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At UN, Biden Visit to Include 2 or 3 Iraq Resolutions, No Answers on Costs or Security

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 14 -- One of three Security Council resolution which the US would like adopted at the December 15 meeting chaired by Vice President Joe Biden has not yet been finalized for a vote, a self-described senior US official told the press on Tuesday.

  Beyond ending the Oil for Food Program, the US would like to removing restrictions on Iraq's import of nuclear material, despite the country not yet having ratified the additional protocol of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

  The Chinese mission to the UN has indicated a preference to await full ratification by Iraq, but late Tuesday the senior US official was still talking about all three resolutions being passed.

   The context of the remarks was a conference call. Inner City Press dialed in, and to ask a question pushed Star 1 as directed, giving name and affiliation again. But Inner City Press was never called on, even as the moderator said “it appears there are no more questions.”

  Beyond asking for confirmation that it is the Weapons of Mass Destruction or nuclear resolution that is not yet finalized, Inner City Press had wanted ask, as it has the UN Spokesman, who is paying for the alternations in and around the Security Council for Joe Biden's visit.

  On December 10, a large US delegation entered the Council chamber talking of Verizon and putting in new communications lines for Wednesday's session. A Council staffer told Inner City Press that Wednesday will be the first time a US Vice President chairs the Security Council since George H.W. Bush, as Reagans' VP, chaired a meeting. On the morning of December 14 new metal detectors were in place. At the noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: for this Wednesday, tomorrow’s Security Council event featuring Vice-President Joe Biden, there have been a lot of, they’ve even installed metal detectors, but on Friday, there was people going into the Council to install new telephone lines. So, it all led me to wonder, who is paying for this? Is it… is it… does the US specifically reimburse the UN for these special security… particularly, let’s say the phone lines, or is it something that the UN absorbs the cost and, if so, what’s the basis of doing it for this meeting and not other similarly vice-presidential meetings?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, you’re making assumptions there before establishing the facts. So, let’s do that.

  But five hours later, no answer had been given. Similarly, last month Inner City Press asked Nesirky's Office to confirm that the UN in Iraq, including SRSG Ad Melkert, is accepting security from the US forces. The UN refused to confirm it, despite a New Orleans Times Picayune report that:

The soldiers of Alpha Battery, 1/141, started out providing armed troops and armored vehicles to protect the supply convoys. They now act as the quick reaction force, which includes providing ground medical evacuation to area helicopters that cannot reach and secure landing zones, Fernandez said. They also staff entries to the United Nations Villa, a compound where UN workers live, and specifically guard the residence for the special representative for the UN secretary-general in Iraq. While the UN officials have personal security personnel, they also are shadowed by Alpha Battery when they travel. “They’re not allowed to move without us,” Fernandez said. “They don’t want to move without us.”

  Perhaps the US Mission to the UN or State Department will have an answer.

UN's Ban and Biden, previously, security, costs and IAEA ratification not shown

  A UN budget document just released mentions that the UN's architectural contractor in Iraq is in default:

A/65/604 - 7 December 2010

Programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011

First performance report on the programme budget for the biennium 2010-2011

Report of the Advisory Committee

...5. The Advisory Committee recalls that the General Assembly, in section VI of its resolution 64/245, approved a commitment authority of up to $5 million for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), under section 33, Construction, alteration, improvement and major maintenance, for the biennium 2010-2011, in order to undertake design work for the construction of an integrated compound in Baghdad. The Secretary-General indicates in paragraph 13 of his report that, during 2010, a Project Manager (P-5) was recruited and an architectural services contract was awarded for the project’s schematic design, design development and construction documentation phases. Upon enquiry, the Committee was informed that, to date, UNAMI has entered into commitments with the contractor in the amount of $2.97 million, comprising obligations of $2.39 million and disbursements of $0.58 million.

6. The Advisory Committee notes with concern that, as at 19 July 2010, the architectural services contract has been in a “condition of default” and that it is therefore unlikely that a full specification design would be available until early 2011. The Committee was also informed that the estimated costs would be far higher than originally expected and that the construction timelines would extend much further than planned. UNAMI is currently considering alternative options in Baghdad and has identified an existing site that will become available in 2011. The Committee notes that the Secretary-General is seeking approval to appropriate the amount of $5 million already approved as a commitment authority.

7. In the context of its report on the budget for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq for 2011, the Advisory Committee has expressed its concern about the reported situation that has resulted in delays in the construction project and urged the Secretary-General to resolve the problems at hand (see A/65/602, paras. 217-221). Therefore, in view of the uncertainties concerning the planned project, the Committee recommends that the amount of $5 million already approved as a commitment authority not be appropriated at present but rather that any actual expenditures arising from the commitment authority be reported in the context of the second performance report for the biennium 2010-2011.

Watch this site.

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At UN, Condi Got Gambari Fired from Burma, Similar Suck Up to Sudan Still Unacted On

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 11 -- UN official Ibrahim Gambari was targeted for firing by the previous US administration, for being too close to the military government of Myanmar, to which he was UN envoy, a cable Wikileaked this week has shown:

Mr. Gambari's inappropriate claims of success regarding peripheral issues, and his unwillingness to press the regime more forcefully for progress have caused us to conclude that his continued involvement undermines the good offices mission and should therefore be ended... USUN is asked to demarche SYG Ban or Ambassador Kim to seek Gambari's dismissal as SRSG for Burma. This demarche should occur as soon as practical.”

