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On Yemen, ICP Asks Envoy IOCA About Kerry Plan, Hadi's Central Bank Desire

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 31 -- 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.

On August 18, Inner City Press exclusively published the proposal that Ban's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed made in Kuwait. This was the proposal described as blatantly one-sided that led to a collapse of the talks, the Saudi-led Coalition increased airstrikes and the death of more civilians.

On August 31 after the UN Security Council meeting in which envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his team briefed the Council, Inner City Press asked the envoy for the UN's view of Hadi's plan to move the Central Bank from Sana'a to Aden or beyond, and if the Kerry / Jubeir “new” plan involved Hadi. Video here.

He replied that the UN does not support moving the Central Bank, while chiding the Houthis and saying salaries in the south should be paid. He praised the Governor of the Central, whom numerous sources have plugged to Inner City Press has a possible replacement for Hadi.

   While claiming, in Arabic as well, that the Kerry plan is the same as his, one is left wondering, if his plan failed in Kuwait, is Kerry just announcing more of the same? This is something on which the US needs to speak. Watch this site.

Before the meeting, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft and then his French counterpart Francois Delattre what the relation is between the “new approach” announced by John Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister Al Jubeir and the Council and its envoy. Video here.

   Rycroft seemed to indicate that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is coming up with his final proposal -- what was the last, rejected one? -- and Delattre said the two are related.  Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed went in with his full team, the members and work-locations of which we've previously named, and indicated he will speak to the Press afterwards. Watch this site.

On August 24, when Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about Hadi planning to move the Central Bank to Aden or beyond, the spokesman said... he hasn't seen those reports. How is that possible? Vine here; UN transcript here and below.

On August 25, things got worse. US Secretary of State John Kerry at a press conference in Riyahd with his Saudi counterpart al Jubair said that the two, along with the UK and UAE, had come up with a new plan for Yemen, and that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed would start working on it. Who does he work for? At the August 25 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric these questions, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about Yemen.  Yesterday I’d asked you about the proposal to move the Central Bank, which Oxfam… many groups have said… you said you haven’t seen it, so I’m hoping to get some response to it.

But also John Kerry, in the last hour or so, has held a press conference in Riyadh with Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir.  And they’ve said they have a new plan, and it doesn’t seem to really involve the UN or the Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.  So I wanted to know, what is the relationship between the UN’s initiative on this and what was announced in Saudi Arabia…?
Spokesman:  I don’t… first of all, unfortunately, I don’t have anything for you on the Central Bank. But on the… on the talks, I mean, I… we have to see what exactly was said.  We’ll take a look at it.  From what I understand, Ismail is still having discussions with various parties.  So we’ll have to see how that’s… that meshes.  Obviously, both the US, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, GCC, and others have been supportive of the talks.  And we hope that all parties continue to be supportive of the UN effort.

Inner City Press:  And just also, still on Yemen, this… you read out Prince Zeid’s call for an investigation, but I guess I wondered, if you can, can you say… given the Secretary-General removed the Saudi-led Coalition from the list for the same crimes that Zeid… Mr. Zeid is talking about in a wider picture, does he… does he have a message in terms of… let’s say Saudi Arabia has… or its allies make financial threats to the UN system again or to the UN human rights architecture.  What’s the relationship between the decision that was reached here by the Secretary-General and what he believes Prince Zeid should do now?  It seems similar…
Spokesman:  I…
Inner City Press:  It seems related.
Spokesman:  I’m not sure I follow you.  Prince Zeid has… is… has stated clearly his report on human rights violations.  The Secretary-General fully supports the High Commissioner’s work in all his areas.

The Saudi-led Coalition was removed temporarily.  If you look at the annex, there’s an asterisk pending an ongoing… an ongoing review.  I think the message from all parts of the UN is that there is a need for accountability for those crimes that have been committed against civilians.

August 24:

Inner City Press: the Hadi Government in exile has announced that it wants to move the Central Bank either to… from Sana’a to Aden or even out of the country.  And many people, including humanitarian groups, are saying this will cause, you know, even more problems in terms of aid.  What does the UN believe the Hadi government should do and what's their response?

