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BREAKING NEWS: Kofi Annan is "shocked, shocked" that Assad would commit another massacre in Tremseh.
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Kofi Annan was not the obvious choice to head up the world's peacemaking mission in Syria given his handling of two of the greatest human rights injustices since WWII when he was UN Director of Peacekeeping Operations between March 1993 and December 1996. As remembered in their petition opposing the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for Kofi Annan:

A careful account of events show that Mr Annan who was the Head of UN Peacekeeping at the time neither denounced the sinister forces of Serb General Mladic nor the Rwandan Hutu extremist 'government' that both killed innocent civilians by the thousands. Nor did Mr Annan try to generate the kind of public support such interventions would require.

Yet he himself - then as Head of UN Peacekeeping with direct contact to UN troops in both places - was better informed and better situated than almost any other person in the world to confront those very governments that abandoned Rwandans and Bosnians. He could have spoken out on the atrocities and pleaded for forceful interventions to prevent the unfolding massacres.

In the case of Rwanda, he even received a stream of specific warnings from well-informed sources on the planning of genocide three months before the murderers set out. Warnings that he chose not to make public or pass on to those targeted for elimination, since he knew that such publicity would discomfort certain governments in the Security Council. Governments, who on the one hand did not want to intervene in Africa, but on the other hand did not either want to face embarrassing public criticism for being bystanders to genocide. And it is today well documented also in UN reports - that he even chose to stay silent during those 100 days when an estimated 1,000,000 Rwandans were massacred.

In the case of Bosnia, Mr Annan not only remained silent in the face of atrocities: he argued against the use of force. Despite the fact that in 1993, Srebrenica largely Muslim enclave in Serb-dominated eastern Bosnia had been designated as one of six safe areas by the Security Council, Mr Annan neither wanted UNPROFORs Rapid Reaction Force to intervene, nor did he want the Dutch UN Battalion based at Srebrenica to actively defend the enclave. Instead, Mr Annan continuously called for negotiations and dialogue with the Serb leaders, who had already before the Srebrenica killed scores of civilians. This strategy was so firmly defended that even when it became clear that the Serb forces were moving in on Srebrenica and the Dutch commander, Colonel Ton Karremans, asked UN Headquarters for air support, these requests were repeatedly denied.

In spite of this questionable performance as the head of UN Peacekeeping, Kofi Annan went on to become United Nation Secretary General for almost a decade between January 1997 and September 2006. As Secretary General, he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq without UN support and in April 2004 pronounced it an illegal war but did not lead the world body in doing anything to enforce that legal opinion.

The UN "Oil for Food" program, often referred to by its very appropriate acronym "OFF", and the scandal it became synonymous with, happened while he was Secretary General. In December 2004, reports surfaced that the Secretary General's son, Kojo Annan, was receiving money from a Swiss company, Cotecna Inspection SA, which had a very profitable contract through OFF. There was an investigation, lead by former FED chairman Paul Volcker. A number of UN officials were indicted but Kofi Annan survived.

The tragedy of Darfur, in which several hundred thousand Africans were slaughtered by Omar al-Bashir's Sudanese Army and Mummar Qaddafi's Janjaweed, happened on his watch. Nat Hentoff wrote in the Village Voice about Kofi Annan's stewardship during the Darfur Genocide, saying:

Annan's guilt at his silence when he could have stopped the genocide in Rwanda appears to have intensified as he watched the U.N. Security Council do nothing meaningful to stop the genocide in Darfur for these three years and instead engage in crafting empty proposals that amounted to a minuet of death.
Now six years later, Kofi Annan is leading the UN's respond to the crisis in Syria and to see the "U.N. Security Council do nothing meaningful to stop the" slaughter "and instead engage in crafting empty proposals that amounted to a minuet of death" is a tragically apt vision of what has really been going on.  

It is a gross understatement to call his performance as joint UN-Arab League Envoy to Syria lackluster. According to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 7,636 people had been killed in the 12 months before Kofi Annan took up the task of stopping the bloodletting on 23 February 2012. Four and a half months latter SOHR puts the death toll for the conflict at 17,000. That means almost ten thousand Syrians, or the majority of those that have so far been taken from us by this conflict, were murdered on Kofi Annan's watch. Another way to say that is to say that Syrians have been dying at a rate that is more than three times what it was before Kofi Annan took on the job of Syria's peacemaker. 5898 people have been killed since the attempted ceasefire of 12 April 2012. Even Kofi Annan has been forced to admit his plan has been a failure.

