Wednesday, August 20, 2014

After ISIL Beheads James Foley, US Cites Attempt to Free Him in Syria; On Journalists' Deaths, AFP Portrays Them "In Gaza"


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 20 -- After the US confirmed that it was journalist James Foley who was beheaded by ISIL after being forced to read a statement, later on August 20 the Pentagon issued this:

"The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location."

  In light of the reference to "ground components," some wonder if Syria will assert a violation of its sovereignty. Why make this announcements?

  Agence France Presse, purporting an info-graphic of journalists killed last year, listed four as killed "in Gaza." Since all other listed jurisdiction are full UN member states, some surmised AFP's nomenclature let off the hook the killer of those journalists. Despite calling it social media, hours later AFP has not responded.

    Inner City Press on August 18 asked the Security Council's president for August Mark Lyall Grant of the UK if the Council gets reports:
Inner City Press: You said that Iraq came up, so I wanted to know, the US has providing publicly these updates of airstrikes by the Mosul damn. I’m just wondering, is there any, under your Presidency, is the Security Council, is there any mechanism for getting, I guess, reports of these from countries taking military action or arming the Peshmerga? And just separately, in Mali, these two peacekeepers were killed by suicide attack and I’m wondering is there any movement in the Council to have a Press Statement, or some response to this Peacekeeping attack in Mali?

