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In Paris Presser, FMs Ignore Yemen, Kerry Praises Saudi, Ayrault on Invisible Envoy

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 13 -- The UN Secretariat's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below.

  And at the March 13 press conference of US John Kerry, French Jean-Marc Ayrault, Italy's Paolo Gentiloni and the foreign minister of Germany, Yemen barely came up.

Kerry mentioned it only in connection with his talks with Saudi Arabia -- no mention that the Saudis are responsible for two thirds of deaths, according even to the UN's Prince Zeid -- and Al Jazeera, cutting away, mentioned only Syria and Libya. France 24 wasn't even covering the press conference, stuck on an old show about Asia.

  Kerry spoke of medical aid in Syria; Inner City Press has been reporting -- even as the UN Secretariat ousts and harasses it -- on a developing resolution in the UN Security Council. The Saudi Ambassador said UNOCHA does not even want an aid access resolution on Yemen; the UN has not contradicted it.

  France's Ayrault spoke mechanically of support for Ban Ki-moon's envoy on Yemen. But where is he? Marginalized, irrelevant, see below.

  It ended with Italy's Gentiloni speaking about, what else, Libya. Yemen is an after-thought, if that.

  On March 5 Inner City Press published another exclusive: UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's email to UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, which contradicts what envoy Ould Cheikh Ahmed most recently told the Security Council. The email exclusively published by Inner City Press shows flexibility on the Houthi side, with the prospects of meeting in Jordan or Morocco, while the Saudis insist on sending low level representation. The email is published in full, below.

 On March 7, two days after exclusively publishing Envoy IOCA's email to Feltman, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about it. He did not deny the email, instead saying that the envoy is working hard.

 But on March 8, when lead UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric gave a read-out of whom the Envoy met in Riyahd, there were no Houthis mentioned.

 Inner City Press then asked Dujarric of the multiply-sourced Houthi - Saudi meetings: was Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed not even involved? If he was, why were the Houthis not included in Dujarric's litany of the Envoy's meetings? Vine here. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: On Yemen, you'd said that the envoy had been in Riyadh.  Yesterday, I'd asked Farhan [Haq] about this email that the envoy had written to Jeff Feltman about his discussions with the Houthis.  And now there's a report that the Houthis are, in fact, now in Riyadh and met at some level with the Saudis.  So, since the Houthis weren't listed in your readout of interlocutors, does he have anything to do with that, or is that a track outside of mediation--

Spokesman Dujarric:  We've seen these reports.  This is something that the Special Envoy has been encouraging for quite some time.  What's your second question?

An hour later in the UN Lobby Inner City Press asked UN OCHA's Stephen O'Brien about what Saudi Arabia's ambassador said March 4, that OCHA does not want a humanitarian access UNSC resolution for Yemen.

  I hadn't seen that, O'Brien politely replied. Inner City Press encouraged him, then, to check it out - the video's on YouTube. Watch this site.

 And dissembling to the Security Council? Likewise, Inner City Press asked Haq about the Saudi Permanent Representative to the UN saying that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and senior leadership of Stephen O'Brien's OCHA, privately said no humanitarian access resolution by the Security Council is needed.

  Haq insisted to Inner City Press that what O'Brien said in the open session was his position. But Inner City Press pointed out, O'Brien said the "humanitarian IT equipment" the Saudis seized would be delivered to Aden by March 6 - whereas Haq on March 7 said "later this week."

  Inner City Press asked Haq to confirm or deny at least the delivery of the humanitarian IT equipment, by email since Haq's "squawks" over the press floor public address system don't reach it, with UN DPI Banning ICP from its longtime office (petition here). We'll see.

 Here is the email:

"Dear Jeff, I just completed a 2-day visit in Riyadh and wanted to give you a quick update on how things have developed since my discussions with H/Mohamed AbdelSalam last week in Muscat.

I had a private discussion with both State Minister Mussaeed Al Ayban and Abu Ali where I briefed them on the readiness of the Houthis to resume discrete face-to-face meetings with KSA representatives. While they welcomed the progress made and expressed their commitment to go ahead with this track, they also emphasized that:

i) in light of the progress the Coalition has been making on the ground and their advance toward Sanaa, the Houthis should seize this opportunity and discuss in good faith as they are in a weaker position on the ground and their options are narrowing;

ii) KSA will not consider elevating the level of their representation in the KSA-H talks, as Mohamed AbdelSalam had requested. KSA considers that the 2 representatives they are sending are at the level of Mohammed AbdelSalam and the Houthis should not expect a higher representation at this point;

iii) KSA accepted the proposal of Mohamed AbdelSalam to meet in a third country (Jordan). Mohamed Abe Assalem has suggested to me either Morocco or Jordan as the venue.

 I immediately called Mohemad AbdelSalam from Riyadh to share the outcomes of the meeting. He was going to talk to his leadership and revert to me with a confirmation. If the Houthis accept, the Houthi - KSA meeting could go ahead as early as next week, in Jordan. We of course would not participate nor be present. I have however already started coordination with the Jordan Ambassador to Yemen, as needed.

