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At UN, Somali Minister Dodges on Saracen & Sharif Term, Even Who Ambassador Is

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- When Somalia's Transitional Federal Government's new Prime Minister Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed Farmajo spoke to the Press at the UN on Friday, Inner City Press expected answers about the TFG's contract with private military contractor Saracen, about Sheikh Sharif, at least about who now is the TFG's Permanent Representative to the UN.

  But none of these questions were answered.

  Mohamed Abdulahi said he has “assigned a committee” on the issue of Saracen, which will report in “the next couple of weeks.”

  Inner City Press asked who has signed the contract for the TFG with Saracen, since Mohamed Abdulahi's predecessor Prime Minister Shamarke had denied he signed, has said the document used by Mohamed Abdulahi is a forgery. Video here, from Minute 1:41.

  “We have the letter of intent.. singed by the former Prime Minister,” Mohamed Abdulahi answered. When Inner City Press asked for his personal view on the use of mercenaries, Mohamed Abdulahi said it would be improper for him to comment for the next two weeks. Video here, from Minute 3.

  Mohamed Abdulahi has cracked down on charcoal exports from Somalia, calling these a product of the country's chaos. But isn't a contract with mercenaries, with a company affiliated with the brother of Yoweri Museveni president of AMISON troop contributor Uganda, a product of chaos?

  Inner City Press asked what will happen in August 2011 when the TFG expires -- will Sheik Sharif move to extend his term? Mohamed Abdulahi said “I don't want to speculate,” there are “several options” which will be clarified “in the next two months.” Video here, from Minute 8. 

  What is the Security Council's, and the United States', position on the use of mercenaries? Former US State Department official Pierre Prosper is speaking to the Press about the TFG deal, but its fundings have not yet been made public. (Inner City Press is told by sources the funders are the UAE and Jordan.)

  What is the Security Council's, and the United States', position on democracy in Somalia?

Susan Rice and TFG's
Mohamed Abdulahi, Saracen mercenaries not shown

Long time UN official Charles Petrie told Inner City Press he would be working in Somalia for the TFG. But when Inner City Press asked Mohamed Abdulahi about this, Mohamed Abdulahi said “never heard of it.” Video here, from Minute 8:45.

Somali sources previously told Inner City Press that the new foreign minister of the TFG had written directly to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon re-naming Idd Beddel Mohamed as Permanent Representative, and saying that the long time Permanent Representative was being recalled to Somalia.

Inner City Press immediately asked Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office to confirm receipt of such a letter, on December 23. Having no answer, Inner City Press repeated the question several times between Christmas and New Years. Finally this answer arrived:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Subject: Answer
To: Inner City Press

We can confirm receipt of a 17 December letter from the Somali Foreign Minister recalling the Permanent Representative for consultations. The Permanent Representative himself sent the Secretary-General a 22 December letter confirming his recall.

  Inner City Press prepared to write a follow up article, but wanted to speak to Idd Beddel Mohamed himself. But on January 5 in front of the first UN Security Council meeting of the year, Idd Beddel Mohamed refused to answer any Press questions.

  On January 12, he chided Inner City Press for its articles. Inner City Press said that, since it covers Somalia, it will be better to speak, to be professional.

  On January 14, Inner City Press spoke with the long time Permanent Representative and his staff. Who is running the Somali mission?

  Mohamed Abdulahi wouldn't say. He answered that “we have an ambassador, he is with me here today, that is an internal matter.” Video here, from Minute 7:05. Which one is the Ambassador? Watch this site.

* * *

In Somalia, Saracen Funder Secret, Link With AMISOM Denied, UN Not Briefed

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 27 -- Amid growing doubts about private military contractor Saracen working for the Somali Transitional Federal Government and Puntland, the lawyer for the program, former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Pierre Prosper, spoke to a half dozen UN correspondents on December 23, ostensibly on background.

  In remarks subsequently disseminated, Prosper said that he was briefing the Group of Experts of the UN's Somalia Sanctions Committee but would not yet provide the name of the program's funder, due to concerns the UN would leak it.

  Afterward, Inner City Press on the record asked the outgoing chairman of the UN's Somalia Sanctions Committee, Claude Heller of Mexico, if he or the Committee had been briefed about the use of PMCs or mercenaries in Somalia. No, Heller said, he had only read about it in the newspapers. Video here.