For these services, he expects the tax payers of the world to pay him $7.5 million to "cover expenses." Kofi Annan, himself, will only take home an undersecretary-general's pay [$189k] but he has a staff of 17 and they have to eat too.

Tuesday, from the leaked Syrian government minutes of this Monday's meeting [9 July 2012] between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Kofi Annan, we have additional insight into his approach to the Syrian crisis. Beirut blogger F. Najia, translated the minutes from the Arabic published in Assad's Lebanon mouthpiece, Al Akhbar, and gave us his interpretation:

He explicitly told his presidential host the Geneva conference declaration did no more than endorse his six-point initiative, adding: “I am sure you know, Mr. President, that what actually took place in Geneva does not tally with the ensuing interpretations and explanations that sought to distort and expound on what was approved at the conference.”

The implication is that Annan was fully endorsing the post-Geneva Russian stand vis-à-vis the Western allies’ position.
Again, it was clear both men now describe regime opponents as “the armed opposition.”

Assad then went on to describe how he saw things on the ground and
The UN delegates did not dispute their host’s remarks. But Annan went on to state: “Nevertheless, the situation being what it is, let’s try again. Our observers would reach an agreement with the armed groups in the area where we choose to start. At the same time, we would ask for a goodwill gesture on your part in the chosen area. The gesture would see you observe a unilateral ceasefire in the designated area, of say four hours, pending the mutual ceasefire’s entry into force.”

Here, Annan was reminded that the ceasefire provision in his six-point plan was contingent on the cessation of the funding of, and smuggling of arms to, the opposition.

By agreeing to the cessation of smuggling as a condition for the ceasefire, Annan has already built failure into this new plan before the UN even sees it. Smuggling is by its very nature carried out in secrecy so how do you ever know when you have put an end to it? More to the point how can you ever convince Assad that the opposition has stopped smuggling so that now he will hold up his side of the bargain and stop the slaughter.

When Assad complained that the real problem in making the peace would be with the opposition,

Annan couldn’t help chuckling before saying, “I am certainly aware of the difficulty. I saw them (the opposition groups) at their last conference in Cairo.”

The official meeting ended there. But while preparing to take leave, Annan asked his host, “How long you think can this crisis last?”

Assad: “So long as (…) funds them” -- (a possible reference to Qatar).

The implications of this conversation is that Kofi Annan's view of the Syrian crisis is very close to that most Syrians hold responsible for the crisis, President Bashar al-Assad.

On Wednesday, the UNSC discussed the new Russian proposed draft resolution on Syria which Kofi Annan supports. It reaffirms the UN support for Annan's six point peace plan, sends the UN observers back out and suggests they wait another three months before taking more substantiate action. This is a recipe for even more slaughter on Kofi Annan's watch.

Thursday the Syrian opposition spoke out against Kofi Annan. From the Hindu 12 July 2012, we have:

Syria opposition, activists hit out at Annan

Syria's opposition in exile and activists on the ground have hit out at international envoy Kofi Annan, accusing him of treating the victim and aggressor in the country's brutal conflict on the same terms.

They also lashed out at the UN-Arab League envoy for seeking to placate President Bashar al-Assad's ally Iran.

More than four months on from his appointment, Annan has proved powerless to end the violence that monitors say has cost 17,000 lives, mostly civilians, since the anti-Assad uprising broke out in March 2011, as first with peaceful protests.

"People are outraged, and it is clear that the envoy is biased," opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) member Bashar al-Haraki told AFP. "What has he achieved? Nothing except blood."

"We were shocked when he said Iran had to be involved, when Iran is an accomplice to the murders," he said. "Iran has provided experts to monitor communications from the start of the revolt, and later they sent fighters."
After meeting with Assad in Damascus on Monday, Annan said: "We agreed an approach which I will share with the armed opposition," angering activists on the ground.

"Annan talks about the 'armed opposition' -- whereas it's the mafia regime attacking the people," a Damascus-based activist who identified himself as Ahmed al-Khatib told AFP via Skype.

"We took to the streets with olives and flowers but reality forced us to take up arms. It's impossible to demand that the people hand over weapons now," he added.
"Even the least political aspect of Annan's plan -- humanitarian assistance -- has not been in any way implemented, and there are people in some areas of Syria living in conditions worse than the Stone Age."
"What he has done again and again is provide political cover for leaders who are committing massacres."