Amb Lyall Grant: Yes, on the second point, France did signal that it was circulating, and indeed has now has circulated a draft Press Statement with the deadline of 3 o’clock this afternoon, of silence procedure, on the UN Peacekeepers tragically killed in Mali. On the Iraq situation, the representative of the United States, did indeed give a very short update on action that the United States had been taking including the role of the UK and Australia in humanitarian airdrops.
 Both Australia and obviously the US are also on the Security Council, but from the answer it appears that the US representative -- Samantha Power? -- was the one to report on their role in the airdrops. And what of France providing weapons in Kurdistan? We hope to have more on this.
   President Barack Obama's dual rationale for the campaign of airstrikes in Iraq had been the plight of the Yazikis on Mount Sinjar and the protection of US personnel in Erbil and Bagdad.
  Then the US began airstrikes around the Mosul Dam. Now Obama's War Powers Resolution letter to Congress, as the NSC's gloss puts it, says this new bombing "is consistent with President Obama's directive that the U.S. military protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Iraq, since the failure of the Mosul Dam could threaten the lives of large numbers of civilians, threaten U.S. personnel and facilities -- including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad -- and prevent the Iraqi government from providing critical services to the Iraqi populace."
  Helping the Iraqi government provide services doesn't appear to have been part of the initial mission. So what will be next?
 A variety of talking heads on the Sunday news shows in the US demanded to know why Obama has not bombed in Syria as in Iraq -- ignoring that only in the latter has bombing been invited by the government, and the vetoes in the UN Security Council. We'll have more on this.
 On August 14 the UN had at its noon briefing a call-in the spokesperson of its Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Kieran Dwyer. Inner City Press asked Dwyer if airdrops now promised by Australia and Germany are still needed -- and about a UN map showing humanitarian problems and lack of access in Ninewa and Anbar provinces. Click here to view.
   Dwyer replied that bilateral requests are up to Iraqi authorities, and said, yes, there are problems and lack of access in Anbar and Ninewa (where ISIL held Mosul is).
  At the US State Department briefing less than an hour later, the Department's deputy spokesperson Marie Harf was asked if the US might now provided airstrikes or "assistance" in Anbar, and if this would be covered by the last War Powers notice Obama gave to Congress.
  I am not a lawyer, Harf said, adding in essence that the US acts when it can be useful with its "unique capabilities." She was asked why the US did not use military force to protect civilians in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo or Central African Republic -- Sri Lanka could be added -- and called each case unique.
  The line-of-the-briefing at the State Department was that seven airstrikes to prevent a genocide is not a bad deal. Indeed.
   Smaller gauge, Inner City Press is still asking how exactly the UN is "coordinating" aid, for example could he say why the UK had aborted an airdrop of aid as reported by BBC?
 OCHA's Dwyer on August 11 made various claims about coordinating then couldn't or wouldn't explain the UK's abortive aid delivery, telling Inner City Press to ask the UK or BBC. What kind of coordination is this?
  After the US on August 8 announced completion of its second air-drop of aid to Sinjar Mountain in Iraq, President Barack Obama on August 9 said “I don't think we're going to solve this problem in weeks."
   Obama said that the Iraq military when far from Baghdad did not have the commitment to hold ground against an aggressive adversary: that is, ISIL.  So, Obama said, would move to "play some offense."
  So, the question arises, who else is going to play? Now, after the US was given first shot, France is mulling arming the Kurds.
 On August 9 Inner City Press was reliably and for then exclusively informed that Iraq had written to the UN Security Council invite any and all UN member states to deliver aid to areas controlled by Islamic State, with Iraq's agreement. [On August 9, the UK mission confirmed this to Inner City Press.]
  And so the question arises -- what about aid from Iran? From Russia? From China -- which has told the Press of $4.9 million in medical supplies to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for ebola?
  At the US State Department's briefing on August 8, much as made of Iraq inviting the US, and only the US, in . But now, would others including Iran be welcome? Shouldn't they be?
  Aid is needed, and not only in Sinjar. We'll have more on this.
(Given the numbers cited on Sinjar mountain, Inner City Press couldn't help wondering about 2009 when 40,000 people were cornered & killed in Sri Lanka.)
On August 7 after 6:30 pm, Council president for August Mark Lyall Grant emerged to read a press statement, followed by question and answer stakeouts by French deputy Alexis Lamek and Iraqi Permanent Representative Alhakim.
  Inner City Press asked Lamek if France will take military action. While we'll await the French mission's transcript, Lamek eventually said "that needs to be done indeed."
  There is a draft resolution in the works, with UK Ambassador Lyall Grant saying that a new draft would be circulated later on August 7. The Security Council left on August 8 for a week-long trip to Europe and South Sudan and, it is now widely reported, Somalia. Now what? 
On July 25 after the UN Security Council met behind closed doors with the Syria Commission of Inquiry's Paulo Sergio Pinheiro and Karen AbuZayd, the two Commissioners and UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant came to take questions from the press.
  Karen AbuZayd spoke of abuses not only by the government but also, in response to a question, by what she called the Islamic State of Iraq and [Syria], ISIL. 
  Inner City Press when called on asked her about ISIS' takeover of border crossing, renaming as Islamic State and attacks on non-Sunni Muslims in Mosul.
In this context, what did she think of hers or another Commission of Inquiry covering the group's abuses in Iraq as well? Bigger picture, does the state by state focus of the UN make sense in this context?
  AbuZayd said she prefers not to call them “Islamic State,” it give them too much credit. Pinheiro resisted any talk of expanding his Commission's mandate -- Syria is enough.
  A US state media asked about foreign fighters, including pro-government; Pinheiro said that Hezbollah is the only group of foreign fighters he's away of.
 This is strange, given that the UN's own recent report on Syria humanitarian access notes that “on June 29, the Islamic State issued a statement announcing that the Caliphate included people from the following nationalities: Caucasian [sic], Indian, Chinese, Shami (Levantine), Iraqi, Yemeni, Egyptian, North African, American, French, German, and Australians." Watch this site.
Footnote: one wanted to ask AbuZayd about developments -- to put it mildly -- in Gaza, where she used to head UNRWA, but this too was deemed beyond the scope of the stakeout. Another former Gaza hand, John Ging, has been speaking on the topic this week. Perhaps we'll hear from Ms. AbuZayd. We'll be watching.

