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On Yemen, ICP Asks UK Of Hadi Rebuffing Ceasefire, Not Meeting UN Envoy

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up to Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS,  November 17 -- While in Yemen the Houthis and ex-President Saleh's GNC both announced agreement to a ceasefire, in Riyahd exiled president Hadi indicated he did not agree. The UN on November 16 admitted to Inner City Press that Hadi did not even meet with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

  On November 17, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft if this was his understanding of Hadi's position. Tweeted video here.

From the UK's transcript:

Inner City Press:  Any idea if President Hadi is for the ceasefire or not for the ceasefire, in your understanding?
Amb Rycroft: So last I heard, President Hadi was not for the ceasefire brokered by Secretary Kerry, who was in the region recently. We commend his efforts, his energy, his continued momentum throughout his mandate, including on this important issue. I think he’s made a huge amount of progress by getting that ceasefire agreed, but I think not by President Hadi and indeed not by the government of Yemen, as things currently stand.
Inner City Press: Does President Hadi not want to meet with the UN Envoy? Because some people had said that he went to Riyadh and was unable to meet with Hadi?
Amb Rycroft: I hadn’t heard of that. I was aware that President Hadi had taken some persuasion even to receive the roadmap, never mind to engage constructively on it. But we call on him, and indeed all of the parties in Yemen, to engage constructively on the roadmap, which is a good, final offer from the Special Envoy of the UN, which I think has the full backing of the Security Council. I certainly hope so. And our draft resolution, which sets forth that support by the Security Council for the Special Envoy and his roadmap, as well as for other things like the Cessation of Hostilities and the humanitarian access that continues to be in play, and we will keep that out there as a way of moving in the right direction on Yemen towards a political agreement.

  The Saudi led coalition bombed the funeral of the father of Yemen interior minister Jalal al-Roweishan in Sana'a on October 8, the same day the UN Security Council met about airstrikes in Syria.

Inner City Press asked Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the UN Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi to confirm it was an Saudi strike and explain it. He said, "I am not aware of it." Vine video here.

Inner City Press asked him more questions on November 3, video here. He said investigations are proceeding, and money being offered.

On November 16, Inner City Press again asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson about the failures of Ban's or Saudi Arabia's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. From the UN's November 16 transcript:

Inner City Press: on what Secretary [John] Kerry announced yesterday as a ceasefire agreed to by the Houthis, and it's since been said that the GPC (General People’s Congress)/Saleh side also agrees to it and the roadmap, I'm… I wanted to ask you again, because yesterday, and I guess… I think it happened later in the day than the briefing here, at the State Department briefing, the… the briefer, Ms. [Elizabeth] Trudeau, was asked repeatedly why… what was the [Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi position?  And she said… this is a direct quote… she said, "As to the conversations with the Yemeni Government, we believe that's the role of the UN Special Envoy, and we direct you there."  So I'm wondering, can you state what has been the status of… of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's discussions with the Hadi Government and with Mr. Hadi, in particular?  And what is their position on a ceasefire that John Kerry's announced and that two parties have said that they will… would… would or will respect as early as Thursday?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, at this stage, like I say… like I told you yesterday, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been travelling throughout the region.  I believe, in more recent days, he's been in Amman, Jordan.  But before that, he had been in Sana'a and in Riyadh, talking with the different parties.  There are assurances on different sides.  I don't want to characterise at this point the position of the Hadi Government.  That's really for them to describe.  But he has had good discussions with Saudi officials and others.  We've been in touch with people throughout the region.  We'll have to see whether a cessation of hostilities takes hold tomorrow, but we've been very encouraged, including by Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts.  And what we'll do is see what happens tomorrow and react accordingly.  But there have been some good signals on… by various sides.

ICP Question:  Was the envoy able to meet with President Hadi when he was in Riyadh?  Because I've heard that he wasn't and he was snubbed.  And can you just… did he meet or not?  If he met, great.  If he didn't, say it.

Deputy Spokesman:  No, I wouldn't call it a snub, but, no, they did not meet.