Clearly Kofi Annan has taken a very soft approach to dealing with Assad, and many observers feel that he has stood in the way of the UN and the world taking effective action with his high tolerance for Assad's deceptions and excuses. Below the fold, I want to speculate on possible motives for Kofi Annan's behavior that go beyond his usual tolerance for atrocities and slaughter. I know that I am getting into "conspiracy theory" area with the purely circumstantial case I am building, but I have decided that there is enough there to share my finding with you in the hopes that by our joint efforts, better answers can be found.  

From the NY Times, September 7, 2005, we have this item:

Annan Failed to Curb Corruption in Iraq's Oil-for-Food Program, Investigators Report

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 6 - A yearlong investigation has concluded that Secretary General Kofi Annan failed to curb corruption and mismanagement at the United Nations, but it did not find evidence to support charges that he improperly influenced the scandal-tainted oil-for-food program.

What if such evidence existed and Bashar al-Assad had it? That would certainly put Kofi Annan in a compromised position. It could also go along ways toward explaining his softball approach to negotiations with Assad.

I started looking into this after I received the following message from @mog7546:

Why Kofi Annan isn't tough with Assad? the answer is Kojo Annan, his son who was an associate with the Syrian and Iranian regimes in the smuggling of Iraqi oil, bypassing the oil for food program. Hence Syria has very embarrassing information for the Annans, Kofi and Kojo. That explains the docility of Mr. Kofi with the criminal Assad
Based on his record in handling other human rights disasters, I would already argue that Kofi Annan is the wrong man for the job. If there is any truth to this allegation, he is certainly the wrong man for the job and should have recursed or excused himself from this contract.

The Oil for Food Program

The Oil-for-Food Program [OFF] was suppose to provide some relief to ordinary Iraqis suffering because of UN sanctions. The idea was that Saddam Hussein would be allowed to sell a certain amount of oil and then use the proceeds to buy food and medicine for the people, after certain deductions like the program's expense, damages to the Kuwaitis, and after the invasion of Iraq, the cost of the occupation itself.

The program started in December 1996. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appointed Benon V. Sevan of Cyprus the executive director of OFF. Before he took over the directorship of what probably became the most scandal ridden and corrupt program in UN history, he'd held other positions with the world body since 1965 and had been steadily climbing his way up the administrative ladder.

Benon Sevan liked to brag that he ran the program with only a 2.2% administrative cost but since $65 billion in Iraqi oil was sold through the program, that amounted to almost a $1.5 billion in what Signor Ferrari would call "carrying charges, my boy, carrying charges." While he was running the program, he stonewalled any investigation, made it difficult for staff to file complaints, and once investigations started in earnest, ordered the shredding of years' worth of documents concerning the program.

From Wikipedia:

Sevan reportedly accepted bribes from Saddam Hussein in the form of oil vouchers, and allowed Saddam to garner $11 billion for military and other uses which violated the UN sanctions against his regime.
In the Spring of 2004, after the invasion of Iraq, letters were found in Iraqi Oil Ministry files that gave up the names of 270 individuals and entities that received payoffs or kickbacks from Saddam Hussein via these oil vouchers. Benon Sevan was on that list doing business as Africa Middle East Petroleum Co, Ltd. (AMEP), a Panama Company. Records seem to indicate that Sevan's company received vouchers for more than 13 million barrels of oil worth about $4.13 million while he was director of the program but Volcker's commission only called him out on $150,000 in cash bribes and early in 2005 Secretary General Kofi Annan suspended Sevan and another UN official with $1 a year pay so that their diplomatic immunity would still protect them.

Others weren't so luck, Alexander Yakovlev, a lower level UN procurement officer plead guilty to soliciting a bribe under OFF and was looking at 20 years in prison for each of three charges after Secretary General Kofi Annan waived Yakovlev’s immunity.

