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Posts tagged ‘United Nations Security Council’

Obama to Travel to Saudi Arabia to Discuss Security, Tensions.

The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia in March to meet with King Abdullah to discuss a range of security issues in the Middle East that have caused some strains in the bilateral relationship.

The rare visit, which comes at the end of an Obama trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy, will include discussions about “Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” the White House said in a statement.

King Abdullah met Secretary of State John Kerry in November and discussed concerns about the unwillingness of the United State to intervene in Syria and recent overtures to its arch-rival, Iran.

Saudi Arabia turned down a seat on the United Nations Security Council in October, in a display of anger at the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria.

That month, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief said the kingdom was looking at making a “major shift” in relations with the United States.

The United States and Saudi Arabia have long been close allies on military and energy issues.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Alarmed over Obama’s Leadership, Saudis Strengthen Ties Elsewhere.

Image: Alarmed over Obama's Leadership, Saudis Strengthen Ties Elsewhere French President Francois Hollande meets with Saudi King Abdullah at the Saudi Royal palace in Riyadh on Dec. 29.

Increasingly vocal in its frustration over United States policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.

It may find a solution in France, whose president is ending the year with 24 hours of high-level meetings with the Saudi leadership in a visit intended to showcase commercial and diplomatic strength.

With an entourage of French executives from the lucrative defense and energy sectors, President Francois Hollande arrives Sunday in Riyadh for a flurry of accords and contracts that have been in the works for months. The two countries also find themselves unexpectedly aligned in resistance, if not outright opposition, to U.S. policy on Syria’s civil war and Iran’s nuclear program.

The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, recently described the policies of some partners toward Iran and Syria as a “dangerous gamble” while calling for the kingdom to be more assertive internationally after decades of operating in diplomatic shadows.

France, with similar fears about Syria, has been one of the strongest backers of the Syrian moderate leadership and Hollande had pledged military support against Syrian President Bashar Assad until both the U.S. and Britain backed away. On Iran, the French shouldered their way into the negotiations with Iran, demanding a better deal and warning that the Tehran government needed careful monitoring.

“We cannot remain silent, and will not stand idly by,” Prince Mohammed wrote in a Dec. 17 opinion piece in The New York Times.

“We expected to be standing shoulder to shoulder with our friends and partners who have previously talked so much about the importance of moral values in foreign policy,” he wrote in the piece titled “Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone.”

But it may not have to. The French have been clear that they share Saudi fears that U.S. and Russian concerns over Islamic militants could leave Assad the victor in any peace deal. Hollande’s visit will be his second since taking office in May 2012 — a rarity for a French leader outside Europe — and his defense minister has been three times, most recently after the announcement of a 1.1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) contract with the Saudi navy.

“There is an offensive among the Saudis to try to reach out to different partners and try and see if they can find new allies,” said Valentina Soria, a security analyst with IHS Jane’s. At the same time, she said, Hollande is showing “the kind of willingness to intervene on the international stage in a much more assertive way, a much more convinced way.”

In October, Saudi Arabia stunned diplomats when it rejected its first seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Saudi foreign ministry blasted the council for an “inability to perform its duties” in stopping the war.

“The problem in Syria today is … clear negligence on the part of the world, who continue to watch the suffering of the Syrian people without taking steps to stop that suffering,” Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal, an influential member of the royal family and a former intelligence chief, said at a conference in Monaco this month.

The Saudis are particularly annoyed that the U.S. and Britain did not follow through with threats to punish Assad’s government over the use of chemical weapons. Those decisions caused similar uproar in France for Hollande, who many at home believed was left hanging as the only Western power to pledge military support.

“The Saudi monarchy cannot fathom the fact that Assad might survive this crisis and then turn against them. They reject this possibility and are willing to do what they can to make Assad go,” said Ali al-Ahmed, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute of Gulf Affairs.

Both countries say they will continue to back the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, in contrast with the Obama administration’s hesitation. Unlike the U.S., the French have resisted suspending non-lethal aid to the rebels and show no signs of changing course.

