Envoy to Somalia Denies He's a Target and that War Crimes
Are on Both Sides
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 29 -- More than a week after the Al Shabaab insurgents
out from the parts of Somalia that they control some segments
of the UN system, notably UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah and the UN
Development Program, the UN still refuses to speak or apparently
to think about why it became a target.
Inner City Press asked Ould
Abdallah to respond to accusations that he has, in essence, taken
sides in a civil war, and made himself a target. Ould Abdallah
responded by asking, "You support the Islamists?" Video
from Minute 12:06.
responded that it was asking for his and the UN's response to the
statements of one of the parties in Somalia. UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights Navi Pillay has said, through her spokesman Rupert
Colville, that "both sides were reported to have used torture
and to have fired mortars indiscriminately into areas populated or
frequented by civilians... The High Commissioner believed that some
of these acts might amount to war crimes."
asked Ould Abdallah if he acknowledged that the forces of the
Transitional Federal Government which he supports, and also of the
AMISON African Union, have at time fired mortars into civilian areas.
"I don't like to introduce AMISOM as a part of a problem,"
Ould Abdallah said. Video here,
from Minute 16:06.
But isn't it the
UN's role to speak out against the killing of civilians by either
side? Rather than answer the questions about his neutrality, and
relatedly about the efficacy of his diplomacy, Ould Abdallah joked
that he is neutral because when he arrived in Somalia he said he
would not engage in local politics, would not engage in business and
would not get married in Somalia.
refusing to speak up about, and
in fact covering up, killing of civilians by one or more of the armed
forces in Somalia shows a lack of neutrality. And Ould Abdallah's
still unexplained role in
the joint Law of the Sea Continental Shelf
filing of the Kenyan Government and the TFG, funded by oil-exploring
country Norway, constitutes business in the view of some.
told Inner City Press, next time we go to meet with the Islamists we
will take you. In mid 2008, Inner City Press covered the Security
Council's trip to the Somalia talks in Djibouti, top heavy with TFG
officials who flew in from London. Business was done, in a $400 a night
waterfront Kampinski Hotel. The Press stayed elsewhere.
the looting of his Office in Baidoa, in connection with al Shabaab
ordering him and UNDP to get out, Ould Abdallah said it was mere
theft of private property with, as a "bandage," statements
against him. This is called, by some, being in denial.
in denial is
which on July 28 told Inner City Press that "UNDP
programmes and operations continue uninterrupted in Somalia."
But it was looted and ordered out of the former TFG capital, Baidoa.
Ould Abdallah previously in front of the Council
Abdallah is a
funny man. Wednesday he drew laughter when he called Somali piracy a
form of hedge fund. But he did not state what if anything he has done
about the problem on non-Somalis engaging in illegal fishing off the
coast, or dumping toxic waste on the shore.
This was by
his count his
fourth or fifth briefing
of the Security Council and the press in the
past 20 months. The situation is hardly better. Perhaps the bombast,
the willful blindness and yes, the lack of neutrality, are part of
On July 28, as Inner City Press passed through the UN's 37th floor
Peacekeeping Office on route to a briefing about the UN's New Horizon
plan, Ould Abdallah asked, who invited you here? He added, with a
smile, "You are impossible." Others say that he is impossible -- including to
discipline or replace. A Ban Ki-moon advisor from the 38th floor told
Inner City Press that
following Ould Abdallah's comments that the media should not report
of the killing of civilians by AMISOM forces, he was told by the UN
in New York to issue an apology, but refused to.
The source marveled
at, and offered an explanation of, why Ould Abdallah is allowed to
get away with it. The answer does not make this UN look good. Watch
* * *
Somalia, As UNDP Is Expelled by Shabaab, UN's Ban Claims Target is
Matthew Russell Lee
NATIONS, July 21, updated --
The day after Al Shabaab in Somalia attacked and
targeted for expulsion three UN system agencies, specifically
excluding other UN agencies from the ban, the UN put out a statement
on July 21 that 'the Secretary General condemns the looting yesterday
of UN offices in Somalia [which] target the whole gamut of UN peace
and humanitarian operations in Somalia."
