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

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Among 3 UN “Civilians” Killed in Afghan Attack Was a Military Adviser

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 1 -- Amid the tragedy of the deadly attack on the UN compound in Mazar i Sharif, and alongside unanswered questions about the integrity of UN security in Afghanistan even after Kabul guesthouse killings of Louis Maxwell and other staff, an incongruity emerged.

UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq repeatedly said that killed in Mazar i Sharif were three international “civilian” staff and four “Gurkas,” security officers from Nepal.

But when top UN Peacekeeper Alain LeRoy was asked, he acknowledged that among the three “civilians” was a military adviser, from Norway.

  This is echoed by the Norwegian foreign ministry's website, stating that “defense authorities have confirmed that one Norwegian national, Lieutenant Colonel Siri Skare (53), was killed in the attack on the UN compound in Mazar-e-Sharif.”

It is not a best practice to blur the line between civilian, humanitarian workers and military advisers.

Attack on UN in Mazar, blurring of civilian & military & DSS Qs not shown

 While this attack was a lashing out about a Koran burning far away in Florida, mixing civilian and military staff creates to some a perception that the UN is a party to a conflict, and a “legitimate” target.

 UN Security sources tell Inner City Press that the “security plan at Mazar did not including proximity demonstrations as an open, no first or second line barricades with cement blocks, no clear guidelines with to do in a proximity demonstration including when to use lethal power for compound protection.”

  At the UN's noon briefing on April 1, Inner City Press asked UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq:

Inner City Press: after that attack that took place on the guest house in Kabul, were all the UN facilities in Afghanistan [improved,] was there security plans under MOSS [Minimum Operating Safety Standards] and otherwise reviewed and did this facility have cement blocks and barricades?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Well, I wouldn’t give you the precise details of what the security arrangement were, but yes, we did have security arrangements in place in all of the compounds, including this one. And we did have heightened preparations among guards. Like I said, among the casualties, we believe some of them were guards who were trying to protect the other staff.

  Much remains to be explained in the wake of the deaths in Mazar i Sharif. Watch this site.

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At UN, Dabbashi Tells Press of Libya Rebel Strategy, Waiting to Take Sirte, Credentials

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 1 -- The Libyan opposition's plans were described Friday to Inner City Press by former Gaddafi Deputy Permanent Representative Ibrahim Dabbashi.

  In a wide ranging Q&A session, Dabbashi acknowledged that the rebels' attempt at this time to take Sirte, Gaddafi's birthplace, was a mistake.

  We've told them to hold at Ras Lanuf, Dabbashi said. He said that those who pushed forward were mostly volunteers, and that from no one “they will be at the back,” with professional soldiers and commanders at the front.

  Dabbashi also argued that UN Security Council Resolution 1973 modifies that arms embargo to allow arming Libyans to protect civilians. While this seemed to contradict what he'd said about more and more professional soldiers in command of the opposition force, he acknowledge that some countries stick to the “legal” reading: an arms embargo against Libya as a whole.

Sirte, according to Dabbashi, will be the turning point. If after a pause the rebels can take the town, he predicts there will be more defections by senior military figures.

Asked if there are Western special forces -- or US Central Intelligence Agency -- personnel working with the rebels, Dabbashi said that wouldn't be helpful at this time. “The regime would use it,” he said, “even if they captured only one foreigner.”

Dabbashi said that a quick entry and exit might be acceptable, in extraordinary circumstance like a major battle about to be lost -- but not in “regular fighting.”

Minutes earlier, Inner City Press had asked UN acting Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq to describe restrictions on Dabbashi's and Shalgam's “courtesy” passes to the UN. Haq refused to describe the conditions.

But Inner City Press is reliably informed that Dabbashi and Shalgam have been told by the UN not to speak to the media inside the UN, and that the UN understands this to cover even interviews done on the UN press floor above the library. (For that reason, the location of this Q&A is not being stated.)

Dabbashi on UN mic, previously, now can't speak there, but yes here

  Dabbashi told Inner City Press that after he spoke at the UN Television stakeout after the passage of Resolution 1973, “some member states” complained, saying he and Shalgam no longer represent Libya. He said he can no longer speak at the stakeout.

Asked about an interview by former Nicaraguan foreign minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann in which he called the UN a weapon of the US Empire, Dabbashi scoffed and called d'Escoto Brockmann a “mercenary diplomat... trying to represent countries other than his own.” (It is not clear if d'Escoto Brockmann would be paid by Gaddafi for his services.)

Dabbashi said that the Musa Koussa letter appointing or purporting to appoint d'Escoto Brockmann is moot after Koussa's defection, and also wasn't signed by Koussa but rather his deputy.

Dabbashi did say, however, that the letter was given “directly” to the Secretariat, something that Haq has denied. (Then again, Haq has also claimed that the UN canceled d'Escoto Brockmann's 10 am press conference on March 31 because, suddenly, work was needed on the briefing room.)

Inner City Press asked Dabbashi about Gaddafi's and the rebels' relations with the two opposing forces in Cote d'Ivoire, and in Gabo. Dabbashi said that Laurent Gbagbo remains close with Gaddafi, so “with the change, we win one.” He said that Gabon and Ali Bongo have in essence been bought by Gaddafi.

Inner City Press pointed out that Gabon nonetheless voted in favor of Resolution 1970. “That was pressure from France,” Dabbashi said. “On their own, it would have been difficult for Gabon to vote for it.”

On what he called the diplomatic “game” at the UN, Dabbashi said he is trying for a meeting of the UN Credentials Committee “next week,” to be recognized as representing Libya. He said that “some countries” are still resisting it. 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.

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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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