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In Yemen, Saudi Bomb Kills 10 Women in Maarib, Guterres Listed "Good Child Killers"

By Matthew Russell Lee, Photos

UNITED NATIONS, December 17 – In Yemen  Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for 34 years, then stayed on allied with Houthis and days ago reached out to Saudi Arabia to fight the Houthis, was killed in fighting with the Houthis.  After that, Saudi-led Coalition bombing has further increased. Now on December 17, the Saudi Coalition's bombings have reportedly killed 10 women going to a funeral in Maarib. But it is doubtful the UN Security Council, much less the silenced Secretary General Antonio Guterres, will say anything. On December 14, Sweden's Ambassador Olof B. Skoog as chair of the Children and Armed Conflict committee took questions and Inner City Press asked about Antonio Guterres' decision to re-list the Saudi coalition as, in essence, a "Good Child Killer." Skoog acknowledged there is a debate about Guterres' move to an A and B list but was upbeat, that those who are listed try to improve. Really? Inner City Press also asked if Skoog's Committee has considered the detailed reports in 2017 of UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic taking over and using schools. Skoog said he was not aware of it. Hey, just search on the Internet the schools in De Gaulle and Mourouba. Back on Yemen, on December 5 the UN Security Council met on Yemen, but unlike the open meeting that had been scheduled, even the briefing by envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was closed to the press and public. Inner City Press asked the President of Council, Koro Bessho of Japan, who had asked to close the meeting: IOCA or one or members of the Council. Here was Bessho's answer (not appropriate to say, but ultimately Council members' decision), and the center part of the press elements, video here. We are still waiting for a response from the Mission's spokesman, mis-listed by the UN Censorship Alliance. On Saleh, it was a long road. From then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dodging Press questions about the full amnesty Saleh wanted in November 2011, to manipulatively leaked UN sanctions reports like the recent one on missiles, to the lesson to other strongmen like 42-year dictator Paul Biya in Cameroon, there is much to say. But where is Antonio Guterres? Over the weekend with fighting between the Houthis and forces loyal to former president Saleh swinging in the Houthis favor, with some presumed Saleh supporters not turning out for him amid Saudi bombings to defend him, now UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has belatedly issued a statement, below. But it is Guterres who has for more than 11 months kept in place a  UN envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, with whom the Houthis made clear they would not speak due to his obvious pro Saudi bias. So what to make of Guterres' statement? Here it is: "The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the sharp escalation of armed clashes and airstrikes in Sana'a and other parts of Yemen over the past several days. The fighting has already resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, including civilians. Fighting is restricting the movement of people and life-saving services within Sana'a city. Ambulances and medical teams cannot access the injured and people cannot go outside to buy food and other necessities. Aid workers are unable to travel and implement critical life-saving programmes at a time when millions of Yemenis rely on assistance to survive. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to the conflict to cease all air and ground assaults. This latest outbreak of violence could not come at a worse time for the Yemeni people, who are already caught up in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. The conflict and blockade that was put in place on 6 November – and is still not fully lifted – have caused significant shortages of critical supplies, especially food and fuel, and resulted in price hikes, curtailing access to food, safe water and healthcare. The Secretary-General calls for the urgent resumption of all commercial imports, without which millions of children, women and men risk mass hunger, disease and death. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. It is paramount that civilians are protected, that the wounded are afforded safe access to medical care, and that all sides facilitate life-saving humanitarian access. The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no military solution to the Yemen conflict. He urges all parties to the conflict to engage meaningfully with the United Nations to revitalize inclusive negotiations on a political settlement."  