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Mali Mutiny On Then Off UN SC Agenda on Day of Fire Alarms, UNIFIL Cheapskates

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 21 -- Wednesday was a day of emergencies at the UN Security Council. After statements were adopted on Syria in the morning, there was a fire alarm and the Council was evacuated.

  When the meetings reconvened in the afternoon, a reported mutiny beginning in Mali brought mid-level diplomats running to the Council for a closed door "Other Matters" session on the Sahel nation.

  Council members emerged asking even the Press, "What is happening in Mali?" Inner City Press relayed what was online, and put simple questions to the Office of the Spokesman for the UN and Ban Ki-moon:

"This is a Press request for UN comment and whatever knowledge the UN has of the situation in Mali, as regards mutiny in Bamako and Gao. What is the UN's presence in Mali? What reports has the UN received? Who is briefing the Security Council under Any Other Business / Other Matters? On deadline"

  Still by 5 pm, after France for example already put out a statement and US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland had been asked about it and promised to get back, nothing from the UN.

  A UN spokesperson just before 5 pm that no one from the Department of Political Affairs would be briefing the Council on Mali. And two Permanent Representative then told Inner City Press Mali would be put off until Thursday -- at 4:30 pm as it turns out. One said, this is the impact of NATO on Libya and dispersion of Gaddafi's guns.

Rather than brief on Mali, DPA produced Derek Plumbly to speak on Lebanon. But when Inner City Press asked him about the impact of France withdrawing 400 soldiers from UNIFIL, and Italy following suit, Plumbly was dismissive that it would have an impact.

   He didn't know the number being withdrawn by Italy (which he first called Spain), saying "ask DPKO." But DPKO chief Herve Ladsous refuses to answer the simplest of questions, such as if the mission in South Sudan now has functioning helicopters, when he come to the Council.

   And so it goes at the UN, and in post-subprime international relations: France wants to cut peacekeeping, and mis-manage it, but can rush out statements and exhortations. It can push for an arms embargo on Libya then air-drop in weapons into the Nafusa mountains and then not follow through. C'est comme ca.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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