On November 10, having been informed by sources that Hadi and his team rebuffed the “UN” envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed and his or John Kerry's roadmap, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about it. Rycroft said all sides should engage, including explaining what they don't like about the roadmap. Video here.  From the UK transcript:

Inner City Press: On Yemen, the reports that President Hadi declined to meet with the Envoy – is that your understanding? And where do you think things stand on this Roadmap?
Amb Rycroft: Well where things stand is that I think that the whole of the Security Council supports the Roadmap. We have a draft resolution, as you know, that is sort of in the works that are out there that would offer that full support in terms of a textual resolution. We are, all of us, providing our full support to the Special Envoy. We are encouraging him to engage with all the parties. It’s not just Hadi, but some of the others too have their concerns with aspects of the Roadmap. No one is going to be completely happy with every part of it, but it is a sensible, balanced, thought through, careful proposal and we encourage all the parties to engage on it. And if they don’t like it to tell us why, and to negotiate from that as a starting point.

  Meanwhile Inner City Press hears of protests directed at the UN in Sana'a for UN support of the blockade of Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition.

Exclusively, Inner City Press is informed that despite Bna Ki-moon's teams constant refrain that his decision to remove the Saudi-led Coalition from the UN's Children and Armed Conflict annex for Yemen, this will not happen during Ban's remaining 50 days as Secretary General. The report is finished, Inner City Press is told, if it is reopened now it would be an even worse precedent, allowing others to lobby to get off the list at any time. The decision will await March, and Ban's successor.

  So Ban Ki-moon's sell-out of Yemen and its children is complete, it is concluded.

On November 7 Inner City Press exclusively reported that not only is “UN” envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's roadmap dictated by outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry, but that there are complaints among IOCA's team, about no-show employees parked in Sweden and his deputy “Gluck” whom no one wants to work with.

   More troubling from a US perspective is that Inner City Press is told about pressure brought to bear on Saleh, making his support Kerry's roadmap in order to “free” his son / once successor, under essential house arrest in the UAE. Is this the way US foreign policy is supposed to function?

   Can Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed even meet with Hadi? We'll see - watch this site.

After Saudi Arabia was re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council on October 28, with the votes of 152 of the 193 member states, the Saudi-led Coalition's bombing of Yemen picked up pace, including killing detainees in Al Hudaydah.

On November 3 Abdallah Yahya A. Al-Mouallimi told Inner City Press this was an entirely military target. Detainees? Video here.

Much has been said about the Yemen draft resolution being worked on by the penholder the UK, without circulation to the 15 Security Council members. On November 1 UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the Press about the draft; at 5 pm Council president for November Fode Seck of Senegal also referred to it.

A draft was obtained by Inner City Press and was exclusively published on November 1, see below: it does not condemn the airstrikes but demands a cessation of hostilities, and for the envoy to report back in 15 days. AP gave credit to Inner City Press on November 2.

Now Inner City Press can exclusively report that “UN” envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's roadmap is in fact a product of the US State Department, and that IOCA only belatedly presented it to a lower level administrator in the Yemeni / Hadi foreign minister. The envoy has been criticized and, we're told, is about to be cut off by the Houthi side. And while Saudi Arabia's Ambassador answered Inner City Press diplomatically on November, it seems the Saudis are no fans of this roadmap either. “It was all about Kerry's legacy,” as one source put it to Inner City Press.

  On October 31 outside the UN Security Council, envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed came out to take questions. But Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman said he would only take two questions because he had to meet Ban -- strange, given that Ban's scheduled only listed him at 4 pm, three hours in the future.

   Inner City Press asked, quite audibly, if weapons sales to Saudi Arabia by the UK and US is helpful to his mandate. Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman cut in, awarding the question to another. After that, Inner City Press asked again, if US fueling of Saudi warplanes helps the envoy's mandate. He did not answer.  Video here.

He walked down the hall where Inner City Press under Ban's censorship order can't go without a minder but others can. But where was he headed, with three hours until his listed meeting with Ban?

The next day November 1, Ansar Allah's spokesman mocked Ban's envoy, full Arabic statement obtained and published by here.

