, and a strong manufacturing base. To this end, priorities include fighting corruption, strengthening governance, and improving the business climate more broadly.”
When the IMF held its biweekly embargoed media briefing on November 15, Inner City Press asked four questions including, "The Pakistan People’s Party’s leader in Senate, Sherry Rehman, as asked 'What is going on with the IMF meetings? Neither the prime minister nor the finance minister briefed the parliament on the terms of the negotiations. Before briefing the IMF with the terms of agreement regarding the country’s foreign debts, the government should have discussed it in parliament. What is with this secrecy?' What is the IMF's response?" IMF Spokesperson Gerry Rice said Matthew Lee has asked about the status and that an IMF team is still in Islamabad discussing a potential new program; he would not confirm if a $5 to $6 billion request is expected. Now on November 20 the IMF has issued this: "An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Harald Finger visited Islamabad from November 7-20, 2018 to initiate discussions on a financial arrangement with the IMF requested by the Pakistani authorities to support their economic reform program. At the end of the visit, Mr. Finger made the following statement:

“The IMF mission has been engaged in productive discussions with the Pakistani authorities on economic policies and reforms that could be supported by a financial arrangement with the IMF. In this context, there has been broad agreement on the need for a comprehensive agenda of reforms and policy actions aimed at reducing the fiscal and current account deficits, bolstering international reserves, strengthening social protection, enhancing governance and transparency, and laying the foundations for a sustainable job-creating growth path.

“Our dialogue with the Pakistani authorities will continue over the coming weeks.

“The team is grateful to the authorities for open and constructive discussions. The team met with Minister of Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs Asad Umar; Minister of Planning Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister of State for Revenues Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Institutional Reforms and Austerity Ishrat Hussain, SBP Governor Tariq Bajwa, BISP Chairwoman Sania Nishtar, Finance Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan, FBR Chairman Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan, provincial Finance Ministers, parliamentarians, other senior officials, and representatives of the donor community." On November 15Inner City Press also asked, "On Sri Lanka, any updated thinking or action from the IMF given the dissolution of parliament, no confidence in Rajapaksa motion? Who are the IMF's technical counterparts?  Any changes?" Rice said the IMF continues to monitor the political situation and remain in touch with its "technical counterparts." Not yet answered: "On Cameroon, while the IMF's recent report discussed the Cup of African Nations, what is the IMF's assessment of the impact of the ongoing conflict and travel restrictions in the country's Anglophone regions?
On Libya, the US has said it is “critical is promoting greater transparency of Libya’s economic institutions, including the Central Bank of Libya. These reforms will support much-needed conversation among Libyans about enhancing fiscal transparency and promoting a more equitable distribution of the country’s oil resources. The United States stands ready to support this economic dialogue, at Libya’s request and in close coordination with the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.” What is the IMF doing in/for Libya?
 On Saudi Arabia, can you further explain the basis of Mr Azour's statement that current and foreseeable responses to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi will no impact the Saudi economy? Asked whether the IMF felt a need to re-examine its expectations for the economy since the Khashoggi affair erupted, Jihad Azour, director of the Middle East and Central Asia department at the Fund, said it did not.  'What would have an impact is how oil prices will have moved going forward, and a certain number of other indicators like the pace of fiscal adjustment and the reforms that Saudi authorities will implement going forward,' Azour said.
" Back on November 1, Inner City Press asked four questions, including, "On Saudi Arabia, what is the IMF's estimate of the impact of l'affaire Khashoggi on the country's economy, as well as of the US' call for a (sequenced) cessation of hostilities in its war on Yemen?
" IMF Spokesperson Gerry Rice, after reading out this "question from Matthew Lee," emphasized that the IMF doesn't do politics. He said, however, that the IMF is concerned about the humanitarian situation in Yemen and stands ready to re-engage although there are no operations there now due to the conflict. On Khashoggi's murder he said it is too early to estimate how much it will impact confidence in the Kingdom - it already has - and, in what others may take as news, he answered that the impact for now is modest. (Inner City Press also asked about the "coup" in Sri Lanka which Rice said the IMF is monitoring and remaining in contact with its counterparts on a technical level - but that's another story.) T
he Saudi kingdom is still dodging about the death of
Jamal Khashoggi. And Czech President Miloš Zeman, who's clung at a personal adviser to Ye Jianming, controlled of UN bribery indictee Patrick Ho through the China Energy Fund Committee, has now said, “I love journalists, that’s why I may organize a special banquet for them this evening at the Saudi embassy.” It's this Zeman who's played a role in Guterres having China Energy Fund Committee still accredited UN ECOSOC, while Guterres has had Inner City Press banned since July 3. On May 17,  Inner City Press' reporting that day, as before, included the non-response since November 2017 of the UN Mission the the Czech Republic, which holds the presidency of the UN ECOSOC to which CEFC continues to hold consultative status, while CEFC's Ye Jianming was and remains an adviser to Czech President Zeman. Even as the Mission in New York refused to answer, on for example 28 November 2017 and 6 February 2018, Inner City Press' reporting has been picked up in the Czech Republic, on 12 January 2018 here, then on 28 May 2018 here. On June 4, a belated response from the Czech Mission to the UN, published by Inner City Press in full below along with the Press' follow up questions on June 4, still not answered as of 4 pm on June 5. Inner City Press is also informed that Marie Chatardova has reached out with the same answer to the Czech Press Agency; some say she is under consideration by Zeman to become the country's foreign minister and that this Press question unresponded to by the Czech Mission since November could be a problem. Suddenly on June 5, Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric read out an answer (he rushed off the podium so follow up question have not yet been possible). Video here. Then on June 22 and July 3 Guterres' Security roughed up Inner City Press and have banned it since, while blathering about freedom of the press.   After belatedly and conflicted statements about Khashoggi from  Guterres, who earlier this year took a $930 million check from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, now as speech by Turkey's Erdogan, which over-promised (the "naked truth") and under-delivered, with its presumption that the King is not involved. It is noted that Erdogan has a record 73 journalists in jail, without due process like Guterres' dis-accreditation and banned from the UN list. Others compromising connections are being revealed. Guterres' Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake announced a partnership with MBS' Misk Foundation, as recently as September 26, 2018 (after school bus bombing) - and it remains in place... (The IMF's Lagarde, we note, canceled on Davos in the Desert.) At the October 10 Press-less UN noon briefing at which Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric by choice had only two questioners, one retired, Dujarric said Guterres had not spoken to the Crown Prince he took the money from. Now as some banks pull out of Davos in the Desert, notably two French banks both with operations in the United States are still planning to go: Societe Generale CEO Frédéric Oudéa and
BNP Paribas Chairman Jean Lemierre
; also a French arms manufacturer Thales CEO Patrice Caine. We'll have more on this. On October 15, with Inner City Press still unable to attend and ask, included on Guterres "banned" list along with political activists, thankfully the Khashoggi question was asked, by Richard Roth: "Now that he's home, is the Secretary-General planning to meet or has he met with the Saudi UN Ambassador?  What is the Secretary-General's comment regarding President Trump's remark this morning that the Saudi King said that there were rogue killers, rogue actors who were responsible?  And it might be nice if the Secretary-General stopped after his Security Council appearance tomorrow morning considering some of the events that have happened while he was gone.  Just a suggestion.  Thank you.

