Saturday, June 17, 2017

Amid UN Libya Failure, Guterres Taps Salameh As Envoy, ICP Scoop on Strategic Review by Guehenno

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive confirmed

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 – UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, after multiple failures, has formally moved to appoint former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salameh as his envoy to Libya, replacing Martin Kobler. Letter here.The UN's failings in Libya forced Guterres to order a strategic review of its presence there, head by French former UN official Jean-Marie Guehenno who traveled to the region, sources told Inner City Press. Inner City Press published the exclusive, and at noon on June 7 got on-camera confirmation from UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric -- who still refuses, however, to say how and how much Guehenno will be paid. Now even before Guehenno's murky "strategic review" as been presented, we heard and on June 9 reported of former Lebanese culture minister Ghassan Salameh, a failed candidate for UNESCO, bidding for the UN's Libya post, instead of initially rumored Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed the envoy on Yemen, of whom Inner City Press asked Yemen penholder Matthew Rycroft of the UK on June 8. The UN is corrupt. From the UN June 7 transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you, can you… has the Secretary-General requested a strategic review of the entire presence in Libya of the UN?  And is Mr. [Jean-Marie] Guéhenno, former head of DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations], involved in it?

Spokesman:  I'm not aware, but I can check [Later]  I can confirm that there is, in fact, a strategic assessment of the UN presence in Libya that Mr. Guéhenno is leading.

Inner City Press: Is he now a UN official?  That was going to be my…

Spokesman:  I'm sure he's employed on a contractual basis to conduct this.
  But what kind of contract, given his other engagements? Inner City Press has now asked Guehenno on Twitter, here, and at 3 pm on June 7 asked the Ambassadors of the UK, Sweden and France, video here. The UK's Matthew Rycroft said it was always good to review missions, how many people they should employ. From the UK transcript: Inner City Press: Q: The strategic review that’s being undertaken by Jean-Marie Guehenno, by the Secretariat. What’s the goal of it? Does it put into question whether the mission will remain? Or is it simply what the mission should be doing?
Amb Rycroft: I think it’s more the latter, and we support that. It’s important that every political and peacekeeping mission in the UN has an honest look at itself. What is it doing well? What areas does it need to improve on? Does it have too many staff? Does it have too few staff? And he’s been very helpful in doing that in regards to UNSMIL.

Inner City Press: Will he brief the Council when he’s done? Is that your understanding?

Amb Rycroft: I don’t know whether he will or not, but we look forward to hearing the views of the UN Secretary-General.
  Sweden's Olof Skoog said there was a need to make political decisions and that was the role of the review, which would not impact the sanctions committee he chairs. France's Delattre praised (also French) Guehenno, alluded to the trip, then went into the Security Council's Libya meeting. Will Guehenno answer what Dujarric would not? Will he brief the Council?  Could fishy Yemen envoy Ismaeil Ould Cheikh Ahmed be shifted over from the Yemen beat he's failed on to Libya, even during the review? Guterres got his choice to replace envoy Martin Kobler blocked. The UN's servile role in Libya was exemplified  on April 4, when long time UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric cut off a Press question, to Italy, about its deal with and reported arming of tribes there in an attempt to stem migrant flows. So on April 5, Inner City Press asked Dujarric's Associate Spokesperson Eri Kaneko, from the UN transcript: 
Inner City Press: I tried yesterday at the UNMAS [United Nations Mine Action Service] press conference to ask this question.  There was a conference held in… Friday in Rome between the Italian Interior Ministry and what was described as tribes from Libya, particularly from the parts not controlled by the UN-recognized Government.  And at least some press accounts say that Italy has agreed to provide weapons to the tribes, basically to stop immigrant… migrants or refugees from coming to their soil.  So, what I wondered is, what's the UN's involvement in this?  One, what do they think of a country arming tribes, if that's what took place?  In any event, what is the UN… either Mr. [Martin] Kobler or… or… or anyone else in the UN system, UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], are they involved in any way in this Italian interchange with Libyan tribes?

Associate Spokesperson:  I mean, as you know, the UN is not a military force or has no military force in Libya, but I'm sure that the Italians are in touch with our team on the ground.  We'll check with them what they think about this development.

Question:  Right.  But, I guess… well, okay.  Check… check, if you could?