At the noon briefing conducted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spokesman Farhan Haq on November 22, Inner City Press asked about a breaking report from a respected journalist in Yemen of a Saudi airstrike hitting a UN system vehicle, asking about the World Health Organization. UN spokesman Haq said only, "we didn't receive any information of an attack on the World Health Organization, no." He cut off Inner City Press' further questions (Inner City Press had asked, " In Yemen, there are people saying that there was another airstrike, in this case involving the World Health Organization aid convoy in the Salw area of Taizz province Can you confirm that?") and did not provide any update, after six hours after the journalist specified that it was World FOOD Program vehicle. This is today's UN under Antonio Guterres; this is his Guterres Doctrine. Days after an airstrike on a hotel in Sa'ada, Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition killed 31 civilians, Houthi TV bragged about the ballistic missile they had shot at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. Amidst a flurry of arrests, including of major Citigroup and Twitter shareholder Alwaleed bin Talal - we're still waiting to hear from the US Federal Reserve, which is supposed to regulate Citigroup, on this one - the Saudi leadership unleashed major strikes on Yemen's capital. Then they announced, for their coalition, the "closure of all ports of Yemen air, sea and land." On November 13 at the UN, Saudi Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi said that would end in the Hadi (or UAE, see below) controller area. Inner City Press asked him, and the Permanent Representative of the Hadi government and the UAE Deputy, why Hadi hasn't seen fit to even visit Aden, about reports he is essentially under house arrest in Saudi Arabia, or faces to much danger in Aden. The Hadi government representative emphasized that the prime minister is there and met Mark Lowcock. Inner City Press repeated, why wouldn't Hadi even try to go and fire up his people. That was not really answered; the UAE Deputy replied that he couldn't say it more clearly than the Hadi government rep. Then Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi renamed the Arab Spring the Arab "turbulence," and said he is not in charge of Harari's closet. We'll have more on this. After a UN Security Council briefing on November 8, the Council's President for November Sebastiano Cardi read out "Press Elements," below. Inner City Press asked him of the Secretary General Antonio Guterres' call with the Saudi foreign minister. Cardi seemed to say that ports may be opened soon. Periscope here. On November 9, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric why he hadn't given a readout of, or even disclosed, the call. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: on this Yemen call, why didn't you provide a list of such calls or readout of such calls?  I know this was done in the past. If it's not working not having them be secret calls, maybe a regular reading out… can you explain why you don't read out calls anymore? Spokesman:  I think some calls we give readouts of, and others we don't." Why not? Saudi got your tongue? Inner City Press asked UN Relief Chief Mark Lowcock if he is aware of putative President Hadi being unable to go even to Aden. Lowcock said he thinks Hadi has not been in the country for a while; Lowcock saw him in New York in September. The Secretary General called the Saudi foreign minister on the morning of November 8, he said (the UN spokesman for some reason didn't read-out the call); Lowcock says he is in touch with Ismail. He made five points that we hope to link to. For now, this Periscope video.We'll have more on this. Earlier on November 8, Inner City Press asked Sweden's Deputy Permanent Representative Carl Skau why UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed is not involved; Skau replied that the closed door meeting is on humanitarian access and implementation of the past Presidential Statement. Inner City Press put the same question to French Permanent Representative Francois Delattre who echoed that it is humanitarian, while adding that the only solution to the humanitarian crisis is through a political process. Isn't that what IOCA is getting paid to work on? UK Deputy Permanent Representative Jonathan Allen declined to answer an audible Press question whether the UK has even proposed an outcome to the meeting. We'll have more on this. On November 7 Inner City Press asked the Security Council's president for November, Sebastiano Cardi of Italy - but not before Agence France Presse tried to cut off the question, video here, then purported to answer, that humanitarian is the only issue. Inner City Press went to the UN noon briefing and asked Spokesman Stephane Dujarric if anyone beyond the Humanitarian Coordinator would brief - that is, where is the UN enovy IOCA and what is he doing? From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: On Yemen, I wanted to ask you about pre… President… [Abdrabuh Mansour] Hadi [Mansour] who's in Saudi Arabia.  It's reported actually that he… that Saudi Arabia has… has, I guess, banned him from… from visiting even a part of the country not held by the Houthis, Aden.  I don't know if you've seen this report, but my que… I guess my question would be, if he is Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's interlocutor, is he aware that he's essentially under house arrest? Spokesman:  We've seen the reports.  We have no way of confirming… we have no way of confirming those reports. Inner City Press:  Has he… is… is… is the envoy in contact with Hadi [Mansour]?  