Spokesman Dujarric:  I’m always happy to take the suggestions on board.  You know, I think the Secretary-General was very clear in the comments he made, I think, to some of your colleagues in Indonesia, is that he thinks it's very important for the truth to come out.  Our understanding is that, obviously, the Turks… Turkish authorities are investigating.  I think we, like everybody else, would like to know what happened to Mr. [Jamal] Khashoggi.  And as the Secretary-General said, as we've said from here, we've had… there have been contacts between the UN and the Saudi authorities." At what level? As Inner City Press showed, Guterres seemingly slept in on October 15. It was his chief of staff who presented in the Fifth Budget Committee. And this?
O
n October 14 from US Senator Dick Durban, this: "Yesterday, Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Ambassador to the United States, called Durbin directly from Riyadh about Khashoggi’s disappearance. 'In my call with Ambassador bin Salman, he admitted to knowing Mr. Khashoggi and even said he counts him as a friend.  However, Ambassador bin Salman gave no credible explanation for Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.  He refused to comment directly on the video showing Mr. Khashoggi entering the Istanbul consulate but not exiting, would not respond to reports of intelligence showing a plan to lure Mr. Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia, would not respond to a request for a third party to investigate, and gave me no timetable on the Saudi’s investigative report.

I told Ambassador bin Salman that he should expect a very negative response from both sides of the aisle in Congress if Mr. Khashoggi was in fact kidnapped and murdered.  And if that is the case, I do not believe the U.S. should continue to be party to supporting the Saudis in the bloodshed in Yemen -- a halt that is long overdue given the humanitarian disaster resulting from that conflict. 

This recurring theme of the Saudi government and royal family silencing their critics, such as the case with Raif Badawi and Waleed al-Khair, along with the fact that they continue to turn a blind eye to the export of Wahabbi extremism makes it increasingly difficult to accept Saudi Arabia as trusted ally of the United States.

Since Saudi arms are being used to ravage Yemen and they are apparently complicit in the disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, I cannot support President Trump’s proposed arms sale.  Secretary Mnuchin should immediately cancel his upcoming trip to Saudi Arabia and after a two year delay, the Trump Administration should finally nominate a U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.'" 
Earlier Dujarric's
deputy
emailed this to Inner City Press: "
Regarding Mr. Khashoggi, we have said the following: The Secretary-General is very concerned about recent reports of violence against journalists, including the most recent cases - the reported disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi and the murder of Victoria Marinova in Bulgaria. Both publicly and privately, the Secretary-General has often raised this issue with Member States. It’s also important to note that that there’s also been a very worrying increase increasing violence, sexual and otherwise, against women journalists.
The Secretary-General’s position is clear: a free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all. He reiterates his call on all governments to strengthen press freedom, including ensuring that there is justice and accountability for crimes committed against journalists." This while Guterres himself has roughed up and banned the critical Press - and is now exposed as putting it on his secret banned list that includes "political activists."

And so too the story about the Saudi foreign minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir's speech in the UN General Assembly that Guterres banned Inner City Press from, by his state media "UN News Centre" run by Alison Smale. This story merely runs lines from Al-Jubeir such as, "On the conflict in Yemen, the Saudi Minister said that Houthi militia continue to manufacture missiles and carry out activities that destabilize the region. Underscoring the need for a political solution to the crisis, Minister Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia will continue to facilitate all humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people." This story does not mention the Saudis bombing of children in a school bus. One might think Smale is just wasting public money, as usual, by reproducing the flat coverage of UN Meetings Covering. But it's worse: the lack of analysis or presenting the other side is selective. Smale's UN News Centre's write up of the Myanmar speech includes a description of and link to a report on the government's killings. Smale also barred Inner City Press from attending the Reuters and CPJ event on Myanmar's jailing of two journalists, here. We'll have more on this - due to Guterres and Smale's lawless censorship Inner City Press has had to cover UNGA 73 from the streets and is only now reviewing Smale's shameful production. Watch this site.