Maurice Strong is another Kofi Annan "known associates" that we might say "got OFF." Paul Volcker's investigation showed that in 1997, while working for Annan, Strong had endorsed a check for $988,885, made out to "Mr. M. Strong," issued by a Jordanian bank. It was said that the check was hand delivered to him by South Korean businessman, Tongsun Park, who was later convicted in NY federal court for conspiring to bride a UN official to rig Oil-for-Food in favor of Saddam Hussein. More recently it appears that Maurice Strong was employed by the UN as "Senior Advisor to the 2012 Rio+20 Summit"

The Oil-for-Food program used an escrow system. Customers buying oil from Iraq under the program would pay the escrow account instead of the Iraqi government. Then after the various deductions, the Iraqis were allowed to buy selected items, like food, with the remaining funds. The bank that held the escrow account, and processed the billions in oil revenue, "for a price, Ugarte, for a price", was BNP Paris, whose main private share-holder is billionaire Nadmi Auchi. Remember that name when we get to the Obama connection. Oh yeah, there is one.

There was corruption all up and down the line but the basic money making scheme was that individuals and organizations friendly to the regime, or that could be bribed, were given oil contracts through OFF that they could then sell on the open market for a commission, part of which they would kick back to Saddam Hussein. At the same time, contracts to sell humanitarian goods to Iraq were given out based on the vendor's willingness to kick back a certain percentage to the Iraqi regime.

Cotecna Inspection S.A., a Swiss company, got one of the plump pieces of the whole deal. They got the very lucrative contract to inspect all the goods going into Iraq under OFF. What made it plum was not the amount of the actual payment from the UN but the amount of bribes that could be garnered by being the company that certified that the goods going in were acceptable.

Kojo Annan, the only son of Kofi Annan, worked for Cotecna starting in 1995, a few months after the UN adopted OFF but before the program actually started. It was said that his work focused in West Africa and obstinately, he had nothing to do with the company getting the UN contract. Then documentation that said otherwise started to come forward in June 2005. As I read the Wikipedia description, I am reminded of my own father's advise about "being penny wise and dollar stupid":

A July 1998 billing memo for Cotecna stated that Annan wrote that he should be reimbursed for eight days that included six days "during my father's visit to Nigeria". A fax dated August 28, 1998 included the statement, "Your work and the contacts established at this meeting should ideally be followed up at the September 1998 UN General Assembly in New York." A September 1998 hotel bill for the Holiday Inn Garden Court in Durban was paid for by Cotecna, while he was registered as being there for the United Nations. He used a calling card paid for by Cotecna to call from a phone that begins 212-963-XXXX, the same beginning number for most phones in the United Nations in New York City.[2]

In September 1998, Kojo Annan met with several heads of state and government ministers during the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly. In December, Cotecna won a $4.8 million Oil-for-Food contract.[3] Kojo Annan, Kofi Annan and Cotecna deny that the younger Annan was involved in the Oil-for-Food contract. Annan also claimed that connections with Cotecna severed after 1998, however Kojo continued to be paid by the company until February 2004.

That timing does not appear to be accidental, in a 5 year period after he left Cotecna he is believed to have received about $150,000 as compensation for not competing with them, or so we are  told. As the NY Sun reported:
The younger Annan stopped working for Cotecna in late 1998, but it now turns out that he continued to receive money from Cotecna not only through 1999, as recently reported, but right up until February of this year. The timing coincides with the entire duration of Cotecna's work for the U.N. oil-for-food program. It now appears the payments to the younger Annan ended three months after the U.N., in November, 2003, closed out its role in oil-for-food and handed over the remains of the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.
When this scandal broke, it seemed like everyone at the UN pleaded ignorance. Specifically, Kofi Annan didn't know nothing. He didn't know his son had worked for Cotecna and he didn't even know that Cotecna had the contract with the UN. Again from Wikipedia:
In his first interview with the Inquiry Committee, Annan denied having had a meeting with Cotecna. Later in the inquiry, he recalled that he had met with Cotecna's chief executive Elie-Georges Massey twice. In a final report issued on 27 October, the committee found insufficient evidence to indict Kofi Annan on any illegal actions, but did find fault with Benan Sevan, a Cypriot national who had worked for the UN for about 40 years
Others did go down in the Oil for Food scandal but nothing stuck to Kofi. He was able to be honorable discharged from his duties as Secretary General in December 2006 and remain in good standing and available for multi-million dollar contracts with the UN like the one he is working on now.

Barack Obama's connection to "Food for Oil"

When Barack Obama bought his mansion on Chicago's South Side in 1995, the wife of Tony Rezko conveniently bought an adjoining landlocked parcel from the same seller on the same day. Tony Rezko had a reputation as Obama's bagman.

