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Obama to Meet New Qatar Rep As Saudi, Bahrain & UAE Pull Theirs From Qatar, Belgium II

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- When US President Barack Obama receives the credential of Qatari Ambassador Mohammed Jaham al-Kuwari on March 10, it comes as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have pulled their own ambassadors from Qatar.

  At the UN, Inner City Press asked if Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had any comment on this split within the Gulf Cooperation Council, which Ban has praised for its work on Yemen.

  The UN's answer was no. (Afterward it was explained to Inner City Press, not by the UN, that Oman and Kuwait did not withdrew, the latter because chairing the GCC and the former in order to "be independent").

But Syria, during the UN's "Children and Armed Conflict" debate on March 7, noted the split, saying in essence that Qatar is even too extreme in its foreign policy, and too meddling, for its own similar neighbors.

  Mohammed Jaham al-Kuwari was previously Qatar's ambassador to France - can you say, Sarkozy? - and was named to the post in the US in December 2013.

 More than two months later comes the credentials ceremony, on the same same as the new ambassadors of Tunisia (Mhamed Ezzine Chelaifa), India (Subrahmanyam Jaishankar), Pakistan (Jalil Abbas Jilani), Papua New Guinea (Rupa Abraham Mulina) and Belgium's Johan Verbeke, whose short strange stint for the UN in Lebanon (and then Georgia) Inner City Press covered.

  On July 24, 2008 Inner City Press asked the UN's then spokesperson Michele Montas why Verbeke had not meaningfully deployed to Lebanon. Ms. Montas responded that "I can simply tell you that Mr. Verbeke had to go back home for personal reasons, family reasons, and that's why he was not in Lebanon."

  Inner City Press was told by well-placed Beirut sources that Mr. Verbeke faced threats to his safety, to such an extent that rather than rely on UN Security, he approached the Lebanese government and even the Hariri family. Neither could offer assurances. He stayed for a time in the Moven Pick hotel, Inner City Press is told and can now report, given his transfer to Georgia. But ultimately he left Lebanon due to lack of security.

  So at the August 1, 2008 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Montas why Verbeke was leaving, personal or safety? From the transcript

Inner City Press: "I didn't know that there was announcement today of Mr. Verbeke. Before I had asked, and you had said there was some personal issue. I don't want to get into any personal issue, but I do want to ask you, I had heard that there were some security concerns. I know that you also don't like to talk about them. Specific, not to just the mission in general, but to Mr. Verbeke himself. Either threats or that he'd sought protection from either the Lebanese Government or the Hariris, various things. Does this transfer, what is, how does it relate to whatever the personal issue was, which I don't want to know what it was? But is it because of a personal issue or is because of a safety issue? What's the basis of the transfer?"

  Ms. Montas said, "I am not aware of the details." This UN Secretariat stonewalls and becomes more marginal by the day.

  From the UN to DC - that's where the action on Ukraine is heading. Watch this site.


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