Spokesman:  I haven't seen those particular reports.  If I have something, I will share that with you.

Five hours later and counting, nothing. Some envoy.

In connection with the demonstration in Sana'a, the Houthi and GPC side wrote to Ban's envoy to say they will not engage with him. On August 22, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, Beyond the Vine here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: I also wanted to ask this about Yemen.  I'm sure the UN is aware there was a pretty large demonstration in Sana'a over the weekend largely against the airstrikes.  And there's also announced that the… the… at least some part of the Houthi GNC side, GPPC side, have said they won't meet with the Envoy anymore.  In part, they're complaining about being banned from even returning from the Kuwait talks on a plane through Oman.  So I wanted to know, one, was the Envoy aware that some if his interlocutors were unable to return to the country?  And, two, what does he say to--

Spokesman:  The Envoy continues his work.  He's meeting with different interlocutors.  He met recently, I think, with one of the deputy Russian Foreign Ministers.  So, his work is continuing.  We're aware that, due to the increased military activities, there were restrictions on flights in and out of different parts of… of Yemen.  We would once again reiterate our call for a cessation of the hostilities, especially cessation of the airstrikes, which we have seen have caused and continues to cause tremendous damage on… on the civilian population, both in terms of directly on people and on infrastructure that people need… that humanitarian workers need to access… to access those in need.

  Inner City Press has previously reported growing calls to replace Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed after his failure - and that one Permanent member of the Security Council in particular was insisted IOCA remain in his role. We hinted it was neither the UK nor Russia.

  Today we report it is the United States, most notably through the US Ambassador to Yemen Matthew Tueller. While other media breathlessly report that the US is pulling back from supporting the Saudi-led coalition's airstrikes (and others, that Ban Ki-moon might reverse course and “get tough” with the Saudis), one wonders why the US supports IOCA, on transparency grounds alone.

  The US says it is for transparency. Yet UN official Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is one of the UN officials who refuses to make any public financial disclosure. Vine here. 

(The US ostensibly believes that Ban Ki-moon is sincere that he urges public disclosure, even those Ban's own mentor Han Seung-soo refuses any public disclosure, while Inner City Press asks about Han's presence on the boards of directors of Doosan, which sells equipment to country Han gives UN speeches to, and Standard Chartered Bank, which has two UN contracts.)

  Why does Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed refuse any public disclosure? Well, Inner City Press was informed, when IOCA was Ebola Envoy, that he maintained a fishing business (and thus dubbed him the fishy envoy). More recently, Inner City Press has quoted sources that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is involved in the luxury vehicle trade.

While the UN refuses to answer basic questions, Inner City Press has been informed that two individuals stopped in the compound in Kuwait where the failed talks took place were, in fact, involved in Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's luxury vehicle business. The lack of disclosure, and the refusal to answer, only makes these questions more serious. Watch this site.

  The proposal by Ban's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed set as a prerequisite the “withdrawal of militias and armed groups from the defined locations, in Interim Security Arrangements 2 (iii), and the “surrender of heavy and medium weapons” in Sana'a (Amanat al-Asima), Taizz and Houdeidah.

  There's a vague, even bracketed “Political Dialogue” including on “Addressing the Southern Question in a manner which meets the aspirations of the people in the South and ensures that they enjoy the full benefits of good governance.” The envoy, of course, imagined a central role for himself. His failure has led to deaths, abetted by the decision to remove the Saudi-led Coalition from the Children and Armed Conflict annex. We'll have more on this.

Exclusive: On Yemen, Ban Ki-moon's Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's Proposal That Ended Kuwait Talks by Matthew Russell Lee on Scribd

Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, who said Ban's UN couldn't confirm the casualties. Ban Ki-moon went on leave after a junket to Los Angeles and Calgary - for his one day of "work" in between, there was nothing on his schedule. Tweeted photo here.