 On September 25, after meeting the Saudi foreign minister, Guterres gushed, "The Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Adel Al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister discussed regional issues of mutual interest, including Yemen and Syria. The Secretary-General expressed appreciation to Saudi Arabia for its support to the ongoing reconciliation process in the Horn of Africa and United Nations youth initiatives." Not a word on the bombing of school bus. Earlier on September 25 the UK Mission to the UN closed to the press - all press, apparently - its event on Addressing Malnutrition in Yemen. To his credit, ICRC's Peter Maurer released his remarks, here, including calling for "ceasing the transfer of weapons if there is a clear risk of violations of international law." That should mean the host of the meeting would stop such sales - and, as didn't happen this week, incoming UN Security Council member Germany would as well. We'll have more on this. On September 14 the NRC's Saleem Al-Shamiri in Hodeidah said, "Stability within Hodeidah is becoming worse and fear about what might happen continuing to increase. Those remaining in Hodeidah know they could lose everything, including their lives, but for many, it is not a simple decision to leave. To leave is to abandon everything people know and have worked for, with no certainty about the future. If people leave, they don’t know where they will go, how they will find shelter, what they will eat. Many fled here already and the war followed. They’re tired of running. One of our colleagues here is expecting her baby any day. These are terrifying circumstances for her delivery. She says it is now too late, too uncertain and too expensive for her family to leave. No baby should be born into a situation like this.”
The weekend of 7-9 September marked one of the deadliest in Yemen’s war so far, with more than 84 conflict-related fatalities reported within Hodeidah health facilities alone, according to reports received from Safer Yemen.
Fighting is now pressing in on Hodeidah city from several sides, including heavy ground clashes and sustained aerial bombardments. Civilians in Hodeidah reported airstrikes in close proximity to the city’s southern and eastern borders, including up to fifty strikes on the city fringes on Wednesday alone.
Houses, farms, a flour mill and a soft drink factory were among civilian buildings hit by airstrikes across Hodeidah governorates over the last fortnight.
We are highly concerned about the security of the Hodeidah Port complex, including milling facilities housing enough to feed 3.5 million Yemeni people.
Aid agencies in Yemen have identified close to 500,000 people that had fled homes in Hodeidah between June and August. So far in September, 55,000 people have been displaced from across the governorate, leaving more than half a million at heightened risk of hunger and exposure to diseases, including cholera.  
ECHO reports that the number of suspected cholera cases in Yemen has now increased for the 12thweek in a row, to 9,245 suspected cases. This number adds to more that 133,000 cases of suspected cholera through 2018 thus far.
By 13 September, seven vessels were berthed at Hodeidah port, carrying a 79,000 metric tons of food and over 30,000 metric tons of critically-needed gas oil. An additional three vessels are queued to deliver food and fuel in the coming days. Food and fuel deliveries through Yemen’s Red Sea Ports have held steady since June but any disruption or threat to the safety of shipments could strangle the Yemeni economy and impact access to food for more than 20 million people." Inner City Press, which previously at the UN Security Council stakeout asked US Ambassador Nikki Haley questions about Jeffrey Feltman and Cameroon has now been banned from the UN for 70 days and counting and so asks like this, on September 11. We'll have more on this.
O
n September 10 the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has had this to say on Yemen in her opening speech: "
Regarding Yemen, I urge all parties to take stock of the gravity of the findings of the Group of Eminent Experts. They have identified a number of individuals who may be responsible for international crimes, and that confidential list is now in the Office. It is crucial that there be continued international and independent investigations into all allegations of violations of international humanitarian law and war crimes – particularly in light of the apparent inability of the parties to the conflict to carry out impartial investigations. Last month's shocking strike on a bus carrying schoolchildren was followed by another horrific series of airstrikes which left dozens of civilians and children killed and injured in Al Hudaydah. I note the recent statement by the Coalition acknowledging mistakes over the airstrike on the school bus in Sa’ada, and I will be closely following what steps are taken to hold the perpetrators accountable and provide remedy and compensation to the victims. There should be greater transparency over the coalition’s rules of engagement and the measures taken to ensure that such tragedies are not repeated. The recent Saudi royal order which appears to provide a blanket pardon to members of the Saudi armed forces for actions taken in Yemen is very concerning." So why has Guterres done a favor to Saudi Arabia putting it on the "good child killer" list? 
We'll have more on this, and on Bachelet's response (or not) to the evidence provided to her on and since her first day about shameful censorship of the Press at and by the UN Secretariat as it pursues the UN's role in Yemen, deferring to the Saudis and their armers. And on this: On September 8 Guterres' envoy Martin Griffiths lavished praise on the government / Hadi delegation he spent three days with in Geneva, in a press conference featuring qestions cut off by the UN and from which though in Geneva Inner City Press was banned from by New York-based, Moscow junketing Alison Smale for Guterres, soon to be Lisbon bound. After Griffiths, Hadi's Foreign Minister Khaled Al Yahami took over the UN room to denounce coup plotters and deny that Sudan and Egypt wouldn't open their air space. What about the injured being able to get to Oman? Griffiths, vetted by the Saudis before Guterres gave him the post ostensibly for the Brits, wouldn't say. He said every action has a repurcussion. We'll have more on this. On September 7, with the UN declining to answer basic questions from banned Inner City Press including "September 6-3: On Yemen, what is the SG's response to that the Yemeni government is considering not extending the UN teams’ missions in the country after they have proven their bias, Yemen’s human rights minister Mohamed Askar said on Thursday," this from NRC protection and advocacy adviser in Yemen Suze van Meegen: “This week was due to mark a turning point in Yemen’s conflict as parties convened in Geneva to chart a way forward. Instead, we have passed another week full of violence and devoid of promise. While parties to the conflict continue to operate on the basis of differences, Yemenis are united in their experience of violence, deprivation and grief. Yemenis I met this week all tell me that they are losing hope in the possibility of any solution to the current situation. They are exhausted, People are reaching their tipping point.”
The situation in Hodeidah city remains exceptionally fragile. Heavy fighting is currently taking place at the city’s western and southern outskirts, closer than at any other point since the offensive on Hodeidah commenced in June, including around Hodeidah airport, on the city’s southern border.
Airstrikes and helicopter attacks have been reported across several districts south of Hodeidah city, and missiles launched from Yemen at targets in both Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea. Reports indicate that jets have been hovering over Hodeidah city for up to 16 hours a day.
Citizens in Hodeidah described increasingly militarised conditions inside the city this week, with an increasing number of checkpoints, trenches and jersey barriers installed across the city. Most residents stay inside their houses to try to protect themselves.
Tension in and around the city continues to keep prevent tens of thousands of city residents from returning. People remaining in Hodeidah report that more than half of all businesses, shops and services have closed, including whole blocks of shopfronts locked up following the departure from the city of owner-operators. A shopkeeper selling fabric and clothing told NRC staff that he had not sold a single item since the second week of August.... On September 4, with the UN declining to answer basic questions from banned Inner City Press about the previous, non-Saudi approved UN envoy, this: "UN Special Envoy For Yemen Affirms Commitment To Southern Participation In The Political Process: Amman, 4 September 2018 - Since I assumed my role as Special Envoy in March this year, I have consistently affirmed that there will be no peace in Yemen if we do not listen to a broad cross-spectrum of Yemeni voices, including southern groups, and make sure that they are included in the efforts to reach a sustainable political settlement. In the past few months, I have consulted with numerous southern groups to reach a consensus on their meaningful participation in the political process. I have been encouraged by their openness to dialogue and to a peaceful resolution for their concerns. I remain committed to reaching a consensus with them on their participation in the political process, and look forward to continuing our discussions in the coming weeks. I urge all Yemeni stakeholders to work together to create a conducive environment for negotiations to end the war and for the stabilization of the economy and delivery of basic services to the Yemeni people."
We'll see.
Also, Spain under Pedro Sanchez is said to be belatedly reviewing its arms sales to the Saudis. Better late than never - the UN, it seems, never reviews anything, no more how outrageous or ultimately incriminating. Where was UNSG Guterres? In China, after rebuffing basic questions from banned Inner City Press on August 31, here. On August 2, the day after the implicated UK took over presidency of the UN Security Council while denying Press requests under FOIA and for access,
British nominated (and Saudi vetted) UN envoy Martin Griffiths was to brief the Council and then a Press-less press stakeout (which he later canceled) - when, just before the meeting, the Saudi and Emirati led Coalition reported bombed the Al-Thourah Hospital in Hodeidah, killing 55 civilians. While Griffith in his speech didn't even mention these airstrikes (and he has not answered Inner City Press' online question to him about why), on August 3 the Saudi Mission, dutifully amplified by Al Arabiya to which the UN gives a ten meter long office that Guterres and his Deputy and team often cravenly appear in, blamed the bombing on the Houthis. Seems like it might require an objective investigation - unlike the scam 45 day"review" the UN held to ban Inner City Press for life,  while turning itself over to the likes of Al Arabiya. On August 24 after yet more killing of civilians by the Saudi and Emirati Led Coalition from which Antonio Guterres smiling took a $930 million check, this: "“We are appalled by conflict that appears entirely ungoverned by the laws of war and astounded at the silence of the many governments enabling it. We cannot comprehend any possible moral justification for killing civilians fleeing to safety as their towns become battlegrounds.

