Starvation Shows Security Council Schizophrenia, Humanitarian Window
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, March 18 -- Days after the UN Security Council expressed
concern about its Somalia Sanctions report of food aid being diverted
to Al Shabab, some Council members realized that merely blocking the
World Food Program from working with three allegedly Al Shabab
affiliated transportation companies had led to starvation.
Sanctions Committee's mandate was scheduled to be extended on March
19, now that will be March 22 or later. Inner City Press is told by
numerous Council delegations of a discussion of a "humanitarian
window" in which needed food aid could be delivered in Somalia,
without regard to sanctions.
explained this to mean that the Sanctions Committee would "look
away" for a period of time. "Willful blindness," it
vociferously denies leaking the
Sanctions report to the New York
Times in Nairobi, has Al Shabab on its terrorism list. No Security
Council resolutions, or lapse in UN sanctions regime, can change
of a humanitarian window seems to be an acknowledgement, if only
implicitly, that the UN Sanctions regime has caused humanitarian harm
to civilians. Does the U.S. / Obama Administration acknowledge that?
One would need to hear from Ambassador Susan Rice, but hasn't. Watch
US' Susan Rice, stakeout and humanitarian window not shown
this week, Inner City Press asked Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller,
chairman of the Somalia Sanctions committee, about starvation in
Somalia and the leak of the
Sanctions report. Heller said that there
was strong criticism of the leak inside the Council; Inner City Press
was later told that Russia and the U.S. were the most vehement.
previously denounced the leak -- to Inner City Press -- of a draft
North Korea sanctions resolution. Some believe that the U.S. -- not
necessarily the mission -- leaked the Somalia Sanctions report to the
NY Times in Nairobi. Would the U.S. Mission know if this were true?
* * *
Leak of UN Somali Sanctions Report Echoes Bogus Shabab in Lebanon
Matthew Russell Lee
March 11, updated -- A Somali
firm fired back Thursday night at the
staged leak of a UN sanctions report to the New York Times and then
other media. Deeqa Construction and its principal Abdulkadir Nur
issued a two page denial, via a public relations firm after first
having hired a Washington law firm. Click here
coverage in the New York Times and then wire services of the report
by the UN Somalia Sanctions Committee was the failure to mention that this
same committee (and newspaper) reported in 2006 that many Somalis had
trained in South Lebanon alongside Hezbollah. This report gave rise
to denials and derision and has never been substantiated. But this
week's leak was taken at face value.
report was shown in a coordinated,
almost choreographed process of leaking, although in more than one
city, in which reporters were shown but
not given a copy of the report, allowed to record themselves reading
the document but not taking notes on it. This is not
investigative journalism, it is being a ventriloquist. Although some at least held out to see the
whole report, and not only the portions, doled out in Naibori, which
support the US' cut of aid to WFP.
UN's Ban and TFG president, Shabab in Lebanon not shown
is rarely an apologist or defender for UN agencies like the World
Food Program. In fact, Inner City Press is inclined to believe that
WFP and UNICEF would allow diversion of aid, just as up to 25% of aid
after Cyclone Nargis was allowed to be stolen by the Than Shwe
military regime in Myanmar, with the UN covering it up.
of diversion in Somalia, with the aura of the Al Shabab Islamist
insurgency, have resulted in the cutting of aid by the U.S. and
reportedly the UK, and increased
starvation of Somali civilians. At a UN stakeout on camera, Inner
City Press asked
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice for specifics, but none
were provided. Click here
for that story.
Inner City Press timely submitted this
question to the UK's David
Miliband, again without promised response. Click here that
(non) story. Not all leaks are created
equal. Scooter Libby feeding the New York Times' Judith Miller lies
about Iraq was not investigative journalism, but the manipulation of
elite media by those in power. And this? Watch this site.