 
  

Gaza Ceasefire Over, UN Security Council Issues "Press Elements," Jordan's Draft Resolution Pends


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 20, more here -- After the most recent Gaza ceasefire ended, on August 20 the UN Security Council agreed to "elements to the press," which UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant read-out at 6 pm:

The member of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the return to hostilities following the breach of the Egyptian-brokered humanitarian ceasefire. They called upon the parties to prevent the situation from escalating and to reach an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. The members of Security Council expressed grave concern regarding the loss of civilian lives and casualties. The members of the Security Council offered full support to the Egyptian initiative and called upon parties to resume negotiations to urgently reach a sustainable and lasting ceasefire.”

   Inner City Press asked Lyall Grant, what about the pending draft resolution? He said there was a need to respond quickly to the breakdown of the ceasefire, but "there is a second stage." He mentioned the Jordanian draft and some "other ideas" which he said were discussed at the Council's lunch with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon earlier in the day.

  Minutes later Inner City Press asked the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine Riyad Mansour why the Jordanian draft is not put to a vote. He said that some members wanted to wait and see what happens in Cairo. Afterward the Permanent Representative of a major Muslim country came and told Inner City Press of growing frustration at the Security Council's process - and at the Secretary General.
  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on August 19 issued this statement:
"The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the breach of the Egyptian brokered humanitarian ceasefire which was to expire at midnight local time. He is gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities.

"The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their responsibility not to let the situation escalate. The hopes of the people in Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people in Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo. The Secretary-General calls on the delegations to live up to this expectation and urges the parties to reach an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza."
  An "immediate understanding"?
  On August 18, after seven-year UN envoy Robert Serry briefed the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked him if he is leaving his position in October. Video here.
  Serry shook his head, said it is between him and Ban Ki-moon.
  Inner City Press asked about Ban's stated five-year rule for staying in a UN post. Serry replied if that were a rule, he would be in violation. So it is not a rule. But still: October, contract expiring?
  On the destroyed and damaged UNRWA schools, Inner City Press asked Serry if there will be a UN Board of Inquiry as in 2009. Serry said that too will be up to Ban.
   In the UN General Assembly meeting about Gaza on August 6, Ban said "attacks against UN premises, along with other suspected breaches of international law, must be swiftly investigated."
  So in the 12 days between the two statements, has anything been done? In 2009, Ban was lobbied about his cover-letter to the previous board of inquiry report by Ian Martin; now in 2014, as it made up for it, he accepted free private jet travel from Qatar, with its stake and position in the conflict. Neither is acceptable.
 On the latter, Israel's Ambassador Ron Prosor came out of the Council after Serry's public briefing and said, among other things, that Qatar has bought campuses of six universities, Harrod's and the PSG football club. He cited the 2022 World Cup, but did not mention Ban accepting the Qatar-funded private jet. He passed out a flier, "Captured Hamas Combat Manuel," which Inner City Press put online here.
 Back on August 6 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq if Ban would at least set up a Board of Inquiry as was done in 2009. (Inner City Press first published the cover-letter, here.)
  Haq wouldn't say if a Board of Inquiry would be set up; he called the decision an internal one. Video here and embedded below. But Wikileaks released documents showing that Ban allowed himself to be lobbied about the 2009 Board of Inquiry report by Ian Martin, including on what should go in "his" cover letter. See here. And this time?
 Update: UN staff have written to Ban, the GA President and this month's Security Council president, Mark Lyall Grant of the UK, asking for accountability. The letter is here. We hope to have more on this.   