Although we still do not have an agreement for a new cessation of hostilities, we have continued to press for commitment to the De-Escalation and Coordination Committee (DCC), and a range of economic initiatives (especially in relation to the Central Bank's independence and the reactivation of the Social Welfare Fund).

In my meeting with the GoY delegation, I continued to impress upon them the importance of participation of the GoY in the DCC, and to training which we are planning to organize in Amman during the coming weeks. The UK Ambassador informed me that Foreign Minister and Head of GoY delegation AbdelMalik El Mikhalfi today had responded positively to his suggestion.

There are been positive developments on economic initiatives which I have supported as well. Foreign Minister Mikhalfi participated in the Central Bank board meeting last week in Amman together with the Minister for Finance and the CB Governor. DPM/MoFA Mikhalfi acknowledged that significance of the Governor's attendance from Sanaa and was very grateful for my personal efforts to secure his participation with the Houthis, which was seen by the GoY as an important confidence building measure. Mikhalfi agreed on the necessity of developing further economic initiatives including the support for the SWF and SFD. My office is working with the UNCT, World Bank and IMF in order to ensure a sufficient level of technical support for these proposals.

 I am now in Nouakchott for 4 days where I need to renew my G4 visa and will proceed to New York on 16 February ahead of the SC briefing. I intend to remain in NYC until 22 February in order to meet with key Member States and HQ officials. I plan to also travel to Washington DC 19 February and hold meetings there. I look forward to seeing you in New York in a few days.
Best regards, Ismail."

  The above email was sent on February 11 and contradicts what Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the Security Council; meanwhile Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the UN told the press on March 4 that envoy IOCA does NOT want a humanitarian access resolution.

 In the UN Security Council on the Yemen sanctions resolution adopted on February 24, language was added to try to discourage the Panel of Experts from looking into the act of the Saudi-led Coalition. Concessions were made, of a kind not made for or about other countries under sanctions.

  (Inner City Press had to follow the process from outside the UN, literally, the park on 43rd Street across First Avenue, because only days after Inner City Press asked why the UN was so quiet about false claims of Iranian military equipment in a UN WFP aid ship, Inner City Press was summarily thrown out of the UN for seeking three weeks earlier to cover an event in the UN Press Briefing Room, and Banned, without due process. Petition here.)

  On March 4 in the same UN Press Briefing Room, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi held an unscheduled press conference to announce that OCHA, whose Yemen pick up the pieces campaign Saudi Arabia largely funds, does not think there's a need for a humanitarian access resolution. If true, some will say that OCHA has been bought.

 Inner City Press asked al-Mouallimi why his Yemeni counterpart had claimed to Inner City Press, on the record, that the WFP ship the Saudis seized contained "Iranian military equipment"?

Al-Mouallimi said, among other things, the ship DID come from Iran... and the equipment wasn't on the manifest and was "hidden."

Inner City Press asked him about cluster bomb use; he denied it and many media printed that quote, without more. Inner City Press asked him, if opposed to the UN Panel of Experts looking into the impacts of the Saudi Coalition, who should do it? This was not answered, except to again emphasize how tied the PoE is to the underlying, one-sided resolution.

 At the end, Inner City Press asked Mouallimi to encourage the Yemen / Hadi delegation to hold its press session in this same UN Press Briefing Room, and not for Gulf and Western UNCA scribes only, a spoonfed breakfast,  see below. Al-Mouallimi said he would convey the request. We'll see.

 On March 1, back in on a reduced access pass, Inner City Press asked UN OCHA official John Ging about taking "aid" money from Saudi Arabia while it blasts away at Yemen. Video here.

 Ging said these two are "ring fenced," and that the UN doesn't allow Saudi Arabia to put conditions on aid or where it is delivered.
 
  Inner City Press asked, what about the Saudi threat that aid workers should leave Houthi-controlled areas? Ging said the UN had pushed back.

But quietly, as was the case with the Saudi diversion of the WFP ship. Does money talk?  Apparently yes.

On March 3, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq about something Ging's boss Stephen O'Brien had just said (video link here)

   The Yemen "government," which under UN rules could hold a press conference for all journalists in the UN Press Briefing Room, has instead chosen to invited only members of the Gulf and Western media dominated UN Correspondents Association to a spin session. We've put the leaked invitation online here; here's some of the text:

Dear Colleagues,

UNCA is extending an invitation sent from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Yemen, to a light breakfast briefing with a public diplomacy delegation on their visit to New York to discuss the current political situation in Yemen, on Tuesday, March 8th at 9:00am at the mission (413 East 51st street). Please see the attached invitation to RSVP.

Giampaolo Pioli, UNCA President

The focus of the annexed invitation is on "IHL and HRL violations of the Houthi - Saleh rebels." This is UNCA: this is how the UN works, or doesn't. (The spoonfed Hadi breakfast was later canceled, or "postponed.")