Some: "the UN envoy to Yemen in briefings presented to the Security Council to provide cover for the countries of aggression,  as experienced by the Yemeni people from the reality of a painful and unfortunate result of brutal aggression, and contributes one way or another with the help of the executioner against the victim and prolong the war and the adoption of fallacies and fabrications do not hear but channels of disinformation for the countries of aggression.... not realizing that such acts foolish had violated his mission as an envoy of peace, turning to war exercises shipping confessional of the platform is supposed that the UN, which is fueling the conflict and rivalry and stoke the fire of hostilities between the people of the nation.

"While recognizing that the United Nations is only a platform to beautify the colonial American policies in the region and the world, but the slope, which reached its envoy to Yemen is a disgrace to the institution exposed its role by exposure representatives angels of the executioners service, and assure that the institution will not be able to play an active and positive role in the Yemen only when it is able to clarify the situation and repair what was destroyed envoy slipped dangerously ramp by turning to the worst trumpet internationalist states aggression."

Earlier on October 31 Inner City Press asked UK ambassador Matthew Rycroft if Hadi should cede power. Beyond the Vine video here; UK transcript here:

Inner City Press: Should President Hadi cede power to a new vice president. That’s what people are saying is in the Road Map. Is it time for him to put the larger picture ahead of himself?
Rycroft: We support the Special Envoy’s Road Map, and you’re right that part of the Road Map is on the political process and a longer term political settlement for Yemen, and the other part of it is the security. And taken together, they provide a balanced package that will allow all of the relevant parties to move forward, including in the longer term a new governing structure and new governing people to take Yemen forward.

   Inner City Press put the same question to French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who said it would require too long an answer. Video here: including Inner City Press' "you know where to find us." Watch this site. obtained and published the National Delegation's response to Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's proposed roadmap, here. 

On October 27, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Wanted to ask you about Yemen.  Seems that the Secretary-General's envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has put forward a roadmap which would involve the Vice President, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, stepping down and Mr. [Abd Rabbuh Mansour] Hadi transferring his powers to a new Vice President.  I want… I guess I wanted to say… if this is… you'd said that they have the same view.  Yesterday, you'd said the envoy and the Secretary-General are as one.  So I wanted to know, will the Secretary-General be calling various parties to the conflict, such as Saudi Arabia, to ask them to… to urge them to accept this proposal with the Vice President stepping down and the President [inaudible]…

Spokesman:  My understanding is that certain documents were leaked that were shared, so we're not going to comment on these leaked documents.  I think it's not a surprise that, in any mediation negotiation effort, different plans are put forward, and what we very much hope is that all the parties involved will support and continue to support the work of the Special Envoy.

ICP Question:  And today, the International Monetary Fund, at its briefing, expressed greater concern about this plan by Mr. Hadi, who may not be long for his powers, to move the Central Bank to Aden, saying it's a very complicated process.  I wanted to know, on the humanitarian front, does the UN have any update on steps that have been taken and… and does it have any renewed call that the… the Central Bank not be moved at this [inaudible] time…

Spokesman:  No specific information on where that plan lies.  I think the Special Envoy answered that question that in fact, you had asked him, and I don't see any reason why his opinion has changed in any way.

On October 24, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I was, I guess, expecting something on Yemen.  What's the status… people are reporting that the airstrikes have resumed or even picked up escalation — the expiration.  And there's also some reports that the Saudi-led coalition was targeting what little agricultural land there is in the country, and there are picture… troubling pictures of starving people being brought down from mountains to clinics. So what exactly is the plan of the UN?  What's their read on… on how the bombing has resumed?  And [inaudible]…

Spokesman:  It's clear that the bombing has resumed.  I think the pause, although very short, gave respite to some Yemenis.  It allowed us to start some humanitarian… some humanitarian distribution, though some were blocked, notably some continue to be blocked in terms of entering Taizz. The Special Envoy is in… is in Yemen.  He, as you saw over the weekend, has asked for… had asked for an extension and asked for a renewed commitment to the pause.  And he will continue… he will continue to advocate for that.