* * *
Rice of US Insists UN "Misconstrues" Somalia Aid
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, February 19 -- Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN,
accused the UN's humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden of
"misconstruing" US restrictions on aid. Ambassador Rice
asserted a "diversion of resources" to the Islamist group
Al Shabab. Since it is on US terrorism lists, US law requires the
restrictions the US is demanding.
what are these
U.S. restrictions? Bowden, while publicly complaining about them, would
not provide any description. Rather, he said that when he went to
Washington to discussed them with US aid officials, they told him the
issue was "above [their] pay grade."
asked Ambassador Rice about precisely this quote. She insisted that
it is Al Shabab which is responsible for the lack of aid. Video here,
But what of
Bowden's quoting of US aid officials? A US State Department official
in Washington, described as "irritated," has said of
Bowden, "We're going to talk to him." The
quote reminded on
UN observer of "something from the Sopranos," or the Mafia
film "Good Fellas."
boss, top UN humanitarian John Holmes,
stood before a UN microphone
on Thursday evening, Inner City Press asked him to explain what
Bowden had said, and to describe the US restrictions to which the UN
is publicly taking exception.
responded that the message was only that the UN needs more funds.
Even pressed, he declined to follow or back up Bowden. Video here,
cop, bad cop," an observer mused afterwards. Or was Holmes
showing his political stripes, declining to criticize the U.S. as,
for example, his predecessor Jan Egeland did after the tsunami?
Susan Rice back on Jan. 26, US Somalia aid
restrictions not shown
Ambassador Rice's two responses to the Press about Somalia, she went
in to a Security Council meeting about Haiti. Speaking first, from a
prepared text, was the UN's John Holmes. So goes diplomacy at the UN.
While Ambassador Rice also took two questions about Iran's nuclear
program, the Press was not able to ask for her views on developments
in Sudan and Darfur, or on anti-democratic moves in Niger and Cote
d'Ivoire, nor the incorporation of a presumptive war criminal into
Guinea's interim government. But the answers on Somalia, although of
a piece with Washington's script, were appreciated.
official told Inner City Press that "Susan Rice, as an expected
future Secretary of State, is playing it safe. She will not, for
example, criticize [former South African president Thabo] Mbeki about
Sudan." Until questions are asked, and answered, we'll stick to
an open mind.
the US Mission to the UN's transcript:
City Press: On Somalia, the U.N. has said that the U.S. is
politicizing aid, and has made restrictions that make it impossible
to feed people in southern Somalia. Could you say what the
restrictions are and what the reasons for them are?
Rice: Well, first of all we utterly reject that claim; we think it's
false and unfounded. The reason why aid is not now proceeding to the
people of southern Somalia is one reason alone and it's quite clear:
it's Al Shabaab's attacks on WFP and other U.N. agencies, its
kidnapping of innocent relief workers, its extortion of funds which
prompted WFP on January 5th to take the decision that it could not
and would not continue to deliver life saving assistance in southern
Somalia. That's an unfortunate development but it is a direct
consequence of Al Shabaab's attacks and efforts. The U.S. is the
largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia, we have been
consistently over many years, and in 2009 we contributed $150 million
in humanitarian assistance to Somalia. So, as I said we reject that
claim as false and unfounded.
City Press: One follow up, Mark Bowden of the UN had said when he
traveled to Washington and met with USAID officials they said to him
that the decision was above their pay-grade and was being made by the
State Department on a political basis.
Rice: He's conflating and misconstruing two different things. The
reason why the people of Somalia in the South are not able to receive
the assistance that we and others have traditionally provided at
present is because WFP took a decision, a decision they felt
compelled to take and we understand why they had to take it, that
they could no longer continue to provide assistance safely, given Al
Shabaab's harassment, attacks, and terrorist activities. The question
of how the U.S. government has responded, and we have been in
discussions with humanitarian delivery agencies about the fact that
we have grave concerns about the diversion of resources to Al Shabaab
and other terrorist organizations in contravention of U.S. law. And
we have had those discussions, they have been ongoing but
nonetheless, the U.S. provided $150 million of humanitarian
assistance to Somalia last year. We remain, as we have been for many
years, the largest donor, and what is precluding the delivery of
assistance to people in southern Somalia is Al Shabaab.