Hours later Ban issued another canned statement, which immediately published here but which did not mention much less explain Ban taking the Saudi led coalition off the Children and Armed Conflict annex for Yemen. Instead, unnamed Ban officials have spun that he might put Saudi and the Coalition back on. Inner City Press asked on August 18, but there was and is no there, there.

   Inner City Press has been informed in more detail of the Saudis' outreach to USg Feltman, including that officials immediately next to Ban believed there would be a fatwa, when that many not have come directly from the Saudis.

  Also, in light of Ban's continued expressed support for his envoy, that the only one of the P5 still supporting him is the US, primarily its Ambassador to Yemen, and that in connection with Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed's automotive sales business, two individuals were arrested and questions in the Kuwait compound where the failed talks occurred. This is Ban's (corrupt) UN.

  At the August 15 noon briefing Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq wanly read-out Ban's statement form the night before, and insisted that envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed is doing a good job, this week the parties are "consulting." With air strikes?

What happened to Ban Ki-moon's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric's claim to Inner City Press that Ban's removal of the Saudi-led coalition from the annex actually helped Yemeni children?

 Long afterward, after even US Representative Ted Lieu commented, Ban issued a statement which did not refer in any way to his having dropped Saudi Arabia from the Yemen child killer list for money. Here is the full text:

"The Secretary-General condemns the attack, reported to have been an airstrike, on a school in the Sa'ada governorate of northern Yemen on 13 August. The attack killed at least 10 children and injured many more.

The Secretary-General notes with dismay that civilians, including children, continue to bear the brunt of increased fighting and military operations in Yemen. He calls for a swift investigation of this tragic event and urges the parties to take all necessary measures to prevent further violations of international humanitarian lawand human rights and do everything in their power to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no military solution to the crisis in Yemen.  He calls upon the parties to renew -- without delay and in good faith -- their engagement with his Special Envoy for Yemen in pursuit of a negotiated solution."

  (Meanwhile, the Houthi and GPC delegates to the failed talks were intentionally delayed in returning to Yemen, to try to avoid quorom for the vote on the new High Political Council. Shameful.)

   From Ban's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, little to nothing is expected. As Inner City Press first reported, discussions are underway to replace him - perhaps from Egypt. But he still has one, and only one, P5 supporters. And, here's a hint: it's not Russia, and it's not the UK. Watch this site.

With the Yemen talks in Kuwait run by Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed on their last legs, the UN Security Council met on the topic on August 3. While from what was said outside the meeting it appears the difference of opinion about whether to only chide the Houthi / GPC delegation or all parties was between Russia and the UK, Inner City Press is informed that as before, the most intransigent pro-Hadi (that is, pro-Saudi) member was Egypt.

Egypt previously argued that the UN Group of Experts has no right to look at the impacts of the Saudi-led Coalition. This as Egyptian state media Akhbar Al Yom, gifted with Inner City Press' long-time office by Ban Ki-moon, has an invisible correspondent Sanaa Youssef who asks no questions, even on Egyptian topics. This is a scam, that must be reversed.

  At the August 3 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Dujarric why the envoy IOCA focused on military issues and only now at the eleventh hour says he might put forward a political proposal. Dujarric, garbling an American idiom, said he's against “Monday quarterbacking,” dropping the word “Morning.”(The UN simply inserted it into the transcript, without brackets:

Inner City Press: on Yemen, just now before this briefing, Ambassador [Vitaly] Churkin said that… that the Secretary-General's envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has a… may have a political proposal that what he unveiled in Kuwait was only a military proposal for the Houthis to leave cities and that's what they rejected, which he seemed to say was understandable.  Is there, in fact, a political proposal by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed?  And when is he going to present it?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, you know, obviously, the Special Envoy has a number… has proposals and ideas.  Those will be first unveiled and announced in Kuwait to the parties, and I think we just have to be a little patient.

ICP Question:  But do you… I mean, if… if it was a process of sequencing, of going public with the military proposals before the political ones and it almost resulted in the breakdown of the talks, what do you think of that?  Does it make more sense…?

