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At UN, Vote at 6 on Libya Text “Excluding Occupation Force,” Mentioning Benghazi

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 -- On Libya, the UN Security Council is “firmly” set to vote on a resolution at 6 pm on Thursday. A Western spokesman told the Press that the text to be voted on includes “all necessary measures.”

Further reporting by Inner City Press indicates that the text to be voted on specifically mentions Benghazi, and “exclud[es] any occupation force,” an attempt to prohibit so called “boots on the ground.” But some are still arguing that with the passage of time, an intervention force could be construed as not “occupying.”

  A Western spokesperson on Thursday afternoon told Inner City Press that "the text may change before six pm."

  French Ambassador Gerard Araud came out and predicted “one than one” abstention. But would Russia (dare) veto?

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin had emerged from the Council Wednesday night complaining about being portrayed as obstructionist when he had made a proposal for a resolution calling for a ceasefire, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

When Inner City Press on Wednesday night asked Susan Rice why, she said the previous Council resolution 1970 had already made such a call, which Gadhafi had ignored. On Thursday morning, Araud made the same critique of the Russian proposal.

While some had speculated that Araud's announcement Thursday morning that France was calling for a vote at 6 pm was based on the travel schedule of new French foreign minister Alain Juppe, who decided on Wednesday to fly to New York.

But Araud on Thursday afternoon said that it was Susan Rice who asked for the 6 pm timing of the vote. Araud said “we are gentlemen;” when a reported called Rice a gentle woman, Araud chimed in “and a charming one.”

Rice herself refused to make any predictions of the 6 pm vote, saying she is superstitious. She was wearing a green jacket: it is, after all, St. Patrick's Day. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN, France Asks for 6pm Vote, Says “Land” Is Not In Resolution, Spin

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 17 -- France has called for a vote at six pm Thursday on a Libya resolution they finalized late Wednesday night, French Permanent Representative to the UN Gerard Araud told the Press on Thursday morning.

  Asked if the French draft includes reference to “air, sea and land” -- a phrase being circulated by the US -- Araud said “No, not this particular element.” Later he said the omission wouldn't “change the substance.” But what does that mean?

  Western -- read, non-US -- diplomats quickly clarified to their national press that they are asking for everything short of “boots on the ground.”

Multiple requests to Council diplomats for a copy of the current draft, which France continues to refer to as being “in blue,” that is, final, were met with excuses that “one delegation” has been particularly angry at leaks of drafts.

It's being argued that since the Council hopes to show that elusive unity -- not on display Wednesday night between Russia's Ambassador Churkin and at least Susan Rice of the US, who explained on the record why the Russian proposed ceasefire did not go far enough -- making the draft public would “only help Gadhafi.”

Gadhafi over Gillard & Rudd,  no fly zone and boots not shown, h/t AdelaideNow

  The result is that Western capitals, including the US, are able to spin their press corps with their own version of what the draft says, and what they are seeking at the UN.

  France is even sending its new foreign minister Alain Juppe to the UN today, with a stakeout scheduled for 3:30 pm. Nicolas Sarkozy is said to be planning a trip to Japan. Will he singlehandedly cool the nuclear rods? Vive la France! And watch this site.

Update of 11:20 am -- Susan Rice and Vitaly Churkin hugged in front of the Press on the stairways to the UN Security Council. One in entourage asked, where are the cameras? Watch this site.

* * *

On Libya, Rice Explains Rejection of Russian Ceasefire Proposal, Blame Game On

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- On Libya, Russia offered a ceasefire resolution and offered “Chapter Seven” of the UN Charter, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the Press on Wednesday evening when the UN Security Council meeting ended.

  Asked why other Council members did not all agree to the ceasefire proposal, Churkin told the Press that Russia does not describe other countries' positions, and to ask them.

  Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Susan Rice to explain opposition to Russia's ceasefire proposal. She said that there was a need for enforcement action, and that a call to end violence was already in the Council's previous Resolution 1970 on Libya.

  A Western spokesperson emerged and told the Press that since this earlier Council call for a cessation of violence had no effect, the Russian ceasefire resolution would have sent the wrong signal.

  Asked if the US now supports a no fly zone, Rice said the US is looking at a package that includes a no fly zone but goes beyond it.

  Rice did not list Arab countries which have offered to enforce a no fly zone. Ibrahim Dabbashi, the diplomat for Libya but not Gadhafi, said there are five such countries.

  Inner City Press has heard of four: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar, whose Permanent Representative and presumptive next President of the UN General Assembly came to visit the Council consultations on Wednesday, accompanied by a bodyguard.

  Accused of filibustering, Churkin denied it, saying this is not the US Senate or House of Representatives.

  Susan Rice, when asked if Churkin was filabustering to give Gadhafi more time answered, “What do you think?”