ICP Question:  Does he consider… does the Secretary-General, who removed the Saudi-led coalition from the children and armed conflict annex on Yemen, consider the intentional bombing of agricultural land to also be something relevant to his consideration before he leaves of putting them back on the list?

Spokesman:  The… if there was intentional bombing of agricultural land, that would fall under the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructure, which is prohibited by international law.  Yeah.

  Yeah - like, what are Ban Ki-moon and his envoy DOING about any of this?

While the US took no action on the strike by its ally Saudi Arabia which it support, on October 12 it bragged of Tomahawk missiles at Houthi positions. On October 15 it alluded to a possible radar malfunction while, along with UK Minister Tobias Ellwood, welcoming the Saudis' own self-investigation.

On October 17 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner ity Press asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft about this, Beyond the Vine video here, UK transcript here:

Inner City Press: On the Yemen funeral bombing, does the UK think that the Saudi-led coalition that does the self-investigation is enough or that there should be a more serious investigation?

Amb Rycroft: Well, whenever there are allegations, we insist that the Saudis investigate them. The Saudis have been investigating this one and they have committed to doing it fully and thoroughly and quickly and transparently. And that is going on and we welcome that. And we will look at the results of that and if anything further is required then we will make up our minds.

On October 15 Ellwood said, "Welcome Saudi report into funeral attack.  UK will look at it closely to see that lessons are learned."

Last week Inner City Press asked three separate Ban Ki-moon spokespeople:

"Beyond the other pending questions, what is the Secretary General's comment on the United States' announced Tomahawk missile firings into Yemen? Please list the highest Saudi officials USG O'Brien met in his most recent trip to Riyadh, and who he requested to meet with."

Even by the next day, October 13, at noon there had been no answer. So at the October 13 noon briefing Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: I'd asked you this in writing but maybe you'll have a statement.  The US has announced that it fired Tomahawk missiles at Yemen, they say at radar-controlled and Houthi-controlled territory, which they say targeted their boat.  The Houthis deny it, say it may have been Saudi Arabia.  Has the US communicated anything to the UN about this use of force on Yemen?  And does the… does the Secretary-General have any concern about the escalation?

Spokesman:  No, I'm not aware of any official communication.  The Special Envoy for Yemen urges all the parties to exercise maximum restraint in order to bring the violence down, and he will continue to focus his efforts on securing a recommitment to the Cessation of Hostilities.


On October 12 in the UN's Third Committee, the US speech on Children and Armed Conflict didn't mention Ban's dropping of Saudi from the list. The UN's Cristina Gallach's DPI didn't put the video online, eight hours later.

And where was Ban's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed? In Saudi, and silent. This is Ban's UN

On October 10 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held a two-question stakeout and spoke about the airstrike -- he did not, however, say that he was putting Saudi Arabia and the Coalition back on the Children and Armed Conflict annex he took them off of. Inner City Press asked audibly, Are you putting them back on the list? Vine here. Ban did not answer.

On October 11, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: there are controversy in a number of countries, but the UK and the US are two of them, about continued arm sales to Saudi Arabia.  And I wonder, given the things that the Secretary-General said at the stakeout yesterday, does he believe that countries should review under the new arms… you know… control treaty, arms sales to Saudi Arabia at this time?

Spokesman:  I think, you know, the Secretary-General, I think, a few months ago had already spoken to this when he was in London.  First of all, all those countries that sell weapons have a responsibility that those weapons are used in a way that does not violate international human rights law, international humanitarian law, as a broader point, that those States who are parties to the arms trade treaty need to set an example in fulfilling one of the treaty’s main purposes, which is controlling the arm flows to actors that may use them in a way that breach international humanitarian law.

ICP Question:  Right.  And so… and so a double-tap airstrike on a funeral building would qualify as… as the type of… [inaudible]

Spokesman:  I think there’s no… I think the Secretary-General could not have been clearer that there’s absolutely no excuse for what happened yesterday.

