Wednesday, December 28, 2016
On South Sudan, US Draft Fails, ICP Asked US Power of UNMISS Arming Warlord, Zip
By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow Up to Exclusives
UNITED NATIONS, December 23 -- When the UN Security Council members met about South Sudan on December 15, the best they could do was extend the mandate of the UNMISS mission for a single day. Even then, there was already news of UNMISS having given arms to warlord, or “rebel general,” James Koang.
Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Samantha Power about this on December 16 and she said she hadn't read it. On December 19, even while fielding a pre-picked question on South Sudan, Power still refused to answer. Video here.
On December 23, with it being clear there were not going to be nine votes in favor, US Ambassador Samantha Power put to the vote in the Security Council an unamended sanctions and arms embargo resolution. As predicted, it got only seven yes votes; Power followed with a long speech. Trying out for college professor or MSNBC?
This was in a Small Arms Survey report, picked up in the Washington Post. Inner City Press tweeted it at UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, requesting a comment. Nothing.
On the morning of December 16, Inner City Press asked the Ambassadors of the UK and New Zealand about it, and both had heard of it and said it needed to be investigated. The Ambassador of France, the country that has run UN Peacekeeping for 20 years, did not comment. Video here.
The US holds the pen, and more, on South Sudan. In the early afternoon of December 16, when US Ambassador Samantha Power held a stakeout about Syria, Inner City Press asked about the US South Sudan draft, and the Washington Post report. Power said she hadn't seen the Washington Post report, but that the draft would pass. Video here.
At 4 pm the resolution, changed, was adopted 15-0. Afterward Egypt, for example, criticized the US for not consulting enough, and showing its draft(s) too late. Final adopted draft here.
But three days later on December 19 when Samantha Power came again to the Security Council stakeout, while it was mostly on Syria Power or her spokesman made sure to pick a South Sudan question which would allow Power to gently urge Japan to support the US call for sanctions and an arms embargo.
Inner City Press asked right after, what about UNMISS arming Koang? Nothing. Then as Power left, Inner City Press asked the question, quite audible. Power walked off; the understanding is that she has now read the report but wants to ask the UN about it before any comment.
Later on December 19, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: On South Sudan, I wanted to know, on Thursday, The Washington Post published a report based on the small arms survey report that UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) gave hundreds of automatic weapons to a SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement)-in Opposition commander named James Koang, who, in turn, killed civilians with them. And I'm wondering, since it's pretty outrageous, what is UNMISS' under… explanation for having turned these weapons over? And even if they say they were under duress, what was their responsibility once they gave these weapons to the civilians that were killed with them and also to… did they ever inform the Security Council? And what do they do to protect civilians from their weapons they gave to a warlord?
Spokesman: I don't have anything to share with you on that.
ICP Question: I heard that UNMISS has an answer.
Spokesman: I… they may. I don't have anything for you on that right now.
Later: I've just been given something that I didn't have with me on UNMISS, which I will share with you, which… from the Mission, which says, when UNMISS opened its gates to save lives as the conflict erupted, it applied utmost diligence to disarm and collect weapons and ammunition from people seeking protection. The Mission worked tirelessly and impartially to save thousands who sought refuge in its camps at the points… protection of civilians sites in the town and avoid an escalation of violence with the forces controlling the area. Anyone who was armed and seeking for protection was not allowed to enter the UN Compound. In December 2013, at the early stages of the conflict, some SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) soldiers abandoned weapons outside the UNMISS compound, in order to seek protection inside the compound in Bentiu. UNMISS collected the abandoned weapons and safely stored them according to its weapons management policy. In response to direct threats from local SPLA commanders to UNMISS to hand over weapons abandoned by the soldiers, the Mission facilitated the transfer of a limited number of weapons to Major-General James Koang, who commanded the SPLA 4th Division in Bentiu at the time. Later in that month, he officially defected to the then newly-established SPLM-in-Opposition. Since January 2014, the Mission has also conducted several destructions of weapons and ammunitions that pose risks to the civilian population and UN staff. The Mission underscores that a political solution is the only viable solution to the crisis, as it continues to implement its protection of civilians mandate in Bentiu and around the country.
ICP Question: Do they… I mean, first of all, what's the number of weapons that they handed over? Small arms survey puts it at… at several hundred automatic weapons so it seems like… it's a large number. Why didn't they… this whole idea of like stay and deliver or stand and deliver, once they handed the weapons over, what did they do to ensure that they, in fact, wouldn't just be used to kill civilians?
Spokesman: Well, obviously, the Mission has continued to protect civilians in the… tens of thousands of civilians at its point… protection of civilians sites in Bentiu since then and continues to do so. I don't have an update on the exact number of weapons we're talking about.