Associate Spokesperson:  Yoshita?
  Eight hours later, there was nothing, no answers. On April 4, the cut off was at a press conference co-chaired by Italy's deputy ambassador to the UN; Libya is one of the countries the UN says it does mine action work in. But when Inner City Press asked about Libya, and Italy, Dujarric cut in and disallowed the question. Later he allowed others to ask “off topic” questions. And, after Inner City Press followed up on its question about Richard Wilcox being proposed as UN envoy to Libya, Dujarric refused to confirm he has been blocked, despite loud protestation about the blocking of Salam Fayyad for the same position. This is today's UN.
   In Libya, the head of UNMAS said they work from outside of the country. Inner City Press asked her about Cameroon, too, including the Internet cut off she said she was aware of from Inner City Press - but that's another story.
After the UN's Antonio Guterres, under the advice of USg Jeffrey Feltman, had the pick of Salam Fayyad for UN Libya envoy blocked, the duo have a new, also US Democratic Party related, name for the position: Richard Wilcox. On March 24, after reporting this, Inner City Press asked Guterres' holdover deputy spokesman Farhan Haq, UN transcript here: 
Inner City Press: the National Human Rights Commission in Libya has expressed concern about a proposal by Italy to open up, they say, migrant camps inside Libya, I guess, to stem the flow of people coming to them, but apparently, they… they… they… Italy believes they can open it without the Government's consent.  And I wanted to know, given that the Secretary-General is a… is something of an expert in immigrat… in migration law, does the Secretary-General or Secretariat have any view of a European country like Italy opening up migrant camps in countries of origin in order to keep people from coming even without that Government's consent?

Deputy Spokesman:  First, we'll check with UNHCR what they're saying about this.  I believe that they'll be looking at this matter, and they've been in touch with the relevant authorities.  So we'll have to see what the response is.
Inner City Press: Also on Libya, I wanted to ask you, the former ambassador here, Ibrahim Dabbashi, has written that the Secretary-General is considering naming Richard Wilcox, in a… he says… according to Dabbashi, an Obama-era official to be Special Representative to Libya.  And I wanted to know, where does the process stand?  Is that the case?  And, if so, would… this is… is this something that the Secretary-General would go through a more extensive process with the P-5 than was the case in the former nominee?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the consultations on this issue continue.  There's nothing to announce in terms of any names, and the process that will be followed is the same one that we've been following.

Inner City Press:  But did it work last time?

Deputy Spokesman:  We will continue with our consultations.  Of course, what we want and expect is the cooperation of all parties.  Yes, in the back?
  One wonders if Guterres (or Feltman) will claim they got Nikki Haley sign off. Or, as a high ranking official on the 38th floor of the UN on March 23 asked Inner City Press, who actually has an interlocutor in the White House right now? Watch this site.
  The US blocked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' nomination of the Palestinian Authority's Salam Fayyad to be UN envoy to Libya.
  On February 20, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq if there was any progress in replacing Fayyad as candidate -- apparently not - about an assassination attempt and travel ban on women in the East. From the UN transcript: 
Inner City Press: I wanted to ask about Libya.  Do you have anything on the attempted assassination attempt against Mr. Serraj?  And, also, there’s a reported ban on women… unaccompanied women traveling from the east.  Do you have anything either on that?  And any update on the selection of an SRSG that was previously blocked?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, regarding the selection of an SRSG, that process… the consultations are ongoing, and I don’t have any… any further details to share for you beyond what the Secretary-General himself said to the press on this over the weekend.

Regarding… regarding the assassination… the reports, I don’t have a confirmation of those reports, so I don’t have any reaction to provide at this point.

Inner City Press: And I’ve noticed that António Guterres has put out a sort of a global call, generic call, for SRSGs to be in some sort of pool to become UN envoys to conflict zones.  I wanted to know, like, on the Libya one, given… given the apparent miscommunication about whether it would be accepted or blocked, is there any thought of doing an open process such as is being done with Department of Management and Department of Public Information, or is there any thought of having that more public or at least routinized process as opposed to a behind-the-scenes process?

Deputy Spokesman:  If there’s any changes to make in the current process, we’ll announce it.  We don’t… while we’re considering certain things, there’s nothing to announce at this point.

  On February 13 Inner City Press asked Guterres' deputy spokesman Farhan Haq to explain what the "usual consultations" mentioned in the February 8 letter to the Security Council from Guterres consisted of. Haq refused to elaborate, nor to explain Guterres reportedly preparing to give the top post in UN Peacekeeping to France to the fifth time in a row. Video here.