UNITED NATIONS.LARSEN'S AMBITIONS OF 2006. REVIVED FOR 2011?

 

15 JANUARY 2011

LARSEN'S AMBITIONS OF 2006. REVIVED FOR 2011?

According to Norway's Bergens Tidende of 20 December, based on Wikileaks, Terje Roed (Herring) Larsen told the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon in August 2006 that all candidates running for Secretary General to succeed Kofi Annan had no chance and the only likely one was -- who else -- Terje Larsen himself! The story, by Rune Christophersen, said that the Ambassador, who apparently was not fully aware of the ongoing campaign for the post, reported that Larsen pressed on that if he wasn't the one and Jordan's Prince Zaid, who was then its U.N. Representative, made headway, then Larsen should be his "running mate" or the Deputy Secretary General. Will Larsen repeat his quest in 2011? He had a 1 1/2 hour meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton early November, ostensibly to discuss the Middle East. It is certainly not beyond him to push for himself again!

Possibly as an indication of how useful (or at least how informative) he could be, Larsen, who was then -- as now -- Special Envoy of the Secretary General, recounted highlights of a meeting between Kofi Annan and Iranian President Ahmadinejad, describing it as "horrible" and "scary." He read aloud from a supposedly confidential record of that meeting where the Iranian reportedly spoke of "punishing the U.S. and Britain." Larsen seemed to complain about his own boss at the time (like he did about his current one a year ago), and not only through the leaked report to Oslo by his wife at the Norwegian U.N. Mission, Mona Juul. He said Annan should have been more forceful on demanding a stricter adherence by Iran to Resolution 1701 requiring, inter-alia, a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah (taken after a 33 day war in the summer of 2006). Referring to Ahmadinejad, Larsen said: "He's crazy and he's going to attack you." He then moved to what he thought was another U.S. special adversary, the Syrian government. Larsen, according to the Ambassador's report, claimed he was "sitting" on crucial information about troop movements on the Lebanese-Syrian borders -- information he claimed was unknown to the international community. "This is valuable news," he said, as he presented a map with handwritten notes on numbers and places. The Ambassador commented that he had already sent such reports much earlier to Washington.

Another report refers to a meeting with Geir Pedersen, then Special Representative of the Secretary General to Lebanon (now Director General of Norway's Foreign Ministry), who said that he and Larsen had threatened to leave if Annan appointed former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer to the post of Special Representative. Such an appointment would be a "gift to conspiracy theorists," going into detail about a German Marine force patrolling the Mediterranean and Chancellor Markel's press statement that Germany would "protect Israel," which would raise suspicions and hostility in Lebanon. (Ironically, Larsen is considered in Lebanon and most of the Arab world as an Israeli proxy; he was repeatedly denounced by Hezbollah, whose possible "suspicions" about Fischer he presented as an obstacle.)

Although the Ambassador was aware the two diplomats had their own special interest in blocking that appointment, he did not think that Fischer would be the right person for the job.

Incidentally, with possible relevance, since Terje Roed Larsen recently had a long meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton, it may be worth mentioning that the Ambassador in Beirut with whom he made his demands for the post of Secretary General, Jeffrey Feltman, is now Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Could there have been another push? Any success this time?