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In Yemen, Houthis Took Tanks, Sources Say, France Working for Total

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 14 -- Three days after the UN Security Council issued a press statement about the Houthi rebels' takeover of Amran, sources in Yemen and in the Council tell Inner City Press of crisis and dysfunction.

   In Amran, they say, the Houthis had agreed that soldiers and officers in the garrison would be allowed to leave and be replaced by military police. But after that, the sources exclusively tell Inner City Press, they seized tanks and also summarily executed officers, including the general in charge.

  Why wasn't this reflected in the Security Council's press statement? Sources tell Inner City Press to opposition to a stronger statement not only from the US but also from France.

  This they attribute to French oil company Total having had a good (or abusive) deal under Saleh, and now feeling excluded under Hadi. They describe a meeting of "arrogant" Total executives with Hadi, that almost led to the Total team being totally thrown out. And now this.

  Outgoing French Ambassador Gerard Araud has in his final months been dodging press questions, from double standards through Western Sahara to French military business in northern Mali. One hopes that the coming change leads to more responsiveness -- and transparency.

  On July 11 the President of the Security Council for July, Ambassador Gasana of Rwanda, came to the Council stakeout after 6 pm.  He read an agreement to statement; Inner City Press asked if the "spoilers" referred to include Saleh. This was not answered, nor a question about the delay in the statement. But now this. 

Yemen is cited by the UN and its Security Council as one of their successes. When the government in Sana'a deported journalist Adam Baron, what did the UN do or say?

 Back on May 9, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, video here, transcript here:

Inner City Press: Yemen has deported a journalist named Adam Baron, who was described as one of the few foreign correspondents in the country, and I wanted to know if the Secretariat or Mr. Benomar has any comment on that?

Deputy Spokesman Haq: I donít have any comment on that at this stage, no.

   Now, Yemen has rejected entry by another journalist, Tik Root.

  Meanwhile, the Yemeni government bragged of being praised by the UN, even as it is the only country, according to Under Secretary General for Management Yukio Takasu, which has been banned from voting in the General Assembly due to a failure to pay dues.

  Yemen has until May 16 to seek an exemption. But couldn't the UN use that as some leverage for free press -- if it wanted?

State media SABA on May 7 reported:

SANA'A, May 07 (Saba) - Interior Minister Abdo al-Tarib met here on Wednesday with Under Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security Kevin Kennedy.

During the meeting, al-Tarib and Kennedy discussed the possible means to enhance mutual security cooperation Yemen and the UN. The Minister underlined the Interior Ministry's adherence to strengthen the cooperation relations with the UN in the security field.

For his part, Kennedy praised the great successes achieved by the security services in cracking down on terrorists, stressing the UN's willingness to strengthen cooperation with Yemen.

So what about deporting journalists? When Inner City Press on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked the UN Secretariat for comment on the jailing by Ethiopia of journalists including the Zone 9 bloggers, no comment came. The UN has a big office in Addis. What of its success story in Yemen? Watch this site.


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