The Syrian conflict, which has claimed more than 120,000 people and spawned a regional refugee crisis, has become in many ways a proxy fight pitting Saudi Arabia and other Sunni-led Arab states against Shiite powerhouse Iran, a major supporter of Assad.

What the Saudis won’t do is send in their own well-equipped armed forces, al-Ahmed said, because it could empower the Saudi military to turn against them as happened elsewhere during the Arab Spring.

The Saudis also watch with trepidation at the warming ties between Iran and the West.

The way the nuclear talks were handled — with U.S. officials secretly meeting their Iranian counterparts before more formal talks involving world powers — particularly rankled the Saudis.

“Saudi Arabia is clamoring for a major role in shaping the region. They feel they deserve that,” said Theodore Karasik, a security and political affairs analyst at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis.

Washington has strived to downplay any suggestion of a rift. Senior American officials have traveled to the Gulf recently to reassure allies including Saudi Arabia. And Soria, the analyst, said the U.S. partnership, which includes billions in defense contracts, would endure beyond the current tensions.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia “share the same goals” of ending the war in Syria and preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, but she stopped short of endorsing a Saudi role at the bargaining table with Iran.

Al-Ahmed said Iran would never agree to any talks involving the Saudis, but that wouldn’t stop the kingdom from trying.

“The Saudi obsession that they will be sold out to the Iranians in a grand bargain makes them want to be in these meetings to ensure that does not happen,” he said.
© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


UN Sending Thousands of Peacekeeping Troops to South Sudan.

The United Nations Security Council voted to bolster the UN’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and help end the worsening conflict that has created at least one mass grave and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The council unanimously approved U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s request to add up to 5,500 soldiers and 423 police officers to the force of 7,900 uniformed personnel already authorized for the U.N. mission in South Sudan.

“Political dialogue is the only solution to this crisis,” Ban told the council after the vote. “Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show their people and the world that they are committed to peace.”

The world’s newest country, founded in 2011, South Sudan is at risk of breaking apart because of fighting that erupted on Dec. 15 between supporters of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his deposed vice president, Riek Machar of the rival Nuer group.

At least 500 people have been killed, with some 100,000 internally displaced and about 45,000 civilians seeking protection at U.N. camps in the country.

Troops and police from five other U.N. peacekeeping missions — in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and the Abyei and Darfur areas of Sudan — will be transferred to South Sudan, says the council’s resolution, which also authorizes Ban to generate “complementary force and asset.”

Ban on Monday recommended sending three attack helicopters, three utility helicopters and one Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130 Hercules transport plane.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose for the fourth time in five days as the conflict in South Sudan forced a partial shutdown of its oil production facilities. South Sudan exports about 220,000 barrels a day of crude, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The Obama administration has stepped up preparations for a possible evacuation of U.S. personnel from South Sudan by positioning about 150 Marines in nearby Djibouti,  Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, said in an email Tuesday.

U.S. envoy Donald Booth met Monday with Kiir in the capital, Juba. The president expressed a willingness to begin talks with Machar “without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing,” Booth said.

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts,” Booth said on a conference call.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan when gunmen attacked the presidential palace in Juba.

Machar, who is being hunted by government security forces, has demanded that Kiir step down for failing to unite the nation. Kiir fired Machar and the rest of his cabinet in July.

The two sides have agreed to an offer by neighboring Kenya to host peace talks, Kenyan Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said Monday in Nairobi.

Rebel forces loyal to Machar said they have captured crude-producing Unity state as the government evacuated some oil workers and plans a partial shutdown of facilities.

Fighters led by General James Kong Chol seized Bentiu, the Unity state’s capital, and other parts of the northern region on Saturday, and have aligned themselves with Machar, Chol said in a phone interview Sunday.

It was the second state to fall to anti-government forces since Kiir’s administration lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei province, to a group headed by Gen. Peter Gatdet Yak last Wednesday. Chol and Yak previously headed government forces in the two states.