Attacks on civilians have become a deadly trend in Yemen’s war. The new media reports of civilian casualties follow recent coalition strikes on a busload of school children that killed 51 people, and over three years of ceaseless violence from both parties to the conflict on homes, markets, hospitals, schools and farms. More than 350,000 Yemeni people have fled violence along Yemen’s west coast since the beginning of June, adding to the three million displaced through the course of the war. People forced to flee are not simply numbers, they are individuals forced to leave everything they have behind in an effort to stay alive.

This war is not only a Yemeni problem, it is a global one. The multiple nations supplying intelligence, arms and logistical support to enable the violence are implicated in a conflict that has killed thousands and will not subside without conscious and meaningful action.

The UK, US, France, Iran and all others contributing to the conflict in Yemen must use their influence to bring about an immediate and permanent end to the violence. We call on the countries funding and fuelling the war to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure are protected from attack, and that humanitarian aid is allowed to reach those who need it.'" The UK and France are both complicit in the killing of civilians in Cameroon by Paul Biya - and in the lifetime ban Guterres' Alison Smale imposed on Inner City Press on August 17.
On August 13, for a UN noon briefing Inner City remained banned from, it e-mailed the spokesmen for Antonio "$930 Million Guterres this question: "August 13-2: On Yemen, what is the comment of the SG and, separately, his envoy Griffiths on reports that Saudi and Emirati Led Coalition-backed militias actively recruit al-Qaida militants, or those who were recently members, because they’re considered exceptional fighters. One Yemeni commander who was put on the U.S. terrorism list for al-Qaida ties last year continues to receive money from the UAE to run his militia,. Another commander, recently granted $12 million for his fighting force by Yemen’s president, has a known al-Qaida figure as his closest aide. In one case, a tribal mediator who brokered a deal between the Emiratis and al-Qaida even gave the extremists a farewell dinner. What does the UN know / say / do about this?" Even when Inner City Press submitted the question again, to Guterres' email address and that of his Deputy SG and Communicator UK USG Alison Smale, there has been no answer more than two days later, in the face of this: "A senior US official says the UAE paid money to tribal leaders in Yemen to rout al-Qaeda from its strongholds. Wednesday's remarks followed AP investigation outlining how Emirati forces cut secret deals with the militants to get them to abandon territory. The official says money "has exchanged hands" and that it often went to "sheikhs in areas that have collaborated or allowed al-Qaida to exist." He didn't elaborate on how much was paid, but says the Emiratis' payments to tribal sheikhs allowed them to 'ally themselves to the Emiratis.'" One wag might note the handed $930 million check, half Emerati, to Guterres; the UAE already bought the UN's Bernardino Leon and, some say, Ghassam Salame. Today's UN under Guterres is corrupt, and censors.
On August 9, for a UN noon briefing Inner City remained banned from, it e-mailed the spokesmen for Guterres this question: "August 9-3: On Yemen, what is the SG's comment and action on 'airstrikes in northern Yemen have targeted a busy market and a bus, killing at least 20 people, including children, and wounding as many as 35. ICRC said a hospital supported by the organisation had received dozens of casualties after the attack at a market in Dahyan in Sa’ada governorate.'"  At the UN Security Council, from which Guterres has also banned Inner City Press, UK Deputy Ambassador Jonathan Allen was asked "the reaction to the bombing of a school bus in northern Yemen? Dozens of very young children, videos showing many under the age of ten injured and/or killed in a strike that the Saudis say was justified. Allen: Well, we've seen those reports. It's very important as we've said repeatedly that all parties to the conflict in Yemen adhere to International Humanitarian Law. Where there is an incident of this sort, it's important this investigated thoroughly and the conclusions of that investigation are shared and are learned from and we'll be calling for that in this incidence as well. As President, I'm afraid I don't have anything to say on that. This is not something that the Council has discussed recently. Q: Has anybody asked the Presidency to discuss it in AOB?  Allen: As of this moment, I am not aware of any such requests." At the beginning of the month t
he UK prepped the correspondents it feeds cake to, as it sells bombs to Saudi Arabia - while refusing to answer questions from Inner City Press on Yemen, Western Sahara and Cameroon.
On July 30 Guterres' sleazy basis for roughing up and banning Inner City Press for 27 days and counting was reported in the Columbia Journalist Review:
Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric has gone further, in an article published July 30 by the Columbia Journalism Review. Dujarric - who Inner City Press directed to the CJR reporter to - is quoted that " Lee Periscoped while shouting, 'Fuck you!' repeatedly. (Lee says he was complaining that Dujarrac had given the Al Jazeera crew a private interview, and excluded him.) 'He creates an atmosphere of incivility within our working environment,' Dujarrac says."  This is a lie. Inner City Press on June 19 when Dujarric gave a "private briefing" to Al Jazeera about Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo announcing the US pull out from the UN Human Right Council said in the hall that is was a "sleazefest." After closing the door of the focus booth it has been confined to work in for two years by Dujarric, and long after the Al Jazeera trio including James Bayes and Whitney Hurst were done, said on Periscope, F-You. Periscope video - still online during this 27 day "investigation" - here. So Dujarric is a censor, justifying the beating up and banning of a journalist for something he broadcast in a soundproof booth to his audience. This is disgusting, all the more so because as Inner City Press has reported, Dujarric told an interlocutor on June 20, before the two beat-downs of Inner City Press, that things would be worse for it. Guterres and Dujarric and it seems Smale are.. thugs. Disgusting. On Yemen, the CJR article quotes Inner City Press: "The Saudis buy UK weapons to bomb Yemen—but the UN envoy to Yemen is British." All true.  