Tony Rezko holds dual US-Syrian citizenship and on May 23, 2005, he received a loan of $3.5 million that may have helped finance the Obama real estate deal. The loan came through a Panamanian company, Fintrade Services SA, but it originated with Nadhmi Auchi, whose BNP bank was the OFF escrow bank. Andrew Walden writes in the American Thinker:

The Auchi-Obama links go beyond the mansion deal. The Times of London February 1 reports uncovering, "state documents in Illinois recording that Fintrade Services, a Panamanian company, lent money to (an) Obama fundraiser in May 2005. Fintrade's directors include Ibtisam Auchi, the name of Mr. Auchi's wife."
I am not implying that Obama has anything to do with Kofi Annan's dilemma or that Assad has anything on him, but since I found this in my research, I wanted to share it with you because I think it well illustrates the reach of the corruption spawned by the UN Oil for Food program.

The Syrian Connection

On July 29, 2005 OFF ran a Washington Times editorial titled The "Food for Oil" Syrian connection. I have added the emphasis to this excerpt:

On Wednesday, officials from the State and Treasury departments and a former U.N. monitor who had tried to tighten the sanctions detailed in testimony before the House International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia how Syria funneled more than $3.4 billion in illicit oil money plus weaponry to the Iraqi dictator in the three years before his downfall. The highest levels of the Syrian government were involved. Given that the September 2004 Duelfer report estimated that Iraq earned about $5 billion in illicit oil sales in 2000-03, $3.4 billion would comprise more than two-thirds of the total, making Syria Iraq's most egregiously eager partner.
A US State Department Cable from Damascus, 12 Aug 2006, published by WikiLeaks re-enforces the idea that none of this could happen without Assad's approval:
Syrians have been in the Iraqi oil trading business previously under the "oil for food program" with Saddam Hussein.
[long-time embassy contact, Hisham] Ayech insists that illicit fuel sales would be difficult for any Syrian to put together without the highest level of connections because of the increased security on the border and the three separate checks any vehicle traversing the two legal crossing points must pass through.
On that same recipient's list of illegal oil voucher payoffs from Saddam Hussein that we find Kofi Annan's OFF director, Benon Sevan on, we also find Firas Mostafa Tlass, son of Syria's defense minister and older brother of Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, who recently defected from Assad. Firas Mostafa Tlass, is an insider in the Assad regime who received vouchers for 6 million barrels of oil. Other Syrian representatives also received these secret oil vouchers from Saddam Hussein. All totaled, 6% of the oil vouchers went to Syria, as compared to 10% to China and 30% to Russia. US companies and individuals received between 2% and 3%. Benon Sevan got vouchers for 13 million barrels according to CFR.

It doesn't take much more than a look at the geography and the knowledge that Bashar al-Assad in Syria  and Saddam Hussein in Iraq led sister Ba'ath Parties, to realize that Syria probably played a pretty big role in the "Oil for Food" scandal, and it did.

In point of fact, there were many Syrian connections to the oil for food scandal.

The Iraq embassy in Syria was designated a cash drop off point by Saddam Hussein.

The Syria-Iraq border crossing at Al-Waleed was designated one of four entry-points certified by Cotecna. That is one nexus between Kojo Annan's employer and Bashar al-Assad's country that we know for sure existed.

There was a multi-billion dollar cross-border smuggling business that kept Saddam Hussein supplied with weapons and other embargoed goods.

There was the unsanctioned fuel trucked into Syria and sold at "mobile" filling stations as well as crude oil for Syrian or other refineries, providing Saddam Hussein with the OFF-the-books income he could use to pay the bribes that greased the whole illicit system.

The Iraq sanctions made this cross border smuggling a very big business for three of Iraq's neighbors, Jordan, Turkey and Syria, although it is likely only in Syria was the state so heavily involved.

In the UN 661 Committee that oversaw OFF, the smuggling became a contentious issue because while the US was inclined to overlook the smuggling taking place in Turkey and Jordan and go after Syria, Russia and France were very protective of Syria. That is one reason little was done about it, the other was the rampant system of bribery and corruption throughout the program that encouraged people to look the other way. Also the 661 Committee operated on the consensus model so anyone familiar with our occupy movement GAs can easily understand why this committee was so ineffective.  

The most important Syrian connect was an illegal pipeline that ran from Iraq to Syria, and because of the economies of scale it afforded, it became the main conduit for smuggled Iraqi oil. The pipeline stretched from Iraq's northern Kirkuk fields to the Mediterranean coast in Syria. It had been closed since 1980. In 1996 Iraq sought approval to use it but the UN nixed the deal so in 2000 Iraq and Syria got together to refurbish and reopen the pipeline secretly.

