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At UN, Norway Brags of Work in Somalia, Whose Minneapolis Rep Mocks AK-47 Teens

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 28 -- At the UN on Thursday, Europeans bragged what they're going for Somalia, while a representative from Minneapolis of the Transitional Federal Government, in control of all of ten square blocks in Mogadishu praised Norway for its help. Video here.

  Afterwards, off camera, he agreed with Inner City Press' critique of Norway's role in a Kenyan - Somali Law of the Sea filing about Somalis' mineral and other rights.

  First Inner City Press asked the Chief of Staff of EU NAVFOR Somalia (Operation Atalanta) Paul Chivers which UN system ships EU NAVFOR provides protection for. Chivers spoke mostly about the World Food Program, which he said spends its money on food and not on good ships.

Later in the day, Inner City Press asked Carl P. Salicath, Senior Advisor at Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), if this meant that the UN ships don't comply with the "best practices" he was describing.

  Mr. Salicath said he can't speak about particular ships, just as he said he can't speak for the Chinese, why and how they will participate in the EU NAVFOR.

So, Inner City Press asked Mr. Salicath about Norway's controversial funding of a joint Kenyan - TFG filing with the UN under the law of the sea, which the Somali Parliament later voted to reject. Mr. Salicath said he knew about the deal, but didn't understand the criticism. I better leave it there, he said.

Norway's Salicath, Somali criticism not shown

  Afterwards in the hall, Omar Jamal of the Somali mission agreed that the Parliament had voted it down. But he issued an email to the Press praising Norway, which we public exactly as received:

"Omar Jamal, First Secretary of the Somali mission spoke today at the Fifth Plenary meeting of Contact group chaired by Norway. "Somali feel sometimes being diagnosed with their input." said Omar Jamal. The piracy issue is prodcut of the lawlesness of the country, and to tackle it, international communtiy must empower the Somali security force so they can patrol thier own waters. There is NO short cut here, and the only way out is long term plan by empowering the Somali goveremnt to restore law and order and patrol Somali coastline." Omar Jamal continued. The Mission expresses thanks to the leadership of Norway in this particular problem. The Somali people are at complete loss that the fact the international community rendered helpless by bunch of Somali teenagers riding speedboats, armed with AK47 and PRGs. Somali goverment will collaborate with the international community to come up with ever lasting resolution to the piracy issue."

He still uses a cell phone with a Minneapolis area code. Watch this site.

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As Obama's Speech Omits Sudan, Susan Rice Says Jobs Come First, Gration on Case

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 28 -- Just as the motorcade of U.S. President Barack Obama left Capitol Hill on Wednesday night after his State of the Union speech, a coalition of Darfur activists issued a press release expressing "disappointment that President Obama did not highlight Darfur, Sudan or genocide prevention during his State of the Union address.... 'We are very far from the unstinting resolve on Sudan that President Obama promised in the campaign.'"

  The next morning at the UN in New York, when U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, a "long time friend" of Mr. Obama, stepped to the Security Council stakeout microphone to speak about Somalia and Ivory Coast, Inner City Press asked her about the activists' disappointment.

  Were they misreading the omission of Sudan and genocide from the lengthy speech as reflecting a lessing of commitment on these issues by the Obama administration?

   Yes, Ambassador Rice said, this is a misinterpretation. She said the speech has correctly focused on jobs and the American economy, not every foreign policy issue could be mentioned. She said the Administration remains "deeply committed," and mentioned for the second time this week the work of U.S. envoy on Sudan Scott Gration. Video here, transcript below.

  That Ambassador Rice has spoken to the press at the UN twice this week is "something of a record," one reporter noted. The Mission is known to have bristled at recent negative coverage. Inner City Press has previously documented the fall off in media access and U.S. advocacy since Ms. Rice arrived at the Mission, and has been told 2010 may be different. We'll see.

US' Obama, Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton: no Sudan in SOTU '10

Footnotes: on Ivory Coast, when Inner City Press asked if the U.S. agrees with holdover President Laurent Gbagbo about the over 400,000 names on the voter list that he is contesting, Ambassador Rice said there was an incident of a "false list." The UN has not acknowledged that the list is false, and France has only said that it, like all other complaints, should be investigated.

  So is it the U.S. position that the list is false? If so, cynics might say that the U.S. backs up Gbagbo more and more, to gain even more influence in Abidjan assuming Gbagbo remains in power.

  On the anti-corruption front, Inner City Press recently exposed and got confirmed that the nephew of the UN's top envoy in Ivory Coast then got employed by the UN system in the country, which even UN investigators have described to Inner City Press as highly problematic. But has the U.S. Mission said anything about this? Or about the even longer standing nepotism problem surrounded the UN's Congo envoy Alan Doss? We will follow this.

From the US Mission's transcript:

Inner City Press: On Cote d'Ivoire, does the US have a view: President Gbagbo has said that there's almost half a million improperly registered people and he has called for investigations. They say that's why it's being delayed. Do you have a view as to whether that is a legitimate claim?

And just one other I wanted to ask you, the Save Darfur Coalition took somehow umbrage that last night's State of the Union address did not mention Darfur, Sudan or genocide prevention. Are they misreading that? Does this reflect any lessoning of a commitment?

Ambassador Rice: Absolutely not. I think if that is their interpretation I would characterize that as a misreading. I think as all Americans saw and all Americans feel, the President's focus last night was appropriately, principally on jobs and the economy. And the very concrete steps that he is taking and that he is calling on Congress to take to put our economy back on track and put Americans back to work. It was the right focus and clearly not every foreign policy issue of consequence was dealt with or could have been addressed in that context. The President is deeply committed to ending the killing and the suffering and the genocide in Darfur, and our work here at the United Nations and indeed the work that General Scott Gration and that the U.S. Government is doing to try to end the conflict and ensure the protection of civilians is as important today and yesterday as it is any other day.

Coming to Cote d'Ivoire, as you know the elections have been delayed repeatedly. This is a source of real concern for the United States and for the Security Council. There was a very unfortunate incident in which a false voter list was released and that has set back the process further. It is our view that the steps need to be taken by the Ivoirian authorities to ensure that the elections happen properly but that also the conditions for it are as such that the people of Cote d'Ivoire can all participate, that all eligible voters are allowed to cast their ballots, and that it happens in a transparent and legitimate fashion.

 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.

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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

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