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In Run Up to UN SC Statement on Bin Laden, Pakistan Diplomat In and Out of Chamber, Afghan Snark

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 2, updated -- When Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Abdullah Hussain Haroon came out of the Security Council Monday afternoon, he did not speak to the press. Earlier in the day, the Pakistani Mission put out a press release that

“earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin. Osama bin Ladin’s death illustrates the resolve of the international community.”

   Inner City Press asked a Permanent member of the Security Council to confirm that there might be a Council Presidential statement on the killing of Bin Laden. Yes, was the answer, along with a joke about Pakistan's belated “non-objection” to the US raid on Abbottabad.

   Afghanistan's Permanent Representative Tanin told Inner City Press, "This is a Pakistani issue... He was at the end of the day in Islamabad."

   “Osama was living right next to Pakistan's West Point,” another diplomat scoffed. Still, Pakistan's Ambassador went into the Council, where Gerard Araud of France was meeting with each of the Council's members about May's program of work. Pakistan, a source said, wanted to protect its interests.

Update of 4:20 pm -- after this piece was published, Araud of France came out and told the press, Statement meeting at 5 pm...

Pakistan's Haroon, previously with John Holmes, UBL sanctuary not shown

In some other news, as Brazil's Ambassador left her meetings with Araud, she told the Press that her country had been ready to sign on to Council press statements on Yemen and Syria.

Inner City Press asked about the European Union's drive for special rights in the General Assembly. While Brazil's concerns were addressed, she said, Brazil is sensitive to the concerns of CARICOM. When asked what Brazil thinks of Syria's campaign to be elected, on a “clean” slate, to the UN Human Rights Council, she said Brazil believes in the right of any country to run for any position. Watch this site.

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Echoes of Abbottabad Raid from Pakistan Mission in NY But Not UN Itself, the Silence of Ban Ki-moon

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 2, updated -- More than eleven hours after US President Obama announced the death of Osama Bin Laden in a shootout in Pakistan, from the UN and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon there was only silence.

Update: And when Ban belatedly spoke, it was on an unexplained 20 minute delay, without Press told in the usual ways. See below.

Everyone from Pakistan's Mission to the UN to State Senators from Upper Manhattan in New York had rushed out press releases.

  In New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg had canceled his Monday appearance at the opening in Central Park of an installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, which itself had been postponed.

  The UN had not taken the weekend off: Sunday afternoon in a “Note to Correspondents” Ban's Spokesperson had told UN correspondents that the UN's 12 international staff members in Tripoli had left the country, just after a NATO bombing which killed one of Gaddafi's sons, and would henceforth serve Western Libya from Tunisia.

  On Friday, the UN sent a similar note that Ban had met with the foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with a focus on “the status of negotiations between Athens and Skopje on the 'name' issue.”

  The UN is assigned such issues and, at least for eight hours, has no comment on or role in events like Sunday's raid on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. As acknowledged on a background call for the Press by “Senior Administration Officials” on Sunday night, the US did not even tell Pakistan about the raid before it occurred.

Obama & Ban, Bin Laden and UN statement not shown 11 hours later

   Hours afterwards, Pakistan's Mission to the UN put out a press release that “earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin. Osama bin Ladin’s death illustrates the resolve of the international community.”

The UN, of course, is said to represent the international community. But its Secretary General had nothing to say. The US, it was expected, could ask for some statement from the UN Security Council, which on Monday had bilateral meetings scheduled under the Presidency of France.

Update: While covering the Security Council bilateral meetings at 10:50 am, the Press heard the UN announced that Ban would be on UN Television shortly. To another journalist, Ban's spokesperson's office could or would not even say where it would be.
   Inner City Press ran to the North Lawn building which contains Ban's office, but was told by UN TV it was over, already filmed, with select journalists present. At the noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky to explain the delay. He did not, except to assert that it was announced in the normal way.  If this is normal for the UN, something is wrong. Watch this site.  Here is / was Ban's statement:

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The death of Osama bin Laden, announced by President [Barack] Obama last night, is a watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism. The crimes of Al Qaeda touched most continents, bringing tragedy and loss of life to thousands of men, women and children.

The United Nations condemns in the strongest possible terms terrorism in all its forms, regardless of its purpose and wherever it is committed. This is a day to remember the victims and families of victims, here in the United States and everywhere in the world. The United Nations will continue to fight against terrorism and will lead this campaign to fight against terrorism.

I remember, personally, vividly, the day of September 11, 2001. I was in New York on that dark day. The United Nations is committed to continue to lead this campaign with world leaders to fight against international terrorism. I thank you very much. Personally, I am very much relieved by the news that justice has been done to such a mastermind of international terrorism. I would like to commend the work and the determined and principled commitment of many people in the world who have been struggling to eradicate international terrorism.