Well, actually, not so secretly. Everybody in the industry noted that Syria had almost doubled its oil output in a very short time and figured what was really doing on. The Volcker Commission found that all though the UN Secretariat had early and full knowledge of this sanctions violation and sale of oil outside of the Oil for Food program, no effective action was ever taken:

The reopening of the pipeline was widely reported in the press and also raised in the 661 Committee [UN committee overseeing OFF], but the 661 Committee dissolved in discord over how to respond. It could not agree even to send a letter of inquiry to Syria about the matter, much less to initiate any true investigation of the matter. Mgmt_V1.pdf - p.38
The pipeline was soon to become Iraq's largest illegal oil export outlet. In the four years of OFF, Iraq would make more than 3 billion dollars in smuggling revenues from it and Syria would make a similar amount, $3.1321 billion, to be exact.

The biggest problem that the commission found was that Kofi Annan and his staff were clearly aware of these kickback schemes and yet they kept them hidden from the Security Council:

...the Secretary-General explained that he believed that he acted properly. The fact remains, however, that despite multiple opportunities, the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, and Mr. Sevan never formally reported the kickback scheme to the Security Council through quarterly reports or otherwise. Mgmt_V1.pdf - p.52
And apparently they didn't see the illegal Syrian pipeline as a problem:
The Deputy Secretary-General’s claim, when interviewed, that there were no issues requiring her attention is at odds with her own concessions that she knew at the time of significant Programme-related issues. For example, the Deputy Secretary-General was well aware of the Iraqi regime’s smuggling of oil and told the Committee that, as of November 2000, the re-opening of the Syrian pipeline diverted revenue streams away from the United Nations’ humanitarian effort. Mgmt_V1.pdf - p.51
And they did not raise it with the Security Council or do anything about it.
In time, the nature and details of Iraq’s oil smuggling would become even clearer to the Secretariat, particularly in regards to illegal exports to Turkey and Syria, but the silence on the issue continued. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.156
Like the song "50 ways to leave your lover", the 630 page Volcker Commission report goes on and on about all the ways Kofi Annan and his staff had to know that the Iraq was using the Syrian pipeline to smuggle oil outside of OFF and the sanctions regime. I won't bore you with all those details but I will assure you that their conclusions were more than warranted:
As the foregoing chronology of events makes clear, senior officials within the Secretariat, including Secretary-General Annan, Deputy Secretary-General Fréchette, Mr. Riza, and Mr. Sevan, were well aware of the extensive information regarding oil smuggling by the Iraqi regime. Moreover, the Secretariat acknowledged that the smuggling activities blatantly violated the sanctions regime in Iraq and undeniably had a negative impact on the implementation of the humanitarian program. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.165
That last part is important because it must be remembered that OFF was suppose to be a form of "humanitarian relief," and instead people at the highest level of the UN collaborated with Middle-East dictators and unscrupulous capitalists to turn it into a cash cow for themselves at the expense of the Iraqi people it was suppose to serve.

If one accepts the logic that the Iraq sanctions were an alternative to war, and because of poor UN oversight, Saddam Hussein was able to game the system and the sanctions failed, thus bringing on the war, then Kofi Annan's hands are stained with the blood of that war as well because of this.

The Volcker Commission report sums up :

The question distills to what efforts OIP [UN Office of the Iraq Program, OFF was under OIP -ed.] undertook to curtail, or at least expose, Iraq’s oil smuggling practices. Put simply, the Secretariat and OIP did very little.  Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.166
Given the tone established at the highest levels within the Secretariat, it follows that OIP did not sufficiently address reports of oil smuggling during the life of the Programme. To be sure, OIP was aware of the Iraqi regime’s smuggling operations; however, the Secretariat distanced itself from the smuggling issue and refused to take action. While she was clearly informed of the matter, Deputy Secretary-General Fréchette did not offer Mr. Sevan any guidance regarding smuggling, particularly as to the Syrian pipeline. Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.167
The mafia would kill you anyway with a story like that but in the high brow diplomatic circles of the UN, you can beg incompetence and walk. Unless a smoking gun shows up. Unless somebody can show that you took a bribe, were actually in on the fix or crossed some other red line. But Kofi Annan didn't get to be where he is by being stupid, so it is hard to believe he didn't know what was going on with regards to his Deputy SG Fréchette and his Program Director Sevan and the Syrian pipeline. Proving it, now that's a different matter, and that's the rock upon which the Volcker Commission floundered.