  What happened next is telling: the overly dictator friendly Gambari was transferred by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to cover Darfur in Sudan.

 There, Gambari has gone out of his way not to investigate or report on killing by the government of Omar al Bashir.

On December 9, Sudan's Ambassador to the UN praised the UN Mission in Darfur and the “seasoned diplomat” who is in charge -- Gambari.

   What has the US Administration of Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice done about Gambari? So far, nothing.

  During the Security Council's October 2010 trip to Sudan and Darfur, Susan Rice had multiple opportunities to give the Administration's view of Gambari's performance, but did not.

Gambari in Darfur with Susan Rice et al., Oct 2010, action not shown (c) MRLee

The Wikileaked cable, in which Condoleezza Rice directed a demarche to Ban or “Ambassador Kim” that Gambari should be take off the Burma file, resulted in that action. If the argument is that the current US Mission to the UN is working behind the scene on this, so far no results have been seen.

Tuesday, 07 October 2008, 19:48





Classified By: IO">IO">IO PDAS James Warlick. Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (U) This is an action request. See para. 4.

2. (C) Department views the "good offices" mission of the UN Secretary General's Special Representative (SRSG) to Burma as an important vehicle for encouraging democratic progress in Burma. Consequently, Department has viewed with growing concern the lack of progress on core political steps that the UNSC called on Burma to take such as the immediate release of political prisoners and the opening of a meaningful, time-bound political dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority leaders, in particular, with Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), over the course of SRSG Gambari's four missions to Rangoon. Indeed, it appears that Gambari's access to regime officials and ability to secure results has only contracted over the course of these missions. His access to democratic leaders has been constrained by both the regime and more recently a loss of confidence in Gambari among leaders of the democracy movement.

3. (C) Gambari appears unrealistically upbeat, pursuing and reporting progress on peripheral matters (e.g., a possible economic forum, the possible placement of a UN staff member in Rangoon) that are a distraction from what the Security Council has articulated as critical goals and identified as Gambari's mandate.

4. (C) Considering the key role of the good offices mission and Gambari's inability to secure significant progress from the Burmese regime, USUN is asked to demarche SYG Ban or Ambassador Kim to seek Gambari's dismissal as SRSG for Burma. This demarche should occur as soon as practical.

5. (C) Taking into account Gambari's usefulness in his concurrent role as UN advisor on the International Compact with Iraq, as well as SYG Ban's likely sensitivities in regard to a possible dismissal, Department provides the following talking points (not/not to be left as a non- paper) for use by USUN in this demarche:

6. (C/rel to UN) Begin points:

-- Over time, the United States has become increasingly concerned that the UN good offices mission in regard to Burma is in dire jeopardy.

-- Special Representative Gambari's fourth and latest trip to Burma continued a disturbing pattern of regime-managed itineraries; restricted access to key regime officials and activists; and complete lack of progress on the critical issues that form the core of Mr. Gambari's mandate: the opening of a meaningful and time-bound dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, toward democratization and national reconciliation, and the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.

-- While the main responsibility for this lack of progress should be attributed to regime intransigence, Mr. Gambari has not been willing to acknowledge it. This lack of progress, Mr. Gambari's inappropriate claims of success regarding peripheral issues, and his unwillingness to press the regime more forcefully for progress have caused us to conclude that his continued involvement undermines the good offices mission and should therefore be ended.

-- We have no wish to embarrass Mr. Gambari and have no intent to link any removal with a lack of progress in Burma, but we would ask that you find a way to terminate gracefully his participation in this particular mission. In particular, we cannot support further travel to Burma for discussions with regime leadership by Mr. Gambari as part of the good offices mission.

-- We urge you not to rush to name a replacement. There have been a series of Special Representatives, none of whom have succeeded due to regime intransigence. Absent some sign that the regime is willing to engage seriously, we fear appointment of a new envoy could actually encourage the regime and some of its friends to continue to emphasize process over substance. As you requested, however, we are willing to share ideas of possible candidates as you consider next steps.

-- There is talk of your ramping up your personal involvement on Burma, or perhaps even visiting. We think you could play an important role but understand you will have to consider carefully how you would engage. Although a trip by you could be useful, we believe it's critical that the groundwork be laid so you can be confident that your visit will result in tangible progress.

-- We understand that the Burmese are unlikely to make major concessions as a condition for your visit. However, we do not believe you should go without a strong indication ahead of time that your visit would coincide with some tangible, positive steps. Steps that we recommend you insist upon are: the release of high-profile political prisoners; the release of Aung San Suu Kyi or at least the easing of her house arrest; insistence that you and any subsequent Special Representative will be able to determine your own schedules, including meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, political prisoners, activists, and whomever else you wish; and that you will have access to the senior most leadership of the Burmese regime; agreement on specific steps to begin a dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratic and ethnic leaders; and a guarantee that any Special Representative will be granted a multiple entry visa.

End points. RICE

 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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