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In Sudan, UN Council Rebuffed By VP & FM, Somewhere Haroun Laughs?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 22 -- Timing is everything. Even before the UN Security Council set sail for Sudan on its current trip, it decided not to visit Darfur, where the government is bombing civilians. The rationale was that the focus should be on the North - South conflict, particularly the dispute region of Abyei.

  Then the Abyei leg of the trip was put into question by whether International Criminal Court indictee Ahmed Haroun would be at the Kadugli airport to gloat and greet the Council. He's been indicted for organizing nomadic trips to commit war crimes in Darfur.

  On May 19, the day the Council left, a convoy of UN peacekeepers and Sudan Armed Forces troops fell under fire. Khartoum then sent tanks and took over Abyei's main town.

While the UN refused to assign blame for the attack, on May 21 the US blamed Southern Sudan forces, and on May 22 the Council did. But still Sudan's Vice President and Foreign Minister canceled meetings with the Council, further limiting the scope of the trip.

Susan Rice, Sangqu of SA, Haile Menkerios- why is this man smiling?

So what will be accomplished in Juba, and after that in Kenya? Watch this site.

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As UN Council Cancels Abyei Trip, Georgian Echoes Amid AU Diagnosis of Narcissism

By Matthew Russell Lee, News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, May 22 -- What does it say about the UN Security Council that outright war broke out in Abyei between North and Southern Sudan just as the Council prepared to visit the contested area?

  Before the Council members left New York for Addis Ababa then Sudan, they negotiated the “logistics” of visiting Abyei while attempting to downplay the possibility of Ahmed Haroun, National Congress Party governor of South Kordofan and International Criminal Court indictee, showing up to greet and try to meet them on the way to Abyei.

  UN officials told Inner City Press confidently “we can definitely protect the Council in Abyei, it's only a question of landing first at the airport in Kadugli or Wau.”

  Things change, obviously. But why? An Council member left unnamed is quoted that the North invaded Abyei in order to discourage the Council's visit. Beyond what some see as the narcissism of the statement, even if true, would this mean that the Council's visit inflamed rather than de-escalated tensions?

  When President Barack Obama's Press Secretary said on May 21 that the initial May 19 attack in Abyei was the responsibility of “Southern Forces” but drew a disproportionate response, it brought to mind the Georgian - Russian conflict in which Georgia is said to have tried to retake South Ossetia, then Russia rumbled down into Georgia itself.

  In hindsight, some say Georgia erred in giving Russia the pretext to take land. So might the “attack by Southern forces” of May 19 be viewed in somewhat the same way?

Susan Rice at Khartoum airport May 21 - in October, confronted Sudan about $15 fee

  Or is Southern Sudan smarter than Georgia, triggering a response from Khartoum, under the nose of the Security Council, that will meaningfully rebound against Omar al Bashir, Haroun and the National Congress Party? Watch this site.

Footnote: In the Addis Ababa leg of the Council's trip, Ramtane Lamamra of the African Union derided the Council for overriding the AU in authorizing and not stopping the continued bombing of Libya by NATO. While numerous Council members including two with veto power agree that action has gone beyond Resolution 1973, others note that Lamamra's from Algeria, more supportive of Gaddafi than most AU members...

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As Sudan Asks Why Haroun Shouldn't Meet UN Council, Journalists Detained

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 19 -- With the UN Security Council en route to Africa, their possible encounter in Sudan with Ahmed Haroun, indicted by the International Criminal Court for war cimres in Darfur, remains a wild card.

On May 18 French Ambassador Gerard Araud told Inner City Press, when asked about Haroun, that “we will not meet with him.”

But a Sudanese diplomat on May 19 asked Inner City Press, “Why not? He was just legitimately elected.” The diplomat pointed at the statement by UN Mission in Sudan chief Haile Menkerios welcoming the election on South Kordofan.

At the UN's noon briefing on May 19 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: on this trip, there are conflicting reports in Sudan about whether the trip includes a stop in Kadugli and Abyei, and whether they will meet with Ahmed Haroun, who is indicted by the ICC [International Criminal Court]. So I wanted to know, you’d said there is more information, I’d try to pass through and see it, but it has… what is the status of, even just the logistics, is the Council in fact going to Abyei via Kadugli and is… will Mr. Haroun be present?

Spokesperson: I think that’s a good idea; pass by and we can give you more details. But to my knowledge, there is no meeting planned with Mr. Haroun, to my knowledge.

  Planning is one thing, and the presence at the airport of the Governor of South Kordofan, declared winner of an election praised by the UN, is another.

  The UN belated provided Inner City Press with this response about journalists detained for covering the election:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Thu, May 19, 2011 at 4:21 PM
Subject: Your question on journalists in Sudan
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

Regarding your question about the arrests of two journalists in Sudan (Mohamed El Fateh Himma and Rushan Aoushi) on 14 May 2011 in Jebel Awlia (Khartoum State): The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has followed up on that matter with its sources on the ground.