On North Korean Request for UN Security Council Meeting on Joint Military Exercises, South Korea & Others Say No


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 20, updated with transcript -- When North Korean deputy ambassador Ri Tong Il held a UN press conference on August 1, it was to describe his government's July 21 letter to the UN Security Council requesting an emergency meeting about the US - South Korean joint military exercises.
  And on August 20, this letter and a follow-up arose in Security Council consultations. According to South Korean Permanent Representative Oh Joon , he and others who spoke said these matters don't deserve the attention of the Council. He said he could be quoted, but not about what another member had said.
  Minutes later, the Council's president for August Mark Lyall Grant of the UK said that China had raised the issue of the letter, asking for other members' views. He said no further action or consideration of the letter is expected.
 So that's it?
  Back on August 1, Inner City Press asked Ri Tong Il if he had asked for the letter to be formally circulated, or would North Korea take it to the General Assembly?
  Ri Tong Il replied that it is not a question of approaching individual countries, but a formal request to the Security Council. Inner City Press inquired with the mission of Rwanda, July's president, and got a copy of the letter and the response that there was no consensus for holding the requested emergency meeting. Inner City Press has put the letter online here.
  Also, at the bottom of this page is a fast transcript of the press conference, by Inner City Press & the Free UN Coalition for Access.
Inner City Press also asked Ri Tong Il for an update on his mission's announcement thirteen months ago that it sought the end of the so-called “UN Command” in South Korea. Ri Tong Il said his country remains opposed to it:
On UN command, the DPRK is consistently insisting on the dismantling of UN Command in South Korea. This is a UN body but not under the direction of the UN, it is not under the approval of its budget. If you look at the inside nature, 100 percent US troops. This is a typical example of position of power by the US. It should be dismantled. And we are raising it to the UN on a regular basis.
  Later on August 1 Inner City Press asked Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, if Ban has received North Korea's letter complaining about the Seth Rogen film “The Interview.” (Inner City Press hascommented on the letter, here.). Dujarric said the letter has been received, but Ban has no response.
  Ban, of course, was South Korea's foreign minister. His c.v. or biography, including for a recent op-ed about Haiti(where the UN brought cholera and then has dodged accountability), states that Ban previously served as “Director of the UN’s International Organizations and Treaties Bureau.” 
 Other iterations say he was director of the “UN’s International Organizations and Treaties Bureau in South Korea, Seoul” (here). So was that really a UN (or “UN's”) agency? Or is is like the UN Command? Watch this site.
Footnote: In Ri Tong Il's press conference, the UN Correspondents Association demanded the first question, and gave it to a representative of a media from Japan - another representative of which took a second question, before other media got even one. While both are genial, this is how UNCA, a/k/a the UN's Censorship Alliance, works.
The new Free UN Coalition for Access is opposed to any set-asides or automatic first questions. Also, despite the continued censorship of the question, the Free UN Coalition for Access believes that at a minimum the UN should disclose “in kind” (or gift) private jet travel for Ban Ki-moon paid for by a state. We'll have more on this.
Fast transcript:
Good morning, distinguished colleagues. Thank you for your time. In today’s briefing I’d like to introduce the US-South Korea joint military exercises. It’s a serious nature and the formal request made by the DPRK upon the UN Security Council with regard to the join military exercises.
First, I’d like to talk about the US South Korea joint military exercises. As you know every year the US is continuing to open joint military exercises, large scale, one after another, thereby increasing tension and bringing about crisis of war on the Korean peninsula. The US has been holding large scale joint military exercises since 1953, after the end of the Korean war, ceasefire. And if you look at the number, they were holding these exercises, it is estimated at over 18,000 times. Now, if you calculate that figure, it is estimated one joint military exercise almost every year.
Now with regard to what kind of nature it is carrying, with regard to the situation on the Korean peninsula. The US is not hiding that the objective of their large scale joint military exercises with South Korea is to eliminate DPRK militarily. In this century, the first decade, the US declared the objective is to bring about regime change of the DPRK. In 2011, in August and November, the US conducted large scale joint military exercises with South Korea aimed at so-called stabilization and transition to civilian government in North Korea. In 2012, in March and May the US again conducted massive landing exercises targeted at Pyongyang. And in August they also conducted joint military exercises.
Coming into this year, 2014, the US already conducted and openly declared the objective of the exercises was to occupy Pyongyang.
If you look at another part of the serious nature of this joint military exercises, there is a very serious nature of 3 year old nuclear strike means, and most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction and massive number of troops. Now every time the joint military exerices open George Washingtom super large aircraft carrier along with other vessels and nuclear powered submarines and B52 bombers with nuclear weapons do not hesitate to come into South Korea.
This month in the middle of August will open another joint military exercise, involving over 500,000 US troops and a ground, naval, and air forces from South Korea. If you look at another part of the serious nature in terms of duration, it cannot compare to any other part of the world. If you look at the other large scale exercises conducted by the US, they cover one week, maximum one month, and not every year. Every two years, or after some years. However, the US South Korea joint exercises go beyond two months.
In March, the US issued a report naming the DPRK the state of direct threat and the so-called biggest adversary of the US. Openly announcing that in case of failure of the deterrents against DPRK they will enforce their own nuclear forces for suppression of the DPRK. This clearly indicates what kid of purpose these joint military exercises are pressuring.

