Thursday, November 10, 2016

On Yemen, Inner City Press Asks UK of Hadi Rebuffing Roadmap, Protest of Saudi Blockade, Ban's Sell-Out Complete

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up to Exclusives

UNITED NATIONS,  November 10 -- 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 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.