the UN and
Ban Ki-moon might wish the statement were true, it is dubious. Al
Shabaab, as they did in earlier attacks on the UN Development
Program, picked a particular part and approach of the UN system. UNDP
was the middle man for unnamed, largely European and former
colonialist funders of the armed forces, with questionable human
rights records, which defended the Transitional Federal
contrast, as Inner City Press asked
about last week, the
UN World Food Program recently met with Al Shabaab, seemingly
connected to WFP staying in the country.
will say, as
its paid defenders have, that it takes sides in this civil war and
chooses the TFG because it is entity the UN helped set up. But with
so many of its parliamentarians not even living in Somalia, the TFG's
credibility is questionable. And UNDP insiders tell Inner City Press
that UNDP's reason for siding with the TFG is not unrelated to the
fact that UNDP had make fees as middleman on funding to the TFG,
while Al Shabaab is not getting, or even asking, for international
UNDP's Helen Clark and WTO's Pascal Lamy on
July 4, answers on Somalia and other UNDP questions not shown
legitimate reasons why one part of the UN system -- in this case,
UNDP, Ould Abdallah's UNPOS
and Department of Safety and
Security -- takes sides in a civil war and get thrown out of the
country, while another part (WFP, UNICEF and others) speaks with both
sides and stays in. A debate on these two approaches might be
helpful. Instead, the UN rushes out a blurry statement which is
inaccurate on its face, and expects that nothing will be said.
is time for
UNDP and its no longer so new Executive Director Helen Clark to come
and take Press questions. There are been developments with regard to
UNDP's involvement in diamond mining in Zimbabwe, and
over-compensation of consultants. Written questions put to UNDP have
been pending for months. Watch this site.
* * *
In Somalia, UNDP Said to Take Sides, No
Financial Answers, UN Post Intrigue
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of
Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
March 24 -- Optimism about Somalia
is a new trend in and around the in UN in New York. Days after the country's
new foreign minister -- himself British -- told the Press outside the
Council that one month of receipts from the Mogadishu port portends
the paychecks of the Transitional Federal Government's ever multiplying
of parliamentarians, the International Peace Institute presented two
both upbeat about the negotiations in Djibouti and the UN which
As at the
Council, however, no one would say
how much the UN paid, from or to whom. IPI's
two presenters, Ken Menkhaus of Davidson College and Somali expert
both said that the Shabaab rebels are on the run, the port is in
hands and the future is rosy. Inner City Press asked for an assessment
performance of UN envoy Ahmedou Ould Abdallah and the UN's Group of
sanctions. The former called for a moratorium on reporting from
later reported a few years ago that Somali militants were in South
training, which made more Somali-watchers laugh.
defended the Group of Experts recent work, dismissing the Lebanon error
-- circa 2006 -- as "in the distant past." He did, however, sound a
cautionary note about the role of the UN Development Program, which he
been paying the salaries of security forces in Somalia. Abdulle added
UN paid to transport the bloated Somali TFG contingent from Djibouti to
Mogadishu. On Friday, Inner
City Press' question to Ould Abdallah about what
the UN pays for in Somalia was referred, through his spokesperson Susie
to UNDP. Four days after promising an answer, UNDP has still not
Somalia's FM in UNSC on March 20, financial
disclosure not shown
noted the attack on UNDP last year, and said the agency is perceived as
sides. Perhaps this partiality is mirrored in an unwillingness to
financial information about what it spends in Somalia, and on what.
Footnote: The head
of IPI, Terje Roed Larsen, was
not in attendance on Tuesday. Inner City Press has asked UN
reaction to Syria's critique of Roed Larsen as exceeding him mandate as
envoy under Security Council resolution 1559. Roed Larsen is also one
most senior UN officials who has rebuffed Ban Ki-moon's call to make
financial disclosure. Now, Roed Larsen's wife Mona Juul is rumored as a
but failed candidate for the vacant Assistant Secretary General post in
Department of Political Affairs vacated by Angela Kane. The post,
is slated for UNDP's previous Middle East operative, Oscar Fernandez
Taranco, well imbued in UNDP's culture.
Click here for Inner City
Press March 12 UN debate
Click here for Inner City
Press' Feb 26 UN debate
12 debate on Sri Lanka http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/17772?in=11:33&out=32:56
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.
* * *
usually also available through Google
News and on Lexis-Nexis.
for a Reuters
AlertNet piece by this correspondent
about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click
for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali
Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an
undefined trust fund. Video
Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017
earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available
in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.
2006-08 Inner City Press, Inc. To request
reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]