The US has been conducting for almost 6 decades and they are carrying the nature of aggression against the DPRK in view of their nature and scale. On whatever ground, the US is making ridiculous argument on the threats and provocation of the DPRK to deceive the world. This will demonstrate that the major source of provocation on the Korean peninsula is none other than the United States.

I will talk about the defensive measures of the DPRK.

Now the ground, naval defense and air defense forces of the Korean people’s army are staging the ballistic tactical rocket launches of ultra precision and artillery fire in order to increase the power of self-defense. All these rocket launches are giving great strength and encouragement to the Korean people’s army and the people so that they can make steadfast progress in nation building based on this strong self defense. It is because all these successful launches are taking place in the middle of aggressive provocative military exercises of war against the DPRK.

It is the right of every sovereign state to have the right to defend its own sovereignty and peace and safeguard itself by military strength. The ongoing tactical rocket launches being conducted by the DPRK is natural, more than justifiable, because this is in response to the grave situation created by the large scale joint military exercises. And because of these ones the danger is increased. The environment for security and peace is not gifted by anyone, it is not commodity someone can buy or sell. Peace can be safeguarded only one’s own power is strengthened so trhat nobody can provoke. When there is no one’s own power, one can easily fall victim to the bargaining chip of power countries, and the important, valuable history inherited with bloody struggle can instantly be lost. This is a historical lesson. The DPRK has been warning the US and South Korea to stop all these dangerous exercises.

Coming into this year last January, the DPRK supreme governing body issued proposal, followed by open letter. Last June, the National Defense commission advanced another proposal, and last July DPRK government issued a statement. All these proposals converning the proposal on full-scale suspension of these exercises, and DPRK went ahead with generous initiative on its own.

However, every time we came to propose, the US and South Korean authorities made challenge by responding and opening provocative joint military exercises together, disregarding the sincerity and generosity of the DPRK. Last February, the US flew into South Korea B52 bombers equipped with nuclear eweapons when Northand South Korea were sitting together face ot face on a dialogue table to come to agreement.

There was another provocation last July. Again, North and South Korea were sitting together to discuss the participation of North Korean players in the Asian games. US did not hesitate to bring in South Korea George Washington super large nuclear powered aircraft carrier.

The US is misbehaving militarily in order to undermine dialogue, and North_South relations improvement. It is reminding us of the historical last symptom of mentally retarded patients.

Despite the fact that the US is the major source of increased tension, the US raised the question of tactical rocket launches of the DPRK at the UN security council and brought about so-called condemnation of the DPRK on the ground of so-called violation of UNSC resolution.

