UNITED NATIONS. ABDUL ILAH EL-KHATIB: A NOWHERE ENVOY

 

15 SEPTEMBER 2011

ABDUL ILAH EL-KHATIB: A NOWHERE ENVOY

Has anyone heard of Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi?

He's the only person in Tripoli whom the U.N. Special Representative on Libya, Abdul Ilah El-Khatib, was able to meet in its capital. According to a dutiful communique, Baghdadi was officially the "Prime Minister" of Libya, where we had been repeatedly advised by the King of African Kings there are no official positions. After his first appearance after the popularly expanding rebellion, "El-Coronel" again told his people, who he described as rats and drug addicts, that he himself held no official position; otherwise he shouted: "I would have thrown it in your face!" So, Abdul Ilah, one of the most irrelevant former Foreign Ministers of our beloved Jordan, was able to find someone to talk to in his quest from nowhere to nowhere at all!

Furthermore, we were dutifully told, Abdul Ilah informed his solitary listener about "the calls of the international community for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1970 and 1973." Most likely, Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi would have confused these numbers with historic years of the last century when Egypt's President Nasser died and an October war was launched across the Suez Canal. Both "nowhere" men, sitting in their nowhere den, may have made nowhere plans for nobody.

Normally, a credible U.N. envoy with any stature backed by TWO, not just one, Security Council resolutions, would be met by the most senior person directly involved; in this case, Muammar Abu Minyar Al-Qaddafi. Failing that -- in case of security pretexts, for example -- a meeting with one of his SEVEN sons who have been spreading out for potential visitors, including average reporters, like a deck of cards in a poker game: from the pseudo-intellectual philanthropic-LSE doctorate holder, to the security mobilizer-mercenary recruiter; the "former football professional" courtesy of FT to any of those actually in charge. There were other non-family members closely connected who could have at least displayed some interest. The former "pillar of the big tent" and "holder of the real black box" Mousa Kousa, avoided receiving him before planning his "escape" to London. The sharpest -- and most discreet -- handler of essential issues, former Prime Minister and Permanent Representative to U.N., Abou Zeid Dourdeah, whatever his current whereabouts, would certainly be interested if he thought a meeting was worthwhile.

None of the above had time for Abdul Ilah -- only Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi. Still, an obviously clueless envoy soldiers on by "briefing" the Security Council on "the outcome of his travel."

What outcome?

Immediately after the first briefing, noting Abdul Ilah's empty luggage, the Council decided to add his "nowhere" partner Baghdadi to the sanctioned blacklist.

Clearly, the new "envoy" is in desperate need for a down-to-earth briefing about:

  1. His U.N. practical work is different than his pompous attitude as a Jordanian "dignitary"
  2. His actual role; after approaching Security Council members for a couple of months, he should be able to have a clear work plan on what precisely he will be doing.

As of very recently, Council members thought he should be helping in the humanitarian effort (leaving political decisions to those who make them), while Humanitarian Affairs seems inclined to think that he is mainly on the political side. Meanwhile, there are already about half a million Libyans fleeing their homes, according to U.N. figures, in addition to about 100,000 "Third Country nationals" whose status, stationing, and exiting is unclear. With an ongoing military stalemate, more tragedy is expected. Another recent briefing to the Security Council did not help; indeed, it confirmed his irrelevance.

It would help the envoy if, for example, he tried to be more pleasant with dedicated staff at U.N. Headquarters rather than drive hard-working secretaries to tears because he thinks he's above filling out a form to get a U.N. Laissez-Passer.

Perhaps someone should explain to Abdul Ilah that the only one above all in the U.N. Secretariat is the U.N. Secretary General. The rest are part of the team -- under the Secretary General's executive leadership.

While Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is doing his best, with apparent recent success, to assert U.N. leadership on Libya, it is a pity that Abdul Ilah tends to blow it.