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March 1, 2011: Libya

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At UN, Obama Goes Soft on Bahrain, Ignores Darfur, Uses Sudan to Blunt Palestine Critique

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 21 -- A week before US President Obama's yearly UN speech, Inner City Press asked his Ambassador Susan Rice what he thought and would do about Sudan, specifically the killing of civilians in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile State, as well as in Darfur.

  Rice said the Administration is very concerned. But when Obama on Wednesday delivered his 27 minute speech -- 12 minutes over the limit that had been set -- his three mentions of the word Sudan were only in the context of the success of the South Sudan referendum, and then only to argue that the US really does want there to be a Palestinian state.

  Obama focused on what's called the Arab Spring, but highly selectively. He went out of his way to praise Bahrain for reforms, even as killing continues there, with a Saudi military presence.

 The night before the speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met for more than an hour with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, with whom UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he didn't even discuss Bahrain.

  Obama bragged that "we've banned" human rights abusers from traveling to the US, without mentioning the obvious, that this does not apply to the UN and the meeting he was speaking at.

Obama previously with PGA & frmr Gaddafi FM Treki

 Just as one example, despite petitions to the President of the General Assembly, Mahinda Rajapaksa the President of Sri Lanka which is charged, even by a UN report, with war crimes, has traveled to New York. He met with Bill Clinton a few blocks to the west.

  Traveling with Obama is his "Genocide is a Problem from Hell" adviser Samantha Power -- but there was no mention of war crimes in Southern Kordofan in the speech, much less the need for accountability in Sri Lanka.

  It was, more than one listening concluded, a campaign speech. But Obama can't get re-elected in the UN -- and might not be, if he vetoes a request in the Security Council by the Palestinians for UN membership. Trying to avoid that request seems the theme of his trip. Watch this site.

Footnote: Beyond the speech, of course, the test is what the US actually does at UN going forward. We'll be watch -- as we note that the American head of the UN Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe was, perhaps to his credit, not watching the Obama speech even on UN TV, as during it he walked around the North Lawn Building's second floor.

 French chiefs of UN Peacekeeping -- there have been four in a row -- wouldn't do that while Nicolas Sarkozy spoke. This too is perhaps to the US' credit.

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At UN, Deby On TNC's "Hypocrisy, " 400,000 Chadians "Blocked" in Libya, "No Prisoners in Chad"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 19 -- Chad's President Idriss Deby told Inner City Press on Monday that there remain 400,000 Chadian's "blocked" inside Libya.

 He said the vast majority had gone to Libya to work. Some had been recruited to fight but by both sides, he insisted, Gaddafi and the National Transitional Council.

   He said that going forward the international community should help reconcile all Libyans, "including those who worked with Gaddafi." Video here, 1st part of interview.

  Deby accused the leaders of the "New Libya," the National Transitional Council, of hypocrisy as many of them previously worked with Gaddafi. He said there should be greater African Union involvement in the New Libya, and chafed at Inner City Press' statement that South Africa has led on that issue, and on that of African migrants.

  "There are other African countries on the Security Council," he said, naming Gabon and then Nigeria.

  Inner City Press asked Deby for his view of developments in Sudan. Deby spoke of Southern Kordofan and "Nil Bleu," Blue Nile, then said that much remains to be solved between North and South Sudan.

  On this, Inner City Press asked Deby to respond to reports that the publication N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo was told not to compare South Sudan to Southern Chad:

"In the October 14 to 17 edition of the local newspaper N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo, the publishers included an article comparing southern Sudan with southern Chad. The prime minister called the article 'dangerous' and asked the HCC to act on the matter. On October 19, the HCC met with journalists and warned N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo in particular and all media houses in general to "observe ethics rules" by not printing articles that risked inciting hatred, violence, or separatist sentiment."

  Deby said he didn't know about the case. He said "come to Chad" to see the freedom of the press, and also said that "there are no political prisons in Chad." Inner City Press began to ask of one example -- Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh -- but Deby didn't answer on it.

Deby and the author, smiles on Libya, other answers not show

  The interview was over, and Inner City Press left the Plaza Hotel. Deby will speak before the General Assembly on Friday, after meeting with Ban Ki-moon the day before. "Mais vous savez de tout," Deby said. Not as much as we'd like to. Watch this site.

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

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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