Tuesday, November 29, 2016

On Yemen, UN Envoy Chides Houthis & GPC, Trying To Keep His Job

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS,  November 29 -- While in Yemen the Houthis and ex-President Saleh's GNC both announced agreement to a ceasefire, in Riyahd exiled president Hadi indicated he did not agree. The UN on November 16 admitted to Inner City Press that Hadi did not even meet with UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.
Now this envoy - who has Inner City Press exclusively reported was in Portugal trying to line up an extension of his position while John Kerry was in Muscat trying to line up a legacy - says this:
"Statement attributable to the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed

The announcement by Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress on the formation of a new government in Sana’a represents a new and concerning obstacle to the peace process and does not serve the interests of the people of Yemen in these difficult times. Such unilateral actions contradict the recent commitments provided by Ansar Allah and the General People’s Congress to the United Nations and to United States Secretary of State John Kerry in Muscat."
  But what credibility does this envoy have, now?
On November 28, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:
 Inner City Press:  In Yemen, there have been various reports that the envoy is now starting a new round where you'll actually meet with President [Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi in Muscat.  Is that your understanding?  And what is… what's different about the proposal he's putting forward now to the one that was rejected two weeks ago?
Spokesman:  You know, obviously, proposals are adjusted constantly to try to meet the agreement of both parties, based on universal… on principles that the UN can agree on.  I'm not going to get into the minutiae of what he's changing, what he's not changing.  Obviously, the envoy's not giving up [actually seemed to say, “envoy's not giving hope”], and he's continuing to go about his work trying to get the parties back to the table.  
  After the briefing, Inner City Press was contacted by Yemenis who said it's true, envoy IOCA is NOT giving hope...
Al Arabiya without mentioning the envoy's exclusion and failures presents him as soldiering along as more and more Yemeni are killed: “Ould Cheikh said he’s willing to visit Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi in Aden if it’s required to do so.”
  But Hadi refused to meet with Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. That is not mentioned - nor this, an Inner City Press exclusive:
  While John Kerry was desperately trying to work out a deal to defend his and President Obama's “legacies,” where was Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed? Inner City Press' sources, outraged, say that the envoy was on his way to meet with incoming UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres with his focus on keeping his position in the next administration. “This is a new low,” one of them tells Inner City Press.
    This is a trend, failed Ban Ki-moon officials trying to keep their positions under Guterres. The same Al Arabiya provided this “platform” to Ban's head of Communication and censorship, Cristina Gallach, video here at Minute 10.  
Gallach pontificates to this Gulf media to which she gives a large office in the UN about how “difficult” it will be under Trump, and blaming not only “fake news” but also “social media” for the “difficult” and “very controversial” roles they played in the US election. This is an attempt by Gallach -- surrounded by corruption and mismanagement scandals -- to keep her UN position under incoming Secretary General Guterres.
 Tellingly, while outgoing Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople have told Inner City Press it is the practice for USGs like Gallach to tender their resignations at the end of their appointer's term, Gallach says only that she has given a “report” to Guterres and taken instruction on how he'd like the job down. Pro-tip to Guterres: end UN censorship, and Gallach's tenure. Busca una otra.
On November 21 with the brief "cessation" of hostilities not only fragile but off, by most accounts, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Matthew Rycroft of the UK, UN Security Council penholder on Yemen, about the ceasefire. Video here; from the UK transcript: 
Inner City Press: The Yemen ceasefire, what’s the status?

Amb Rycroft: The status of the Yemen ceasefire is that it is fragile, at best, and it needs to be made sustainable and permanent, and the UK will continue to support efforts of others to that end, including through the use - if necessary - of our draft Security Council resolution. 
  Inner City Press first published the UK draft resolution, as credited by Associated Press, via SalonDaily Mail (UK)Fox News
Later on November 21, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: What about the status of this Yemen cessation of hostilities or ceasefire that was announced by… by the Envoy?  Seems like the Saudi side has said that they will not… didn't really necessarily comply in 48 hours.  Maybe you have information about that, but will not be carrying it forward after 48 hours.  Is there a similar statement by the Envoy?

Spokesman:  I mean, what's, from our point of view, the 48 hour Cessation of Hostilities has expired without a renewal.  Both sides to the conflict reported violations, including airstrikes and ground clashes, during the Cessation of Hostilities.  The armed conflict, unfortunately, has clearly resumed. The main obstacle to the provision of humanitarian assistance in Yemen are bureaucratic impediments imposed by all sides and insufficient funding, not the ongoing hostilities. Despite the challenges, a growing humanitarian effort is underway.  Humanitarian workers are responding to the humanitarian needs of Yemenis, with about 4.6 million people receiving aid last month, wherever they are.

ICP Question:  In terms of the political process, if it was Secretary Kerry that spoke with the Houthis last time and the Envoy didn't speak to, to President Hadi, where's the UN… I mean, that was confirmed from right where you're standing.  And many people said it's because Hadi refused to meet with him, but in any case, he didn't meet with him. Where does it stand in terms of the UN's role in trying to… to get the sides talking…?