On July 5, hours before Guterres' (and the UK's and Saudis') envoy Martin Griffiths briefed the UN Security Council, Guterres' UN banned Inner City Press from entering, and it has been banned for 12 days and counting since. Fox News story here ("UN roughs up, ejects, bans reporter from headquarters: Caught on tape"); petition to Guterres here; GAP blogs I and II (“Harassment of US Journalist Intensifies at the UN”).  On July 30 (Inner City Press is still banned from the UN with no end in sight), US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a read-out including that "Secretary Pompeo met today in Washington, DC with Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi, who participated in the July 24-26 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.  On Yemen, they affirmed the importance of continued support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and emphasized the need for all parties to show restraint to avoid further escalation of hostilities." All parties. The UK becomes president of the UN Security Council on August 1; watch this site. On July 20, NRC on Hodeidah said that "airstrikes, mortar fire, missiles and shelling continue to kill, injure and threaten the safety of civilian populations, particularly in At Tuhayat and Zabid districts. NRC’s staff inside Hodeidah city have described it as a “ghost town”, where the bulk of shops and restaurants have been closed by proprietors fleeing the city. Through the course of the week, residents of Hodeidah city heard low-flying jets and heavy airstrikes on the outskirts of the city. The price of women’s sanitary items has risen by more than 15% since May, creating major challenges for women in already challenging circumstances, many of whom are without access to clean water. Ali Al Hajori, in Hajjah, said that 'conditions here are becoming worse. People aren’t only arriving from Hodeidah now, but from areas in the north too. They come in the heat and dust with everything they can carry, but it usually isn’t enough for them to survive beyond a few days. We are stretching the aid we have to reach as many people as possible but it will never compensate for what they lose by leaving their homes.' Isaac Ooko,NRC’s Area Manager in Hodeidah said that 'people are living in pathetic conditions, not fit for humans and completely untenable for those who are most vulnerable. I am incredibly proud of our teams for fronting up each day to make it possible for people to live with dignity in a situation that otherwise strips it from them. What might appear to be a pause to the outside world, doesn’t feel the same for those of us seeing what it means for people here.' Yemen’s Protection Cluster reported severe damage to the main water tanks in Al Tuhayet district earlier this month, leaving close to 100,000 people without safe water and at heightened risk of communicable diseases.
NRC’s staff in Hodeidah are continuing to carry out our usual cholera prevention programs, focused on ensuring people have access to safe water and hygiene material." The UN has a shameful record with cholera, having killed over 10,000 people in Haiti with the cholera UN Peacekeeping brought, with not a penny in restitution.
On July 13, unable to go to the UN's noon briefing as it had been been unable to attend Guterres' July 12 press conference at which not a single Yemen question was asked, Inner City Press wrote to Guterres' spokesmen: "
Saudi King Salman has ‘pre-exonerated’ all troops fighting in Yemen from any accountability issues they may face over their conduct in the war, in which thousands of civilians have been killed and wounded. A statement announcing the early pardon, released by Saudi Arabia's state news agency SPA, said the pardon extends to “all military men across the armed forces” taking part in Operation Restoring Hope.” Given that the SG accepted Saudi's $930 Million check, what is his comment?" There was no answer for four days. On July 17, Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq e-mailed Inner City Press that "Regarding your earlier question on Yemen, we have the following: We are aware of the reported royal decree by King Salman. The United Nations does not endorse amnesties for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity or gross violations of human rights. The Secretary-General has consistently reminded all parties to the conflict of their obligation to adhere to international humanitarian law, including taking steps to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. We emphasize once again that a negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only way to end the conflict and address the ongoing humanitarian crisis." So what about that $930 million check? And the ongoing ban of Inner City Press? We'll have more on this. On June 26 as Guterres proposed to Security Council to continue to list the Saudi and now Emirati led Coalition as "good" child killers, Guterres' spokesman said this classification is for parties who "engage." Inner City Press asked if the $930 million check was part of the engagement and Dujarric archly said No. On June 29, NRC  NRC staffer, Lolah Alkahtani, in Sana’a: "I am worried that this war will kill my family in Hodeidah, and that it will destroy our house which my father built after spending all his life saving for it. The word worried doesn’t even describe a bit of how we feel.”

 NRC staffer, Saleem Al-Shamiri, in Sana’a, said "My family in Hodeidah city think any moment a bomb will explode, or clashes will reach their homes. I have felt this situation myself in 2011, and understand the fear and panic they feel now. While the past days have been quiet, family and friends I have spoken to tell me that people don’t dare leave their houses. Only a few grocery shops are open, and many people going hungry. I sent some money to my family so they can buy food, as most people don’t have anything left in their houses. I’m concerned that they won’t be able to find food or clean water to survive while the offensive drags on.”

