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UN's Top Middle East Post Goes to Lameduck Feltman's Ally Susanne Rose, "Basic Arabic," Recused?

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive Series

UNITED NATIONS, February 9 – How untransparent is the UN under Secretary General Antonio Guterres? On February 9, after Inner City Press exclusively reported that the UN's top Middle East post is slated for Susanne Rose with only "basic Arabic," Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq refused Inner City Press' questions about the selection process.

The top UN Political Affairs position belongs to the United States. With Obama-nominee Jeffrey Feltman set to leave by March 31, now Feltman has used his final days to name an ally or protege to head the Middle East and Western Asia Division, to continue his views even under his replacement. It is Susanne Rose, who worked for Feltman in Beirut. But she speaks only "basic Arabic." There is grumbling in DPA - and elsewhere. 

Here's from the letter, by Feltman's deputy Miroslav Jenca since Feltman is in South Korea with Guterres, or to create the illusion of recusal: Rose was "Political and Economic Counselor in Beirut, Middle East Officer in Rome (where she spent the first year as an exchange diplomat at the NATO office of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs, and Economic Officer in Trinidad and Tobago.... Susanne speaks French, Italian, Spanish, German, and basic Arabic. She was born in Berkeley, California, and has a 14-month year old Havanese dog named Tartufo."

Senior staff and diplomats have been asking Inner City Press which American will replace Feltman. On January 25, amid complaints of Guterres' silence and long weekends away, a name emerged leaving some shaking their heads: Dina Powell. "She's perfect," one said of Trump's deputy national security adviser for strategy of whom spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she's "returning home to New York. She’s expected to continue working with the administration on Middle East policy issues from outside the White House." Why not from the UN? (Some now tell Inner City Press she has declined the post.) Inner City Press notes she's been spotted in Davos, where Guterres at the last moment did not go. "Really?" demanded another, alongside a controversial Serbian government presentation in the UN Delegates' Entrance. Stranger things have happened. Guterres gave his "Global Communications" position to an official, Alison Smale, who refuses to answer Press questions even about whistleblowers' complaints about her Department of Public Information.

Another Brit Martin Griffiths seems destined to take over the UN's Yemen envoy post, perhaps taking with him some staff currently assigned to Staffan de Mistura for Syria. Other Department of Political Affairs posts have already been given away, but not yet announced. Until now.

To head the UN-affiliated International Organization for Migration (IOM), the US on February 2 nominated Ken Isaacs of the group Samaritan's Purse, active in Sudan and elsewhere. Inner City Press at the UN has been pursuing the story it first exposed of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres having recently met Sudan's Omar al Bashir, indicted for genocide in Darfur by the International Criminal Court, without even notifying the ICC in advance, as required. So after the US nomination, Inner City Press visited Isaac's Twitter account, to see if he'd opined on Guterres' unprecedented move. Isaacs' Twitter account, @KenIsaacs1, was accessible to the public; he had re-tweeted about the Nunes memo.

But by February 3, the account was protected, not accessible. Photo here. Perhaps it's a function of the upcoming election among IOM member states, the scrutiny of involved officials - like Guterres himself. But what *does* Isaacs think of Guterres meeting with Bashir, indicted for war crimes in Sudan, without even telling the ICC in advance, and not disclosing it until Inner City Press asked at the UN noon briefing on January 29? Question here. Watch this site.

Today's UN of Antonio Guterres, who just met with ICC indictee Omar al Bashir, and his Deputy Amina J. Mohammed who has refused Press questions on her rosewood signatures and now the refoulement of 47 people to Cameroon from "her" Nigeria, has become a place of corruption and censorship. Amid UN bribery scandals, failures in countries from Cameroon to Yemen and declining transparency, today's UN does not even pretend to have content neutral rules about which media get full access and which are confined to minders or escorts to cover the General Assembly.

Inner City Press, which while it pursue the story of Macau-based businessman Ng Lap Seng's bribery of President of the General Assembly John Ashe was evicted by the UN Department of Public Information from its office, is STILL confined to minders as it pursues the new UN bribery scandal, of Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio allegedly bribing President of the General Assembly Sam Kutesa, and Chad's Idriss Deby, for CEFC China Energy.

Last week Inner City Press asked UN DPI where it is on the list to be restored to (its) office, and regain full office - and was told it is not even on the list, there is no public list, the UN can exclude, permanently, whomever it wants. This is censorship...


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