Monday, October 31, 2016

On Yemen, Inner City Press Asks UN Of Envoy's Roadmap, Hadi & Central Bank Move

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS,  October 27 -- 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.
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.