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On Libya Guards, UK Says They're a No-Go, Any UNSC Trip On Hold

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 16 -- On Libya, the UN Security Council in late November heard a proposal from Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for 235 security officers to protect the UN Mission there, UNSMIL.

  Inner City Press covered that closed door meeting, and the next day asked the Council's then-presidency, China, about the status. The Chinese Ambassador replied that he had just signed the approval letter.

  But on December 16, UK ambassador Mark Lyall Grant confirmed that the guards -- he put the number at 232 -- were a no go and would have to be renegotiated.
  Relatedly, he said that a proposed Security Council trip to Tripoli was dependent on the guards being in place. In any event, he said, decisions about the trip would have to wait the entry of the five new Security Council members on January 1.
  Inner City Press asked Lyall Grant if disagreements in the Security Council about whether the NATO action on the country was a success or failure continued to echo inside. Lyall Grant indicated that disagreements continue.

  This became clear minutes later, when a decidedly non-Western diplomat approached Inner City Press and said, about Libya, "France, the UK and US (you know the acronym) created the militias, let them deal with the problem."

  The diplomat added, "they caused the problem with two resolutions, now they issue a Presidential Statement telling the Libyan authorities to clean up the mess."

  Yes, disagreements continue.

Here is the UK's Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: This fighting in Tripoli took place weeks ago. What explains the lack of speed with which this was addressed and do you think that there are some in the Council that are still using Libya to show that the NATO action there resulted in a worse situation than before? Is that still an echo in the Council, would you say?

Lyall Grant: The main fighting was a couple of weeks ago now. That crisis did lead to the withdrawal of the armed forces from Tripoli but those armed forces are still in a number of other Libyan cities and we'd like to see them withdraw from all Libyan cities. It's fair to say though that there are some different views within the Council. I think the vast majority of the Council Members are very supportive of the Libyan authorities and what they are doing in this transition in extremely difficult circumstances, given the forty-two years of misrule by Gaddafi. The fact that when he left, he left no institutions working and that has proven extremely complicated both for the politics and for the security of the state. I don't want to speculate on individual council members, but of course the Libyan action that was taken by the coalition has caused division within the Council.

Background: on the proposed UN Libya guards, back on December 9 UN envoy to Libya Tarek Mitri said that some groups in Libya are "going so far as suspecting the proposed arrangement to be a prelude to an international intervention." He said "we will have to spare no effort in dispelling misinterpretations and suspicions, no matter how unjustified they may seem."

  French ambassador Gerard Araud, December's Security Council president, later said that the issue is "on the table" -- that is, it seems, still not approved.

   In part this grows inside the UN -- the secretive planning as when the Mission was being designed, and sloppy reporting by the UN's scribes and spies.

  Inner City Press obtained and exclusively published then envoy Ian Martin's plan for 200 UN personnel. When this was opposed from Libya, the UN was never clear about the provenance of the document; scribes tried to downplay it saying that by mere allusion they had reported it.

  On December 9, the Reuters wire service paid so little attention to the Security Council session on Libya that it entirely mis-identified the UN envoy there, calling him Abdel Alah al Khatib -- the envoy BEFORE Ian Martin. Click here, where this STILL remains online.

  During the Security Council's December 9 session on Libya, there was no Reuters presence at the stakeout. The article with the error lists no editor, only the writer -- Louis Charbonneau, who previously turned over an anti Press internal United Nations Correspondents Association documents to the UN, three minutes after promising not to do so. Story here, document here, audio here. This has yet to be addressed, including by UNCA, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  We note this error because of Charbonneau's and Reuters' request to the UN to throw Inner City Press out -- while they can't even get the name of the UN's envoy to Libya right. This goes beyond "misinterpretation."

  To clear those up, at the December 2 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked about the new Libya mission, and afterward Ban's spokesperson's office sent Inner City Press this:

Subject: Press release from the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on a guard team for its headquarters
To: Matthew.Lee [at]
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 1:17 PM

Clarification by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya On the Allocation of a Guard Team for its Headquarters in Tripoli

Tripoli, 28 November 2013-

The United Nations Security Council has given initial approval to the request of the United Nations Secretary General regarding the enhancement of the protection of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) through a dedicated guard team for its headquarters in Tripoli. This team should not exceed 235 elements, including a number of administrative and services staff. The functions of aforementioned team shall be limited to the protection of the office and accommodation premises occupied by UNSMIL staff members. The scope of its work shall not exceed the perimeters of UNSMIL headquarters.

The Mission had already informed the competent Libyan authorities that it is in the process of preparing for this measure, which was discussed by the Security Council. Once all needed measures are finalized, and as per the applicable international customs and principles, the United Nations shall send an official letter in which it will inform the Libyan authorities of those measure seeking necessary approval.

The Mission reiterates that the guard team will not be tasked with any role beyond the function for which it was established, and that the formation of such team is a common practice adopted by international organizations and embassies in a large number of countries for ensuring the safety of its staff and premises.

  Perhaps UN Security, from which ten staffers stand to be laid off, didn't know about these posts because, despite Security Council approval, it has not yet been approved by the Libyan authorities. Earlier, when Inner City Press first published then UN official Ian Martin's plan for Libya including 200 armed staff, the Libyan authorities balked and it went nowhere.

Now again we ask: with the 235 guards rejected, now what? Watch this site.


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