“We’re controlling the area of Unity state,” Chol said from Bentiu. “My government planned to kill me, and I have nowhere to go. I decided to join Riek Machar.”

The U.N. discovered a mass grave in Bentiu amid reports of at least two others in  Juba, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

A U.N. official who visited the Bentiu site reported at least 75 bodies, Pillay’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said in an email Tuesday, adding that the U.N. is working to verify reports of two other graves in Juba.

Pillay also expressed serious concern over reports that several hundred civilians were arrested during house-to-house searches and from various hotels in Juba. There also were reports that hundreds of members of the South Sudan National Police Service were ordered to be disarmed and arrested at police stations across Juba, according to the U.N. statement.

South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state is also facing tensions after gunmen attacked government forces in Nasir county, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the national army, said by phone Sunday. He said he had no further information.

Kiir said yesterday he agreed to a request by the six-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help mediate an end to the crisis.

“We’re ready for any dialogue, but Dr. Machar must come to the table without any preconditions,” he told lawmakers in Juba. “Through dialogue I think we can resolve this misunderstanding very quickly.”

South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output. The landlocked country’s oil provides more than 95 percent of government revenue.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Its low-sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation.

ONGC repatriated its 11 employees, and the company’s joint venture has shut down oilfields in South Sudan that were producing about 40,000 barrels per day, Finance Director S.P. Garg said in a phone interview.

Chol said there is “no interruption to oil” production in the country. “Oil is still flowing,” he said.

Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Sunday that the evacuation of oil workers from the country was temporary and oil output from Upper Nile was flowing normally.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer estimated the country will need $1.1 billion of humanitarian aid in 2014 because 62,000 people were displaced in the past week’s violence.

Four U.S. service members suffered gunshot wounds on Saturday while on flights to evacuate Americans from Bor. The United Nations had previously sent helicopters to evacuate staff from South Sudan, and one was hit and forced to land on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

About 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been evacuated to Nairobi and other locations, along with about 300 others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement Sunday.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress on Sunday saying he “may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy” in South Sudan.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.


The Battle For Supremacy Between Two Of Africa’s Giants By Hannatu Musawa.


Hannatu Musawa

On the global arena, there has been an unceasing battle for supremacy between two super power – the US and China – both states trying to strengthen their influences not only in economics but also in the field of politics. This supremacy battle is also playing out on the African continent, between the first and second largest economies – South Africa and Nigeria respectively – are in a budding struggle for supremacy. The most populous country in Africa and indeed the black race and the fourth most populous within the continent, are undeniable hegemonic powers in their respective sub-regions and both account for half of sub-Saharan Africa’s economic might.

The relationship between both countries can be examined in four parts: firstly, during the ‘independence boom’ sweeping through Africa in the 1960s to the latter stages of the infamous apartheid epoch in 1993. This period saw Nigeria playing a prominent role in bringing to an end apartheid rule not only in South Africa, but amongst the southern African countries; secondly, from 1994-1998, saw sour relations of both countries, under the administrations of Nelson Mandela and late Gen. Sani Abacha,; thirdly, from 1997-2007, during the presidencies of Olusegun Obasanjo and Thabo Mbeki, saw improved but lopsided relations amongst both states; and lastly, the period from 2008 hitherto, now under the administrations of Jacob Zuma and Goodluck Jonathan, is further witnessing lingering bilateral tensions. These periods of relationships have been fraught with a minimal mix of co-operation and largely of competitiveness, evident in rivalries between regional hegemonies, not only limited to Africa but to other regions within the comity of nations such as China and Japan, Brazil and Argentina, Germany and France, etc.

Topical reports that Nigeria’s economy could overtake South Africa’s as the largest in five years have rendered many nationalistic South African analysts livid. The rivalry between both countries can be traced to South Africa’s criticism and backing of Nigeria’s expulsion from the Commonwealth in 1995 after late Gen. Sani Abacha executed human rights campaigner Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 of his Ogoni followers, infamously dubbed the “Ogoni nine.” Mandela previously believed that he had established personal reassurance from Abacha for clemency for the Ogoni nine. Feeling betrayed he called for oil sanctions and Nigeria’s expulsion from the Commonwealth. Hence, Nigeria responded in 1996 by boycotting the Africa’s Nations Cup which was held in South Africa, having previously in 1994, won the competition in Tunisia and was thus unable to defend her title.