So third, I will talk about the request made by the DPRK upon the UNSC with regard to the US South Korea joint military exercises. The US and South Korea joint military exercise is the root cause of the aggravation of tension on the Korean peninsula and the peace and security cannot be guaranteed. Last July 21, the DPRK presented a formal request to the Security Council to open emergency meeting with regard to these exercises. If the UNSC is genuinely serious about the peace and security of the Korean peninsula, the UNSC should discuss the matter very seriously. If the UNSC turns away from this request, for the emergency meeting, it will only expose itself as a UN body which lost principles, lost impartiality, lost responsisbility with its mandate of securing international peace and security.
As long as the UNSC continues to disregard and turn away, in contravention of its mandate, DPRK will go alone. The situation on the Korean peninsula proves the pursuance and adoption of the parallel line policy of national economic building based on powerful nuclear deterrents is the right choice DPRK made. As long as the US continues blackmail, the DPRK will strengthen and consolidate its nuclear deterrent. As long as the US continues joint military exercises, the counter actions will become annual and routine.

In the process of continued dangerous joint military exercises, if there is any spark it will easily turn into war and the full responsibility will lie with the US and the UNSC who illegally support the US.

Q: to clarify, you intend to request a Security Council meeting?
A: As I said in my opening remarks, DPRK gave an official letter in the name of the PR of the DPRK to the United Nations on July 21, addressed to the president of the UNSC, officially requesting to put the question of joint military exercises into the agenda and openly discuss it in the form of emergency meeting. But so far there is no reply from the president. Maybe it is a silent procedure. I don’t think this is a silent procedure. They are ignoring. Disregarding. This is showing the working method of the UNSC which is a common concern of the UN member states.
Q: What outcome would you expect from the UNSC?
A: I introduced the nature of the military exercises being conducted by the US. It is not their land. It is Korean land. Now they are holding it for over 6 decades, unnoticed by the international community. We continue to struggle to stop it. US simply ignored it. Every time they responded with military exercises, increasing tension and climate of war. Now we asked for this emergency meeting, it is a question of the SC mandate, and we officially presented our letter, and they already discussed last July on request of the US. US is the major source of the threat on the Korean peninsula. It is ridiculous. This country is raising the issue and condemning the DPRK self-defense tactical rocket launches.
Q: What do you mean that the US is like a mentally ill patient? And, DPRK’s neighbors say DPRK is erratic, frightening, what’s your response?
A: When you say surrounding countries, can you name?
Q: Japan. South Korea.
A: Now you see. US, South Korea, Japan, they are military allies. US has military bases in Japan and in South Korea. The question of the US behavior – this is ridiculous behavior. If they are serious about peace and security on the Korean peninsula, they should remove their troops and nuclear weapons. They should not bring weapons of mass destruction. Now I refer to US, because this is the root cause of the tension on the Korean Peninsula. DPRK has never conducted military drills at the doorstep of US, and US has been doing it for over 6 decades at our doorstep. Now they say regime change is the objective. How can you explain this behavior?

Q: The US might say they bring nuclear armed vessels into South Korea because your country has nuclear weapons. Could you address that?
And, what can you say about DPRK missiles aimed at the US?

A: Nuclear weapons of the DPRK cannot be observed in isolation from the nuclear blackmail of the US. If there was no nuclear blackmail, if the US did not pressure the policy of nuclear preemptive strike against DPRK, under Bush administration, then there would be no nuclear weapon of the DPRK. And DPRK has no other option but to go nuclear. You can imagine. No country has been living like DPRK under serious threats to its existence, threat to its survival. That’s why DPRK made an option to go nuclear with a strong nuclear deterrent.
On the long-range missiles, DPRK has made it very clear, all the long-range missiles are targeted at the US since US is targeting Pyongyang.

Q: Was there any response from the Security Council to your request?
And, what did you say would be annual?
UNSC imposed new sanction on OMM. Is this a threat to you?

A: On the first question, I already answered that.
On annual, yes, now every time these exercises are being held, this is a response from United States and they are bringing in weapons of mass destruction ot South Korea. So under this nuclear blackmail, we made it clear our counter-actions will become annual and routine. This is self defense. It can be missile launch, nuclear test, depends on the option.