   At the October 10 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric what it would take. Beyond the Vine video here. It remains unclear. Ban's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is delaying his briefing of the Security Council from October 20 to the 31st -- some urgency -- and when Inner City Press asked about the Interior Minister's critique of the envoy, Dujarric insisted the envoy has no control.

Was he told, did he convey the message, at least as a bridge? If not, should he be replaced? The EU's Yemen representative has already moved on. We'll have more on this.

The US says John Kerry called the Saudis - but says nothing about any UN Security Council action. Here is the US statement:

"Secretary Kerry spoke on October 9 to both His Royal Highness Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir regarding the situation in Yemen. Secretary Kerry reiterated our deep concern about the October 8 attack on the funeral hall in Yemen that resulted in a large number of civilian casualties. He welcomed the Deputy Crown Prince's commitment to launch a thorough and immediate investigation of the strike and urged him to take urgent steps to ensure such an incident does not happen again. The Secretary also reiterated the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and the Deputy Crown Prince stated his desire to institute a renewable 72-hour cessation as soon as possible, provided the Houthis will agree.

"The Secretary also noted, as part of the broader de-escalation effort, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's legitimate request that the Houthis pull back weapons from Saudi Arabia's border and respect its territorial integrity. The Secretary expressed appreciation for the Deputy Crown Prince's support for returning the Houthi/ Saleh negotiating delegation to Sana'a as soon as possible to facilitate the UN-led political process. Secretary Kerry emphasized that the United States will work closely with all parties to establish the cessation of hostilities and revive the political process."

  No word of any UN Security Council action.

The UK, which "holds the pen" on Yemen in the Security Council, has issued a comment - with no mention of trying to do anything in the Council. Perhaps they are or will; we are following this. But for now, only this from the UK:

"UK Minister for the Middle East, Tobias Ellwood, expresses concern following an airstrike which hit a funeral hall in Yemen and will raise concerns with the Saudi Ambassador to London Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said:
'I am deeply concerned by reports of an airstrike hitting a funeral hall in the Yemeni capital Sana’a yesterday. The scenes from the site are shocking. I am raising my concerns with the Saudi Ambassador to London today and urge the Saudi-led coalition’s announced investigation into the incident to take place as a matter of urgency.
'There can be no military solution to this conflict. We urge all sides to recommit to political talks and to implement a cessation of hostilities.'"

  So - no UN Security Council reaction? We'll await more, particularly from the UK as penholder.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who removed the Saudi coalition from the UN Children and Armed Conflict annex on Yemen, offered what he called his "sincere" condolences.

  France, whose foreign minister Jean Marc Ayrault declined to answer Inner City Press' question on October 8 about the Saudi bombing, now says it is "shocked" - without mentioning Saudi Arabia. The Security Council, in which the UK "holds the pen" on Yemen, has yet to say anything.

Now Interior Minister Jalal Rwichan has issued a statement, forwarded to Inner City Press, stating that Ban Ki-moon's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was told of a cessation in hostilities for the funeral, that on that basis people went - and were killed. He says not to trust the UN or its envoy anymore. This has been a trend under Ban Ki-moon, in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. We'll have more on this.

After the French resolution failed in the Security Council, its foreign minister Jean Marc Ayrault came to the stakeout. Inner City Press asked him, loudly, if he thinks the Saudi bombardment of Yemen should also be taken up by the Security Council, after an airstrike on a funeral most recently. He did not answer, despite the question being repeated. Vine here. He left.

   While Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the UK, which holds the Council's “pen” on Yemen, also did not answer, Vine here, New Zealand's ambassador when Inner City Press asked if his country also thinks the Saudi-led coalition should stop bombing Yemen said, “I do.” Vine here.

But by the end of the meting, following a walk-out by the UK, US and others, the UK as "penholder" on Yemen in the Security Council had not, according to the president, circulated any draft Press Statement. Watch this site.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has let the Saudi led coalition off the Children and Armed Conflict annex on Yemen, while Saudi Arabia runs for a Human Rights Council seat. How much lower can the UN get?

After a UAE warship was hit - and sunk - off the Yemeni coast near Mocha, Inner City Press on October 3 asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq for a comment, and if the UN knows if it was a warship or as claimed an aid ship.  See October 6 US travel warning, below.