During the Obasanjo and Mbeki administrations, bilateral trade increased and Nigeria became South Africa’s largest trading partner. However though, South African companies in Nigeria began assuming predatory behaviors, profiting from the vast Nigerian market – three times larger than South Africa – while refusing to open up their own markets. Culpable South African companies includes: MTN, Multichoice, Woolworths, etc. Also, at the turn of the 21st century, xenophobic attacks began being meted out to Nigerian nationals residing in South Africa. Furthermore, exasperated by the ignominy visited on Nigerians trying to obtain visas to South Africa, Nigeria imposed stricter visa requirements on South Africans. Media reports in South Africa consequently began disseminating negative stereotypical reports of Nigerians as drug-traffickers and criminals.

With the ascension of both former vice-presidents – Jacob Zuma and Goodluck Jonathan – to the helm of affairs in their respective countries, saw the continued rivalry and burgeoning “special relationship” between both countries. The election of Zuma in 2009 saw South Africa’s increased cooperation with Angola, having identified it as a foremost strategic ally. This consequently created tension with Nigeria, as it appeared to relegate its special relationship between both countries. Also exacerbating both countries rivalry is the fact that South Africa is the only African representative in the Group of 20 (G-20) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) groupings.

Both countries also disagreed via disparate approaches in tackling the post-election conflicts in Ivory Coast. Nigeria adopted a belligerent posture towards Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to concede defeat after losing the country’s election. South Africa provocatively sent a warship to the Gulf of Guinea in Nigeria’s traditional domain/stronghold where she is the hegemonic power. South Africa however belatedly recognized Alassane Outtara’s victory during the polls.

Also, the opposing stance of both nations over the embattled late Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi and the recognition of the government of the Transitional National Council (TNC) during the Libyan revolution, was also an attestation of the burgeoning feud between both nations. Nigeria had backed the (TNC) rebel-controlled Libya, based on the African Union’s Constitutive Principle listed in Section 14 of the Constitutive Act. The Act cannot be implemented in isolation of other principles like democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and social justice amongst others. The Nigerian government had maintained that Libya under Ghaddafi has never been ruled under any known constitution since he took over power in 1969, and thus, the Constitutive Act cannot apply to Ghaddafi who had never run a constitutional government. This stance was further backed by 34 member-states of the AU.

However, South Africa claimed that the AU’s Constitutive Act does not allow the Union to recognize the TNC because it is an illegal force, maintaining that the government can only be removed through constitutional process. They were backed by the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe and Uganda’s, Yoweri Museveni, both of whom have been in power for 32 and 26 years respectively. With Zuma having enjoyed good relations with Ghaddafi over the years, South Africa thus delayed recognition of the NTC and even accused NATO of having abused its mandate in Libya.

In 2012, there was a salient diplomatic clash between both countries at the AU summit in January, over recognition of the government in Guinea-Bissau which Nigeria was supporting and South Africa opposing. That same year, Nigeria and South Africa were embroiled in another diplomatic feud after the authorities at Oliver Thambo Airport in Johannesburg deported 125 Nigerians (including legislators) alleging that their yellow fever vaccination cards were fakes. The Nigerian government responded by deporting 84 South Africans in 2 days, forcing South Africa to apologise.

Also, the same year, Nigeria’s continental battle with South Africa suffered a great blow when South Africa triumphed over Nigeria in a keenly contested election, as Dlamini Zuma of South Africa was elected Chairperson of the AU Commission, thus becoming the first woman to lead the continent. More recently, lingering bilateral tensions were again evident when Abuja ignored Pretoria’s recent invitation to join part of the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa.

