Inner City Press

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Share |   

Follow on TWITTER

More: InnerCityPro

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

On Yemen, Saudi FM Pressed Feltman To Get Off List, ICP's Told, Kuwait Sideshow

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 24 -- The UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon's bungling of Yemen mediation has become ever more clear, according to multiple sources and documents exclusively seen by Inner City Press, see below.

Now Ban's bungling and worse have become more public. He put Saudi Arabia on the annex to his Children and Armed Conflict report, for what it has done in Yemen. Then he reversed course - and when slammed by human rights groups and others, had first his officials, then on June 9 did himself, spin scribes about how he had been blackmailed, how he had only sold out in order to help Palestinians who would be left without aid.

In the short period of time between Ban publicly listing Saudi Arabia and then reversing course and removing them from the Annex, what happened? Inner City Press is informed that Saudi Arabia's foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir repeatedly called the former (and perhaps future) U.S. State Department official who is Ban's head of Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, and told him of an upcoming cabinet meeting. Feltman told Ban to drop Saudi from the list. The US, of course, supports the Saudi led coalition.

 Meanwhile, Inner City Press' sources tell it, Houthis are negotiating directly with Saudi, making the UN talks in Kuwait that Ban is soon to visit essentially a sideshow. To this has Ban's UN sunk.

On June 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about Ban's meeting, with his deputy, chief of staff and spokesman, with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. UN transcript:

Inner City Press:  I read it several times, and it seemed to… it seemed to say, if you provide positive information, then the text of the report or what's presented to the Council could be modified from what it says.

Deputy Spokesman:  No.

Inner City Press:  All right.  So, then… explain to me, because it doesn't say specifically… the understanding was when he temporarily took them off the annex was that, if they don't provide positive information, they will go back on the annex.  Is that the case?

Deputy Spokesman:  What we said at the time was that they're off pending review, and that remains the case right now.  They were removed from the list pending review.  We made it clear, in the discussions and as the readout says, that we're open to receiving any new elements from Saudi Arabia.  And, again, we hope that discussions would take place soon.

Inner City Press:  Is there a deadline for them, either providing this information or not, have them going back on the list?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, as… as the readout makes clear, we're… we have expressed the hope that, by the time the Secretary-General presents the Children and armed conflict report to the Security Council, which is in August, that he can point to some progress on the issue of protecting civilians.

Inner City Press:  Does that mean that they would go back on the list if they don't provide anything by August?

Deputy Spokesman:  I'm not going to make any predictions beyond what we've said here.  What we've said here makes clear that what we want is a sign of progress by August.

Back on June 10, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric to confirm that Bangladesh also “demarched” or pressure the UN to drop Saudi Arabia from the annex -- Dujarric said yes, the foreign minister demarched -- then asked if the country, now or in the past, threatened Ban with the withdrawal of its troops from UN peacekeeping missions. UN Transcript:

Inner City Press: you had said from here that Jordan and the UAE [United Arab Emirates] had also démarchéd, and then you said “and others.”  I'm going to ask you to say a bit more on the others.  Can you say if Bangladesh, particularly Sheikh Hasina contacted the UN?  And if in that case the threat or leverage perceived or expressed orally was the contribution of peacekeepers to the UN as leverage?  Because of the interest in this, if Ban Ki-moon is saying this is a pattern, are there other instances that you can name in which a Member State either financial or peacekeeper withdrawal threat has led him or forced him to take actions that he wishes he had not had to take?

Spokesman:  On your last part, I will let the Secretary-General's word from yesterday stand.  There was a phone call, I believe, from the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh to the Secretary-General expressing their concern at the placement of the Saudi-led coalition on the list.

Inner City Press:  And on Bangladesh, it was repeated there were many people who earlier perceived when the Secretary-General had been speaking out about Bangladesh and then seemed to stop that a threat was made to withdraw the Bangladeshi peacekeepers from South Sudan.

Spokesman:  I'm not aware of statements being made to the UN, and I think the Secretary-General has continued and will continue to speak out when we see journalists or others being killed on the streets of Bangladesh.