On October 4 Haq returned with, "it doesn't sound as if it was on a humanitarian mission." Vine video here.

But eight hours later, the UN Security Council issued a condemnation of the attack on this UAE "vessel."

So on October 5, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Haq again, if what he said about the UAE ship not being on a humanitarian mission still stands.  He said, "Yes," and "that was the information I had." Vine video here. But the UN Secretariat has not given any update, much less correction. So what precedent does this Security Council Press Statement create?

And what about the precedent Ban Ki-moon set by dropping the Saudi-led coalition from the Children and Armed Conflict annex for killing children in Yemen? Saudi Arabia is now running for a seat on the Human Rights Council. On October 6 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Farhan Haq, Beyond the Vine video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: Given that the Secretary-General, whether you called it removed or temporarily removed or suspended Saudi Arabia from that Children in Armed Conflicts List what… what message does it send?  Obviously, one of the things that people… that Member States might weigh is whether a candidate for the Human Rights Council is on one of the annexes of Children in Armed Conflict or sexual violence or any of the other, sort of, lists of shame.  So how should they read this removal?  Are they going to be put back on during this campaign season?  Are they remaining off during it?  And doesn't he then acknowledge that he's had some impact on the way in which they will be evaluated for this position?

Deputy Spokesman:  I think if you look at the website, it makes clear that Saudi Arabia is currently temporarily suspended while a review is ongoing.

ICP Question:  Which is a different status than people that are on the list.

Deputy Spokesman:  It's also a different status from people who are not on the list entirely.

From the UN's October 3 transcript:

Inner City Press:  on Yemen, I wanted to know if the UN system has any comment or knowledge of this reported sinking of a UAE (United Arab Emirates) warship.  Some are saying it was an aid convoy.  The Houthis' side is saying it was a warship enforcing a blockade on them.  Since it's a pretty high-profile incident that has the potential to result in reprisals, what's the UN's understanding of what the ship was?  Was it an aid ship, or was it part of the military operations of the Saudi-led coalition?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we're aware of the latest reports, but we'll need to get some further information about the nature of this vessel before we make any particular comment.

Question:  Given the UN's role in the humanitarian operation in Yemen, do countries like the UAE coordinate with UN if they're, as they say, moving medical supplies from one place to another, or is it just, everyone goes it alone?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, as you know, we do have a verification and inspection mechanism that's designed to help expedite the process by which aid gets into Yemen, and so we do expect that countries will use that mechanism.   On Yemen, Inner City Press on October 4 asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft how his country reviews its arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other members of the Saudi-led Coalition that has been bombing Sanaa, Saada and elsewhere. Beyond the Vine video here, UK transcript here:

Inner City Press: Q: On Yemen, what’s the process for the UK to review its sale of weapons to the Saudi-led coalition? That seems to be an issue. What would it take to stop that flow?

Amb Rycroft: The UK has a very clear set of arms control policies in place, and they are of a very high standard indeed, and we use those to make sure that we are satisfied with any arm sales to anywhere around the world, including in relation to Yemen.

Inner City Press: But the airstrikes on MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), did that trigger some sort of second review?

Amb Rycroft: Well, we continue to look at all of our policies in relation to Yemen. We provide political support to the Saudi-led coalition, we are not members of the coalition, and whenever there is any one of these incidents, or allegations of incidents, then we are the first to call on the Saudis themselves to be following up and investigating.

  Rycroft began with this, about the Human Rights Council session and resolution:

Amb Rycroft: on Yemen I just wanted to reassure you that the UK did not block a text from the Human Rights Council in Geneva last week calling for an investigation. In fact, the UK worked very hard to get as strong a text as possible, and we got consensus. And we’re very glad that it was agreed by consensus.

  But it was weak.

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.  And see this Vine, & this.

 On October 3 Inner City Press asked Vitaly Churkin of Russia, president of the Security Council for October, about the sinking of the UAE ship. He said there is a draft Press Statement pending but there's a need to check more. He added that the UN is a cynical place, "in some places they want to whip it up, in other places they want to hush it up."

