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Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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At UN on Libya, Clash on Arming Rebels, Dutch In, Malta Stopped Greek Ship

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 29 -- Libya sanctions and arms embargo were the topics on Tuesday morning outside the Security Council, even as the meeting inside concerned Lebanon. The Netherlands has formally written in under Resolution 1973 to join the coalition, a well placed Council source exclusively told Inner City Press.

  An explanation of Malta's query to the Libya Sanctions Committee was finally gleaned, as another Inner City Press exclusive: Malta stopped a Greek ship from delivering petroleum products to a subsidiary of the Libyan national oil company.

  The subsidiary is not on the UN sanctions list. But it is on the European Union list. Malta 1, Greek ship 0.

Other battles are not so clear. Inner City Press asked India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri for India's position on if arming the Libyan rebels is permitted. No, he said, adding, and you can quote me. 

  Inner City Press asked Russian Permanent Representitive Vitaly Churkin, is arming the rebels permissible under Resolution 1973? No, he said, shaking his head. He noted that it had been the Americans themselves who asked for the arms embargo.

  While no answer was gleaned from US Permanent Representative Susan Rice despite a question proffered at 10:16 am as she entered the Council and 11:10 am when she left, it is understood that the US dispute an account of the negotiation of Paragraph 4 of Resolution 1973 in which Ambassador Rice said that the “notwithstanding” phrase was needed in case the US had to go in with weapons to save a downed pilot.

Susan Rice, Obama and Clinton, negotiation of Paragraph 4 and new position not shown

  The US, it is understood, says that referred to only precluding an occupation and not an intervention. But with Libyan Sanctions Committee chair Cabral now twice issuing an interpretation that arming the rebels is not permissible, Russia and India on the record and others with the same view, including China Inner City Press can report, could the US “just do it,” in the Nike phrase?

  Another member of the “Coalition” tells Inner City Press that while the “notwithstanding” phrase is somehow clear, his country believes that enforcing the no fly zone is the way to go.

  If somehow the no fly zone weren't being enforced, perhaps giving air defense equipment to the rebels could construed as protecting civilians. But to give offensive weapons? Even the non-US coalition member said no.

  But again: might the US “just do it,” in the Nike phrase?

Footnote: for President Obama's visit today to the UN, or the US Mission across First Avenue from the UN, press access has been limited to a “pool” from the White House press corps, as well as Mission selected journalists from the UN press corps.

  There's some grumbling, the substance of which is that a White House based reporter might miss some UN relevant details, including regarding which diplomats are invited. We'll have more on this.

* * *

UN Libya Sanctions Chair Says No Arms to Rebels, US Says It Can as Obama to NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 -- On the Libya arms embargo, things get more and more strange. On Monday Chairman Cabral of the UN Libya Sanctions Committee stated on camera that there is a full embargo on arms to Libya, including to the rebels.

  When he was told, as Inner City Press and other have been, that the UK is seeking a legal opinion, Cabral said this was just talk, and reiterated his reading of the resolution: a full arms embargo. This position has been echoed to Inner City Press by other Security Council members.

  How then can not only Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney on March 25, but also Defense Secretary Robert Gates on March 27, say that the UN resolutions have the flexibility to allow for arms transfers to the rebels?

  Skeptics at the UN say that if the George W. Bush administration was making such comments, there would howling about their contempt for international law and multi-lateralism. But now very little is being said. Would this silence continue if the US did in fact more to arm the rebels?

The US did not even raise the issue to debate it in the Sanctions Committee's first meeting on March 25, Inner City Press is reliably informed.

 At the March 28 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about two of the requests that were discussed in that meeting, by Belarus and Senegal:

Inner City Press: has Kuwait written a letter to the Council under resolution 1973 (2011)? And also, there are supposedly some notes verbale that went in and I wanted to know what… if you can confirm one from Belarus and Senegal, and describe what they concerned.

Spokesperson Nesirky: As you know, when we have had notifications that have gone through to the Council, then we have been advising you. I don’t have any update beyond the numbers that the Secretary-General used. And I know that the question was posed during the briefing on Friday; we don’t have any further update on notifications since then.

Inner City Press: And do you know, this thing on Ukraine, because you’ve been the one to announce Ukraine and then take it off, could we, just for the purposes of transparency, understand why it was on and then off?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, we did go through this a number of times, and I know it was raised again here on Friday. So, I don’t think we need to…

Inner City Press: But we didn’t really get to why did it go on and then come out.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as I mentioned to you before, there are different kinds of notification under the terms of the resolution. Some are relating to military action and others not. And so I think it needs to be seen in that context, as well. And if there are further updates, then obviously we will make sure that the people have those.

Inner City Press: And just also on Libya, on the Envoy, Mr. [Abdul Ilah] Khatib, I wanted to know a couple of things. I have been told that there is an OLA [Office for Legal Affairs] ruling that he cannot receive funds from Jordan and as a full-time Envoy at the same time. I wanted you to either confirm or deny that. And also that he has requested to work out of Amman, and has requested the use of private planes only.

Spokesperson Nesirky: As I have said to you, and as Farhan [Haq] said to you on Friday, there are some details that are still being worked out with regard to the contract, as Farhan mentioned to you on Friday. I don’t have anything to add to that at the moment.

While the UN Secretariat, ostensibly coordinating the action in Libya, still has not answered, Inner City Press can now report that another note verbal was submitted by Malta. We have made inquiries with the Maltese Mission and will report more on this.

President Barack Obama is slated to dedicate the new US Mission to the UN building on Tuesday afternoon. Some are wondering if, for the photo op, USUN has invited anti-Gaddafi Libyan diplomats Ibrahim Dabbashi and Shalgam, who while no longer representing Libya at the UN have been given courtesy passes by the Ban Ki-moon administration of the UN. Watch this site.

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UN Envoy Al Khatib Is On Board of Jordan Ahli Bank, Links With Libya Central Bank

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 -- In selecting Abdul Ilah al Khatib as the UN's envoy on Libya, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon moved quickly -- maybe too quickly.

 Since serving as the foreign minister of Jordan, describe even some close to Ban as an autocracy, al Khatib has served on the boards of director not only of Lafarge Jordan Cement Company but also of Jordan Ahli Bank.

Jordan Ahli Bank is active beyond that country's borders. A sample connection: along with Libyan Foreign Bank, a fully owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Libya, Jordan Ahli Bank is a top 20 shareholder of Union de Banques Arabes et Francaises.

   Could there be conflicts of interest? Did the UN's Ban administration even consider these?

   Ban previously claimed that 99% of his officials have made public financial disclosure. But when Inner City Press showed this is not true -- even Ban's close ally Choi Young-jin, his envoy in Cote d'Ivoire, declined to make public financial disclosure -- Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said Ban's statement had been “metaphorical.”

Now Ban names and injects al Khatib into a struggle about democracy and free press, when as Inner City Press noted yesterday

"Foreign Minister Abd al-Ilah al-Khatib in January initiated a criminal defamation suit against weekly newspaper al-Hilal's editor-in-chief Nasir Qamash and journalist Ahmad Salama. He [al-Khatib] objected to the content of a January article, and said his tribe had threatened to beat up Salama if he failed to take action. The case remains in the courts at this writing."

  By what process was al-Khatib vetted and selected? Watch this site.

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.

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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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