Another evident tussle between both countries is the jostle for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. Nigeria and South Africa have both been non-permanent members on the Council, and Nigeria is poised to begin another 2-year term on the Council beginning in January next year, a record 5th time, a feat parallel to none in the continent, and there is increasing prospects that a single slot would be allocated to the continent on permanent basis, when the Council is reformed and expanded.

From the afore-mentioned extractions, it is evident that there is a growing superiority feud between both nations. Nigeria having played the “big brother” role over the years in the emancipation of South Africa and other southern African countries from apartheid rule, earning her the title of “frontline state”, South Africa should ordinarily be reverent  to Nigeria. However with consistent successive bad governance, ubiquitous leadership deficiency, prevalent corruption and impunity, an overly dependent economy on a single sector inhibiting diversification, and lack of articulate economic and foreign policies, South Africa today can also lay claim to being the giant of Africa. In 1993, when Nelson Mandela was elected president, 33 years after Nigeria’s independence, Nigeria presently trails the economy of South Africa as the largest economy in Africa.

Nonetheless, Nigeria’s foreign policy thrust needs to be articulately appraised to Nigeria and Nigerians’ interest as being the centre of her foreign policy objective, especially in conformity with major developed countries foreign policy thrusts. Also, the policy of reciprocity needs to be adopted by the Nigerian government, so as to serve as deterrence to other nations taking hostile actions against Nigeria and her nationals. More importantly, the criteria of appointing Ambassadorial positions needs to be overhauled, as over the years it has largely been used for obsequious partisan patronage instead of taking into cognizance such qualities as qualification, professionalism, integrity and competence.

With such a foreign policy stance, a viable economic base, an adept purposeful political leadership and viable governance structure, Nigeria would indeed be able to assert her indelible footprints once more across Africa, effectively making her the undeniable giant of Africa.

Article Written by Hannatu Musawa
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3 Pastors Among Dead in Central African Republic.

Central African Republic violence
More than 400 people died in three days of violence, according to the Red Cross. Three pastors were among the dead. (World Watch Monitor)

Three pastors were among those killed in the recent interfaith violence in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.

Pastors Raymond Doui, 46; Elisée Zama, 33; and Jean-Louis Makamba, 48, were killed on Dec. 5 as members of the disbanded Séléka rebel forces went on a rampage following an offensive by Christian-dominated anti-Balaka militias.

Doui, pastor of the Community of Independent Baptist Churches, died at his house in the northern suburb of Fondo. He leaves behind a wife and 11 children. Zama, of the Evangelical Church of the Brethren, was among those killed as ex-Séléka forces raided a hospital. He leaves a wife and five children. Makamba, pastor of the ELIM Church in the north Begoua area, was killed alongside one of his sons by former members of Séléka, which had entered the church compound. His wife and nine surviving children have fled, after hearing that the rebels were after them.

Another pastor, whom World Watch Monitor is not naming to preserve his safety, is on the run with his family after he learned the rebels were looking for him. He is from a Muslim background and went into hiding after the rebels burned his home and that of relatives living close by.

These incidents highlight the religious nature of the conflict, as Muslims and Christians continue to clash.

In all, more than 400 people died in three days, according to the Red Cross, while dozens have sought treatment in the corridors of overcrowded hospitals.

The number of deaths is likely to be far higher, according to a source cited by Open Doors International, a charity that works with Christians under pressure for their faith. Open Doors quotes a source, not named for security purposes, as saying:

“In reality we must speak of at least 700 dead. The Red Cross has not counted the people that have been slaughtered and thrown into the river or buried directly by relatives or by fishermen.

“In spite of the arrival of the French and the beginning of the disarmament, the killings continue. The war has become purely religious. Anti-Balaka defensive forces attacked the ex-Séléka and other Muslims first. This invited terrible retaliation against the Christians. The ex-Séléka and Muslim men women and children armed with firearms and machetes went from house to house, killing Christians regardless of their age. The streets of Bangui are littered with corpses. The Red Cross buried hundreds of bodies in mass graves.