NRC continued: The fighting in Hodeidah continues but is on a relative pause while the UN envoy is allowed further time to mediate between the parties to the conflict in an attempt to restart peace negotiations.
The situation in the wider Hodeidah area is volatile, and fighting continues in Hodeidah’s southern districts.  Airstrikes have been ongoing around the city although they have slowed this week.
People inside Hodeidah city tell NRC staff that the situation continues to be calm, with only a few clashes reported during the night. Some roads within the city are reportedly closed or partially blocked by defensive entrenchments. 
People inside the city tell NRC that most shops, especially in the southern side of the city, remain closed as shopkeepers are too scared to open them. Electricity is still unavailable in many areas and water remains scarce. Most people do not leave their houses unless it’s urgent. Many don’t have adequate food in their homes and are at the brink of going hungry.
Money exchange shops are reported to remain mostly closed. This is a serious concern in Yemen, where people have been struggling with an increasing lack of cash liquidity in the past few years of the conflict. Without access to cash, and with reportedly rising prices of basic goods, civilians who could otherwise survive may be left without food and other necessities."
Last week, Dujarric spoonfed sound bytes to Al Jazeera and is working with them to try to further restrict Inner City Press, here - Inner City Press was in fact ousted on June 22, video here, story here. On June 26, MSF's Caroline Seguin gave the following account: "SELC-backed forces are currently fighting Ansar Allah troops for Hodeidah airport, located a few kilometers south of the city center. It is very difficult to assess the situation, as we don’t have MSF staff inside Hodeidah yet. But [Yemeni] medical staff we work with have reported airstrikes and shelling inside the city, and people have started stockpiling food and fuel. Ansar Allah forces have been very active in Hodeidah, digging trenches and building barricades, [and] deploying troops near civilian areas such as residential zones, hospitals, and hotels, which is very worrying. Hodeidah’s water system has been affected by these excavations, and water shortages are being reported by residents. Electricity has been out for years, and people are using generators when they can afford them.
It is difficult to estimate how many people fled the city so far. Inside Hodeidah, population movements have been observed from the south of the city to the north. Some displaced families have moved further to neighboring Dhamar and Ibb governorates, and to the capital Sana’a, where they can rent houses or stay with relatives. Since the war began in March 2015, the average price of fuel has more than doubled, so fleeing the city can cost families a lot of money."
The UN says Griffiths will meet with propped up "president' Hadi on June 27, in Aden. Inner City Press on May 29 asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the Saudi led Coalition's and UAE's moves on Hodeida. On June 20 after UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash delivered the final threat (the UAE Diplomatic Academy has former UN envoy to Libya Bernardino Leon) and after Dujarric announced the withdrawal by the UN of its international staff from Hodeidah, the assault began. Now on June 21, from the UN's British envoy Martin Griffiths, this: "I will continue my consultations with all parties to avoid further military escalation in Hudaydah, which I fear would have severe political and humanitarian consequences. My priority now is to avoid a military confrontation in Hudaydah and to swiftly return to political negotiations. I am encouraged by the constructive engagement of the Ansar Allah leadership in Sana’a and I look forward to my upcoming meetings with President Hadi and the Government of Yemen. I am confident that we can reach an agreement to avert any escalation of violence in Hudaydah. While in Sana’a, I also briefed the Security Council on 18 June and announced my intention to relaunch political negotiations in the coming weeks. I reiterate the commitment of the United Nations to reach a negotiated political settlement to end the conflict in Yemen. I welcome the commitment and willingness of the parties to engage in a UN facilitated intra-Yemeni political process."  On June 18 before Griffiths briefed the Security Council, on the way in, UK Ambassador Karen Pierce said that Griffiths is working closing with the Coalition - that is, though assaulting Hodeidah. But why then would the Houthis trust him? Inner City Press was previously informed, from high in the UN Department of Political Affairs, that Saudi Arabia and the UK chose Griffiths and Guterres went along. More recently Guterres has mock dressed up as a FIFA World Cup referee and Inner City Press' livestream Periscope account was suspended by Twitter for showing UN reacting to the World Cup and a screen installed by the Russian Mission to the UN. But the above, though Inner City Press was unable to Periscope it, is what Pierce said. After the meting, after push back at censorship and with Inner City Press' Periscope restored, it asked Russia's deputy ambassador who is calling the shots on Hodeidah: the UAE? Saudi? Yemen national army? Mercenaries? Periscope here. He said that wasn't discussed in the consultations. How not?  Watch this site. The assault is proceeding. There was a UN Security Council meeting about it at noon on June 14, behind closed doors, at the request of the UK. Afterward Inner City Press asked President of the Council for June Nebenzia what the UAE or Saudi Arabia had responded, to the UN or its envoy. Nebenzia said envoy Martin Griffiths works behind the scenes. But for whom? On the way in, UK Ambassador Karen Pierce said the meeting was closed so that the Council could hear about the military situation on the ground, from the UN. Inner City Press audibly asked, from who? But there was no answer, and the question was not included in the UK transcript, below. So in the June 14 UN noon briefing Inner City Press asked, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: At the stakeout, the UK Ambassador, Karen Pierce, said that… that the meeting… the consultation on Hodeidah is closed because the UN is going to be providing detailed information about the actual situation on the ground.  So, I wanted to know, can you say who… who from the UN is going to be providing that briefing?  And is it… can you tell us, you know, as much as you can publicly about what's happening there?

Deputy Spokesman:  The briefing, as… as I was going into this, the intention was for it to have the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, brief the Security Council on the humanitarian conditions in Hodeidah.  At the top of the briefing, I did point out what our Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, is saying about the situation there and about the work that we're undertaking to help the estimated 600,000 civilians in the city.  There's a press release from her with more details.

Inner City Press:  I guess… my question is just, because Karen Pierce referred specifically to military information, she said the meeting had to be closed because they want to know the stat… the military status of the assault on Hodeidah.  And so I guess I'm wondering, does Ms. Mueller… who's… who's providing from the UN system… who's providing that information?  Is it through OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)?  Is there some…?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe that… regarding political developments that Martin Griffiths will also be calling in to that briefing.

Inner City Press: Right, but she kept using the word “military”.  That's why… I'm just trying to figure out if there's some… is it the national staff that are in Hodeidah that would provide this information?

Deputy Spokesman:  There… obviously, the details that are going on in closed consultations are by definition details to which I'm not privy, so I wouldn't be able to express those." So the UN's knowledge is withheld from the UN spokespeople? On June 15, Haq repeatedly said, the UN is on holiday; state media like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom could come in to work but Inner City Press cannot. This is today's UN. 
From the UK's June 14 transcript, omitting Inner City Press' question, here's from Pierce's opening statement: "We wanted it closed because we'd like to have quite a lot of detail from the UN about what's actually happening on the ground. As there is a military operation ongoing, we think we'll get more of that detail if it's closed. I think that's perfectly reasonable. We hope also to hear something about Houthi dispositions because some of what we hear suggests there may have been mining of the harbour by the Houthis. So we're very interested in that. Beyond that, I'd like to echo what the Foreign Secretary said in London yesterday. Now the military operation is underway we look to all parties to act in accordance with international humanitarian law, protection of civilians. But I also want to recall that the coalition is acting in Yemen at the request of the legitimate Yemeni government and this request was made after the Houthis came into force in 2014. So I think that's an important point.... We've seen some very helpful statements from the UAE about their respect for international humanitarian law but also their willingness to work with the UN." On June 13 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, on Yemen who the UN thinks is calling the shots.  The various calls that were made to not begin the assault which began last night, many people are saying the UAE [United Arab Emirates] as opp… not as opposed to but along with Saudi Arabia, but that the UAE is very central to it.  And so, I guess I… and they made the threat.  The Foreign Minister of the UAE said, 48 hours and we're going in.  Did the Secretary-General or Mart… or… or Mr. Martin Griffiths… at what level have they reached out to the UAE to…?