ICP Question: And just one… I'd asked you whether… whether at the time because it seems like a pretty extreme thing to do to give these weapons. Did DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) or UNMISS tell the Council… and I ask you because my understanding… I asked Samantha Power about this on Friday, and today the US Mission has said that they're asking the UN for its answer. So did they not tell… I read from that that they didn't tell the Council. Is this the kind of thing that the Council should have been told?
Spokesman: I don't know what was updated in 2013 at the time.
And after that, nothing from the UN - Ban Ki-moon didn't answer when Inner City Press asked, Vine here, video here - nor from the US Mission to the UN.
Speaking for the US on December 16 was deputy Isobel Coleman, who did not in her speech mention UNMISS arming Koang. (In full disclosure, she is also the USUN ambassador to whom the Government Accountability Project directed its request that the Mission opposed the UN's eviction and restriction of Inner City Press - and apparently did nothing.) Nor now about this - the smashing by UN thugs of the same Periscope-camera ICP used to broadcast Samantha Power. We'll have more on this.
There were already over 9,000 viewers of Inner City Press' Periscope of this South Sudan Q&A, but even after Inner City Press tweeted the Washington Post story to Power, her spokesman and the US Mission generally, there was no response.
None of these did ANYTHING when Inner City Press was evicted, and is still restricting, by the UN of Ban Ki-moon and Cristina Gallach this year, despite a request from the DC-based Government Accountability Project. We'll have more on this.
When the UN Security Council met about South Sudan on November 17, outgoing US Ambassador Samantha Power lavished praise on Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative to the country, Ellen Loj, not linking her to the UN's failures in Juba in July and Malakal before that.
This stands in contrast to Ban's firing or scapegoating for the July failure of Kenyan's force commander Ondieki, on the job for only three weeks at the time. Was Loj as blameless as Samantha Power and Ban made her out to be, as each speechifies about “accountability”?
On December 9, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the detention then expulsion of the Norwegian Refugee Council's director Victor Moses more than a day before. Haq said he would check with UNMISS. He did not then have, or by the end of the day provide, any statement at all. Call it UNMISSing.
Inner City Press also asked UN OCHA's John Ging, who to his credit answered, here.
On December 5, Inner City Press asked Ban's lead spokesman Stephane Dujarric how and when Loj would be replaced. UN transcript. On December 7, after scapegoating the Kenyan force commander and letting the Danish SRSG off the hook, Ban has named another Western Europe and Other Group official to head the South Sudan mission: David Shearer of New Zealand.
Whatever his qualifications, there are already African Group diplomats at this last “diss” by Ban of the African Group - after the scapegoating of Babacar Gaye for Herve Ladsous in CAR and at the same time that the UN said nothing about the Dutch bringing Christmas figures in black-face to the UN Peacekeeping base in Mali, here and now here.
On December 8, Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about this, and about how Shearer was vetted - but Haq refused to answer either until Shearer already has the job. From the UN transcript:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about this letter the Secretary-General wrote nominating, at least, David Shearer to head UNMISS [United Nations Mission] in South Sudan. One, I wanted to know whether, just from the public record, this issue where he did not, as a New Zealand politician, disclose a bank account he had at the UN with more than $50,000 in it was part of the… of the vetting process. And, two, given the firing that many complained of, of the Kenyan commander, were there… was there a short list? And, just to be direct about it, were there any African candidates on the short list, given that both the location of the mission and given recent issues both with Babacar Gaye and with the Kenyan general?
Deputy Spokesman: We're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. We don't have an announcement at this point to make about the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan. I hope we'll be able to have that at some point, but until then, I don't have a confirmation for the basis of your question.
ICP Question: But it seems like a stran… okay. I mean, the letter exists, so my question is, the thing is that you set up a process in which questions about vetting or issues that arise cannot… won't be answered until the person's already confirmed. Am I correct? See… that's why I'm asking the question now.
Deputy Spokesman: Like I said, you are basing a question on an announcement that I'm not able to make at this point.
ICP Question: Is there such a letter?
Deputy Spokesman: I'm sure that, as with other cases, there are communications that go to the Security Council about potential choices. We do not have a confirmation to provide at this point. That's the nature of the process. That… as you know, we wait for the process to play itself out, and then we can make our announcement.
On December 7, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: in South Sudan, there's pretty serious reports of fighting in Yei, where it seems that there was some sort of an attack by SPLA in Opposition. The Government is saying it's just criminals, but I wanted to know whether UNMISS can provide some clarity and also if UNMISS has any comment on the Government deporting AP reporter Justin Lynch, which happened yesterday, and was somebody who was obviously reporting on these topics. What's the UN's response to that?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, on the latter question, we don't have confirmation from the UN Mission, UNMISS, but we are aware of the reports, including from the Associated Press, that, that their reporter has been excluded.