Churkin noted Russia abstained on the last resolution - and said that the UK blocked an investigation because they sold $6 billion in weapons, the US is involved too.

  (Churkin also said it is Eastern Europe's turn to be Secretary General, and that Russia does want more posts -- Inner City Press said DPA -- and that there will be a meeting on Western Sahara on October 18, and on Burundi at some still undefined date.)

 On October 4 Inner City Press asked Churkin again about Yemen and he said the draft statement was in the works. And now?

  While awaiting more, we note that Bernardino Leon while working ostensibly for the UN on Libya negotiated a job with a UAE diplomatic institute. That was just another piece of UN for sale under Ban Ki-moon. But now it may be time for Bernardino Leon to work for that money. Watch this site.

On September 23, Inner City Press went up to document Ban Ki-moon's meeting with Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The latter walked slowly in to the room for the ceremonial handshake and book signing. Ban Ki-moon appeared to position Hadi (more than one reader called Hadi puppet). Hadi in turn in term spread out his hands. Photos here and here.  Beyond the Vine video here

Amid airstrikes on Yemen, Saudi Arabia this week at the UN has sponsored a garish multimedia display, workshops and culminating event with Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General who let the Saudi-led Coalition off the Children and Armed Conflict annex.

   In the UN's 1B basement by the Vienna Cafe, a long TV screen has shown footage of palm trees and journalists, holograms testifying to a hallway draped in a large carpet. Inner City Press arrived at 4 pm for what was to be Ban Ki-moon's get-down, or most recent get-down, with the Saudis.

Ban Ki-moon arrived at 4:30 pm and was led by the arm around the exhibit, Inner City Press Vine video here. He was taken to a table and put on virtual reality goggles, presumably without cluster bombs or Yemeni children shown. Periscope video here.

Interviews were conducted; Inner City Press rushed up to the UN's fourth floor, but the full-floor event was being taken down. Ban's next appearance would be that evening, for South Korea where he hopes to be President. Watch this site.

Now it seems Ban Ki-moon's UN is equally out of it, perhaps more intentionally so. Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric on September 30 of the much weakened UN Human Rights Council resolution which rather than setting up a panel merely attaches some UN to Yemen's whitewash. I haven't seen the details, Dujarric said. Vine here.

He added that Ban's envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed is headed to... Saudi Arabia. We'll have more on this.

  On September 23 it was quickly over but to way to the elevator down, Inner City Press ran into and greeted UN envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed on his way to the meeting and two representatives of Human Rights Watch, on the UN's 27th floor. What were they doing there? Both were formerly journalists covering or channeling Ban Ki-moon, now with insider access. Does it make Ban Ki-moon feel better, to have them around while he sells out Yemen's children?

 Earlier on September 23, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN Transcript here:

Inner City Press: Given that the Secretary-General himself decided to remove the Saudi-led Coalition from the Children and Armed Conflict regarding Yemen, given that this airstrike has killed children and women, what's the status of putting them back on?

Spokesman:  Well, they were… as I said, they were not removed.  It was a temporary suspension, as you can look on the document.  I think we are constantly looking at and reviewing the situation in Yemen, and when we have something to share with you, we will.

  We're waiting. It seems clear Ban gave Hadi a copy of his vanity press book. Birds of a feather.

On September 22, Inner City Press asked the European Union's Federica Mogherini if the EU has any role in Yemen. She said she had just met Hadi. And?

The EU's envoy to Yemen Bettina Muscheidt, viewed as a possible replacement for Ban's Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, has moved on to Libya. At the UN on September 23, Hadi will deposit... Yemen's / his Paris Accord document. Hot air. Now the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid, through Cecile Pouilly, has issued a statement which makes sure to equate Saudi-led Coalition airstrikes with Taizz and does not mention Hadi's move to starve Yemen's by moving the Central Bank:

"We note with deep concern the sharp increase in civilian casualties since the suspension of peace talks, with 180 people killed and 268 injured in August. This represents a 40 per cent increase compared to the civilian casualties the previous month, with 60 killed and 123 injured.
There has been an increased number of attacks against protected civilian objects, with at least 41 incidents affecting educational and health facilities, markets, places of worship, airports and civilian homes in August.