Inner City Press:  Have you seen the Lancet thing?

Spokesman:  I have not. 

   Many in Bangladesh noticed Ban's already-weak criticism go dormant, at a time when Ban needed or wanting Bangladeshi peacekeepers in South Sudan. Inner City Press asked Dujarric, who had just described his boss Ban as transparent, to provide a list of times Ban has changed or modified position based on threats to withdraw funding or peacekeepers.

 He declined, just as he has refused to provide or even take a question about the UN Handbook for Security and Safety Personnel alleged violation of which the UN uses as justification for evicting and censoring Inner City Press. Ah, transparency.

  Earlier on June 10, the UN Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit told Inner City Press it could not attend a Western Sahara briefing in the UN Delegates Lounge to which it had been invited. This is censorship.

  On June 9-10, Inner City Press was interviewed about Ban and his Saudi flip flop on BBC World Services Newsday, here from Min 6:18.

At a June 9 stakeout where Ban did not take Press question on peacekeepers' rapes and Team Ban's retaliation, Ban said "my decision to temporarily remove the Saudi-led Coalition countries from the report’s annex... had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would de-fund many UN programmes.  Children already at risk in Palestine, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and so many other places would fall further into despair." Vine here.

 This means that countries with money can, at least under Ban, buy their way off UN blacklists.

  Soon after Ban rushed off, leaving the audibly "thrown" Press question on retaliation unanswered, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador showed up. Inner City Press asked him to disclose what he had said to Ban's Deputy. He would not, while denying the threats Ban attributed to Saudi Arabia to explain his sell-out.

  Inner City Press asked Saudi Arabia's Ambassador, for the second time this week, about Saudi use of cluster bombs in Yemen. The first time, he flatly denied it, without equivocation.

 On June 9, when Inner City Press cited an admission by the Coalition's spokesperson, Saudi's Ambassador acknowledged use of cluster bombs "early" in the conflict, on  military targets. He said Saudi Arabia is free to use
cluster bombs, like the US. Video here.

Inner City Press asked him to confirm the Obama administration is halting transfers of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia; he said that's not his understanding. Vine here.

On June 8, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, if he couldn't deny that Saudi monetary threats led to its deletion from the annex (he did not deny that), to explain how this doesn't discredit UN human rights blacklists. Those on them just can't afford to buy their way off.

Dujarric said, without explaining, that he disagreed, then disallowed Inner City Press questions later in the briefing, finally outright refusing to take one about refugees. This is Ban's UN. 

   At 1 pm on June 6, Dujarric told the press the report was "done" and wouldn't be changed. Vine here, below from the UN transcript. Then at 4:08 pm, Dujarric's office said Ban was dropping the Saudi led coalition from the Annex. What changed?

On June 7, Inner City Press asked Dujarric, Video here,

UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: yesterday you'd said we had received demarche from Saudi Arabia and others regarding the inclusion of the Saudi-led Coalition in the Annex.  Who are those others?  Have you received demarches from any other countries or entities that are on the Annex?  And can you just describe, between 1 p.m.  or whenever the briefing was and when you said it stands and your statement at 4 p.m., what exactly happened?  Just to understand how the office operates to have a complete, pretty serious reversal of policy.

Spokesman:  I don't think it's a reversal of policy.  It's… the world turns.  The situation evolves.  And that was the decision that was taken.  There have been contacts from… from Jordan, from the UAE and others.

Question:  U.S? [United States]?

Spokesman:  Not that I'm aware.  And we have not been contacted by anyone else who is in… who's listed in other parts of the report.

Inner City Press:  And if they… they'd get the same treatment and hearing.

Spokesman:  As I said, I'm not going to speculate, but as I said, we've not been contacted by anyone else. 

  As to Jordan, once wonders what (Jordanian) Prince Zeid thinks of it. As to the UAE, they hired / bought Ban's Libya envoy Bernardino Leon.

