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On Yemen, Kaag Sees & Says Hadi in Riyadh Since 2015, Griffiths Went For Saudi Interview

By Matthew Russell Lee, Video, 1st Person

UNITED NATIONS, February 19 – Amid the continued killing of civilians in Yemen the UN Security Council will met on February 27. In the run-up, Dutch minister Sigrid Kaag, a former UN official, met with Hadi. In Dutch her tweet said Hadi has been staying in Riyadh since 2015, but this was not in her English tweet, photos here. Meanwhile Inner City Press is exclusively informed that the new UN envoy on Yemen, Martin Griffiths, had a try-out of sorts with the Saudis before UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres rubber stamped him, and that this try-out involved a trip to Saudi Arabia and a sort of interview. Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the process, whether penholder the UK (which has denied in full Inner City Press' Freedom of Information Act request about Yemen and Cameroon after 170 days, see below) nominated its national Griffiths. While Dujarric typically did not answer, the better question it seems is whether Saudi Arabia, despite some obfuscation about wanting an Arab envoy, nominated or co-nominated him. We'll have more on this. The United Kingdom's murky role in the killings in Yemen persist even in the face of a Freedom of Information Act request from Inner City Press.

More than five months ago on 15 August 2017 Inner City Press asked the UK government for records concerning Yemen. The UK sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, and has now implanted a UK citizen as UN envoy on Yemen in the person of Martin Griffiths (Inner City Press story and questions here.) After repeatedly extending the time to response, now the UK has denied access to all responsive records, letter here, saying that "the release of information relating to the UK’s discussion on UN business could harm our relations and other member states of the United Nations (UN)." And on February 16, the UN belatedly confirmed that British Martin Griffiths is the man, and UK Boris Johnson immediately applauded (while withholding all documents). Johnson said, “I welcome the appointment of Martin Griffiths to the role of UN Special Envoy for Yemen. Mr Griffiths brings a wealth of experience from several high profile UN positions in the region, and is a leading expert on international mediation and conflict resolution." At the UN noon briefing on February 16 Inner City Press asked about this record, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on Yemen now that you've said that… that Mr. Griffiths is the one.  I had asked you before something about vetting about his previous position at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, where it's reported at least that there was sort of some fraud… missing money at the end of his tenure and I wanted to know two things.  One, whether this was looked at, and two, whether you can say, given that the penholder now also has… is… is the nationality of the… of the… of the envoy, and I ask this because having…  having FOIA-ed [Freedom of Information Act] the UK and been denied in full, what was the role of the penholder in… in nominating Mr. Griffiths as the… as the envoy? Spokesman:  Mr. Griffiths will serve as United Nations staff member with all the duties of independence that that will… that brings with it.  So, Mr. Griffiths is not there to serve the purposes of the United Kingdom or anyone else.  He's there to represent the Secretary-General and serve the United Nations.  The nomination proposing Mr. Griffiths to the Security Council was made by the Secretary-General.  As far as the first part of your question, I think what you raised, everybody was aware of, and as far as I know, Mr. Griffiths was never accused of any wrongdoing personally, and I know he will serve the United Nations well, with honour and with integrity." We'll see.

Here on Patreon is the full UK denial letter, from which Inner City Press is preparing an appeal, on Cameroon as well - it has 40 working days.

This is shameful - the UK is also exiting transparency.

As Inner City Press pursues these questions at the UN, it remains restricted to minders by the head of the UN Department of Public Information Alison Smale, who it is noted is British - and functionally a censor. A retaliator, too? Smale has not explained why Inner City Press' long time work space is assigned to no-show, no-question Egyptian state media Akhbar al Youm.

On Cameroon and Yemen, UK Denies Inner City Press FOIA Request After 170 Days, Preparing to Appeal, 40 Work... by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd


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