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Leaked French Documents Show Cote d'Ivoire Strategy at UN of France on Liberia, Mali & Even San Francisco

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, April 8, updated -- With Cote d'Ivoire's defiant Laurent Gbagbo surrounded after French and UN military action in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood, internal French government documents obtained by Inner City Press and published exclusively today paint a picture of France's communications with the UN Mission UNOCI, its analysis of the politics of Guillaume Soro, Liberia and the Malian press, even its recycling of a French diplomat arrested in New York as France's new general consul in San Francisco.

In the first document, France's Force Licorne (Unicorn) wrote to the Special Representative of the Secretary General about Gbagbo's import of heavy weapons. Click here to view. More recently, France is accused of violating the arms embargo by providing and facilitating weapons to the forces of Alassane Ouattara.

The second document is an internal French cable detailing the Financial Organization of the Rebellion, down to a “racket” of shaking down money for taxi licenses.

In the third document, France bemoans the failure of a visit of three African heads of state to Cote d'Ivoire, including Nigeria's Obasanjo and South Africa's Thabo Mbeki now active in Sudan, complaining that this situation can be prolonged until the international community decided to “impose a solution.”

In the fourth document, France analyzed and critiques South African policy toward Cote d'Ivoire and Gbagbo.

In the fifth document, France analyzes Liberia's foreign policy as pro-American. More recently, a purported interview of a Ouattara commander describing coordinating with a French citizen working with the UN Mission in Liberia has surfaced.

In the sixth document, France analyzes the “discrete attitude” of the Malian press.

In the largest set of documents published today -- there are more -- France details its work in the UN Security Council on resolutions concerning the UN mission UNOCI.

One of the French diplomats involved was Romain Serman, who was later arrested by the New York Police Department. See arrest sheet and signed statement, here. Then French Ambassador de la Sabliere, to “avoid a scandal,” sent Serman back to Paris.

But in 2010 he was re-assigned to the US, as general consul in San Francisco. And so it goes.

Update at 1pm, April 8: at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to describe how UNOCI has allowed Licorne to lobby it and attend its meetings, and if other countries have been allowed. 

  Nesirky said he would not comment on leaked documents, and also directed Inner City Press to ask the (French) chief of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Alain Le Roy. Watch this site.

* * *

At UN on Cote d'Ivoire, Buzz of Martyrdom, Arms Embargo Violations, Duekoue Fog

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 7 -- The talk at the UN about Cote d'Ivoire on Thursday was confused, ranging from predictions of Laurent Gbagbo's impending martyrdom to a few belated hopes, of continued support from Angola and even a Permanent Five member of the Security Council, dissatisfaction by South Africa which was said to be sending 100 special forces troops.

  At a Russian Mission to the UN space event Thursday afternoon, Inner City Press spoke with a dozen Ambassadors about Cote d'Ivoire. Some were most concerned with their own diplomats still trapped in Abidjan. Others spoke of reports of arms shipments to Gbagbo to airports outside of Abidjan.

  At the day's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky for the UN's response to the Canard Enchaine article reporting that France armed Ouattara's forces, who were allowed to sell gold and buy weapons in violation of the embargo.

  The article also describes helicopters of the UN or Force Licorne blowing up a supermarket in Cocody.

  Nesirky refused to answer about violations of the arms embargo, and of Cocody said that the UN was defending itself and taking out heavy weapons. But who gave Ouattara his brand new heavy weapons?

  Inner City Press asked top UN humanitarian Valerie Amos, fresh back from Duekoue, to respond to criticism of the UN peacekeepers for not moving to protect civilians there, and to Ouattara envoy Yousoufou Bamba's characterization of the NGO Caritas as “pro-Gbagbo” for alleging 1000 dead.

  Strikingly, Amos told Inner City Press to ask Caritas about its numbers. But what about the attack on this NGO as being biased pro-Gbagbo? Amos would only say that the UN works with Caritas - she would not criticize, apparently, anything on the Ouattara side, including broadsides against humanitarian NGOs.

  Previously, Amos had told Inner City Press she hadn't heard about the lack of medicine in Abidjan due to the EU sanctions that led to no ships in the port.

  While she spoke Thursday about the independence of humanitarian work, for the UN right now, at least in Cote d'Ivoire, it all seems to move in lockstep. The unanswered questions is not if but now badly this will impact the UN's credibility going forward. Watch this site.

  From the UN's April 7 transcript:

Inner City Press: On Côte d'Ivoire, there was obviously, there is this incident of the French freeing the Japanese ambassador; I am wondering if you have, if the UN played any role in that.  And also that the Canard Enchaîné has come out with a report saying, among other things, that the helicopter attacks — it doesn’t say whether it was UN or French — blew up a supermarket in Cocody and that, essentially implying that France has been arming the [Alassane] Ouattara forces in violation of the arms embargo for some years.  And I wanted to know what the UN’s response is to that pretty detailed article.

Spokesperson Nesirky:  On the first, the operations that have been going on to help evacuate diplomats and other civilians are obviously coordinated.  As I mentioned to you, UN Mission staff peacekeepers went to the Novotel hotel, where journalists have staying and they had requested assistance.  So, obviously it is coordinated; and either Licorne — the French forces — or UN peacekeepers are carrying out missions; it depends on the location and a number other factors.  On the reports that you referred to, I would simply say that the operation that has been carried out was specifically aimed at preventing the use of heavy weapons and that’s what took place.  So, what’s your next question?

Inner City Press: I have just one follow-up on that.  Does the UN have any knowledge of France providing weapons to the pro-Ouattara forces?

Spokesperson Nesirky:  I have said what I have to say, Matthew

* * *

As Juppe Says Ban Demands Gbagbo Letter, UN No Comments, Vatican & Japan Q

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 6 -- A day after French foreign minister Alain Juppe said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon agrees that Laurent Gbagbo must sign a letter ceding power to Alassane Ouattara, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky if that is, in fact, Ban's position.

I don't speak for the French Foreign Minister,” Nesirky said.

But you do speak for the Secretary General,” Inner City Press asked. Is it Ban's position or not?

Nesirky would not answer, saying he would not characterize the Secretary General's communications with Juppe. Thus does the UN thumbs its nose at transparency and lose credibility, by being used as Juppe used Ban, and France used UNOCI.

Inner City Press was told by a Security Council member's Deputy Permanent Representative that UN peacekeepers have not gotten to the residences in Abidjan of the representative of the Vatican as well as the Japanese Ambassador.

Ban & Juppe, joint demand of letter as condition not shown

 It was unclear, he said, which side was blocking access -- noting that it is Vatican charity Caritas which reported 1000 dead in Duekoue, which many largely blame on supporters of Ouattara.

Nesirky would not answer about which side is blocking access, although he repeatedly blamed the UN's failure to even protect journalists in a hotel on “heavy weapons.”

Inner City Press asked him if Ouattara's forces have heavy weapons too. Nesirky would not answer. He repeatedly insisted that the UN is impartial. Watch this site.

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

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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