At the UN, Congo To Get One Month, Abkhazia Six,
Clinton on Uganda, Kosovo Trip Firms Up
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
the UN: News / Muse
UNITED NATIONS, April 12 -- The UN Security Council
met past 6 p.m. on Thursday, emerging from consultations for Council president
Emyr Jones Parry to read a Presidential Statement condemning terrorism and
specifically the previous day's bombing in Algeria. Why no statement about the
bombings in Iraq? Amb. Jones Parry off-camera said there was initially proposed,
on Iraq, a mere press statement, but that since Algeria got a presidential
statement, so will Iraq, on Friday. They call it parallelism. Who knew?
Inner City Press asked Amb.
Jones Parry if during the Council's consultations on Somalia, anyone had brought
up the European official's email concerning
war crimes by the Transitional Federal
Government. "I'm not aware of
that," he said.
On Sudan, Amb. Jones Parry praised UN
Peacekeeping's Africa hand Titov, but said the problem surrounds six attack
helicopters. On the planned Council trip to Kosovo and Belgrade, Amb. Jones
Parry said it will be headed up by Belgium and will take place, as he put it,
"the week after next." So that would be the last full week in April, right? He
said it will begin in Belgium, then "move into the region by the end of the
week" after next. So that would be April 25-27, right?
Inner City Press asked Amb. Jones Parry
about Friday's votes on extending the UN missions in Georgia (Abkhazia) and the
DR Congo. The latter had, a month ago, been predicted to be a one-year
extension. But given recent violence in Kinshasa, including main Kabila opponent
Jean-Pierre Bemba holing up in the South African embassy, the roll-over will now
only be for a month. And what will happen next month?
The resolution on Abkhazia will be
presented to the press at 10:10 a.m. on Friday, according to the Georgian
mission. The extension, Amb. Jones Parry said Thursday, will be for six months.
But what will the resolution say? We will cover this tomorrow. For now we note
that late Thursday a spokesman for a Permanent Five member whose nation linked
Abkhazia to a so-called Geneva style meeting has promised to explain this term
of art in connection with Friday's Council proceedings.
Ban Ki-moon, following his town hall
meeting with staff and press stakeout -- click here for Inner City Press' story
on that -- met Thursday afternoon with Bill Clinton. That climate change was on
the agenda, as it was in Wednesday's Ban-Bloomberg meeting, is no surprise. But
a post-meeting read-out included Uganda as an issue they discussed.
reported killing of 66 children by the
U.S.-supported Uganda People's Defense Force.)
Lord's Resistance Army?
If LRA, one wonders if Mr. Clinton is among those who favor burying the
International Criminal Court's indictments for war crimes of LRA chieftains
Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, et al., in a search for
peace-through-impunity. More reading-out is needed.
12's money shot --
in the mix?
As a handful of reporters waited past six
for the Ambassadors to emerge from the Council chamber, it was announced that
one Ambassador in particular would not be speaking, under any circumstances.
This was French Ambassador de la Sabliere, because he had hosted some in the UN
press corps for a luncheon earlier in the day -- off the record, of course. So
he precluded any on the record session by holding an off the record luncheon.
Apres lui, le deluge.
While the 15 missions on the Security Council met and
talked of these important things, other excluded nations met, through the Group
of 77, to decide to send a letter of protest to the Council. Their objection is
to the Council's planned discussion on April 17 of climate change. The intrepid
Thalif Deen, who covers the G-77 like no other, spoke Thursday to G-77 chair,
Pakistan's Ambassador Munir Akram.
"The concept of the
Security Council, as I read the U.N. Charter, is that the Council comes into
action when there are actual threats to peace, and breaches of the peace,"
"Law-making powers, according my
interpretation of the charter, are clearly assigned to the General Assembly, not
to the Security Council."
Can you say, turf war about global warming?
To be continued.
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
Somali Defense Official Speaks of Extermination, UN and U.S. Dodge War Crimes
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
UNITED NATIONS, April
11 -- As civilian neighborhoods in Somalia are bombed by the Transitional
Federal Government, TFG-supporters from the United States to the UN increasingly
decline to comment on what's wrought in Mogadishu. Wednesday at UN Headquarters,
Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's Deputy Spokesperson Marie Okabe to confirm
over one thousand deaths and to respond to a quote from TFG defense official
Salad Ali Jeele about "exterminating" a rival clan. [Video
from Minute 6:50 through 8:56, and see below.]
declined comment on the extermination threat, and said that "death toll
statistics are provided by the local authorities." But what if it is the
local authorities who are doing much of the killing?
officials in Europe have expressed concerns about their possible
complicity in war crimes in
Mogadishu. These concerns must be sharpened by the following remarks by the EU-supported
TFG's Salad Ali Jeele:
"We have succeed in
winning the political aspect, what remains now is the force implication... Very
soon people will flee from this town , but I wonder where they will flee to.