Q: Has your letter to the UNSC been circulated? Has any council member tried to get it on the agenda? Any development on UN Command?
A: On the response, I already answered, nothing to add.
On UN command, the DPRK is consistently insisting on the dismantling of UN Command in South Korea. This is a UN body but not under the direction of the UN, it is not under the approval of its budget. If you look at the inside nature, 100 percent US troops. This is a typical example of position of power by the US. It should be dismantled. And we are raising it to the UN on a regular basis.

Q: Should the letter be circulated?
A: Yes. No, it’s up to, in the coming years, what kind of action it will take.

Oh yes, the sanctions. They added another one. They are continuing to add. And the sanctions and resolution are illegal. DPRK rejects as unlawful against a sovereign state. They raised the question of satellites launched by the DPRK. But every UN member has sovereign rights. And DPRK is like the other countries. It is a state party to the outer space treaties. Every state has the right to conduct research for peaceful purposes. But Japan raised the satellite launch. And if their argument of the use of ballistic missile for satellite launch, we need to look at the US technology. They are also using ballistic missiles to alunch satellites. They should be number one target for sanctions by the UNSC. This can only invite strong powerful actions by the DPRK.

Q: What about the change to article 9 in Japan’s constitution, for re-militarizing? Is your government the target?
A: The US is opening its way toward militarization. They are going to repeat past crimes by having the right to collective self-defense. The US is supporting this dangerous move of Japan. It is an international concern and a concern of the DPRK. In the case of Japan, already agreed the current administration the president visited the shrine with no apologies for past crimes. And now they’re going through military moves, the right to collective self-defense, along with the military power Japan has accumulated, you can imagine what kind of nature, based on military power they have already, 

 
  

After Somalia and AMISOM Raid on Radio Shabelle, UK Is Concerned, Somaliland Questions by the Free UN Coalition for Access


By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 20 -- Right after the UN Security Council visited Mogadishu, Somalia's Army and the UN-supported AMISOM force raided Radio Shabelle, jailing journalists.

   On August 19 Inner City Press asked the UK Mission to the UN about the raid and the at least three journalists still in detention: Abdimalik Yusuf Mohamud, Owner of Shabelle and SKY FM, Mohamud Mohamed Dahir a/k/a Mohamud Arab, Director of SKY FM and Ahmed Abdi Hassan, Shabelle deputy head of news.