Obviously, we believe that all reporters have to be allowed to go about their work without interference or without hindrance. We've raised up several times in recent weeks our concerns about the treatment of media in South Sudan, and we reiterate that in this case.
Regarding the fighting in Yei, I don't have any details at present from the Mission, but we'll check with them whether they have anything.
On November 30, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you about South Sudan. In the session in Geneva today, the US ambassador there, Mr. Ambassador Harper, said that the US has information that the government intends to… to essentially carry out an attack in Equatoria in the coming weeks. I wanted to ask two things.
One, what the UN… UNMISS [United Nations Mission in South Sudan], if… I'm assuming that if the US has this information that UNMISS would as well, what steps it intends to take to protect civilians. And also, I guess, to ask for your comment, the US mission here in New York is seeking sanctions through the Security Council only on Riek Machar and not on Salva Kiir.
Given that these allegations are about the Salva Kiir Government, does the Secretary-General, who has been willing to talk about arms embargo, believe that the sanctions should be applied to… as well as the party that's actually planning an attack according to testimony today?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, to take your second question first, obviously, it's, the sanctions and how they're devised is up to the members of the Council, and we respect their ability to do that. At the same time, of course, the Secretary-General has made clear the response, that the responsibility for the violence in South Sudan is a responsibility by the leaders of both parties. It's, it's not restricted to one side or the other. And so any solution will involve making sure that both parties abide by this, both the SPLA [Sudan People's Liberation Army] and the SPLA in Opposition.
Regarding possible violence, of course, we take preparatory steps whenever we are aware of any reports of threats and the mission is doing all it can in terms of its posture on the ground and its patrolling to protect civilians. But I wouldn't want to speculate on what might happen in the future. But, yes, we try to take steps to make sure that we'll be ready.
After a closed door Security Council meeting later on November 29, Inner City Press was told that a “new” letter from the Kiir government on the RSF had been discussed. But neither the Council presidency, nor the US as penholder, represented by Isobel Coleman and not Samantha Power, provided any information.
The US has proposed to sanction Riek Machar -- but not Salva Kiir. Inner City Press asked UN Prevention of Genocide Adviser Adama Dieng about this choice, video here (he answered on other issues).
Some in South Sudan surmise that the US Adminstration has been against Riek Machar since, as far back as May 2016, Machar started saying Trump could win the US election. Should this play a role in choosing the target of sanctions?
Now, despite the claims that the UN as a whole is acting on the threats, under Ban Ki-moon's supposed “Rights Up Front” scheme not even complied with by Ban's own son in law Siddharth Chatterjee, the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya, the UN has stayed quiet on a significant arrest in Yambio.
Kiir's National Security in Yambio arrested Azande Paramount Chief Wilson Peni Rikito and days later, quiet from the UN which claimed it was paying particular attention to Yambio. We'll have more on this.
Meanwhile many South Sudanese are asking Inner City Press why the US Special Forces in Yambio and Nzara are sitting on their hands amid the slaughter. The US says they are there to “find Kony” - who is nowhere nearby. Others say it is a resources play.
The US Mission the UN's point-person on South Sudan left the Mission on November 4, and since then his position has been filled in by US Ambassador (ostensibly) for reform, Isobel Coleman. She did nothing even when the DC-based Government Accountability Project wrote to her earlier this year about Ban Ki-moon's UN evicting and restriction Inner City Press.
Now for truthful exclusive stories about those actually responsible for the failure in the Terrain in July, there's threats of litigation -- in essence, SLAPP suits, Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation and reporting. It seems the current US mission would be fine with that. We'll have more on this.
The US has been responsible for South Sudan, in the Security Council and elsewhere, and this Administration has not succeeded. Inner City Press' sources are describing to it how the parties are reaching around the outgoing Obama administration to the incoming, and we'll have more on that.
Here's the text of South Sudan's charge d'affaires Joseph Moum Majak N. Malok November 17 speech to the Security Council.
For now here's more details on how the UNMISS that US Power praises, and for which Herve Ladsous has not been held accountable, partners with the Dinka SPLA. Beyond Christophe Du Toit of UNDSS; Kenyan Tulicha Osman Abdikardir (UNHCR) security advisor providing intel to SPLA MI and UNMISS / “SPLA Agent” Captain Toang Wal Mut. This is shameful.
The UN judged the Terrain Apartments in Juba, South Sudan to be safe and well-protected in October 2015, documents obtained and exclusively published by Inner City Press show.
This incompetence, well before the Kenyan force commander Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki took over UNMISS in 2016, contribwhich uted to the rapes and death scandal for which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon fired, or scapegoated, Ondieki on November 1. Here's Ban on November 4, complaining at the push-back, Vine video.
On November 10, Ban's head of peacekeeping Herve Ladsous refused to answer on either Juba or Yambio, see below and video here: Ladsous only said, “You know I do not speak to you, Mister.” This is Ban's UN.