Tuesday, March 29, 2011

UN Libya Sanctions Chair Says No Arms to Rebels, US Says It Can as Obama to NY

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 28 -- On the Libya arms embargo, things get more and more strange. On Monday Chairman Cabral of the UN Libya Sanctions Committee stated on camera that there is a full embargo on arms to Libya, including to the rebels.

When he was told, as Inner City Press and other have been, that the UK is seeking a legal opinion, Cabral said this was just talk, and reiterated his reading of the resolution: a full arms embargo. This position has been echoed to Inner City Press by other Security Council members.

How then can not only Obama administration spokesman Jay Carney on March 25, but also Defense Secretary Robert Gates on March 27, say that the UN resolutions have the flexibility to allow for arms transfers to the rebels?

Skeptics at the UN say that if the George W. Bush administration was making such comments, there would howling about their contempt for international law and multi-lateralism. But now very little is being said. Would this silence continue if the US did in fact more to arm the rebels?

The US did not even raise the issue to debate it in the Sanctions Committee's first meeting on March 25, Inner City Press is reliably informed.

Susan Rice, Obama and Clinton, negotiation of Paragraph 4 and new position not shown

At the March 28 UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about two of the requests that were discussed in that meeting, by Belarus and Senegal:

Inner City Press: has Kuwait written a letter to the Council under resolution 1973 (2011)? And also, there are supposedly some notes verbale that went in and I wanted to know what… if you can confirm one from Belarus and Senegal, and describe what they concerned.

Spokesperson Nesirky: As you know, when we have had notifications that have gone through to the Council, then we have been advising you. I don’t have any update beyond the numbers that the Secretary-General used. And I know that the question was posed during the briefing on Friday; we don’t have any further update on notifications since then.

Inner City Press: And do you know, this thing on Ukraine, because you’ve been the one to announce Ukraine and then take it off, could we, just for the purposes of transparency, understand why it was on and then off?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, we did go through this a number of times, and I know it was raised again here on Friday. So, I don’t think we need to…

Inner City Press: But we didn’t really get to why did it go on and then come out.

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, as I mentioned to you before, there are different kinds of notification under the terms of the resolution. Some are relating to military action and others not. And so I think it needs to be seen in that context, as well. And if there are further updates, then obviously we will make sure that the people have those.

Inner City Press: And just also on Libya, on the Envoy, Mr. [Abdul Ilah] Khatib, I wanted to know a couple of things. I have been told that there is an OLA [Office for Legal Affairs] ruling that he cannot receive funds from Jordan and as a full-time Envoy at the same time. I wanted you to either confirm or deny that. And also that he has requested to work out of Amman, and has requested the use of private planes only.

Spokesperson Nesirky: As I have said to you, and as Farhan [Haq] said to you on Friday, there are some details that are still being worked out with regard to the contract, as Farhan mentioned to you on Friday. I don’t have anything to add to that at the moment.

While the UN Secretariat, ostensibly coordinating the action in Libya, still has not answered, Inner City Press can now report that another note verbal was submitted by Malta. We have made inquiries with the Maltese Mission and will report more on this.

President Barack Obama is slated to dedicate the new US Mission to the UN building on Tuesday afternoon. Some are wondering if, for the photo op, USUN has invited anti-Gaddafi Libyan diplomats Ibrahim Dabbashi and Shalgam, who while no longer representing Libya at the UN have been given courtesy passes by the Ban Ki-moon administration of the UN. Watch this site.

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