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Eritrea Writes to UN Security Council, Ethiopia Speaks With Lyall Grant

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 16, updated March 17 -- The day after Ethiopia cross the border into Eritrea in a military action against three Eritrean bases, Inner City Press asked this month's UN Security Council President, UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, what the Council would do.

  Tens of thousands of people died in the last war; there was a UNSC sponsored peacekeeping mission there, UNMEE, until it unceremoniously decamped.

  Lyall Grant said that he had spoken with Ethiopia's Permanent Representative. To some this seemed similar to when Kenya's Permanent Representative quietly informed the Security Council presidency that his country had gone into Somalia, which was later "regularized" into the UN-supported AMISOM mission.

  Eritrea put out a press release -- but also, Lyall Grant answered Inner City Press, wrote to the Security Council. Lyall Grant said the letter had been circulated but no discussions have been had.

Update: Inner City Press has obtained Eritrea's letter and is putting it online, here.

 Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky on March 15 had no answer, saying, "let me check." On March 16 he said that Ban urged "both sides" for "restraint." One close observer noted to Inner City Press, "That's just what the US said."

Update of March 17: by contrast, UK Minister for Africa Henry Bellingham put out a statement beginning "I am deeply concerned about Ethiopia's incursion into Eritrea on 15 March." From a UN perspective, confirmed is who Ban Ki-moon really works for, or takes his scripts from. But will the UK, president of the Council for this month, even arrange a Department of Political Affairs briefing of the Council about the incursion? Watch this site.

  Eritrea's press release snarks that this is a "situation where the culprit 'strikes but cries first' while all along pleading with its protectors to 'disarm the victim.'" (The reason for the multiple quotation marks is not clear; we are always ready for counter-snark.)

  On March 15, Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice about Ethiopia into Eritrea; she answered that "I only hear what's in the press, it's a short story." So will anything be done?

   Meanwhile inside the Security Council chamber on Friday afternoon, Council members' experts met with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations about the mission in Cote d'Ivoire, assessing its efficiency. Surprisingly, the voting irregularities and violence in Bonon and Facobly constituencies, which UN envoy Bert Koenders ostensibly wants the UN to help investigate, were not discussed at all. Rather a fine tuning of the police. And so it goes at the UN.

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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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