On March 3, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq why UN OCHA official Stephen O'Brien said he was "pleased" when Saudi Arabia, which funds O'Brien's Yemen appeal, continues to hold the UN's "humanitarian IT equipment" at least under March 6, after Yemen's Ambassador - sure to be present at the spoon-fed breakfast for UNCA - said was Iranian military equipment.

Yemen's Hadi Gov Invites UNCA on "IHL and HL violations of the Houthi - Saleh rebels" Over Breakfast by Matthew Russell Lee

  UNCA played a role in the UN's ouster of Inner City Press, and is now linked to at least two anonymous troll Twitter accounts trying to defend the ouster. This too is how the UN works: UN Censorship Alliance.   In action.
 This same UNCA board in December 2015 offered up seats with Ban Ki-moon for $6,000, after arranging for indicted Ng Lap Seng a photo op with Ban. Covering the organization is entirely legitimate, whatever the UN says, now more than ever with the spoonfed breakfast of Yemen spin.

 

  On October 26 Inner City Press reported that its sources exclusively told it of a new low, that the UN brought into Sana'a what the Houthis call two members of US intelligence, with the cover identification that they work for the company running the former hotel now occupied by the UN. But, the sources say, security in Sana'a recognized the two and they are now detained.

  On October 30, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, video here, transcript here and below. Dujarric acknowledged he knew about two "contractors."

 On November 2, amid wire reports derivative and worse, Inner City Press followed up, video here, UN transcript here.

 Meanwhile on November 2 the US Statement Department was referring questions to this UNresponsive UN: "Were aware of those reports. Due to privacy considerations, Im not going to comment on them...  I would direct your questions to the UN."

  After Inner City Press' October 26 report and October 30 noon briefing questions, on October 31 Reuters "reported" a piece citing an unnamed UN spokesperson about two "contractors," with no mention of the Houthis claim they work with US intelligence, which by now had also been reported, along with Inner City Press' October 30 Q&A with Dujarric, by Al-Akhbar.

  But it's worse. Reuters initially (mis) reported that "'Two contractors have been detained and the Deputy Secretary-General (Jan Eliasson) is looking into it,' a U.N. spokesman said without elaborating or confirming if the two were American citizens."

  Then a day after that, Reuters blamed the UN for its correction to "'Two contractors have been detained and DSS (Department of Safety and Security) is looking into it,' said a U.N. spokesman."

  It would seem the UN spokesman, left unnamed by Reuters, said "DSS" and Reuters mis-heard it as "DSG," didn't note it would be strange for the UN's second highest official to be on two contractors when lower official Herve Ladsous is the one who made a call for 13 contractors in South Sudan.

 But Reuters, including the Thomson Reuters Foundation Trust.org, running its correction, says "UN corrects source of information in second paragraph." So the UN made the mistake?

 This is the same Reuters which on Friday regurgitated a UN report which Inner City Press had reported and asked the UN about fully two weeks earlier, same Reuters which refused to make public its policies, and tries to censor its anti Press complaints to the UN, here. We'll have more on this.

 We'll have more on this.

  Meanwhile the Houthis are denouncing UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad and his (mis) representation to the Security Council regarding what they agreed to. This has happened before and the goal seems to be delay to allow for more air strikes. There's work of mercenaries, in essence, including from Colombia in Aden, joining the troops from ICC-indicted Sudan.

 A new level of dysfunction was hit with the deployment in Aden of hundreds of troops from Sudan, putting ICC-indicted Omar al-Bashir on the same side as the US and UK. (Inner City Press is exclusively informed that "UN" envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is working on a similar Saudi deal with his native Mauritania, see below.)

  On September 10, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft if the UK had met with the Houthis and GPC in Muscat, without the UN Envoy present. Video here.

  Meanwhile Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed says the same parties will now meet with him. Replay?

  On September 9, Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, transcript here.

 

 On August 12, Inner City Press asked Yemen Permanent Representative, outside the Council meeting, questions ranging from the destruction of schools and health care facilities in Sa'ada by Saudi airstrikes to when, according to him, the Houthis might be "driven" out of Sa'ana. Video here. He said in a few weeks - and added that the Oman talks were "not UN."

 So how then might the parties negotiate? UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was headed back to Riyadh. That seems to be his base, where he works from - and for? Watch this site.

   After publishing its multi-sourced story, Inner City Press on July 22 asked the UN's Associate Spokesperson about new APC and weapons in Aden, and if Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is on vacation. Video here. She replied that she would check - but did not revert with any response either way.

  So on July 23, amid reports that without Cheikh Ahmed or any UN presence talks were occurring about Yemen in Cairo, Inner City Press asked, here.

  On June 25, Inner City Press asked new UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien three questions about Yemen: cholera, the destruction of ambulances in Sa'ada and about international staff. Video here.

  O'Brien replied that cholera is a risk; he had no information on WHO it was that destroyed the ambulances in Sa'ada (we can guess.) On international staff, which the UN evacuated earlier, he spoke of a rise from 17 to 70, with the goal of getting to 200. He would not say if they are anywhere in the country outside of Sana'a, citing security. But at least he spoke - the Free UN Coalition for Access thanked him.


 

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