  With Mexico leaving the Council at the end of the month, India is to be given the chair of the Somalia Sanctions Committee, as first exclusively reported by Inner City Press. Will Saracen reach out to India? We will be asking.

  Inner City Press asked Prosper about the involvement in Saracen of a brother of President Museveni of Uganda, which provides the majority of African Union peacekeepers to the TFG. Prosper's answer involved different arms of Saracen, one in South Africa as opposed to the Uganda based arm in which Museveni's brother is involved.

When Uganda's Permanent Representative to the UN Ruhakana Rugunda gave a briefing later in the day, Inner City Press asked about Museveni's brother's interest in Saracen. He is a retired general, Rugunda answered, of course he wants to stay involved in the field.

Rugunda said that Saracen's “private” work “has nothing to do with AMISOM,” the African Union peacekeepers.  Video here. Does that mean the two don't coordinate?

Some troops, answers on Saracen not shown

  Despite three rounds of questions, two on the record and one on background, this use of mercenaries in Somalia gets more and more murky. Who is funding it? Watch this site.

  Footnote: Ambassador Heller's and Rugunda's press conferences were in connection with each leaving the Council after two years. We hope to cover this wider context in the next few days. And we will report anything we hear on the record from Saracen, "the funder" or Mr. Prosper -- even what he may think of his successor's positions on war crimes ranging from Sri Lanka to Cote d'Ivoire.
* * *

In Somalia, Entrepreneurs Prosper & Petrie Violate Sanctions in Puntland, TFG Tricks

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 6 -- Somalia and Puntland have become hotbeds for diplomatic entrepreneurs as they leave the UN and US government. The UN's Charles Petrie has said he will be working for the Transitional Federal Government -- but some in the TFG are not so such, not least about for whom Petrie will be working.

  On December 6, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky about a former US State Department official seemingly involved in violations of the 1992 UN Somalia sanctions regime:

Inner City Press: there is a former US official, Pierre Prosper, who has said that Puntland, the portion of Somalia, has hired a private military contractor, Saracen, to do anti-piracy work — that it’s being all funded by a Muslim nation that he wouldn’t name. So what I wonder is whether, given Mr. [Augustine] Mahiga or anyone in the UN, given both the prohibitions against mercenaries and also the 1992 sanctions on Somalia, what does the UN say to Puntland pretty openly, or at least as acknowledged by a former US official, hiring a mercenary firm to patrol the coast of Somalia, and what’s the UN going to do in light of this report?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, thanks for the question, Matthew, and let’s see what we can find out. I don’t have anything at the moment.

  After UN business hours on December 6, Inner City Press asked SRSG Mahiga directly. He said the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General had not asked him, but to his credit gave a long and detailed answer.

  Mahiga said he had told Puntland officials that they might well be violating the UN's Somalia sanctions. They replied, according to Mahiga, that since it “doesn't involve arms, it can't violate the sanctions.” This is an inaccurate reading of the sanctions regime.

  Mahiga asked if Prosper was still working for the US. Not on paper, is the answer. Mahiga said Petrie's roll is even more confusing. According to Mahiga, Petrie wanted to work as a consultant to the TFG while still under UN contract.

   Inner City Press previously corresponded with Petrie -- one of the more intriguing UN officials -- then asked for formal confirmation, of his letter, and his role.

UN's Ban and Mahiga, Charles Petrie, Prosper and Somalia sanctions not shown

  The following arrived:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply
To: Inner City Press
Subject: Your question on Charles Petrie

Mr. Petrie submitted his resignation from the UN effective 1 November, but was asked, for operational reasons, to postpone his departure to the end of the current mandate, which concludes 31 December, 2010. He is continuing to exercise his functions as ERSG for Burundi until that time. It was also decided that while still under the UN’s employ Mr. Petrie would provide some support to the UN Political Office for Somalia's work with the Transitional Federal Government, drawing on his past experience as Deputy SRSG for Somalia. He is doing so in close collaboration with SRSG Augustine Mahiga.

    But on December 6, Mahiga told Inner City Press that "No one knows who Petrie is working for." Petrie says he had the agreement of the previous TFG, but according to Mahiga, the current government is not so sure. Watch this site.

 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.

* * *

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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