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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On Libya, UN Stonewalls on Flights of Volunteer Envoy, Confirms Vandewelle

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 12 -- The UN's engagement on Libya has come slightly more into focus, though still vague on money. On Monday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's envoy on Libya Abdul Ilah Al-Khatib told Inner City Press that he is still a “proud” Senator in his native Jordan, and works for the UN only as a volunteer.

On Tuesday, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm that Khatib demands and receives UN planes to fly from Jordan to locations other than Libya, and that he has UN-paid staff in Libya. Nesirky defended the flights without yet providing information, including if the planes come of the UN missions in the Congo or Sudan:

Inner City Press: At the stakeout yesterday, Mr. [Abdul Ilah] al-Khatib clarified and said he is now, he is a volunteer and remains a senator in Jordan. And I just, I don’t want to belabour it, except to say that some say there is still kind of a… the issue of serving both the UN and a Government at the same time, they’re not sure there is a precedent for that and think that OLA [Office for Legal Affairs] may have criticized it. And also I wanted to know whether in fact he’s flown, requests or demands a UN plane to fly from Jordan to various meetings not in Libya and also has UN staff in Jordan. What’s kind of the cost and what’s the… is the thinking, if he doesn’t personally receive a salary, there is no possible conflict of interest with being a sitting politician in a country in the region?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I think Mr. Al-Khatib can speak for himself on that particular topic, and evidently did so yesterday. That’s the first thing. Second is that, of course, a special envoy working on a topic as high profile and complicated as this one could be expected to have people supporting him from the Department of Political Affairs, and that is certainly the case.

Inner City Press: his staff is someone that worked for him in the past? Was it a UN staff member forwarded to Amman? ... Is this a new trend?

Spokesperson: Well, let’s not extrapolate from one particular case. This is an important role that Mr. Al-Khatib has and is carrying out. He is widely respected in the region; he knows the players in the region and evidently has access to them, too. And that’s clearly, in the present circumstances, rather important. He obviously also needs to travel, not just to Libya but to other countries in the region. And another one would be, for example, the Contact Group meeting that’s going to take place in Istanbul. That’s quite normal and understandable for someone who is working on a topic in a role where he is precisely supposed to be coordinating and liaising between different groups and seeking to mediate a solution to this crisis.

Inner City Press: Do the planes… just one last thing, do the planes come from UNMIS [United Nations Mission in the Sudan] or from [MONUSCO in the Congo]

Spokesperson: I’d need to check what planes are used, if any. I would need to check on that. I don’t know the answer.

  Seven hours later, no answer had yet been provided.

Ban meets his envoy, now a volunteer, UN planes & staff not shown

  One answer that Nesirky's office did belatedly come up with concerned the UN's hiring of Dartmouth profession Dirk Vandewelle. Twice Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq declined to confirm the hiring, which a UN source told Inner City Press was "pathetic." On Tuesday, Nesirky's office belatedly sent this:

Subject: Your question on Dirk Vandenwalle
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:03 AM
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your questions from last week, we can confirm that Dirk Vandenwalle is working with Ian Martin's team dealing with the transition in Libya. He was hired as a consultant.

  But as what cost? And as some wonder, why would a Special Adviser need Political Advisers? Watch this site.

* * *

On Libya, UN “Volunteer” Envoy Khatib Dodges Arms Drops, Waits for Tripoli

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 11 -- After briefing the UN Security Council on Libya for more than two hours, Ban Ki-moon's envoy Abdul Elah Al-Khatib emerged to take questions from the press. After he read three points from note cards, Inner City Press asked him about France's admitted arm drop of weapons into the Nafusa Mountains, and if he is still a Jordan senator while functioning as the UN's envoy.

  Al Khatib to his credit took this question first, saying “since it has been troubling you,” he wanted to clarify that he is a “volunteer,” he is not a UN staff member but it still a “proud” Senator of Jordan.

  On weapons drops, he called these rumors. Inner City Press followed up that France has acknowledged dropping weapons into Libya. This is up to the Security Council, he said, he is looking for a political solution.

  Earlier, Inner City Press asked the spokesperson of a Western Council member if in the closed door consultations how Khatib works -- or does not work -- with the UN's full time Special Adviser on Libya Ian Martin had come up. Apparently it did.

  Ian Martin, despite Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office refusal to confirm it, has hired Dartmouth professor Dirk Vandewalle as a “Political Adviser.” Some says the UN's engagement on Libya lacks coherence. Who's running the show: the full time Adviser with the part time unacknowledged political adviser, or the volunteer?

As the meeting broke up, French Permanent Representative Gerard Araud was asked, “the Libyan rebels are saying there's been a change of heart by France.” He didn't turn, didn't say a word. He was asked, “Is that a no comment?” No response to that, either.

UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant stopped and said that Khatib told Council members he is waiting to hear back from those he met with in Tripoli. Watch this site.

* * *

While France "Parachuting" Weapons into Libya is Criticized, UN Committee Does Not Act: Not "Masochistic," Chair Says

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, July 7 -- During an hour-long meeting of the Libya Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council behind closed doors on Thursday afternoon, France's admitted dropping of weapons into Libya's Nafusa Mountains was criticized by Council members including Russia, South Africa and India, as violating the arms embargo in Resolution 1970.

  But afterward when Inner City Press asked the Committee's chairman, Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral, if the committee's requirement of consensus means that France could block any formal condemnation of its actions, Cabral said “we're not a kind of masochistic society.”

  One of the representatives criticizing France, who told Inner City Press that on this topic four spoke against France and three to varying degrees in support, said that “if a Permanent member violates sanctions, what can you do?”

  The representative pointed to paragraphs 13-16 of Resolution 1970 and said that if France thought that its provision of weapons into Libya was legal, it had a procedure to use, but didn't.

  Another delegation went further, saying that France “parachuted” weapons in, not knowing if they might fall into the hands of Al Qaeda, and asking, “why not weapons of mass destruction, too?” This representative said of Cabral, “He has to be serious, this is a precedent -- if you are not going to enforce them, why even have a committee on sanctions?”

  Inner City Press asked Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative what had been accomplished in the meeting. Pankin distinguished between interpretation -- “legal stuff” -- and the practical, that objections were voiced and “I hope we will not have such a [case] again, that's the most practical.” We'll see.

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

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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