It seems like… Spokesman:  The envoy is in contact with various parties. Inner City Press: The President of the Security Council said there's going to be an any-other-business briefing on Yemen tomorrow.  And I wanted to know, has anyone in the Secretariat, whether Mr. Lowcock or… or… DPA [Department of Political Affairs] will brief? Spokesman:  My understanding is there will at least be a briefing by the Emergency Relief Coordinator.  If others brief, we will let you know. " Dujarric did not revert before calling the end of day lid, but Inner City Press asked a Council member who confirmed, Lockcock only. On November 6 Inner City Press asked UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq, who replied archly that UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed was involved in the writing of what was only an if-asked statement. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: On the blockade of all entry in and out, the envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, this would seem to be among his jobs to try to defuse this.  Has he had any communications with either side? Where has he been on this?  And, number two, what's the basis of the UN saying that you believe that you can get your flights in?  Is the UN just trying to get its own flights in?  Or does it have a statement on the the compliance with international humanitarian law of the announcement? Deputy Spokesman:  ...we would like also to express concern about the announcement by the Saudi-led Coalition that [it] is temporarily closing all of Yemen's air, land and sea ports.  This may hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid to the country's population.  Because they have said it's temporary, it's on that basis that we're hopeful that those ports will not continue to be closed.  And, therefore, we expect our flights, as well as those of others, to resume.  We hope it will not take too long. Inner City Press: the envoy, it would seem like his job would  involve, not only just reaping out after such an announcement, but maybe being in the loop.  Has  he spoken to them?  Did they tell him in advance, we're about to announce a blockade of the country for which you're the UN envoy?  You're saying people should somehow intuit that he's part of the statement, but we haven't seen anything from him. Deputy Spokesman:  I've just said that he was part of the statement.  And he was involved in the writing of this.  He's been in touch with all the various parties." It wasn't a statement - is was an if-asked response. Earlier on November 6, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Jonathan Allen, from the UK transcript: Inner City Press: On Yemen, the Saudi coalition has announced they’re closing all the borders I guess in response to the reported missile. What’s the Council intend to do? Amb Allen: I’ve seen those reports as well. We’re trying to find out exactly what’s happening on that question. We support the Saudis’ legitimate security concerns after the events over the weekend, but at the same time, have consistently called for full humanitarian access into Yemen, and, of course, for all parties to the conflict to follow international law in every aspect. So at this stage, it’s one where I think we need to gather more information." Inner City Press then asked France's Francois Delattre, who called it a hard question and said he'd get back with an answer. Video here. We're still waiting. Where is the United Nations Secretariat and envoy on this? Secretary General Antonio Guterres is in Lisbon, on the public dime; his envoy on Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said nothing about the slaughter in Sa'ada. From Sana'a, Jaime McGoldrick issued a statement on November 5, about killings on November 1 and 3 but not (yet?) the blockade. He said, increasing the Sa'ada death count from 29 to 31: "On 1 November, 31 people, including six children, were killed and 26 others were wounded by an air strike that struck a busy night market in Sahar district in Sa’ada governorate. Field reports indicate that on 3 November another air strike hit a house in Baqim district in Sa’ada governorate, killing a whole family of seven people, including two children and two women.I am equally horrified by the continued indiscriminate shelling occurring in Taizz city. On 2 November, shelling in a residential area in Al Onsowa neighborhood in Taizz city killed five children and injured two others. All the children killed or injured were between seven and 15 years old." Will the UN speak about the blockade or even the missile? The Organization of Islamic Cooperation  has, in "strong condemnation of the launching of a ballistic missile at Riyadh on Saturday evening, 4th November 2017, by the Houthi and Saleh militias. OIC Secretary General, Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, emphasized that this outrageous attempted assault on Riyadh affirms undoubtedly the insistence of the Houthi and Saleh militias on its criminal acts aiming at undermining security and stability in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in implementation of conspiratorial plans against the Kingdom, its