Spokesman:  They've reached to… they've been speaking to various parties to those who have influence on the parties, but I'm not going to get into details about that.

Inner City Press:  And I'm asking in part because former UN envoy to Libya, Bernardino León, with some fanfare, went to be… is a… I don't know if he's the head of, but he's a major figure in the UAE Diplomatic Academy…?

Spokesman:  I recall.

Inner City Press: Yeah, exactly.  So, I guess I'm wondering… obviously, he's no longer with the UN, but I would assume he's someone that UN people know… this seems like a diplomatic gambit to make a threat…

Spokesman:  I'm not aware that Mr. León has had any contact with anyone at the UN.

Inner City Press: Okay.  And I guess, given… given that… that… the… the statement by UNICEF about the impact on children in… in Hodeidah — and this was a statement made before the assault began — and given the… the… the children and armed conflict mandate, would you say that this is inconsistent with having listed the Coalition, or does it cause a rethinking of listing the Coalition as one that takes children's safety seriously?

Spokesman:  The safety and the violence… the safety of children, the violence caused upon children, is one of great concern to the Secretary-General that has been going on in Yemen.  There is a process under which the report of… the Secretary-General's report on children and armed conflict is being produced.  It should be coming out soon-ish.  That report will look back at 2017, and you'll be free to make your own analysis." Inner City Press put the same question about reaching out to the UAE to Sweden's deputy ambassador Carl Skau, video here; he said the key is to support Griffiths (who is in Amman).
Military vehicles moved on Hodeida firing and bombs were dropped. Saudi TV said the "liberation of the port of Hodeida is a milestone in our struggle to regain Yemen from the militias.” Houthi-run Al Masirah said they hit a Saudi coalition ship near Hodeida with two land-to-sea missiles. "The targeted ship was carrying troops prepared for a landing on the coast of Hodeida." Guterres was silent. But at 7 am on June 13, ICRC put out a statement including from Robert Mardini, their regional director for the Near and Middle East that "lifelines to the outside world must be maintained, including the Hodeida port and the Sana'a airport. Real people, real families, will suffer if no food is getting in, and we are concerned that ongoing military operations continue to hamper the arrival of essential goods.... The ICRC – working in line with international humanitarian law - urges all parties to the conflict to respect civilian life by taking every possible measure to protect civilians, and to allow safe passage for those who want to escape the fighting. All persons captured in relation to the ongoing hostilities must be treated humanely, and the ICRC should be given access to detention facilities holding them."  The Council meets on June 13 at 10 am - about Central Africa including Cameroon. The General Assembly meets at 3 pm about Gaza. Watch this site. Earlier on June 12, the Norwegian Refugee Council reports that "fighting along Yemen’s west coast is closing-in on the port city of Hodeida. The city is tense, amid media reports of airstrikes inside the city, most notably in the Al-Doraihimi District and the Southern part of Hodeida governorate.  NRC has not evacuated our staff in Hodeida, but we continue to monitor the situation extremely closely." NRC Country Director in Yemen Mohamed Abdi said: "The UK government has warned aid agencies that it has received information from Coalition forces the city will be attacked in the coming days. Any attack will have catastrophic consequences for civilians – risking hundreds of thousands of lives. We call on all parties to the conflict to refrain from any further military activities in and around Hodeida city. We urge the US, UK and France – as those country that can influence the Coalition - to immediately issue a clear and unequivocal warning against an attack on Hodeida city or port." As to the UK, Inner City Press has also since 2017 been pursuing from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office information about Yemen under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In February 2018, after 170 days, FCO denied Inner City Press' request in full. Inner City Press immediately sought an internal review and FCO. Now that has resulted in the release of some superficial documents about Yemen, here, including for example "7. The UN Special Envoy has said the next round of peace talks are not likely to start before the end of March. [REDACTED] The next phase of preparations needs to focus on reinforcing efforts of the Military De-escalation and
Coordination Committee. Meanwhile, HMG is continuing to work closely with the UN, US and World Bank on the socio-economic confidence building measures.
8. Military activity continues with isolated clashes throughout the country. [REDACTED] Since December there has been significant military movement around Sana’a [REDACTED] there are reports of Houthi/Saleh forces moving from Taiz to reinforce positions in Sana’a. [REDACTED] Houthi/Saleh forces
continue to target Saudi Arabia with ballistic missiles with accuracy." The rest is, for example,
about interest in women in the failing peace process, and the denial of all other records.
The "internal review" denial letter states, "The disclosure of information detailing our relationship with the Yemen and Cameroon governments could potentially damage the bilateral relationship between the UK and Yemen and Cameroon. This would reduce the UK government's ability to protect and promote UK interests through its relations with Yemen and Cameroon which would not be in the public interest. For these reasons we consider that, the public interest in maintaining this exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing it." Yes, the UK promotes its interests. We will be pursuing this - watch this site. On June 11, even as Doctors Without Borders MSF said that "this morning's attack on an MSF cholera treatment center by the Saudi and Emirati-led coalition (SELC) shows complete disrespect for medical facilities and patients," Guterres took three pre-picked questions and claimed there is a "lull" in fight in Yemen. Do they not have the Internet on his 38th floor of the UN? Or is this the effect of The Check, like some say of the Golden Statue? Inner City Press, not called on and with the noon briefing canceled by Dujarric, audibly asked Guterres about the bombing of the MSF clinic. Periscope video here. Nothing. On Sunday June 10 the UN Security Council has scheduled a closed door meeting on Yemen for June 11 at 11 am. Inner City Press asked the Presidency of the Council for June who requested it and who will do the briefing. The response was that both the UN Department of Political Affairs and OCHA will brief and that the UK requested it. On the UK Mission's twitter feed, nothing. And the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office denied in full Inner City Press's Freedom of Information Act request about Yemen. Two hours before the UNSC briefing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued this statement: "The United States is closely following developments in Hudaydah, Yemen.  I have spoken with Emirati leaders and made clear our desire to address their security concerns while preserving the free flow of humanitarian aid and life-saving commercial imports.  We expect all parties to honor their commitments to work with the UN Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for Yemen on this issue, support a political process to resolve this conflict, ensure humanitarian access to the Yemeni people, and map a stable political future for Yemen." We'll have more on this. On June 7, Inner City Press asked Dujarric again, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: in terms of Yemen, just in terms of Martin Griffiths and his plan, it seems like the… the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has called on the Saudi-led coalition to investigate the… a bomb that fell right next to its facility in Sana’a on 5 June.  And I'm just wondering, one, is Mr. Griffiths or whoever here in the Secretariat is looking at this, are they satisfied with the way in which the Saudi-led coalition has investigated and acted on its bombs?  And what's the status of the children and armed conflict report, which I know last year they were upgraded in terms of  their attempts to minimize civilian casualties.  And it looks like NRC is saying these steps are not having any impact.