Whether it is here to the north side or to Galgaduud. Since people cannot
reconcile and come to terms with each other it is best to forcefully expel
[them] from the city... We are now in the final stages. You have seen what
happened in the last four days' onslaught, without doubt who ever has survived
that onslaught will be exterminated in the one to follow soon."
of the UN system's continuing engagement, only earlier this week, the UN World
Food Program issued a press release calling on the TFG to, at least with
pirates, become tougher. The UN's humanitarian chief for Somalia, Eric Laroche,
was last heard to
urge unequivocal support for the TFG. Now the planned reconciliation
conference has been delayed for at least a full month. Much can happen in thirty
days. Salad Ali Jeele was
previously quoted, by a UN-affiliated
service, as denying the UN's
own experts' report that the TFG was violating the arms embargo then in place.
Somalia '07 -- shades of RTML?
at the UN, Inner City Press got a chance to ask U.S. Ambassador Wolff a question
about the weapons in Somalia, video
from Minute 6:49:
Inner City Press: On
this report, that the U.S. allowed Ethiopia to buy weapons from North Korea in
January '07, I think your predecessor has said if it's true, this -- you know,
he disfavored that, that it would have violated previous sanctions. Do you have
any views on whether that took place? And if so, why it would not violate the
Well, I've seen the reports on this. I don't have any additional information to
offer. We believe that the resolution should be adhered to. And from my
reading of the accounts, it's the responsibility of the Ethiopian government to
adhere by that resolution.
underlying reporting indicates that the U.S. was aware of the ship heading to
Ethiopia, in violation of the U.S.-sponsored sanctions on North Korea's arms
sales, and that the U.S. did nothing. State Department spokesman Scott
McCormack on Monday
"I'm not going to have any particular comment on the details of that story."
Earlier on Monday, he had
that "my objective here isn't to criticize the Transitional Federal Government."
Maybe it should be...
Bombing of Civilians Justified by UN-Supported Somali
President, War Crimes Questions Raised
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
UNITED NATIONS, April 9 -- When are war crimes
accepted, and who gets to decide? In Mogadishu last week, hundreds of civilians
were killed when Ethiopian troops and the Transitional Federal Government fired
into built-up sections of the city. In seeming violation of the laws of war, TFG
president Abdullahi Yusuf has said "any place from which a bullet is fired (at
us) we will bombard it regardless of whoever is there."
Monday at UN Headquarters, Inner City
Press asked the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon to respond to the quote, and to the
bombing by the TFG and others of civilian areas in Mogadishu. The spokesman,
Farhan Haq, pointed out that "a number of bodies, including the Security
Council, have recognized the TFG."
In response to Inner City Press' follow-up
question, Mr. Haq said that "the UN is against bombing of civilian areas...
across the board." What have the UN's Francois Lonseny Fall, or perhaps more
pertinently, Political Affairs chief Lynn Pascoe, said on the topic? "I can
check," Mr. Haq said. Video
from Minute 20:53. Also needing update is the UN's humanitarian chief on Somalia
Eric Laroche's statement that the TFG is
"the only way to go."
The inquiry takes place in the
on a European Union expert's April 2 e-mail warning to Eric van der Linden, the
chief EU official for Kenya and Somalia, that:
strong grounds to believe that the Ethiopian government and the transitional
federal government of Somalia and the African Union (peacekeeping) Force
Commander, possibly also including the African Union Head of Mission and other
African Union officials have through commission or omission violated the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court."
While the UN has yet to send
its own blue helmeted peacekeepers to support or replace the African Union
force, the UN has supported the TFG even as its
compliance with the Transitional Federal
Charter has come into question, concerning the exclusion (and now bombing) of
certain clans and sub-clans.
Even following the EU warning, the UN continues to call on the TFG to take more
Responding by press release to
the freeing of two ships and their crews, UN World Food Program Somalia Country
Director Peter Goossens called, blithely some say, for a more aggressive stance
by the Transitional Federal Government. On WFP's web site, Mr. Goossens is
"the threat of piracy however is still very much alive in Somali waters and WFP
urges the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the Puntland
authorities to curb this menace."
tsunami or TFG?
Others are making excuses for the intentional bombing
of civilians areas.
Voice of America found an expert, former
US ambassador to Ethiopia David Shinn, to
“I think that in this part of the world
war tends to be particularly brutal. And I think it’s going to be extremely
difficult to prove that there were war crimes taking place as such. I think this
tends to be more the way things are done." Particularly on the 13th
anniversary of the beginning of the
genocide in Rwanda, this type
of relativism is troubling.