Spokesman:  What I think is I'm not going to, if you'll excuse the mixed metaphor, Monday-morning quarterback and nitpick the work of the Special Envoy.  He is working in an extremely challenging diplomatic atmosphere, to say the least.  He is in the lead, and I will… we will support his ideas and his working methods.
 It's morning in America: by the afternoon, during the Council's North Korea meeting, US Samantha Power issued a statement on Yemen, with a phrase for the Houthi / GPC delegation.

  On August 2, Inner City Press had asked Dujarric:

Inner City Press: you just said in response to a question about the high profile diplomats that Ban Ki moon has assigned to the Syria file.  I want to ask you about the Yemen file.  Most people are saying… although it’s constantly said from this podium that there’s still… hope remains alive even as people walk away.  Is… Would you put Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed on the same level?  You just made this distinction, you listed these illustrious long-term diplomats.  Is there a consideration…

Spokesman:  I do think that, whether it is Jamal Benoma [sic] who had the file previously or Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, I think they are extremely talented diplomats and mediators, working in trying to untangle a particularly difficult situation; trying to find a political way forward while fighting is ostensibly still going on, and I think the point is that we will continue our efforts in that direction and we will not stop.

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. 

On August 2 as Ban Ki-moon entered the UN Security Council meeting on Children and Armed Conflict, Inner City Press asked him about what he had received from Saudi Arabia. Ban did not answer. Video here.

  Inside the Security Council, Ban claimed that his dropping of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition from the annex was “very closely considered” -- “After very careful consideration, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition was removed from the annexes.” What was so “very careful”?

When Ban Ki-moon came out of the Council, Inner City Press nearly alone at the stakeout asked him again, Has Saudi Arabia's coalition been permanently removed? Ban only waved, did not answer. (He's been known to oust and evict, at least through his Spokesman and DPI chief Cristina Gallach.)

   At the day's noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Dujarric to clarify, which didn't happen - he wouldn't even answer simple yes or no questions. But back at the stakeout, Inner City Press asked Leila Zerrougui and she answered at length, video here.

   On Dujarric's comment that the US is not in the Saudi coalition, she referred to a “Note Verbale” listing 10 countries. That seems to include Egypt, whose state media Akhbar Al Yom's Sanaa Youssef for once was around, as usual asking no questions. That and previous UNCA presidency seems the basis to try to use her to take over Inner City Press long time office, despite Akhbar Al Yom not even complying with the UN's stated rules.

   Saudi Arabia's Ambassador also did a long stakeout, denying that Saudi Arabia pressured Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press asked, What about Jeffrey Feltman, and Saudi Foreign Minister AL Jubeir repeatedly calling him? He acknowledged the calls.

  Some ask, So is it that Feltman pressured Ban on behalf of the US?

On July 28, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: heard that in the talks in Kuwait on Yemen that the Houthi and [Ali Abdullah] Saleh side have announced that they are setting up a high political council to essentially run the country and many people are interpreting this as an end to the talks in Kuwait.  Do you have any comment on it, and is there any discussion in terms of maybe seeking a new UN envoy to be dealing with these issues?

Deputy Spokesman:  We are aware that Ansar Allah, the General People's Congress (GPC), and their allies have signed an Agreement today establishing a Political Council with broad political, military, security, economic, administrative and social executive and legislative powers.  The Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said that this development contravenes the commitments provided by Ansar Allah and the GPC to support the UN-led peace process.  The announcement of unilateral governing arrangements is not in line with the peace process and endangers the substantial progress made during the Kuwait talks.  There is a clear violation of the Yemeni Constitution and the provisions of the GCC Initiative and its implementation Mechanism.  I would also like to recall that Security Council resolution 2216 explicitly demands that all Yemeni parties must refrain from further unilateral actions that could undermine the political transaction in Yemen.

ICP Question:  Follow-up question.  Do you… Kuwait had set a two-week deadlines for the talks to reach some kind of conclusion.  I've heard that Mr. Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is asking for an extension.  Is that true, and do you believe that Kuwait will grant it?  And that's why I was asking about the possible end of the talks.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I can't speak for Kuwaiti authorities.

