Sunday, January 22, 2017

On Yemen, After Ban's Failure, Plea to Guterres, Honest Broker or One-Sided?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS,  January 6 -- 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 new UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres takes over Ban Ki-moon's failure. Inner City Press asked him about Yemen at his first stakeout; he said he'd be an honest broker. Will he be, more than in the UN press corps today?
 Ali Saleh has written to Guterres, see here, citing previous meeting and asking to stop the war and the killing. We'll have more on this.
On December 1, Inner City Press asked the incoming president of the UN Security Council for December, Spain, why Yemen is not even on the calendar for the month, even in the footnotes. Click here for that.
Now that exiled Hadi has rejected even the envoy's roadmap, on December 20 Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft about Saudi Arabia's use of UK cluster bombs. Tweeted video here and hindered production note; UK transcript here: 
Inner City Press: On Yemen, now that Saudi Arabia has admitted using UK cluster bombs – it seems like the UK has acknowledged that this did happen. What’s the next step? What is the UK’s position on whether it was appropriate or not? And any further review of sales?
Amb Rycroft: Well, the UK keeps our arm sales under constant review, including to Saudi Arabia. And we make sure that very strict guidance is adhered to in how and when those weapons are used.
On December 7, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: President Hadi has rejected the envoy's most recent proposal in a letter to the Security Council.  And it seems like almost everybody else, even Member States like Saudi Arabia, are, have said that they support this roadmap.  US and UK have both said it.

In the same way that it was presented at one time in Syria, that the blockage here seems to be an individual as opposed to, like… does the Secretary-General stand behind the roadmap?  And does he intend to speak to President Hadi about the… the continuing bombing that will take place if he, in fact, rejects this roadmap?

Deputy Spokesman:  The Secretary-General continues to support the work of his Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, and of the roadmap that Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed is presenting to parties.

We're aware of the remarks from President Hadi's side.  And, of course, we're aware from past experiences with many diplomatic processes that many times things are said that could be interpreted as a way to influence or shape a process of negotiations as it proceeds.

Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been in touch with the parties.  He will continue to be in touch with the parties, and he will continue to work to make sure that all sides agree to a roadmap out of this crisis.

ICP Question:  I know the Secretary-General met with President Hadi, I guess, in September.  I saw their meeting upstairs.  But has he spoken to him since, since September?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe he's been in contact with different officials in Yemen.  And, of course, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met President Hadi very recently, just about a week or so ago, I think.
On December 2 a Permanent Five member of the Security Council told Inner City Press, when it asked, that Egypt was working on a Press Statement.  Now this report of two quotes about it:
"Saudi Ambassador to the U.N. Abdullah al-Mouallimi said in a phone call that the statement is expected to be issued on Friday or Saturday. He said there is a Russian objection to the statement.. Yemeni Ambassador to the U.S. Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak said, however, that Russia showed no objection to the step itself."
  So it appears Egypt is carrying Saudi Arabia's water despite the oil cut-off. We'll have more on this.
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.