Spokesman:  The UN continues its effort to get all sides talking.  Obviously, there is always a role in these, in these mediation efforts for countries that may not be directly involved but have influence on one side or another to help us and use that influence in a constructive way.  And it's something we welcome, and it doesn't lessen in any way the role of the UN as a Special Envoy in trying to get the parties to the table.

ICP Question:  And just one last thing on… I guess relatedly, since Jan Eliasson said that the UN's working closely with Saudi Arabia on, I guess, trying to get President Hadi, over whom they have some influence, back to the table, can you… it came up last week, and it wasn't really clear.  Is there any communications… is there, is there any information being requested by the UN from Saudi Arabia in terms of revisiting or checking compliance with the Children and Armed Conflict mandate or is that…?

Spokesman:  When I have an update on that process, I will share it with you.
 On November 18, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video hereUN transcript here: 
Inner City Press:  if the Secretariat needs Saudi Arabia or is working closely with Saudi Arabia to try to get these talks back on track, can you see why, what is the relation, would putting them on the list be viewed as helpful in that way or is this one of the reasons that a decision I've heard has been made to leave it until the next report comes out in March?  Can you provide a specific… what is the process to consider putting Saudi Arabia for the death of those children back on the list?

Deputy Spokesman:  That depends upon the information that is accumulated by the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict and her Office.  The work of that Office is separate and apart from the work of the Special Envoy dealing with Yemen so they go about that without having to consider how the one affect the other.

ICP Question:  When is the last time Saudi Arabia provided new information about the deaths that led to them being listed on the list?

Deputy Spokesman:  We haven't received new information recently, but we continue to be in dialogue with them and they have asked for that dialogue and our door is open. 
  On November 17, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft if this was his understanding of Hadi's position. Tweeted video here. 
From the UK's transcript: 
Inner City Press:  Any idea if President Hadi is for the ceasefire or not for the ceasefire, in your understanding?

Amb Rycroft: So last I heard, President Hadi was not for the ceasefire brokered by Secretary Kerry, who was in the region recently. We commend his efforts, his energy, his continued momentum throughout his mandate, including on this important issue. I think he’s made a huge amount of progress by getting that ceasefire agreed, but I think not by President Hadi and indeed not by the government of Yemen, as things currently stand.

Inner City Press: Does President Hadi not want to meet with the UN Envoy? Because some people had said that he went to Riyadh and was unable to meet with Hadi?

Amb Rycroft: I hadn’t heard of that. I was aware that President Hadi had taken some persuasion even to receive the roadmap, never mind to engage constructively on it. But we call on him, and indeed all of the parties in Yemen, to engage constructively on the roadmap, which is a good, final offer from the Special Envoy of the UN, which I think has the full backing of the Security Council. I certainly hope so. And our draft resolution, which sets forth that support by the Security Council for the Special Envoy and his roadmap, as well as for other things like the Cessation of Hostilities and the humanitarian access that continues to be in play, and we will keep that out there as a way of moving in the right direction on Yemen towards a political agreement. 
  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 16, Inner City Press again asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson about the failures of Ban's or Saudi Arabia's envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. From the UN's November 16 transcript:
Inner City Press: on what Secretary [John] Kerry announced yesterday as a ceasefire agreed to by the Houthis, and it's since been said that the GPC (General People’s Congress)/Saleh side also agrees to it and the roadmap, I'm… I wanted to ask you again, because yesterday, and I guess… I think it happened later in the day than the briefing here, at the State Department briefing, the… the briefer, Ms. [Elizabeth] Trudeau, was asked repeatedly why… what was the [Abd Rabbuh Mansur] Hadi position?  And she said… this is a direct quote… she said, "As to the conversations with the Yemeni Government, we believe that's the role of the UN Special Envoy, and we direct you there."  So I'm wondering, can you state what has been the status of… of Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed's discussions with the Hadi Government and with Mr. Hadi, in particular?  And what is their position on a ceasefire that John Kerry's announced and that two parties have said that they will… would… would or will respect as early as Thursday?
Deputy Spokesman:  Well, at this stage, like I say… like I told you yesterday, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been travelling throughout the region.  I believe, in more recent days, he's been in Amman, Jordan.  But before that, he had been in Sana'a and in Riyadh, talking with the different parties.  There are assurances on different sides.  I don't want to characterise at this point the position of the Hadi Government.  That's really for them to describe.  But he has had good discussions with Saudi officials and others.  We've been in touch with people throughout the region.  We'll have to see whether a cessation of hostilities takes hold tomorrow, but we've been very encouraged, including by Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts.  And what we'll do is see what happens tomorrow and react accordingly.  But there have been some good signals on… by various sides.
ICP Question:  Was the envoy able to meet with President Hadi when he was in Riyadh?  Because I've heard that he wasn't and he was snubbed.  And can you just… did he meet or not?  If he met, great.  If he didn't, say it.
Deputy Spokesman:  No, I wouldn't call it a snub, but, no, they did not meet.
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 InnerCityPro.com here.