The most recent incident took place two days ago, on Wednesday, 21 September, when an airstrike hit a residential area in the town of Hudaydah, killing 26 civilians, including seven children, and injuring 24 others, among them two children. The death toll could be much higher, as our team continues to collect information.

We are particularly concerned at the situation in the city of Taizz, where a blockade imposed by the Houthis-affiliated Popular Committees has caused serious food, water and fuel shortages, and a near collapse of the health system.

In the light of the high civilian casualty numbers and the terrible suffering of the civilian population, we urge all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, including their obligation to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. We reiterate our call for the setting up of an international and independent investigative body.

In total, 3,980 civilians have been killed and 6,909 injured between 26 March 2015 and 22 September 2016."

 Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric at noon on Septmeber 22 about Yemen. He called the question "granular" and his office later said, too little too late, "The Secretary-General condemns the multiple airstrikes by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition on 21 September in the Red Sea port city of Hudaydah, Yemen, which killed and injured dozens of people, including children and women. The Secretary-General expresses his sincere condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.

The Secretary-General once again reminds all parties to the conflict that they must fully respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the fundamental rules of distinction, proportionality and precaution. He reiterates his call for urgent measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The Secretary-General also urges all parties to recommit to the terms and conditions of the 10 April cessation of hostilities. Stressing that a negotiated political settlement that addresses the legitimate concerns of all parties remains the only viable solution to the conflict, he calls for a new round of peace negotiations facilitated by his Special Envoy for Yemen."

On the Central Bank, the IMF later on September 22 issued this:

“IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde met on September 22 with Yemen’s President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi. Yemen is going through a difficult period, and the Managing Director expressed her concern for the adverse humanitarian and economic fallout from the conflict which keeps mounting.
“The Managing Director and President Hadi exchanged views on the current situation and prospects, including preserving the operational capacity of the central bank system so as to improve the financial stability and economic and social outcomes for the Yemeni people.”

On September 19, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Staphane Dujarric two questions on Yemen: "what is the Secretary General's or his Envoy's comment on Hadi firing the head of the central bank and moving the central bank's headquarters from Sanaa to Aden?" and on "reports that Saudi Arabia / the Saudi-led Coalition threatened to shoot down a UN aircraft... Please confirm or deny that."

Two days later, while leaving other questions unanswered, Ban's office sent this answer to Inner City Press:

Date: Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 10:52 AM
Subject: Your question on Yemen
To: matthew.lee [at]
Cc: Stephane Dujarric [at]

The Secretary General's Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is extremely concerned by the recent inability of the Central Bank to pay salaries due to lack of revenue and shortage of liquidity. Millions of Yemenis families depend on civil service salaries and the stoppage in salary payments is expected to have a severely negative impact.

The Special Envoy is advocating that any changes in the Central Bank ensure a rapid resumption of salary payments and that these are provided to all civilian civil service in all parts of the country without discrimination."

  What about the firing, and proposed moving? What about the reported threat to UN plane? And 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. 

According to local media the Saudis threatened to shoot down UN aircraft - click here. Direct sources have told Inner City Press the UN envoy wanted the Sanaa delegation to sign a waiver, and to stop over in Saudi Arabia and be searched. Would the UN go public if this were true? No, under Ban Ki-moon. His spokesman Stephane Dujarric has refused to confirm or deny or comment for two days now.

Meanwhile early on September 21 there was a meeting on the humanitarian situation in Yemen held in UN basement Conference Room 12, sponsored by the UK.

  In order to stake it out, Inner City Press was required by Ban Ki-moon's eviction order to seek a minder, which are first was withheld. By the time Inner City Press was escorted, all participants were inside the closed meeting.

   Inner City Press observed Grandi of UNHCR leave the meeting at 8:30, and WFP Cousins walk right by minutes later. What is the UN doing in Yemen, after Ban Ki-moon sold it out? We'll have more on this.


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