citizens and residents. The Secretary General reiterated the OIC’s support for and full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as leadership, government and people, in all steps and measures it takes to safeguard the country’s security and stability. Al-Othaimeen praised the vigilance of the Saudi air defense forces as they intercepted the missile before falling on civilian populated areas." And will the UN Security Council, where the UK holds the pen, issue a press staatement? When the UN Security Council held its last Yemen meeting on October 10, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft if the Saudi-led Coalition now being on the UN's Children and Armed Conflict "blacklist" would change UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Video here. It seems not. And Yemen is not listed on the Council's agenda for November, although Inner City Press on November 1 asked new Council president Italy about it, here. At noon on November 1, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about 29 more deaths by Saudi airstrike, this time in Sahar in Sa'ada, UN transcript here, and below. On November 2 Inner City Press asked UK Rycroft, as Security Council penholer on Yemen, about it, and he spoke of the Saudis doing an investigation. Well, now the Saudi-led coalition has said that they consider it a legitimate military target, that they targeted a gathering point for some armed Houthis. So it's legitimate to bomb a motel or hotel with civilians? Does the Saudi logic apply to airports? From the November 2 UK transcript: Inner City Press: In Yemen, 29 people were killed. Jamie McGoldrick said it’s a terrible thing. It sounds like this month there is only going to be a humanitarian briefing in the Security Council. What’s the plan of the Council to address what seems to be continued death from the air? Amb Rycroft: I think the Council continues to be extremely concerned about the situation in Yemen, both the humanitarian, which, as you imply, is bad and getting worse with the absence of food and medicines getting into the country, and now the cholera outbreak, and the political track as well, which is at a dead end. There is no meaningful political process going on, and we call on the parties to get back into talks with the UN Special Envoy that will ultimately lead to a power sharing agreements and a more stable, prosperous Yemen. Inner City Press: Does the UK understand that Saudis were going to investigate this strike? Amb Rycroft: "So what normally happens in an incident like this – and we’ll check on the specifics of this one – but what normally happens is the Saudis do an investigation and we would support them doing that if that’s what needed at this time." From the UN's Nov 1 transcript: Inner City Press: I want to ask you about Yemen.  There are these reports of a Saudi-led airstrike killing over 20 — some people say 29 or 26 — in Sahar in Sa’ada.  And I wanted to know, one, if the UN is aware of it and, two, if there's any comments from the Secretary-General, this being the day after his report was presented, which said that the… Saudi Arabia's taking all steps or some steps to prevent… many of the people in this hotel that was hit were children.  So, what's his comment? Spokesman:  We've seen… we've seen the reports that an airstrike by the Saudi-led Coalition took place in Sa’ada, as you mentioned, including the report of 26 deaths and many more injured.  As a general comment, we remain deeply concerned that civilians, including children, continue to bear the brunt of the conflict.  We underscore that all parties to the conflict must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law — including the fundamental rule of proportionality, distinction, and precaution — to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure against attack.  The Secretary-General, I think, was very clear as was… was Ms. Gamba in her preparation… in her statement yesterday.  And I think the report that the Secretary-General issued also makes his position clear.  What we're continuing to see in Yemen, very unfortunately, is the continuing suffering of the civilian population, of men, women, and children, whether it's from attacks or whether it's from a denial of access to humanitarian aid.  And this only redoubles our… our efforts to finding a political solution. Inner City Press: it's said that most of these people that were killed were in a either hotel or motel or kind of internally displaced people, and it's right next to a public market.  So, it becomes… in terms of the steps being taken, it's hard to imagine a legitimate military target that's next to a public market and a hotel…Spokesman:  We're not arguing.  I'm not here to defend… whether it's… I'm not here to speak on behalf of the Coalition, the Houthis or anyone else.  What we're witnessing here is a continued killing of civilians." On October 13, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on the Yemen, there have been quotes from I guess it's called the Yemeni Government.  The Yemeni Government in exile has said that they don't have any information about the initiative that Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said that he has.  