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ICP Asks UN Of Saudi - Iran Impact on Yemen, If Ban Calls UAE, Sudan

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 4 -- Now that Saudi Arabia has kicked off 2016 by announcing the execution of 47 people including Shi'a clerk Nimr al-Nimr and a formal end to the supposed Yemen ceasefire the UN and its envoy spoke about, the UN and envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed for hours had nothing to say.

 On January 4, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Saudi Arabia's move(s) -- and if Ban Ki-moon will be calling the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, which cut ties with Iran. Video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: Speaking of Yemen, I wanted to know, you've provided this update on Mr. de Mistura's travels.  What's happening with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and what's his or the Secretary-General's comment on Saudi Arabia announcing an end to the cessation of hostilities and the Houthi side saying they're not going to attend the talks in January?  What has he been up to?  And also, just on diplomatic relations, does the Secretary-General intend to call Bahrain, UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Sudan, which also have broken relations with Iran?

Spokesman:  Well, I think the calls that he… the Secretary-General will obviously be in touch with various other players as he sees fit.  The call… I think the importance of the calls for the two countries at the heart of the tensions we're seeing, which is both Saudi Arabia and Iran.  As for Mr. Cheikh Ahmed, he is going back to the region on 6 January, which, if my calendar is correct, is the day after tomorrow, in order to secure commitments for a new cessation of hostilities and in order to advance the upcoming talks.  Obviously, I think, the Secretary-General, the Special Envoy very much regret the announcement by the Saudi-led coalition on ending the ceasefire that we heard over the weekend, and he regrets the violations that we have seen of the ceasefire committed by both sides.  But despite the ceasefire violations that we've seen, the UN has provided a small measure of relief to the civilian population and allowed for the delivery by the UN of some humanitarian assistance.

On January 2, Inner City Press asked the top four UN spokespeople:

"Does Ban Ki-moon (or DPA) have any comment on Saudi Arabia's execution of 47, including Nimr al-Nimr?

Separately, does Ban Ki-moon (or his Special Envoy on Yemen) have any comment on the Saudi announcement of the end of the 'ceasefire'? This supplement the still pending Press questions on Yemen from December 28."

 Hours later, the UN issued a statement from Ban of dismay - and deploring the violence against the Saudi embassy in Iran, still NOTHING on the end of the supposed ceasefire.

 On December 28, Inner City Press asked the UN, "On Yemen, what is Ban Ki-moon's or Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's response to Saleh saying GPC will only negotiate directly with Saudi Arabia, and seeming rejection of the UN-faciliated talks?" UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric replied, "if we have an update to share with you, we will" -- and since then, nothing.

  The US State Department issued a statement, below; this was before the development of protests at the Saudi embassy in Tehran -- which Inner City Press predicts will trigger a UN Security Council Press Statement, on the duty to protect diplomatic premises. But what about the Yemen "ceasefire"?

 Here's what the US put out, here:

"We have seen the Saudi government's announcement that it executed 47 people.

We have previously expressed our concerns about the legal process in Saudi Arabia and have frequently raised these concerns at high levels of the Saudi Government. We reaffirm our calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases.

The United States also urges the Government of Saudi Arabia to permit peaceful expression of dissent and to work together with all community leaders to defuse tensions in the wake of these executions.?

We are particularly concerned that the execution of prominent Shia cleric and political activist Nimr al-Nimr risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced.

In this context, we reiterate the need for leaders throughout the region to redouble efforts aimed at de-escalating regional tensions."

 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has yet to speak on the executions nor the end of the Yemen ceasefire, issued canned statements including on another dubious mediation, in Burundi, while promoting himself for a Nobel Prize (which would be dubious) for COP 21. In his year-end press conference he refused Press questions on the various UN scandals of 2015: indictment of ex-PGA John Ashe, envoy Bernardina Leon taking the money and running to the UAE, covered up peacekeeper rapes in the Central African Republic.

 And Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed? Nothing since his self-praise on December 26. One wag wonder, was he in The Address hotel in Dubai which burned on New Years Eve? Where IS the UN's envoy during all this?

  Inner City Press on December 28 asked the UN's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric: "On Yemen, what is Ban Ki-moon's or Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's response to Saleh saying GPC will only negotiate directly with Saudi Arabia, and seeming rejection of the UN-faciliated talks?"

 Dujarric replied at 2 pm on December 28 to another question, partial (on Burundi) then added: "On the other issues, if we have an update to share with you, we will."

 So on Yemen, as usual, there is no UN response.

In the talks in Switzerland, despite the happy-talk Note to Correspondents issued on December 20, UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was repeatedly accused of merely operating “for the Saudis,” while the Saudi-led coalition took more military action.

 Inner City Press intended to put the question directly to Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, after UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq at the December 22 noon briefing said he would be speaking at the Security Council stakeout after briefing the Security Council.

  But after the Council meeting, in which High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid al Hussein said that of harm to schools and hospitals, "a disproportionate amount appeared to be the result of airstrikes carried out by Coalition Forces" -- Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed did not as promised appear at the stakeout.

 Last time he was at UN Headquarters, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed took only three questions at the stakeout, then went upstairs to the clubhouse of UNCA, now the UN Corruption Association after selling seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6000 and did an interview with the same pro-Saudi / GCC media.

 So where did Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed go this time? Watch this site.

  Inner City Press on December 20 reported that the UN-facilitated talks have been such a failure that there is already a clamor to replace Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. Sources exclusively tell Inner City Press that among the names being mulled is Germany's Bettina Muscheidt, the European Union's Ambassador to Yemen.
  UN insiders point to Germany having lost a UN post when Kim Won-soo replaced Angela Kane as Under Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs. Achim Steiner was passed over for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees post, in favor of Italy's Grandi.  Germany already "got" Libya with Martin Kobler - why not Yemen too? And what, they ask, has Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed accomplished, with all his business trips to Dubai? Why will or would January 14 be any different?

On December 21, Inner City Press asked the UN's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, transcript here.


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