“Most people are hiding indoors. Some have fled into the bush, and about 20,000 Christians fled to the church of Pastor Nicolas Guerékoyamé, the president of the Evangelical Alliance, because he is one of the religious leaders who always denounced the abuses of the ex-Séléka.”

The Central African Republic has been beset by violence since March, when a coalition of rebel groups, led by Michel Djotodia under the Séléka banner, drove out President Francois Bozizé.

Djotodia took control of a transitional government but lost control of Séléka soldiers. He disbanded Séléka in September, but its members continued to loot, rape and murder Christians in particular. Since September, the mostly Christian and animist local population have formed self-defense groups named anti-Balaka, which have attacked Muslims, in turn inviting brutal reprisals from ex-Séléka members and raising fears of interfaith genocide.

On Dec. 5, the U.N. Security Council authorized the expansion of the African and French military forces currently attempting to maintain security in the Central African Republic and started planning for the possible conversion of those forces to a U.N.-managed peacekeeping operation.


UN in Final Report: Chemical Arms Were Used Repeatedly in Syria.

UNITED NATIONS — Chemical weapons were likely used in five out of seven attacks investigated by U.N. experts in Syria, where a 2 1/2-year civil war has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the final report of a U.N. inquiry published on Thursday.

U.N. investigators said the deadly nerve agent sarin was likely used in four incidents, in one case on a large scale.

The report noted that in several cases the victims included government soldiers and civilians, though it was not always possible to establish with certainty any direct links between the attacks, the victims and the alleged sites of the incidents.

“The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic,” the final report by chief U.N. investigator Ake Sellstrom said.

Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari and the opposition Syrian National Coalition did immediately comment on the 82-page report.

The investigation found likely use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal, near the northern city of Aleppo, in March; in Saraqeb, near the northern city of Idlib, in April; and in Jobar and Ashrafiat Sahnaya, near Damascus, in August.

As initially reported by Sellstrom in September, there was “clear and convincing” evidence that sarin was used on a large-scale against civilians in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Ghouta on Aug. 21, killing hundreds of people.

In the final report on Thursday, the experts said sarin had likely also been used on a small-scale in Jobar, Saraqeb and Ashrafiat Sahnaya.

The inquiry was only looking at whether chemical weapons were used, not who used them. The Syrian government and the opposition have accused each other of using chemical weapons, and both have denied it.


Rebels have seized all kinds of weapons from military depots across Syria, according to the United Nations. Western powers say the rebels do not have access to chemical arms.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the Sellstrom investigation after the Syrian government wrote to Ban accusing the rebels of carrying out the chemical weapons attack in Khan al-Assal.

Sellstrom delivered the final report to Ban on Thursday. Ban will brief the U.N. General Assembly on the report on Friday and the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

“The use of chemical weapons is a grave violation of international law and an affront to our shared humanity,” Ban said. “We need to remain vigilant to ensure that these awful weapons are eliminated, not only in Syria, but everywhere.”

The United Nations has now received 16 reports of possible chemical weapons use in Syria, mainly from the Syrian government, Britain, France, and the United States. The experts looked closely at seven of those cases.

The U.N. experts were from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization.

France, Britain, and the United States said the technical details of Sellstrom’s initial September report on the Aug. 21 attack pointed to government culpability, while Syria and Russia blamed the rebels.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government agreed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal after the Aug. 21 Ghouta attack, which had led to threats of U.S. airstrikes. Syria also acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution in September to enforce the deal, brokered by the United States and Russia, which requires Syria to account fully for its chemical weapons and for the arsenal to be removed and destroyed by mid-2014.

The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been charged with supervising the elimination of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Nigeria Stuck Says Dasuki (NSA), FG is Broke and Can’t Fight ‘Boko Haram Terror’.


NSA Dasuki

The Office of National Security Adviser (NSA) has disclosed that delay in the release of funds was affecting its efforts towards tackling security challenges posing great danger to the peace of the nation.Represented by Colonel Bello Fadile, Director of Special Duties in the agency, the NSA, Sambo Dasuku, in a presentation before the House of Representatives Adhoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution on Wednesday, said despite the urgent and important nature of its job, the agency was poorly funded and receives its budgetary allocation late.

