By Matthew Russell Lee,
UNITED NATIONS, June 28 — While UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says he is all about conflict prevention, when Inner City Press asked his spokesman Stephane Dujarric on June 28 about a recent letter to Guterres from the President of Somaliland that makes serious charges and requests, the only response from Dujarric is that Guterres fully backs (outgoing) envoy Michael ichaettel Keating. Why? From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: I wanted to ask you also about a letter that was sent by the President of Somaliland to the Secretary-General on 18 June, complaining about SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General] [Michael] Keating, calling him biased and raising a number of issues about the conflicts that have been taking place between Somaliland and its neighbours. Has he resp… has… one, will you confirm getting the letter? And, two, has he responded…? What does he make of this?
Spokesman: No, I’m not aware of the letter, but the Secretary-General has full confidence in Mr. Keating and the way he goes about his work.” And by the end of the day, no confirmation of the letter – but a Dujarric note to correspondents distancing the UN from yet another sexual abuse scandal. Back on April 18 when Ambassador Karen Pierce of the UK, the UN Security Council’s “penholder” on Somalia, took questions Inner City Press asked her about the United Arab Emirates suspending support to the Somali military, and the issue of the UAE’s port / base in Somaliland. Video here. Pierce said she wasn’t aware of the specifics but that the UK supports Somalia and that she’d met with the UN’s (British) envoy to Somalia, Michael Keating. Inner City Press, following up on Pierce’s literary back and forth with her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia, noted that Keating has a book coming out. And he does – something that Somalis and even other UN envoys have raised to Inner City Press as questionable, given the amount of work a UN envoy to Somalia should be doing. We’ll have more on all this. The day after Somalia in the UN Security Council complained of Somaliland engagement with the United Arab Emirates, Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Farhan Haq for the UN’s position. He said it is a bilateral matter between Somalia and… the UAE. From the UN transcript: Inner City Press: Yesterday, in the Council, Somalia made a point of saying that they believe that an agreement between the UAE and Somaliland to build a military base is illegal and I wanted to ask, since the UN has this Envoy, Mr. Michael Keating… What’s his position? It’s a pretty big standoff between a de facto autonomous region agreeing to a military base by another country, the UAE. Some people say this was permitted under an agreement [reached in Turkey, which Inner City Press put online here]. Some say they aren’t. What’s the UN’s position on the UAE building a military base in Somaliland? Deputy Spokesman: Ultimately, these are discussions that need to be resolved bilaterally between the Governments of Somalia and the United Arab Emirates.” Hmm. Note that Inner City Press has also asked the UN about the UAE moving in on Socotra Island of Yemen, here. Back in September 2016 after in Somaliland a petition was announced, with a million signatures, seeking recognition of independence, Inner City Press put the question on September 27 to UN envoy Michael Keating, video here. He said he’s been asked to get more involved – but what does that mean?