From the June 6 transcript:

Spokesman Dujarric: "The report, I think, speaks for itself.  It's out... Ms. Zerrougui has done a lot of work on the report.  She does so every year.  And there are mechanisms that are outlined in the report, monitoring mechanisms that follow General Assembly resolutions, and those… that was followed.  And the result is… is the report as it stands... Whenever a report comes out, a UN report comes out, there is debating. There's discussion within the house.  The report is done when it's issued.  And it has been issued.  And it is done." 

  It sounded definitive. Then three hours later at 4 pm Dujarric' office announced that Ban took the Saudis off the list, ostensibly pending a review.

By contrast, despite the total collapse and exposure of the stated reasons for throwing Inner City Press into the street outside the UN on February 19, evicting its filed on April 14 and now seeking to give its office to Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom which asks no questions, Ban has stood pat, said "That is not my decision." This while South South News, used as a vehicle for bribery after infusion by Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng with $12 million, keeps its UN office.

  So, money talks. What does Ban's reversal on and for Saudi Arabia portend, for example, for what for now his call to return 80 some members of the MINURSO mission to Western Sahara?

   At the UN Security Council stakeout on June 6 after Ban's spokesman's statement, Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative to the UN crowed that he was sure the removal was also permanent.

   Inner City Press asked him about the evidence the Saudi-led Coalition has dropped cluster bombs on Yemen. He flatly denied it. Video here.  Then Inner City Press asked him about others on the list -- most with many fewer resources -- who would like to get off the list or get due process. He said, We're off.

Here's Ban's statement, it might be contrasted with standing beyond this decision, on this flimsy basis, here

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict

The Secretary-General has stated repeatedly his alarm at the civilian casualties caused by all parties to the fighting in Yemen. He has reminded all parties of the need to avoid civilian casualties and move immediately toward a lasting cease-fire. On the CAAC report, he accepts a proposal by Saudi Arabia that the United Nations and the Saudi-led Coalition review jointly the cases and numbers cited in the text. The Secretary-General shares the objective that the report reflect the highest standards of accuracy possible.

In this regard, the Secretary-General invites the Coalition to send a team to New York as soon as possible for detailed discussions, ahead of the Security Council's discussion of the report currently scheduled for August. Pending the conclusions of the joint review, the Secretary-General removes  the listing of the Coalition in the report's annex.

After the UN of Ban Ki-moon and his envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said nothing about the Saudi bombing of a rally in Sanaa on May 24, now on June 4 Ban Ki-moon has issued this:

"The Secretary-General condemns the attacks with heavy weapons, including rockets, mortars and artillery in Taiz. Rocket fire reportedly hit a busy market in the city. Attacks directed against civilians and populated areas, including markets, are strictly prohibited. He underscores to all parties that targeting civilian areas is a violation of international humanitarian law and urges them to fully respect their obligations in this regard. The Secretary General calls for an independent investigation to ensure that perpetrators are hold accountable.
The Secretary-General continues to urge all parties to the conflict to cease all military activities in accordance with the nationwide cessation of hostilities. He further calls on them to refrain from any actions that could result in further civilian casualties. It is particularly regrettable that Taiz continues to pay a heavy toll in civilian losses despite the cessation of hostilities.
The Secretary-General calls on those participating in the peace talks in Kuwait to negotiate in good faith and urgently work with his Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to bring a peaceful end to this devastating conflict. In this same spirit, he also urges the importance of the immediate release of prisoners and detainees.
The Secretary-General expresses his sincere condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured."

 On May 9, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Saudi-led Coalition air strikes on Amran, and if the UN would admit that the Houthis have controlled the base there since 2014. "Not for us to say, "was the answer from Dujarric, who as it happens blocks Inner City Press on Twitter just as the UN Envoy blocks journalists in Yemen. Video here. From the UN Transcript:

Inner City Press:  does the UN believe that this base was already controlled by the Houthis…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  That’s not for us to say.