Spokesman:  Well, the report should be out soon.  The report will be looking at the year of 2017.  Right?  But it will be sent to the Council probably not… next couple weeks, not too long from now.  We have been continuously concerned with the civilian death toll, the attacks on civilians, the attack on civilian infrastructure.  And we have repeatedly called on the coalition and other parties to fully investigate those incidents."
Back on June 1 Inner City Press asked UN Security Council President for June Vassily Nebenzia, who said that seizing Hodeida would not accomplish much and that he hoped UN envoy Martin Griffiths would be in Sana'a soon to speak with the Houthis. On June 2 Martin Griffiths landed, perhaps as the velvet glove of the Saudi and UAE military offensive. Shouldn't the UN be providing more transparency, rather than a Secretary General who refuses to answer even budget questions and still restricts the Press? 
On June 5, Inner City Press asked Jonathan Allen the deputy ambassador of the UK, penholder on Yemen, about requests to help seize Hodeida. UN video here. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: As the penholder on Yemen, what do you make of these requests to the US to help with taking over the port of Hodeida. What’s the status of your view of what’s happening on the ground? Amb Allen: "I’ve seen those reports as well. We support everything Martin Griffiths is trying to do to bring about a political solution in Yemen. That’s vital. He will be talking to the parties and he’ll be bringing forward proposals in due course so we wait to see what he has to say about that." And what happens until then? Is Griffiths essentially trying to talk the Houthis into giving up Hodeida? On May 29 in response to Inner City Press' question, Dujarric said, "We are extremely concerned about the situation around Hodeida [and have] already started to take precautionary measures in terms of ramping up assistance and redefining contingency plans in case there is further escalation.Increased fighting would unleash even more internally displaced people." (Agence France Presse AFP wrote it up as if the UN had said it unilateral, a proactive statement - but it was a response to the Press. If the UN was so concerned, why didn't it say anything until asked?)
Inner City Press on May 7 asked the Deputy UN Ambassador of the UK, penholder on Yemen and arms seller to Saudi Arabia, a Yemen question on which they were, they said, to revert, see Periscope video here and below. But in three days, there had been no response from the UN Mission of the UK, which this year denied in full Inner City Press' request about Yemen and Cameroon under the UK Freedom of Information Act. So on May 10 Inner City Press asked again, video here. And soon this comment, from a Spokesperson for the UK Mission: “The UK is closely following the situation on the Yemeni island of Socotra. We continue to engage all parties to reinforce Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the need for de-escalation. The Yemeni people have already suffered immeasurably as a result of the ongoing conflict in Yemen. Yemen cannot afford further divisions. We call on all parties to the conflict to support the UN-led political process." A day earlier on May 9, the US State Department issued this: "The United States is closely following the situation on the Yemeni island of Socotra and engaging with all parties to reinforce Yemen’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the need for de-escalation and dialogue.  Political dialogue is necessary for the Republic of Yemen Government to rightfully ensure the safety and security of its residents on Socotra and throughout the rest of the country.  The Socotra archipelago has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.  The Yemeni people, along with their unique cultural and natural heritage, have already suffered immeasurably as a result of the ongoing conflict in Yemen.  Yemen cannot afford further divisions.  The United States calls on all parties to the conflict to focus on and embrace the UN-led political process, with the unified aim of a safe, secure, and prosperous Yemen." At to the UN, the occasion for the check giving was Guterres accepting a $930 million check for the 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan. But that's not the only buying going on. Former UN Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed reportedly went to the United Arab Emirates seeking a paid job like Bernardino Leon got there, negotiated while still with the UN. The UAE is also said to be looking for a place or landing for UN counter-terrorism official Jahangir Khan. Would this be ethical? Inner City Press asked that on April 25, see below - and on May 3 asked about the UAE's deployment on Socotra Island. UN transcript here and below. And while the UN and envoy Martin Griffiths have had nothing to say, now even Hadi is complaining. “The government is considering sending a letter to the United Nations demanding the dismissal of the Emiratis from the Yemeni intervention,” a Hadi official said, adding that "the UAE has occupied the airport and seaport of Socotra island, despite the Yemeni government's presence there. What the UAE is doing in Socotra is an act of aggression." And the UN and its envoy remain silent. On May 7 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Allen about it and he said he was not aware, his spokesman would revert. Here's what Inner City Press asked the UN on May 3: Inner City Press: on Yemen, and it's a specific question, the UAE (United Nations Arab Emirates) has deployed some 100 soldiers to Socotra Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  And the residents there — it's part of Yemen.  It's not part of the UAE — have been protesting it.  And I'm wondering whether it's something that Mr. Martin Griffiths is aware of and whether he thinks it's a… complies with… even with international law or is a useful step to have the UAE making a military deployment on Yemen Socotra Island.

Deputy Spokesman:  "We haven't made any comment on this.  I'll see whether there's any particular position that Mr. Griffiths is taking.  But his work, as you know, is focused primarily on making sure that the parties to the Yemen peace process get back to the table." Six hours later, nothing from Haq or Griffiths. On April 25 Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: There are published reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is seeking to create an offer position to Mr. Jehangir Khan, a current UN official, in the same way that Bernardino León moved from being the UN envoy in Libya to working for the diplomatic one.  It's said that they're seeking a counter-terrorism post for him.  It's also said that Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed recently visited the UAE and sought a UAE-funded position.  I don't know… can you distinguish… one, would it be against UN rules for a current UN official to be seeking a job…

Spokesman:  First of all, on Mr. Jehangir Kahn, as far as I understand, those reports are false.  Second…

Inner City Press:  Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Spokesman:  …On Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, he no longer works with the United