ICP Question:  Are you asking for an extension?

Deputy Spokesman:  But regarding our side, at this point the talks are continuing.  If there is any need for us to ask for any extension, we will let you know.  But at this point the talks have been continuing.  Of course, you've heard what we have said about this latest development, however.

Ban is debased as well. After being made to wait 45 minutes to see the Saudi crown prince, on July 13 when Inner City Press showed up to cover Ban's 3:30 pm meeting with Saudi foreign minister Al-Jubeir, it was told it was delayed, then put over to the next day.

  On July 13 Inner City Press came through the UN metal detectors early, to cover the 9:15 am rescheduled Saudi meeting with Ban. After being screened again, on the 37th floor Inner City Press was told that Al-Jubeir would again be late.

Finally the press was brought into Ban's conference room. Arriving were Jeffrey Feltman, with whom Inner City Press has been informed and reported Al-Jubeir already engaged to get off the CAAC list, Chef de Cabinet Edmond Mulet, Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson -- who it was said would take the meeting, since Ban had to leave on a trip including to a meeting also attended by ICC-indicted Omar al Bashir -- Leila Zerrougui, Andrew Gilmour and spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

After yet more delay, Ban emerged from his office, said to be better air-conditioned than the rest of the UN these days, and greeted al-Jubeir after he shook hands with Feltman. Tweeted photos here and here. Ban began some wooden comments then Dujarric gestured to UN Security to remove the press. Periscope video here. At the elevator, some Saudi representatives were trying to come in without any UN IDs at all. How did they get to the 38th floor? We'll have more on all this.

For now, another money issue: where did the funds for the expenses of the parties in Kuwait, particuarly for those from Sanaa, go? Members of the delegation from Sanaa speak of having to borrow money, unlike for previous rounds in Geneva.  Inner City Press has spoken with members of the UN's previous team in Geneva voicing these and other doubts about Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

Meanwhile Ban's envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed has or had a larger and larger team - and is failing. Even the Riyadh delegation disagrees with the rosy picture IOCA and Ban's spokesman painted, of a mere hiatus in progress to be resumed July 15. 

On July 5 before noon with Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric present in the building but declining to hold a noon briefing in the room from which he ordered Inner City Press to leave, used as a pretext to evict it, Inner City Press asked him:

"For the Yemen talks in Kuwait, Inner City Press is informed that delagate(s) from Sa'ana did not receive daily financial support while participating in the talks; some took out personal loans to participate. What was the budget for these UN-facilitated talks that Ban visited? What was the size of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's team? Why did delegates from Sa'ana have to take out personal loans to participate?"

Three hours later, with Dujarric in a baseball cap outside the UN "focus booth" it must now use to return phone calls - some about Ban Ki-moon and corruption - there was STILL no answer or explanation. After 48 hours, on July 7 Inner City Press asked Dujarric, Video here, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press:  the question about Yemen that I’d asked you about in writing on Tuesday, I wanted to know whether the delegation from Sana’a, a number of the delegates are saying that, in the Kuwait talks, they received substantially less funding to be participating in the talks than they had in Geneva.  In fact, some of them took personal…  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  My understanding is that the Government of Kuwait provided the accommodations, provided the venue for the talks.  The UN itself is not responsible or did not provide DSA (daily subsistence allowance)… is not responsible for providing DSA for the delegations.  That’s a question you need to ask the delegations themselves.

Inner City Press:  What’s the size of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed’s team and… and are they all still in Kuwait?  Where are they now?

Spokesman:  I don’t know… I don’t think they’re all still in Kuwait, because the talks have been on a pause for a little bit.

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 essentially a sideshow, now suspended.

The UN Security Council is negotiating a draft Presidential Statement shepherded by the UK - now under Boris Johnson - about Yemen. But Egypt is representing the Saudi view, Russia going another way, and the draft is stalled.

On June 27, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN Transcript here.

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.

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.

   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.

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.

 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.

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.


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