Compliance with Security
Council resolutions, even by their sponsors, has become relative as well. The
emerges, allowed Ethiopia to buy weapons
and tank parts from North Korea months after the U.S.-sponsored sanctions on
North Korea. Asked for Ban Ki-moon's
reaction, spokesman Farhan Haq declined to comment, saying that since these are
Security Council sanctions, the Council members should be asked. When it was
pointed out that Mr. Ban has chosen to comment on compliance with the Security
Council resolution barring arms imports into Lebanon, Mr. Haq shrugged. It is
apparently a matter of discretion.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
was in Baidoa over the weekend. She met with Abdullayi Yusuf and was quoted by
Reuters that "'I think that everybody used excessive force when you hear
the number killed,' Frazer said, but blamed insurgents for starting the fight
with mortar attacks from populated areas."
News analysis: the
allowance for war crimes and other bending and breaking of laws in Somalia
appears based on the equation of the Union of Islamic Court with the Taliban, or
more explosively, Al Qaeda. In late December when Ethiopian troops crossed the
border and drove on Mogadishu,
the Security Council did nothing.
When in January the U.S. fired missiles at supposed Al Qaeda hide-outs in
southern Somalia, little was said. Now the UN-supposed Transitional Federal
Government, through its president, says openly they will fire into civilians
areas if the residents don't themselves expel the Courts or insurgents.
UN counts and decries those fleeing
Mogadishu. The World Food
Program, in one of its first communications under new executive director Josette
Sheeran Shiner, fresh in from the U.S. State Department, blithely issues a
press release calling on the TFG to crack
down on pirates, click
to view. What if the pirates move into residential neighborhoods? Bombs away,
TFG President Yusuf Q&A, March 21, 2007, see esp. Q&A 5 and 6
1. Q. It is
been reported that the government instigated the current fighting.
A. The man who
made that accusation who claims he is speaking on behalf of a clan and that his
house was attacked is well known and he works directly with the Islamic Courts.
Since he collaborates with the courts and the courts are the ones who are
killing the people and conducting terrorism amongst the people and who are
destructive, it does not matter how educated he is, it doesn't matter how famous
he is, it does not matter from what clan he is: Society should be protected from
that kind of man (arrested/eliminated?) because he will not contribute anything
to the community except trouble and destruction.
2. Q. But Mr.
President he is saying we were a clan that was meeting just like the other clans
A: Son, he is
lying! We know the names of the guys he was meeting with at that time. They are
one family (sub-clan). They cannot even speak on behalf of a sub-clan. They
are individuals and we know the one he is having the meeting with. The name
Hawiye is being used as a cover but it does not exist. I believe you have asked
the Prime Minister about this ( i.e. Hawiye) and you know from which clan the
Prime Minister comes from (i.e. he is Hawiye).
3. Q: One can
ask, can the president draw people closer to each other now that there is on
going fighting everywhere and the people are fleeing, many are wounded so how
will they come (to Mogadishu for the peace conference)?
A: The facts
are well known. It is the guys I have named who are causing the instability and
we are working to ensure they can never again cause instability (threat?). This
city should be secure when the conference (reconciliation conference scheduled
for April 16 in Mogadishu) is to be held. That is the transitional government's
4. Q: So have
you been overpowered? Reports say that it is the government troops and the
peacekeepers that are being dragged. Were you overpowered?
A: First of all
have you ever fought in a war?
5. Q: Then who
is fighting? Isn't it reported that two sides are fighting?
A: First, I
have asked you a question. If there is a battle there will be casualties
(deaths), It is possible that every now and then one or the other side looses
ground, but we have not been defeated, we will not be defeated God willing and
we will eliminate these guys.
6. Q: The
government is using artillery to shell civilian areas according to reports,
therefore why are you using these artillery?
shouldn't we use it? They are within the civilian areas. The public should make
them (rebels) leave the civilian areas. When those guys leave the civilian areas
no harm will come to the civilians. We want the civilians to remove them
(rebels) telling them to go away from our midst. It is you (rebels) that are
causing us all these troubles. It is the rebels who are the cause of all the
troubles and not the government because any place from which a bullet is fired
(at us) we will bombard it regardless of whoever is there.
7. Q: Even if
civilians are there you are going to bombard it?
A: Yes we will
bombard it! Because the civilians should not be used as Human shields. The
civilians should get out of there and we have warned the civilians. We said
there is fighting going on in those neighborhoods get out of there while the
fighting is going on because one of the sides will be made to give up. The
civilians have that warning.
8. Q: Mr.
President since you have announced that yours is a government of peace, and that
you will save the public, if you now say we are going to burn everyone (who
opposes us) what do you think of that?
A: It is one
side that is initiating the fighting. The instigators will be confronted with
fighting. If they hide amongst the civilians there will be collateral damage to
the civilians. You need to ask them (rebels) those kinds of questions like why
don't you leave the civilian areas and fight the government somewhere else? It
is they that you should ask such questions and goodbye!
But the questions are proliferating.
Other Inner City Press
reports are available in the ProQuest service and some are archived on
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