Saturday, February 25, 2017

On W Sahara, After Quietly Meets, Answer on How Many Staff Back Is "I Don't Remember"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 22 – Even after Morocco threw portions of the UN Peacekeeping mission out of Western Sahara, when the UN Security Council meets on the topic it is not listed on their agenda and thus far there has been no outcome. Permanent member France has ensured it remain this way, and has managed to get its fifth national in a row put atop UN Peacekeeping, to succeed Herve Ladsous who again and again told Inner City Press, I don't answer your questions, until it was evicted from its office and remains restricted by Spain's Cristina Gallach. Last week Inner City Press asked what to expect from Antonio Guterres, see below. 

 On the afternoon of February 22, with Western Sahara on the Security Council's agenda, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Francois Delattre how many of the ousted UN staff are still out, and about the meeting. He said to Ask his colleague, who would attended, joking "cheap shot." Video here.
 At the Security Council stakeout, at least four Moroccan diplomats held vigil, including the sponsor of UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' Eric Tistounet's book party. 
After cover up man Herve Ladsous left, it was said the President of the Council would speak at the stakeout.  When he did, Inner City Press asked for a summary, at least how many of the ousted UN staff had returned. I don't remember, was the answer. Video here.
And they wonder why UN Peacekeeping has become a joke.
Yesterday the following letter went to the Security Council:
"H.E. Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations
President of the Security Council of the United Nations

New York, 21 of February 2017


On behalf of the Frente POLISARIO, the legitimate representative of the people of Western Sahara, I am writing to you in your capacity as the President of the Security Council of the United Nations to place on record and on the eve of the meeting of the Council the following:

1.It is evident today, almost one year after the adoption of Security Council resolution 2285 (2016), that MINURSO’s international and civilian personnel who were expelled by Morocco in flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions and International law, has not been allowed by Morocco to return to the Western Sahara except a small number of them. This fact proves that MINURSO’s full functionality is far from being achieved. The UN Secretariat assertion that ‘in principle’ Morocco has agreed to restore the full functionality of the Mission through a ‘gradual process’, meaning an initial return of 25 staff in the ‘near future’ and then additional staff ‘subsequently’, has thus proven to be a misleading illusion.

2.Notwitstanding the emphasis in resolution 2285 (2016) on the importance of the parties to commit to a fifth round of negotiations, there has been no movement nor steps taken in that direction, despite the readiness of the Frente POLISARIO to engage and cooperate with the UNSG’s Personal Envoy, Ambassador Christopher Ross, toward meeting this requirement. It is no secret that the political process is hampered by Morocco’s continuous obstruction. This dangerous impasse in the political process threatens regional stability on a continent already contending with a number of fragile conflicts, which the Council has already defined as a non- option.

3. The situation in ElGargarat is the result of the accumulation of several dangerous developments that the Secretariat and the Council could have dealt with in an effective manner. The expulsion of MINURSO personnel, the continued Morocco's obstruction to the mission of the UNSG Personnel Envoy, and the Council’s silence, has encouraged Morocco to undertake its most provocative violation of the cease fire, by crossing the “wall of the shame” into the area forbidden by the military agreements signed with MINURSO to build a road in that part of our Territory under our sovereignty and control.  The Frente POLISARIO was left with no choice other than to stop this unacceptable action given the fact that MINURSO was not able to persuade Morocco, as it has done in the past, to desist from what is a clear violation of the cease fire and that has the potential to ensure the termination of it. Whilst the situation on the ground is still tense, it is but one point within a larger picture that requires an effective engagement of the Security Council toward assuring the full return of MINURSO and the resumption of the political process through a fifth round of direct negotiations.

4. Contrary to Morocco’s pretexts and propaganda, which it continues to spread among Members of the Council, that the purpose of the road is to “put an end to illicit trafficking of all kinds”, the Frente POLISARIO forces have captured in December 2016, a few kilometers from ElGargarat, five thousands kilograms of drugs (Hashish) en provenance of the "Wall of shame". This is a crime that is impossible to commit without the “complicity and guidance” of Moroccan military commanders. MINURSO was present during this capture and documented the facts. This is not an isolated case. It has happened on several occasions and in other places near the so-called military berm.  It begs the question, “from where is this “trafficking of all kinds” coming?”

4. The Ruling of the European Court of Justice of 21 December 2016, which explicitly stated and recognized that Western Sahara is not part of Morocco and that any trade agreements with Morocco excludes our country, offers a new opportunity for the Council to take measures to ensure the protection of the Sahrawi people’s permanent sovereignty over their natural resources.

5. Furthermore, the recent adhesion of Morocco to the African Union by signing and ratifying the Constitute Act of the Continental Organization, whose article 4 states that the Member States borders are those that existed the day of achievement of their independence, should constitute a reference for the Security Council and must facilitate stronger cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union toward a just and fair resolution of the conflict of Western Sahara. It must be recalled that the two Organizations have elaborated in 1988 the Settlement Plan that has led to the creation of MINURSO whose explicit mandate is to organize a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

The Security Council meeting on Western Sahara on 22 February 2017, now more than ever, is an opportunity for the Council to take measures to reinvigorate the peace process following the Moroccan-instigated crisis. The facts demonstrate that “silent diplomacy”, based on and inspired by the maneuvers of the occupying power, has failed and is leading to the Council’s failure in conflict prevention on Western Sahara. It is thus incumbent on the Council to restore MINURSO’s credibility and signal confidence to the international community on the issue of Western Sahara.

I would be most grateful if you would bring this letter to the attention of the Members of the Security Council.... Representative of the Frente POLISARIO To the United Nations”"
Back on February 16 at a rare panel discussion on Western Sahara just off Manhattan's Park Avenue, a questioner brought the proceedings to a halt when he asked about Trump adviser Steve Bannon working in MINURSO.  Several audience members - on both sides, as it turned out - asked, Why? From the podium came the answer that the reference was to John Bolton. The Q&A continued.
  Inner City Press asked about Antonio Guterres, who recently gave the top position in UN Peacekeeping to yet another French official, Jean-Pierre Lacroix the fifth in a row, and what his views may be on Western Sahara.
  Amy Goodman of Democracy Now responded that as a former Portuguese prime minister Guterres should remember, and be asked about, East Timor. Video here, from Min 1:30:26. Consider it an assignment.
 The event was at Hunter College's Roosevelt House and included Prof Sandra Babcock, lawyer Katlyn Thomas, Madeleine Bair of Watching Western Sahara and Mohammed Ali Arkoukoum of the Saharawi Association in New York. The final questioner, with a pro-Morocco perspective and some supporters with filming phones, came in from Boston.
  Back on January 27 after the UN Security Council held a closed door meeting about Western Sahara, Inner City Press asked the Council's President for January Olof Skoog of Sweden what happened in the meeting. Video here.
  Specifically, Inner City Press asked Skoog how many of the 83 members of the MINURSO peacekeeping mission expelled by Morocco have be able to return.
 Skoog did not give a number, but said that MINURSO is still no up to full functionality. He mentioned Guerguerat.
  Inner City Press asked if Morocco's attempts to join the African Union, and the impact that might have on the political negotiations, had been discussed. Skoog said no.

  There was no time to ask about the Norwegian oil fish ship that, it seems, violated the recent European court ruling. And less than two hours later, guards citing the eviction / Press downgrading order of Spanish UN official Cristina Gallach demanded to know where Inner City Press' "minder" was, putting an end to a diplomat's provision of information to Inner City Press. This is today's UN.