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

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As US Holds Hostage Funds for Abkhazia Process, Sources Say, Western P-3 Media Strategy Misleads

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4 -- In belated backroom follow up to the cancellation of the UN's Observer Mission on Georgia, a budget letter is needed from the Security Council so that the General Assembly's budget committee can vote on funds for the so-called “joint incident prevention and response mechanisms” of the Geneva process on Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Inner City Press has learned.

But obtaining this letter, on a topic that the United States and its British and French allies say is important, has turned out to be a problem.

On March 2 while the Council met in consultations on its program of work for March's Chinese presidency, the deputy chief of UN Peacekeeping Atul Khare arrived, surrounded by staff members. He emerged half an hour later stern faced and strode quickly off.

A source told Inner City Press, the only media then in front of the Council chamber, that the “awkward” visit concerned Georgia. But what about it?

Later Inner City Press asked Khare directly, “What about Georgia?”

It's not about Georgia, he said. It's about the joint incident prevention and response mechanism.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made a proposal a year ago that the Council hasn't moved on, and now the budget committee needs a letter from the Council. While many would assume that it would be Russia, which vetoed the continuation of UNOMIG, that was blocking this letter, it is not, Inner City Press has learned.

The United States has put a hold on the letter.

Why? The US would like to use the UN's need for this letter as an opportunity to have the Council meet about Georgia, which it hasn't done since Russia's veto. It is slowing the process of funding the replacement mechanism in order to try to bring this about.

Without revealing the sourcing for this report, Inner City Press can say it is not the United States, nor the UK, nor France. Each of these countries has in the days following Atul Khare's abortive visit to the Council held by invitation only press briefings for Western media.

While those are off the record or on background, it must be said that this issue was not discussed.

In Council, P5 Plus 1 Perm Reps, private spin not reported

  Rather, the sessions were used in part to spin the UN's screw up of publicly alleging the delivery of helicopters from Belarus to anti-Western Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d'Ivoire, to claim that despite UN Peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy's public admission of a mistake, the Western intelligence was in fact “all true.”

This backroom spin continues of topics of even wider concern such as Libya. As simply one example, while UK Permanent Representative walked away from a filmed General Assembly stakeout when Inner City Press asked if the UK thinks that Security Council approval would be required to legitimate a no-fly zone over Libya, the UK Mission to the UN confined its answer on this public question to a private, off the record briefing for UK selected journalists.

And still the public doesn't know the real UK position on this, nor on the Cote d'Ivoire helicopter intelligence, a topic on which the US is stealthy very active, or the UN and International Criminal Court indictees on Darfur, Omar al Bashir and Ahmed Haroun.

  The French Mission to the UN, in fact, held its English language off the record briefing by Permanent Representative Gerard Araud at the same time as the Council formally met about Abyei in Sudan, to which the UN flew Ahmed Haroun, an issue the French say they care a lot about. Only two reporters covered that Council meeting, due at least in part to the French connection.

  During the Security Council's deliberations on the Libya resolution last Saturday, from among the Western P-3 came much off the record trashing of the positions of other Council members. When some of those attacked issued on the record denials, the trash talkers disappeared into the Council woodwork without explanation -- or accountability.

   What do these Western Permanent Three members accomplish by this and by limiting their briefings to media already supportive or inclined to believe their positions? They attempt to control reporting from the UN without leaving any finger prints. Does this assist the truth, or even better public understanding of their positions? No.

These are among the reasons for the call to reform or even disband the UN Security Council. Click here for a “” debate of these issues, this week, featuring Inner City Press.

On Georgia, it seems likely that the letter will in the end issue, and the money be allocated. Nearly invisible UN representative to the Geneva talks Antti Turunen will plod along, as will the apparently coordinated media strategy of the Western P-3. And what will be accomplished? Watch this site.

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At UN, Portugal Will Chair Libya Sanctions Committee, Hopes To Never Staff It

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- Portugal will chair the Libya Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press is informed. The formal decision will come on Tuesday, March 8.

The hope, the source said, is that “it will be a short term committee” and that “the need for sanctions will disappear.”

Inner City Press had earlier heard, from a UN sanctions source, that the Libya Sanctions Committee would not even be staffed.

The source said that it take one or two months to appoint a group of experts, and the hope is that by that time, there will be no need: that is, Gadhafi will be gone.

Portugal's Perm Rep meets Ban, staffing of Libya Sanctions committee not shown

For now, the process is for the decision to be formalized at the Council's next session on March 8. Then the chair, Portugal's Permanent Representative to the UN Jose Filipe Mendes Moraes Cabral, will consult with other Council members and draft a letter to all member states about their Libya sanctions obligations.