To some the proceedings have the aura of a blame game. Russia can now argue that it is not obstructionist, it offered a ceasefire resolution which was rejected.

The US can explain what many saw as its indecisiveness about calling for a no fly zone by saying that it wants MORE than a no fly zone.

And if Russia somehow blocks such a proposal -- the deployment of a veto seems unlikely -- the US could blame Russia for being obstructionist.

In the background, countries like India and even Germany have expressed reservations or questions about a no fly zone.

For now, Council members' experts will convene Thursday at 9 am, the Permanent Representative at 11 am. But what will happen in the next 13 hours in Libya? Watch this site.

* * *

As UN Council Slows on Libya, Dabbashi Says “10 Hours, Treki in Cairo"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 -- While the UN Security Council went through its five page draft resolutions paragraph by paragraph, Libyan diplomat Ibrahim Dabbashi came out to talk to the Press. He had prepared talking about, about Gadhafi using mercenaries “who fought in Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda,” from Niger, Mali (off camera) and Chad (on camera).

Chad's Permanent Representative has told Inner City Press that while they may be “individual Chadians” fighting with Gadhafi, the Deby government does not choose between him and the rebels.

On camera, Dabbashi said a Council resolution authorizing air strikes is needed “in ten hours.”

How many planes do you have?” Inner City Press asked Dabbashi. Enough, he said. He said the rebels' use of these planes has driven Gadhafi crazy.

After a series of questions about timing -- Dabbashi backed off the ten hour figure, ending up saying the revolutionaries are “not counting” on the Council -- Inner City Press asked him if the UN Secretariat has spoken to him about the letter from Gadhafi's government saying he and Shalgam no longer represent Libya, or if he thought the UN Secretariat now recognized the rebels as the government,as France has.

We are continuing our work with credentials, Dabbashi said.

He was asked, Where is Shalgam? He is here in New York, Dabbashi said.

Inner City Press asked, “Where is Treki?”

In Cairo,” Dabbashi quickly answered.

Hillary Clinton in Benghazi met with Ahmed Gebreel, who worked on Treki's transition into the Presidency of the GA. There is talk of the UN of Ali Treki, former President of the General Assembly, seeking to go into exile rather than come to New York to represent Gadhafi at the UN. But his family is still in Libya. Has there ever been an Ambassador at the UN under duress?

Dabbashi earlier at UN: now, only 10 hours? Recognized by UN?

A Western spokesperson emerged from the Council to say that the Council is going through the resolution paragraph by paragraph, given the urgency.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin came out and told press he was angry at being portrayed as an obstructionist. The buzz is that Russia by asking questions is seeking to slow things down. “They don't dare veto it,” a source said, “so they seek to slow it down.” But what about the US? Watch this site.

* * *

UN Libya Draft Paused on Whether All or Only Military Flights Would be Banned

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 15, update -- Which flights would a No Fly Zone over Libya actually ban? All or only military flights?

  Tuesday at the UN after Lebanon distributed a draft resolution that it said based based on the Arab League's decision, German Permanent Representative Wittig came out and told the Press that Germany questioned whether a no fly zone would be inconsistent with the Arab League's opposition to military intervention.

  When Tuesday's Security Council consultations ended, to be resumed on Wednesday, Inner City Press at the stakeout asked Lebanon's Ambassador about Germany's stated concern that a No Fly Zone could be foreign intervention.

  He said no, that “the Libyan people” and the Arab League asked for it, and if the UN Security Council authorized it, it could not be intervention.

  In the course of further reporting, informed Council sources told Inner City Press that issue in closed door consultations was that the Arab League, in Arabic, referred to banning military flights, while the version introduced at the UN in English would ban ALL flights. Lost in translation? Watch this site.

Update of 5:20 pm -- French Ambassador Gerard Araud did not echo his foreign minister Juppe's call to bomb Gadhafi's air fields in Libya, something that Lebanon's Ambassador seemed to speak against at the stakeout, hoping that approving a No Fly Zone would obviate the need to bomb.  Hey: Danish Foreign Affairs minister Lene Espersen has said Denmark stands ready, with four jets and 90 staff....

Update of 5:44 pm: India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Puri came out and told the Press pointedly that the draft would ban ALL flights -- but as Inner City Press first reported, is that what the Arab League has called for? In Arabic?

  Hardeep Singh also said that India might not have the right kind of assets to enforce a no fly zone.

Update of 5:59 pm -- when Chinese Permanent Representative Li Baodong, this month's Council president, came to the stakeout, Inner City Press asked him to confirm the closed door discussion of Arab League referring to military flights, not the "all" in the draft resolution. "You're raised a good question," he replies.  So this is one of the issues Lebanon has to check with the Arab League about overnight...

Update of 6:05 pm -- and now we have asked Lebanon's Mission to the UN, via their Twitter account, to answer when they can. New era? We'll see.Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

 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.

* * *

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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