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UN's Invitation to Eritrea for Somalia Meeting Was Revoked at IGAD's Demand

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 26, 2010, updated -- The Somalia meeting at the UN on September 23 featured a little noticed last minute disinvitation. The UN's Department of Political Affairs had invited Eritrea, which has at least in the past been a member of the regional group IGAD which has hosted the leaders of the Alliance to Reliberate Somalia and detractor say supports the Al Shabab rebels.

But the other IGAD members wanted Eritrea excluded. They prepared a draft Communique which criticized the UN for inviting Eritrea. To avoid the criticism, the UN unceremoniously disinvited Eritrea, just before the meeting began.

Little was said about this. In fact, the political coordinator of a Security Council member told Inner City Press he had not heard about the disinvitation, but saw Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar whispering to Eritrean Permanent Representative Araya Desta, and then his disappearance from the meeting room.

This Security Council member told Inner City Press his country thinks excluding Eritrea was a bad idea. They are a player, he says. Not having them present makes resolution less likely.

  Analogy has been made, as it has with respect to most Security Council members other than the US, France and UK being willing to meet with Sudan's Omar al Bashir, to Slobodan Milosevic's participation in the Dayton peace process.

But several IGAD members told Inner City Press Eritrea is such a “spoiler” or troublemaker that it would be a “mockery” to have them present.

Eritrea's Perm Rep Desta, Nambiar whisper and disapprearance from meeting not shown

 Uganda's Permanent Representative Rugunda confirmed to Inner City Press, let's just say, Eritrea was not present when the meeting actually happened.

Whatever one thinks of the wisdom of disinviting Eritrea, it is surprisingly how little has been said or reported about it. Hence this exclusive report, and questions which will be forthcoming. Watch this site.

Update of September 28 -- for two days running, Inner City Press has asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky for a UN explanation of their disinvitation of Eritrea. On September 27, Nesirky said he would look into it.

 But 24 hours later on September 28, he told Inner City Press he still had nothing. The disinvitation has been confirmed to Inner City Press from the highest levels. Shouldn't the UN have some stated reason for it, if nothing else then for the sake of transparency?

* * *
On Somalia, UN & AU Defend Shelling of Markets & Mosques, Museveni Vs UNSC

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 -- Since African peacekeepers in Somalia are paid less than three-quarters of what the UN pays elsehwere, "they all want to go to Darfur," African Union Commission President Jean Ping told Inner City Press on Thursday.
   Outside a closed door ministerial meeting at the UN on Somalia, Ping and UN envoy Augustine Mahiga both defended the AU troops' shelling of markets and mosques in Mogadishu.
   Inner City Press has asked about the call by the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights for an investigation of the AU peacekeepers' shelling of civilian areas.

   Mahiga said that all what is being called for is a "Mapping Exercise" -- the same term used for the report on genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo which has led Rwanda's Paul Kagame government to threaten to pull its troops out of Darfur.

   Days after the Prime Minister of the UN-based Transitional Federal Government resigned, Inner City Press asked the two men what this portends for Somalia.

UN's Ban, AU's Ping, Somalia Prez, shelling of mosques not shown

 Mahiga said that a new Prime Minister will be named. But that has happened before.

  Inside the meeting, three separate sources tell Inner City Press, Ugandan President Museveni said that the UN "Security Council has donated Somalia to a terrorist organization." When Inner City Press asked Mahiga about the quote, he said it was another way of saying that the international community should do more.  Ya might say. Watch this site.

* * *

Italy to Patrol Off Yemen, Frattini Confirms Before Stealth Meeting, UK Too

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 -- Italy will give Yemen an “integrated satellite Coast Guard system” to patrol the waters between its coast and Somalia, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Inner City Press on Thursday night at the UN.

As Frattini left a closed door meeting about Somalia, Inner City Press asked him if Italy among with the UK is making such an offer to Yemen, at the Group of Friend of Yemen meeting.

Yes,” Frattini answered, “we will confirm them tomorrow.” He said Italy is coordinating with the UK, offering not only patrols but also to “train coast guard officers” with “technical expertise.”

  Inner City Press asked if this was directed at militant, presumably from Al Shabab, or would also sweep up refugees. Frattini paused and said Italy would “help the legal authorities of Yemen” to “better assist refugees.”

Frattini at UN previously, patroling of Yemen not shown

  Little has been heard about the Group of Friend of Yemen meeting, compared to the meeting on Sudan the same day, or even the Somalia meeting Frattini was leaving from. Some say that while Yemen is fighting insurgencies -- even that it has lost control of large segments of its territory -- it wants to stay off the UN agenda, and does so successfully, including Inner City Press is told by using its chairmanship of the Group of 77. The meeting may not even be held in the UN. Watch this

  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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