The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a global counter-terrorism strategy, and on the basis of that, we will continue to work together with Member States of the United Nations to completely eradicate global terrorism. Thank you very much. I need your support. Thank you.

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UN in S. Kordofan Confirms 19 Murders, Won't Say if Harun Did It: Flights Continue?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 1 -- Amid the killing in Sudan, the UN has two $1 billion peacekeeping operations but refuses to answer basic questions about who is killing whom, much less stopping it.

While numerous questions about Darfur that Inner City Press has asked the UN -- bombing of clinics by the government, alleged laying of land mies -- have gone unanswered, on April 29 the UN did send an answer to a question asked nine day previous about South Kordofan (see below).

The problem is, after more than a week, the UN could or would not provide any information about who was responsible for the killing of at least 19 civilians there. In fact, the person accused is Ahmed Harun, who despite being indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur has been flown in UN helicopters to Abyei at least twice.

In the middle of April, Inner City Press began asking about allegations that Harun had just organized a militia to attack El-Faid Um Abdullah, the home village of his deputy governor in South Kordofan, Abdelaziz al-Hilu. The accusation was made by the deputy governor himself:

Abdelaziz al-Hilu accused governor Ahmed Harun, who is from a rival party and will contest local elections against him on May 2, of 'organizing an attack by the Popular Defence Forces on my village, El-Faid Um Abdullah. They killed more than 20 people and burned between 300 and 500 houses in the early morning. Two women and four children were among those who burned inside the houses,' he said.”

Inner City Press asked US State Department spokesman Mark Toner, and then UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on April 20:

Inner City Press: On Sudan, there is this report from the Deputy Governor of South Kordofan, saying that the popular defence force attacked his village, killed 20 people. And he blames it on Ahmed Haroun… in fact the Governor, the Khartoum-backed Governor of the state. So, it’s a pretty high-profile person accusing him of being behind this attack, and I wonder, does UNMIS, what have they done in terms of investigating Mr. Haroun’s role, given that they have been flying Mr. Haroun as an ostensible peacemaker to Abyei?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson Haq: I was told that UNMIS has gone to this area in Southern Kordofan, and it is trying to obtain more information about what’s been going on there.

For more than a week, there was no answer from the UN spokesperson's office. In the interim, Inner City Press asked number two UN Peacekeeping official Atul Khare, and US Ambassador Susan Rice about it.

Khare said that the killing including “inter alia women and children,” in “the village of the deputy governor.” He said the UN would be paying more attention to the area, mentioning humanitarian issues.

  But what about investigating Abdelaziz al-Hilu's claim that Ahmed Harun was involved? If the UN confirmed this, could or would they keep flying Harun around on UN helicopters?

Ban & Khare, murders by and flights to Ahmed Harun not shown

As US Ambassador Susan Rice left a UN Security Council meeting on April 20, Inner City Press asked her if the new charges against Harun should end the UN's flights for Harun. "He was already indicted," Rice said. "At this point the concern is constant."

  But has the US spoken against the UN flying Harun? Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the US Mission for a comment, without receiving any.

Finally on April 28 leaving another session about UN Peacekeeping, Inner City Press asked an official of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations about the failure to answer questions, not only about South Kordofan but also Darfur.

While the Darfur questions still remain unresponded to, on April 29 the following was sent:

From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply <>
Date: Fri, Apr 29, 2011 at 10:54 AM
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Subject: Your question on Southern Kordofan

The upcoming elections in Southern Kordofan, which are to commence on 2 May, are of importance to both parties and the increase in violence is of great concern to us. The National Congress Party/Southern Sudan People's Liberation Moverment partnership was a stabilising factor over the last two years but since this election will influence Southern Kordofan’s political balance of power, the rhetoric of the election campaign has been increasingly aggressive. As a result, on 13 April 2011, four predominantly Nuba villages within the Locality of Al Rashad (200 kms NE of Kadugli) were targeted, resulting in the death of 19 persons (3 children, 4 females, 12 males) and the injury of 29 (3 females, 24 males).

Not only is this response 16 days after the fact, and nine days after the question was asked -- it also make no effort to identify who is responsible. Since the person accused is one whom the UN has flown around in a helicopter to meet with the type of nomadic tribes accused of murder, shouldn't the UN want to know, and be required to disclose? Watch this site.

Footnote: On the Doha process on Darfur, after Djibril Bassole announced it would become foreign minister of post-mutiny Burkina Faso, Inner City Press asked the UN if he would be allowed to stay on as mediator, as he reportedly wanted. Finally the UN squawked an answer, that he would end as mediator on April 30. This is how Khartoum wants it.

A top UN peacekeeping official told Inner City Press that Bassole will attend the upcoming session in Doha, but only as foreign minister of Burkina Faso for its involvement in the process. This too is how Khartoum wants it. Watch this site.

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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