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At UN on Eritrea, Badme Is In Eye of Beholder, Meles Ego Blocks a Deal?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- On Eritrea's request the UN Security Council will meet on July 19. But the meeting is now turned against Eritrea, with not only Ethiopia and Somalia but also Djibouti, Uganda and other set to attend.

  “Eritrea is going to get its [behind] kicked,” a Security Council member told Inner City Press on Monday night. “They're not going to know what hit them.”

When Eritrea's president met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 8, he asked for “three hours” to make his case, including against sanctions. But sanctions aren't set by Ban Ki-moon, but rather by the Council.

Just like last September, when Eritrea got thrown out of a meeting on Somalia at the last minute at the insistence of Uganda, now it will be barrage on Tuesday afternoon.

   But as more than one Council member told Inner City Press, why not pressure Ethiopia to give back the strip of land in Badme that Eritrea won? “They they'd have no leg to stand on,” as one member put it. “Meles Zenawi is ready to give it back, but he doesn't want Eritrea gloating about it.”

  This from a person who called Eritrea repressive, accusing it of not giving passports to any male between 20 and 40 years old.

  Will the solution to this problem have to await the next generation of leaders? Watch this site.

* * *

As S. Sudan Joins UN, Machar Speaks of Darfur & Eritrea, Ban Silent, No Q&A

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- South Sudan was admitted to the UN on Thursday morning in New York, its new flag raised on the pole of Mauritius facing First Avenue.

  In the General Assembly, US Ambassador Susan Rice on behalf of the host country quoted President Obama, that “after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.” Her speech did not mention the continued war in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur in the Sudan.

  South Sudan's vice president Riek Machar in his speech spoke of these and of Darfur, and called for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and in Somalia. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during his trip to Juba last weekend met with Eritrea's president Isaias Afewerki, and his office issued this read out:

The Secretary-General met with President Isaias Afewerki in Juba on 8 July 2011. The Secretary-General and President Afewerki discussed peace and security issues in the region in particular the independence of South Sudan, and they agreed to find another opportunity to discuss the role of Eritrea and the complexities of the sub-region.”

  Strikingly, the UN's read out of the meeting did not even mention Ethiopia or Somalia. On July 11, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky about it:

Inner City Press: the Secretary-General met with the President of Eritrea. I wanted to know if that was his first meeting with him. And also the readout didn’t seem to make any reference to the widespread allegations that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab and is a destabilizing factor in Somalia. Was this something that was discussed, or was not in the readout, or not discussed at all?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, the readout speaks for itself, Matthew.

Inner City Press: Is that his first meeting with the President of Eritrea?

Spokesperson Nesirky: I’ll check, but on the other topic that you’ve mentioned, I think the readout speaks for itself.

  While more than two days later this simple question had not been answered, in the meantime several diplomats at the UN told Inner City Press that what the read out speaks of is a diplomacy by Ban that is far too quiet. Even South Sudan with all the work ahead of it is talking about peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, including in Somalia. How could the Secretary General not even bring it up?

  Ban spoke at the South Sudan festivities on Thursday morning, but unlike President of the General Assembly Joseph Diess, Ban took no questions. (Nor did he on July 12, when he came to the Security Council stakeout but left without taking any questions.)

So Inner City Press went to Thursday's noon briefing, after the South Sudan flag raising and PGA Deiss' stakeout were over.

Sudan's PR with Ban in foreground, Q&A not shown. (c) MRLee

Several journalists were waiting, but none of Ban's spokespeople ever appeared. Finally Inner City Press was directed to an email of 10 am that day, that “Noon Briefing canceled.”

Inner City Press immediately emailed Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky and his deputy Farhan Haq, asking, “Could you say why there is no noon briefing today?”

A quarter of an hour later, Haq replied, “We had explained to the press via the intercom this morning: Because of the flag raising ceremony for the Republic of South Sudan just before noon, there will be no noon briefing today.”

This does not explain it: the Office of the Spokesperson has more than enough staff to cover the flag raising ceremony -- which like Deiss' stakeout was over before noon -- and the already determined admission of South Sudan to the UN is hardly the only news of the day.

So why did Ban not take questions on July 12, not hold a stakeout like President of the General Assembly Deiss on July 14, and cancel even the normal noon briefing on July 14? Watch this site.

Footnotes: Mauritius gave up its flag pole space because it happened to be right in front of the GA, Inner City Press was told. Inside the General Assembly, making an extra space for the Republic of South Sudan was said to require one of the three Observers to not have a space. Palestine and the Holy See continued to share; the EU was not in. Camera space is going to be taken for extra states under the Capital Master Plan, Inner City Press has been told. We'll be here.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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