Meanwhile, the rebels said that he's biased.  So I guess I'm just wondering, since it's a recent article, what has he done since he came? He came and said, I'm presenting to both sides, and now, both sides… one side that he's presumably in contact with says they have nothing from him, and the other side won't talk to him.  So… Spokesman:  I think… he is in touch with the parties, and I don't think it will be… those contacts will not be done through the media." Where? On October 10, when the UN's largely failing envoy on Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed came to the stakeout and claimed that he is about to meet the Houthis soon, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq handpicked in advance who could ask questions. Inner City Press waited to the end, out of respect, then asked quite audibly on what basis the envoy claimed the Houthis would meet with them. He did not answer. Video here. Nor did French Ambassador Francois Delattre, president of the Security Council for October - he said he wouldn't comment on what IOCA said, even after a long closed door consultation. This is the UN. When a Yemen meeting during the UN General Assembly week was held at 8 am on September 22, new UN Relief Chief Mark Lowcock introduced as speakers the foreign ministers of Sweden and the Netherlands, representatives of Japan and the UAE, and the UN's envoy Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed. While billed as a humanitarian meeting, the UAE spoke without irony about outside interference. (Yemen's representative spoke in Arabic; Inner City Press streamed Periscope video). On September 28, Inner City Press asked Lowcock whether he thought the meeting had a sufficiently humanitarian character. He pointed to his concluding statements, which Inner City Press had not heard (see below), saying that the focus should be on humanitarian access, and later lamenting the continuing failure to deploy cranes. The reason Inner City Press was unable to get these views, and others, on September 22 is, in a phrase, UN censorship. To get to the meeting, held in UN Conference Room 5, Inner City Press unlike other no-show reporters like Egypt's Akhbar al Yom was required to get a UN escort or minder, who told Inner City Press it could not ask questions or speak with anyone. This despite UN OCHA staff telling Inner City Press it could wait outside and speak to people as they left. So the UN's retaliatory eviction of Inner City Press 19 months ago for covering the now conflicted UN corruption by Macau based businessman Ng Lap Seng through then PGA John Ashe now results in it, unlike the Saudi and pro-Saudi media in the meeting, being unable to speak to the participants. This has been raised, so far without any response, to Lowcock's fellow Brit, the head of DPI Alison Smale, here. This is today's UN. We hope to report more on Lowcock's views, including hoping that OCHA releases transcripts of what Lowcock says. While Canada joins The Netherlands at the UN in Geneva in calling for an investigation of possible war crimes in Yemen including the Saudi-led coalition's killing of civilians, Canada has continued a $15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a press conference at the UN on September 21, Inner City Press went early, intending to ask him to explain this incongruity or seeming hypocrisy. Trudeau's spokesman announced that the questioners had been “pre-determined,” but did not explain how. So in a lull after what the spokesman called the last question - would Trudeau be a mediator on Venezuela - Inner City Press asked about Canadian arms sales to Saudi while calling for a probe. At first Trudeau said he was happy to answer the question. Then he said no, he would not reward “bad behavior,” and instead reached out for question in French about day care. (Inner City Press notes that pre-determining questioners is bad behavior. Apparently the CBC journalist who was given the first question agreed to it; the organization only the day before sent an Egyptian state media correspondent as the lone “pooler” in Secretary General Antonio Guterres' meeting with General Sisi.) Eearlier on September 21 when UK minister Alistair Burt came in front of the UN Security Council to speak about accountability for Daesh in Iraq, Inner City Press deferred to a timely question about the referendum in Kurdistan. Then during  lull - identical to that in which it put its question to Trudeau - Inner City Press asked Burt about his quote, about accountability for the bombing of civilians in Yemen by the Saudi-led Coalition with UK bombs, that "Our view is that it is for the Coalition itself, in the first instance, to conduct such investigations. They have the best insight into their own military procedures and will be able to conduct the most thorough and conclusive investigations.” Inner City Press asked how he can say this, given that the Saudis have investigated less than five percent of the killings. Video here. Burt's answer focused on the peace process - what peace process? At least Burt answered, and did not like Trudeau try to call merely asking the question in a lull "bad behavior" - we'll have more on this.


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