The Mission learned that the two journalists were reportedly returning from Southern Kordofan State when they were stopped on the road by Sudanese Armed Forces Military Intelligence at around 08:00 on 14 May. The journalists were then transferred to the custody of the National Security Service (NSS), which reportedly interrogated them. The two journalists were released by the National Security Service without charge after approximately ten hours.

  And that was the entire response. The UN apparently has no comment on this. Watch this site.

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UN Admits 2d Flight of ICC Darfur Indictee Haroun to Abyei in Sudan, Impunity

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 4, updated -- The UN has for a second time offered a free UN flight in Sudan to Ahmed Haroun, under indictment by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, the UN admitted Friday in response to questions from Inner City Press.

  On March 3 the UN Security Council met about renewed fighting in the disputed Abyei region. Back in January, Inner City Press got the UN to acknowledge they had flown ICC indictee Haroun from South Kordofan, where he serves fellow ICC indictee Omar al Bashir as governor, to Abyei.

  The UN has defended this controversial flight by saying that Haroun and Haroun alone could stop violence in Abyei. The UN never explained why the government of Sudan, which has an air force currently bombing civilians in Jebel Marra in Darfur, couldn't itself fly Haroun.

The UN said it was a scheduled flight, then UN Mission in Sudan chief Haile Menkerios admitted to Inner City Press that it was a special flight. Inner City Press is told such flights cost $40,000, and the UN has confirm no reimbursement has been sought from the Bashir government.

But now the violence has continued, making the UN flight of ICC indictee Haroun harder to justify even by the UN's own argument.

  March 3 in front of the Security Council, Inner City Press asked Council president for March Li Baodong of China if the UN Peacekeeping official who briefed the Council, Atul Khare, had mentioned if Haroun would again be flown in a UN helicopter. Li Baodong did not directly answer.

At the March 4 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky to confirm or deny that that the UN would once again fly ICC indictee Haroun to Abyei, even now that his work in connection with the first flight has proved ineffective.

Nesirky said he would check. Ten minutes later, Nesirky's deputy Farhan Haq announced by speaker to all UN correspondents that yes, Haroun attended today's meeting in Abyei, and yes, “he was transported” by the UN.

  This UN promotes impunity, even for one of the few people indicted for war crimes by the ICC. Meanwhile Ban Ki-moon brags about the Security Council's partial referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC -- a referral that Ban Ki-moon did not even call for until after the Council voted to make the referral.

  This UN is promoting and enshrining lawlessness, with no transparency or accountability. Watch this site.

Update of 3:48 pm -- Human Rights Watch, via Richard Dicker, submitted this comment:

This is the second time in recent weeks the UN has transported Ahmed Haroun who is charged by the ICC with war crimes in Darfur. We have real concerns because the U.N. should not be in the business of transporting Haroun. There needs to be an extremely high threshold of urgency for such action by UNMIS.”

Responses have been sought from the Missions to the UN of France, the UK and the US, with the latter two asked if they knew in advance of the UN's new flight of ICC indictee Haroun. Given her statements this year about social media, & after hours of non-response by the US Mission to the UN,@AmbassadorRice has been asked directly as well. Watch this site.

Update of 4:30 pm -- Then this, from UK Mission to the UN spokesman Daniel Shepherd:

As spokesperson, I would only reiterate the message that my two Ambassadors have both said on the record (and published by Inner City Press) first time around: that we aren’t going to second guess how UNMIS fulfills its mandate to provide good offices to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) parties in efforts to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiations. I’d only add that this work is particularly important at this sensitive time, to contain any potential escalation after the recent Abyei violence.”

We could note again that violence has persisted despite the UN flying ICC indictee Ahmed Haroun in the first time, and that it is the role of UN member states to oversee the UN Secretariat, not to defer in this case to what some see as its promotion of impunity - but at least the UK would put its position on the record.

Update of 4:43 pm -- this too has come in, perhaps in response:

Date: Fri, Mar 4, 201
Subject: Haroun and Abyei
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

You guys ask great questions! Have you noticed perhaps that the United Nations seems to be unaware of who is causing the violence in Abyei. And yet "diplomatic sources" report seeing the burial of 33 bodies - all southerners.

The Arab nomads say the violence started when SPLM police shot at them (Hitler used a similar ploy to invade Poland) - and today thousands of civilians fled Abyei fearing another crisis like in June 2008. The Dinka Ngok villages north of Abyei, such as Maker, have been burnt to the ground. The end explains the means. There is a creeping ethnic cleansing going on in the Abyei region despite the agreements of 2005 and the Court of Arbitration ruling in 2010.

Why fly Haroun to Abyei - what is his cv? It is, as you correctly point out, that of arming arab militias to burn villages. I hope to see more of your questions pinning the UN to the responsibility to protect.

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

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.

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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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