UN Kabul Post, de Mistura Out for Reasons of Family- But Whose?
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 22 -- The UN's already embattled presence in
Afghanistan has been thrown into further chaos. Staffan de Mistura,
who earlier this year told U.S. Special Representative Richard
Holbrooke that he had been offered the top UN post in Kabul now tells
diplomats that he is turning it down "for family reasons."
the UN, the
question was heard, "whose
family reasons?" As Inner City
Press and then others have reported,
de Mistura previous hired the
son in law of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Siddarth Chatterjee,
as his deputy in Iraq. In fact, some viewed this as relevant to de
Mistura's consideration by Ban for the Kabul job, which none other
than the New York Times favored Jean Marie Guehenno over de Mistura
if it's de Mistura's family reasons, one wonders if he will continue
in his presumably time consuming job at the World Food Program.
fact, as Inner City Press has reported from the beginning of the
three card monte competition between de Mistura, Guehenno and Martin,
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai was said to be prepared to veto de
Mistura (the choice of some or most in the U.S. State Department),
just as he earlier vetoed Paddy Ashdown.
pulling out, focus at the UN is turning not to Guehenno or Ian
Martin, but to former foreign minister of Slovakia Jan Kubis (who is
also sometimes mentioned along with Slovenian President Danilo Turk
as a possible next UN Secretary General when it becomes that Group's
turn). According to the Turtle,
also in consideration to replace di Mistura (we'll spell it both de and
di since there seems to be no consensus, nor between Kubis and Koubis)
are "Knut Vollebaek, Norway's foreign minister, and Atonio Gutteres of
Portugal, the head of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for
since the Haitian earthquake, questions on Afghanistan, about rocket
and then suicide attacks in Kabul, have been turned away. I'm
sticking to Haiti today, Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky announced
De Mistura: will he continue at WFP?
On other days he has unlike his predecessors imposed a quota
or ration on questions that can be asked. Nesirky did just that on
January 22, when the de Mistura quitting story broke. Inner City Press
question about the Kabul rocket attack which was never answered.
the UN heads to
the January 28 conference in London on Afghanistan -- and a
conference on Yemen the day before -- things are in disarray, with no
replacement for Kai Eide on tap. Kubis
ex macina? Watch this space.
Speaking of Yemen, the country's foreign minister during a ceremony
Friday taking over leadership of the Group of 77 and China referred
to Ban Ki-moon as the Secretary General of the United STATES. Then
he caught himself and said, Wishful thinking....
* * *
UN, Ban Says Holbrooke's Public Blog Talk of de Mistura Is Not Proper,
But Unlike Galbraith, Jurisdiction Questioned
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, January 12 -- Two weeks ago, Inner City Press reported that
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would name as his envoy to
de Mistura, who hired Mr. Ban's son in law in
Iraq. A week ago, Inner City Press asked Mr. Ban about it. Ban
replied that the choice is his "prerogative."
Holbrooke told Foreign Policy's The Cable that de
Mistura told him he has been offered the post.
the cat entirely
out of the bag, Inner City Press on January 11 asked Mr. Ban, in his
first stakeout interview in the UN's new North Lawn Conference
Building, "Richard Holbrooke is
being quoted as saying that you
have offered the top UN post in Kabul to Staffan de Mistura. I
wonder, is he right in saying that?" Video here,
from Minute 15:18.
premise of the
question was, while Ban's talking points last week involved
questioning why the New York Times would chime on on his prerogative,
it would be more difficult to say Holbrooke was wrong.
was almost identical, that "I don't think it is proper to
discuss detailed matters on appointment procedures publicly."
But it seems clear that Ban has offered the job to de Mistura, who in
turn told Holbrooke -- to nail the job down, some say -- and
Holbrooke intentionally went public.
Ban says this
is not "proper," does he mean that de Mistura should not
have told Holbrooke that he's been offered the job? Since, as Inner
City Press exclusively reported,
Ban's choice as Darfur envoy of
Ibrahim Gambari leaked because Gambari asked some UN staff to sign up
to work for him in El Fasher, Ban could have told de Mistura to
it under raps.
comments seem to point, is Ban calling Holbrooke's public statement
to The Cable improper? Previously, Ban fired Peter Galbraith, whom
Holbrooke has pushed for the UN's deputy post in Kabul, for going
public with his critic of Kai Eide covering up Hamid Karzai electoral
can and does
crack down on UN staff for speaking publicly or blowing the whistle.
One wonders if Ban's implicit rebuke of Holbrooke leaves any mark at
all. Ultimately, it traces back to de Mistura. But he has ingratiated
himself with Ban's Turtle Bay. Between now and the conference on
Afghanistan in London on January 28, what could go wrong? Watch this
Holbrooke lets it all hang out, Ban's critique not shown
January 11 transcript:
City Press: On Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke is being quoted as
saying that you have offered the top UN post in Kabul to Staffan de
Mistura. I wonder, is he right in saying that?
First of all, this appointment of a new Special Representative of the
Secretary-General is still under consideration. Of course, I don't
think it is proper to discuss detailed matters on appointment
procedures publicly, but as soon as the decision is made I will let
you know. I have been discussing this matter with President [Hamid]
Karzai and other concerned major parties who could be the best
candidate who can really work together with all major parties to have
a very harmonious and coordinated role as SRSG of the United Nations.
just as Hamid Karzai vetoed Paddy Ashdown for the post, he may try
the same with de Mistura, even more so after Holbrooke's staged