But see below.  On May 24, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask, on Yemen, it's reported that the side of President [Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi has told the envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, that not only [Ali Abdullah] Saleh but also Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi should be excluded from any settlement so the… I wanted to know, what is the UN's head mediator, its position, particularly on the Houthi role?  And also it's said that some of the envoys or the UN's teams in the country is supposed to be observing the ceasefire or finding their work have informed the envoy that their work has become impossible due to attacks in Marib and elsewhere.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, regarding the situation on the ground, as the Special Envoy, Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has made clear the cessation of hostilities has… is not fully holding, but it has largely been holding in most areas.  And we are working with the parties and with the committees that have been set up to make sure that the cessation of hostilities will continue to hold and, indeed, will be more pervasively observed even than it is right now.  Regarding negotiations, I can't give details of the negotiations as they continue.  What I can say is, regardless of what each side wants, what the Special Envoy and the UN are trying to do is find a workable plan that will bring the parties together.  We are trying to be as inclusive as possible, and as I just mentioned, he did meet over the past day with both the Government delegation and the delegation representing Ansar Allah and the General People's Congress, and he will continue with his talks with all the various participants.

Earlier, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric to explain Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's repeated trips to Dubai, without answer. Now we've heard: IOCA has been importing luxury cars from there into his native Mauritania.

 Kicking the tires, indeed. He has STILL not released the public financial disclosure that Ban claims he urges from his senior officials. Then again, Ban and his officials like USG Cristina Gallach are embroiled in the UN bribery scandal, and respond by evicting the files of the critical Press, video and petition, and trying to hinder reporting. We'll have more on this.

 On April 27, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric about complaints to his envoy about violations of the cessation of hostilities by Saudi Arabia, and if a "plenary" had been canceled. Video here, UN transcript here.

 A month before the one year anniversary of the Saudi-led Coalition's campaign of airstrikes on Yemen, Inner City Press exclusively published, not for the first time, an email leaked to it between UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeff Feltman.

  As Inner City Press subsequently reported, Feltman conducted questioning -- some called it a witch hunt -- of DPA staff to try to find out who had leaked it to Inner City Press. And then the UN moved to evict Inner City Press from the UN, video here and here.

But still, the UN is supposed to send out its Yemen news or statement beyond its own "UN News Center." On April 20, Inner City Press asked, UN transcript here.

   Over the April 23-24 weekend, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and the / his UN News Center did it again, here:

"Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, UN Special Envoy for Yemen, said in a press release that 'significant differences in the delegations' points of view remain but nonetheless there is consensus on the need to make peace and to work intensively towards an agreement.'"

The UN's media practices have moved from evicting independent critical media to controlling like state media their own UN "scoops."

On April 21, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here.

 On April 19, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Vine here, UN transcript here.

  On April 15, the eve of eviction, Inner City Press asked Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to respond to Ali Abdullah Saleh, to a large rally on March 26, saying he would not work with the UN on anything. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed replied he does not comment on public statements, just the presence of Saleh party members in the negotiations.

 On March 28, after Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq had refused to let Inner City Press ask Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed a single question at his length press conference at the UN, Ban's top lawyer issued a threat of imminent eviction threat to Inner City Press.

  Not surprisingly, particularly given Feltman's witch hunt, some viewed the UN's escalation against Inner City Press as a response to its publication of UN leaks.

 On March 29, Feltman wrote to Inner City Press and we publish it in full:

"Dear Matthew,

On Yemen:  Your job is to publish what you consider to be news.  My job includes the protection of what is UN sensitive information.  So we are naturally going to be at odds over things such as leaked e-mails; that's just part of the respective roles we play.  I don't blame you for publishing what you had -- were I a journalist, I would likely do the same -- but you are surely sophisticated enough not to be surprised that I would try to stop leaks.  

As for your status at the UN, you are of course welcome to continue to send e-mails to me, but, as I expect you know, others, not DPA, have the appropriate responsibilities in this case.  DPA is not involved.

Jeffrey Feltman
Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs
United Nations, New York"

 Feltman cc-ed his spokesman, who ironically used to work at Amnesty International. Feltman's statement that the retaliation against Inner City Press is only attributable to Cristina Gallach's DPI does not wash. While not absolving Gallach, it goes to the top. We'll have more on this.


Share |

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Click for re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-303, UN, NY 10017 USA

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2015 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]