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On UN Counter-Terrorism, Saudi Wants To Buy USG Post, Laborde Questions

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 21 -- Saudi Arabia, which announced a $100 million payment to the UN for a counter-terrorism center then used the threat of withdrawing that and other funding to get removed from the UN's Children and Armed Conflict list for Yemen, is now said to want to buy an Under Secretary General post with the money.

   Sources tell Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia is a proposing a new Under Secretary General position, that it would control as for example France has controlled UN Peacekeeping for two decades, for counter-terrorism.

It would be above current Counter-Terrorism Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde -- Inner City Press asked Laborde about it on July 22, he said he preferred to discussion action and effusively praised USg Feltman - we'll have more on this.

The UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below.

Now Ban's bungling and worse have become more public. He put Saudi Arabia on the annex to his Children and Armed Conflict report, for what it has done in Yemen. Then he reversed course - and when slammed by human rights groups and others, had first his officials, then on June 9 did himself, spin scribes about how he had been blackmailed, how he had only sold out in order to help Palestinians who would be left without aid.

Now Ban is debased as well. After being made to wait 45 minutes to see the Saudi crown prince, on July 13 when Inner City Press showed up to cover Ban's 3:30 pm meeting with Saudi foreign minister Al-Jubeir, it was told it was delayed, then put over to the next day.

  On July 13 Inner City Press came through the UN metal detectors early, to cover the 9:15 am rescheduled Saudi meeting with Ban. After being screened again, on the 37th floor Inner City Press was told that Al-Jubeir would again be late.

Finally the press was brought into Ban's conference room. Arriving were Jeffrey Feltman, with whom Inner City Press has been informed and reported Al-Jubeir already engaged to get off the CAAC list, Chef de Cabinet Edmond Mulet, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson -- who it was said would take the meeting, since Ban had to leave on a trip including to a meeting also attended by ICC-indicted Omar al Bashir -- Leila Zerrougui, Andrew Gilmour and spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

After yet more delay, Ban emerged from his office, said to be better air-conditioned than the rest of the UN these days, and greeted al-Jubeir after he shook hands with Feltman. Tweeted photos here and here. Ban began some wooden comments then Dujarric gestured to UN Security to remove the press. At the elevator, some Saudi representatives were trying to come in without any UN IDs at all. How did they get to the 38th floor? We'll have more on all this.

  Earlier on June 10, the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit told Inner City Press it could not attend a Western Sahara briefing in the UN Delegates Lounge to which it had been invited. This is censorship.

  On April 15, the eve of eviction, Inner City Press asked Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to respond to Ali Abdullah Saleh, to a large rally on March 26, saying he would not work with the UN on anything. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed replied he does not comment on public statements, just the presence of Saleh party members in the negotiations.

 On March 28, after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq had refused to let Inner City Press ask Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed a single question at his length press conference at the UN, Ban's top lawyer issued a threat of imminent eviction threat to Inner City Press.

  Not surprisingly, particularly given Feltman's witch hunt, some viewed the UN's escalation against Inner City Press as a response to its publication of UN leaks.

 On March 29, Feltman wrote to Inner City Press and we publish it in full:

"Dear Matthew,

On Yemen:  Your job is to publish what you consider to be news.  My job includes the protection of what is UN sensitive information.  So we are naturally going to be at odds over things such as leaked e-mails; that's just part of the respective roles we play.  I don't blame you for publishing what you had -- were I a journalist, I would likely do the same -- but you are surely sophisticated enough not to be surprised that I would try to stop leaks.  

As for your status at the UN, you are of course welcome to continue to send e-mails to me, but, as I expect you know, others, not DPA, have the appropriate responsibilities in this case.  DPA is not involved.

Jeffrey Feltman
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs
United Nations, New York"

 Feltman cc-ed his spokesman, who ironically used to work at Amnesty International. Feltman's statement that the retaliation against Inner City Press is only attributable to Cristina Gallach's DPI does not wash. While not absolving Gallach, it goes to the top. We'll have more on this.


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