“As I speak, the Office of the National Security Adviser has not received its third quarter allocation. Last year, over N7 billion was not paid to the agency to do its functions,” the official explained.The NSA urged the National Assembly to place the agency on first-line charge in the disbursement of funds from the national budget, as the process of constitution amendment continues.According to him, having won a seat in the United Nations Security Council, Nigeria will now be closely monitored on how it reacts to emergency.

The Director further disclosed that the nation had been faced with challenges in the past, recalling an incident where President Goodluck Jonathan was almost stuck mid-air in France because Nigeria owed the country some fees that had not been paid.“The Presidential fleet could have been stuck mid air because we were owing and we were taken to court in France.

We had to pay close to €3m” He told the committee.Speaking, Deputy Speaker of the House and Chairman of the committee, Emeka Ihedioha, said the chamber had passed the Bill for financial autonomy for the police and national security agencies.He said, it was done, after an interaction with security chiefs who identified lack of appropriate and timely release of funds as one of the challenges they face in emergency response.

Wale Odunsi.

Source: Radio Biafra.

LIGNET: Surprising Snub of UN Security Council Will Hurt the Saudis.

Saudi Arabia’s decision to reject a seat on the UN Security Council is evidence of a clear change in the country’s willingness to cooperate with the West through the United Nations, and a sharp turn away from the close relationship the Saudis have long enjoyed with the United States. While the decision is not likely to affect the operations of the UN Security Council, it is quite likely to hurt the Saudis, who now won’t have a seat at the table.

Click here to read the full analysis from top intelligence experts at

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


Nigeria Wins New Security Council Seat.


By SaharaReporters, New York

Nigeria will return to the United Nations Security Council in January 2014 for a two year term as a non-permanent member.  This follows a General Assembly election today.

Other elected Member States were Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Saudi Arabia which, along with Nigeria, obtained the required two-thirds majority of Member States present and voting in the 193-member Assembly.

They will join five non-permanent members which are already on the council: Argentina, Australia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Korea and Rwanda, the terms of which will expire at the end of 2014.

The Security Council, which is made up of 15 members, has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  The five permanent Council members, each of which holds veto power, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Nigeria’s election, which was really a formality given that she was endorsed by the African Union and by the Economic Community of West African States, came as a surprise to some observers in the country, as she had served in the council as recently as 2010-2011.

The new term, which begins on January 1, 2014, will end on December 31, 2015.

Saudis Spurn Security Council Seat; Cite Lack of Syria Action.

Image: Saudis Spurn Security Council Seat; Cite Lack of Syria Action

U.N. Security Council.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia said Friday it would not take up its rotating seat on the United Nations Security Council, citing “double standards” which it said hampered the world body’s ability to end conflicts.

It is the second time this month that Saudi Arabia has publicly expressed discontent over what it sees as the Security Council’s failure to take action to stop a civil war in Syria that has killed more than 100,000 people.

“The kingdom sees that the method and work mechanism and the double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering its responsibilities towards world peace,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

Saudi Arabia, along with Chad and Nigeria, were elected by the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday to serve a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council as human rights groups called for all three countries to improve their records.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry said it was unable to take its seat until reforms were introduced, but did not specify what reforms it wanted.

U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia has been angry over what it says is the failure of the international community to help either Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad or Palestinians seeking an end to more than four decades of Israeli occupation.

The Security Council has been split on how to handle the civil war in Syria, with Western powers pushing for stronger sanctions against Assad and Russia vetoing resolutions to that end. Saudi Arabia has backed the rebels in that conflict.

The Saudis, along with other Arab states, have also often criticized the United States for blocking international action to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands seized in the 1967 Middle East war.

Earlier this month, the Saudi foreign minister canceled a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in frustration over the international inaction on Syria and the Palestinian issue, a diplomatic source said.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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