 The process of appointing experts will begin, but they are hoping it will never be completed. We'll see.

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At UN, Libyan Dabbashi Predicts Inaction by UN on Gadhafi's Ouster Letter, Visa & Shalgam Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 3 -- Hours after the UN confirmed receiving a letter from the Gadhafi government to withdraw the credentials of Ambassadors Ibrahim Dabbashi and Shalgam, Inner City Press asked Dabbashi what he thought the UN would do.

  “Nothing,” Dabbashi said. “The regime is already illegitimate.”

  But while a senior UN official on Wednesday night told Inner City Press about the letter and the possibility of referring it to the UN Office of Legal Affairs for a long consideration, others say it is an open and shut case. Gadhafi is still viewed the UN as the head of state, and his government gets to choose who represents him at the UN.

  “Even though we'd have to hold our nose,” a well placed Secretariat official told Inner City Press, “the principle is bigger than this one case.”

  The principle is that each country has one recognized head of state -- even if like Alassane Ouattara in Cote d'Ivoire they control only a single hotel -- and that person chooses their representatives.

Dabbashi at UN microphone, Gadhafi's letter not shown

   Others have guessed that the United States could try to deny visas for any new diplomats whom Gadhafi might send. But under the US' Host Country Agreement with the United Nations, the US has to allow in people accredited to the UN.

  At most the US can impose resistrictions on them such as not being able to travel more than 25 miles from Columbus Circle, or not being able to visit Ground Zero.

So despite Dabbashi's statement, it seems clear that through time, if Gadhafi is not ousted, Shalgam and Dabbashi will be, from the UN. The US, one assumes, won't revoke their visas and make them go back to a Gadhafi-fun Libya....

 At Thursday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm receipt of Gadhafi's letter. Nesirky confirmed it and said it is being studied. He said he didn't know the date on the letter, since he hadn't actually seen the letter.

Footnote: Shalgam is being sought to explain his role in a deal struck between Italy, Gadhafi and Saddan Hussein, under which Saddam would have been given asylum in Libya. Shalgam is head to have cut the deal in Rome. Then, the US is said to have intervened with Gadhafi to stop it. Might this give Shalgam some leverage? Might he want to talk about it more at this time? Watch this site.

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In UN Libya Resolution, US Insistence on ICC Exclusion Shields Mercenaries from Algeria, Ethiopia

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- After passage of a compromise Libya resolution by the UN Security Council on Saturday night, Inner City Press asked French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud if mercenaries aren't let off the hook by the sixth operative paragraph, exempting personnel from states not members of the International Criminal Court from ICC prosecution.

  Araud regretted the paragraph, but said the the United States had demanded it. He said, “No, that's, that was for one country, it was absolutely necessary for one country to have that considering its parliamentary constraints, and this country we are in. It was a red line for the United States. It was a deal-breaker, and that's the reason we accepted this text to have the unanimity of the Council.”

  While a Bush administration Ambassador to the UN in 2002 threatened to veto a UN resolution on Bosnia if it did not contain a similar exclusion, the Obama administration has maintained this insistence on impunity, which in this case applies to mercenaries from Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia, among other mercenary countries.

 (In the case of Algeria, there are allegations of official support for Gadhafi).

   While Inner City Press was able to ask UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant about the exclusion for mercenaries from non ICC countries, US Permanent Representative Susan Rice did not take a question from Inner City Press, and none on this topic, despite having mentioned mercenaries in her speech.

Obama, Hillary & Susan Rice: mercenary impunity not shown

  When Libya, but no longer Gadhafi, diplomat Ibrahim Dabbashi came out to take questions, Inner City Press asked him which countries the mercenaries used by Gadhafi come from.

  He mentioned Algeria, Tunisia and Ethiopia -- highlighted by NGOs as non ICC members -- as well as Chad, Niger, Kenya and Guinea. So some mercenaries could be prosecuted by the ICC, and not others, under language demanded by the US Mission to the UN. Watch this site.

Here is the US-demanded paragraph:

6. Decides that nationals, current or former officials or personnel from a State outside the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of that State for all alleged acts or omissions arising out of or related to operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya established or authorized by the Council, unless such exclusive jurisdiction has been expressly waived by the State.

Footnote: Araud blaming the US position on "parliamentary constraints" seemed to some a way to try to blame a decision by Obama's executive branch on the Republicans who recently took over the House of Representatives. But it was an Obama administration decision. More nuanced apologists blame the Defense Department for pulling rank on State. But the result is mercenaries firing freely.

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

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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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