  On August 20, the UK Mission's spokesperson Iona Thomas told Inner City Press that "the UK is concerned by reports of mistreatment of journalists in Somalia and we are urgently investigating the matter with the Somali authorities."  We hope to have more on this.
  Back on August 15 at the UN noon briefing, Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked if there is any UN response to this raid on independent media -- by UN supported forces.
  Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq replied that there was no comment by the UN mission UNSOM under Nicholas Kay, and that Inner City Press should "check with AMISOM."
  But they're the ones who did it. Inner City Press asked again: no UN comment on the closing down of a radio station?
  Haq replied that he has no verification -- it is widely reported - and that he hasn't heard from UNSOM about it. Why not?
   Similarly, little has been heard at UN headquarters from UNSOM about envoy Nicholas Kay's recent visit to Somaliland, of which Kay has said, "Pleased to be in Hargeisa. Excellent talks with HE Mohammed Younis and his colleagues. Good to see our significant UN team in Somaliland."
   FUNCA member in Hargeisa Mohamoud Walaaleye, who has previously defended press freedom there, has made inquiries and provided more information to New York, to FUNCA and Inner City Press, than the UN Spokesperson's Office has conveyed from Kay. 
  What is Kay's response to criticism of his approach to Somaliland, for example herehere and here. (Somali Embassy US saying "UN Envoy Nick Kay actions & policies are threaten the peace, Security, stability, sovereignty & territorial integrity of Somalia)? On this too we hope to have more.
   Back on May 12 in an advance copy of the UN's report on Somalia, to be issued as S/2014/330, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is "concerned about the potential for confrontation between Puntland and 'Somaliland.' I call on both sides to avoid escalating tensions."
   Many note that Somaliland, without the quotation marks Ban puts around it, has been more peaceful than Mogadishu for some time - and that the UN system raised tensions by, for example, handing Somaliland's airspace to Mogadishu. 
  Ban's report also says he remains "concerned about the continued export of Somali charcoal" and encourages "the Security Council Committee on Somalia and Eritrea to list the responsible individuals and entities."
  These advance copies have been known to be changed before "final" release, in a process for which a description, and then proposals for reform, were provided here and thenhere.
 In this advance copy, Ban "strongly recommend[s] to the Council an extension of the mandate of UNSOM for one year to 3 June 2015."
When on April 23 UNSOM envoy Nicholas Kay along with AMISOM head Mahamat Saleh Annadif took questions at the UN, Inner City Press asked them about the new Ugandan guard unit, about the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group and about Somaliland including its disputed airspace. Video herefrom Minute 14:23.
  Kay said, "at the moment we're absolutely clear obviously on the international legal position vis-a-vis Somaliland, it's not a recognized state by anyone. But they have a very strong sense of their own statehood and aspirations to independence."
  Kay referred to the Turkey-facilitated talks between Somaliland and the Somali government in Mogadishi, including about airspace. He said that UN funds and programs operate in Somaliland. But UNSOM does not: Somaliland points to the mandate it was given by the Security Council.
  On the Ugandan guard unit, Kay said they will protect the UN but work with AMISOM. But in March, AMISOM spokesperson Ali Aden Houmed was quoted by Voice of America that "we do not have the fact of what these forces are and they are not part of us... UN and Uganda had been conducting 'a secret negotiation.'" Neither Kay nor Mahamat Saleh Annadif addressed this.
  On sanctions, after Kay recounted improvements in reporting and "information" that are underway, Inner City Press asked if the Somali letter requesting the ouster of SEMG coordinator Chopra has been withdrawn. Kay said he has not seen the letter. Well here it is: Inner City Pressexclusively obtained, reported and published it. Has it been withdrawn?

 
  

On Chibok Girls Kidnapped in Nigeria, ICP Asks UN Status of #BringBackOurGirls, Is Told “Government Is Working On It”


By Matthew Russell Lee
UNITED NATIONS, August 20 -- When the UN announced on very short notice on August 20 that it would at noon host a briefing about the seemingly forgotten girls kidnapped in Chibok, by Ratidza Ndhlovu the head of the United Nations Populations Fund in Nigeria, there was an obvious question to ask.
  What has happened to #BringBackOurGirls, which swept through Hollywood and Nollywood and the White House but has now waned and been superseded, by Islamic State and ebola, suicides and downed airliners?
Inner City Press was called and and prepared to ask the question -- but got cut off (see below). After a softball question about UNFPA's dignity kits and psychological support, Inner City Press thanked Ndhlovu on behalf of the new Free UN Coalition for Access and asked: what is the status of finding or even trying to find the girls?
  Ndhlovu said, “the government is working on it. As for the UN as a family we are pre-positioning for the girls when they come out, this is the role of the UN. The other part is for the government to take care of.”
  Nice role, that. Inner City Press asked the UN spokesman if Ban Ki-moon's envoy on the issue Said Djinnit, since moved to the Great Lakes, has been replaced. “There will be a replacement if there hasn't been one already for the head of the West Africa Office” was the answer. Like we said: forgotten.
This spokesman had called on Inner City Press -- but allow the first question to be taken or “reclaimed” by the UN Correspondents Association, a group whose Executive Board tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN
  There have been no reforms; in anything UNCA, now the UN's Censorship Alliance, more aggressively demands the first question at such briefings, and then usually offers up a softball question of the type the UN likes. But the turning away from #BringBackOurGirls cannot be disguised, even by censors.