But then there is also this in the Volcker report:

Secretary-General Annan explained to the Committee that he recalled the issue of oil smuggling to Syria... Secretary-General Annan generally recalled discussing the matter with members of the Security Council, as well as Syrian officials,... Mgmt_V3.pdf - p.163
Now, it would be particularly interesting to know who those Syrian officials were and the nature of the discussions that Kofi Annan had with them because if their recollection of those discussions or their relationship with the Secretary General differ significantly from what Kofi Annan has already testified it was to the Volcker Commission and numerous other inquiries into the "Oil for Food" scandal, then I think we can answer the question I raised in the title in the affirmative. Yes, Bashar al-Assad "has something" on Kofi Annan.

How is it that Kofi Annan has risen so high up in diplomatic circles while leading humanitarian failure after failure? The answer is because that's what the great powers hire him for. Wherever people are dying en masse, whether it be a quick death from a gun or a blade, as in Rwanda, Bosnia or Syria, or a slow death from starvation, as in Iraq, Kofi Annan can be counted upon to lead a completely ineffective humanitarian relief effort and to look good while doing it.

I have not found any incriminating documents associated with OFF that have Kofi Annan's name on it, nor have I found any documents with Bashar al-Assad's name on it. When you operate at a certain level you personally don't have to get your hands dirty. That's why they can look so like the sophisticated couple when they sit together.

But I have found the names of Annan cronies and Assad cronies on the same list, implicating them as being partners in the same criminal enterprise. That may not yet be the proverbial "smoking gun" but surely it is enough, when considered with everything else, to take Kofi Annan off this case and try another approach.

Kofi Annan should quit the special Envoy's post immediately and if he doesn't quit, he should be removed. The world must take a new approach to the Syrian crisis and there are a thousand diplomats better qualified to lead it than Kofi Annan.

Here are my related diaries on Syria:
Tremseh Massacre in Syria: What we know
BREAKING: ~227 reported massacred by Assad's forces in Tremseh, Syria today!
Syria: Is Assad regime on the verge of collapse?
BREAKING: Russian Warships reported in Syria
BREAKING: #Russia changing on #Assad but not as fast as conditions in #Syria
UN Observers say violence in Syria is ‘Unprecedented’
BREAKING: Defection of major Assad insider reported in Syria
BREAKING: WikiLeaks releases 2.4 million #Syria emails
When did "Never Again" become "Whenever?" | #Douma
BREAKING: Incredible mass rally in Aleppo, Syria today!
BREAKING: HRW releases torture report on Syria
BREAKING: Syrian General defects with 293 to Turkey
BREAKING: Items not in the MSM on Syria
My response to Phyllis Bennis: Where is the non-violent opposition in Syria?
BREAKING: Syrian Air Force attacks Douma, 10m from Damascus, thousands flee
BREAKING: As Syria Burns, UN Blows More Smoke
BREAKING: Kofi Annan to propose Syrian unity gov't sans Assad!
BREAKING: Douma, Syria under massive attack, another massacre feared
BREAKING: Another mass defection from Syrian army
BREAKING: #NATO says No War in #Syria shoot down of #Turkey jet
NATO meetup tomorrow as more defect from Syria
BREAKING: Turkey calls for NATO consult on downing of jet by Syria
BREAKING: Senior Syrian Officers Defect
UPDATED: Russia reported to be preparing to evacuate from Syria
BREAKING: Syria fighter pilot defects
BREAKING: Britain stops Russian ship carrying attack helicopters for Syria
BREAKING: Russian troops headed to Syria
Qaddafi forces Strike Back in Libya
BREAKING: UN suspends mission in Syria
Libya & Syria - two videos - no comment
BREAKING: Russia denies supplying Syria with NEW attack helicopters
Syrian people rise up against the massacre
Another "Houla style" massacre in Syria
Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?
Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings
BREAKING: Massive protests in Syria following Friday pray
Syria is bleeding
Syria: Ceasefire faltering as mass protests breakout

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

    by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:55:12 PM PDT

  •  well, he sure seems to have something... (0+ / 0-)

    on Putin.

  •  (recommended for discussion... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, WisePiper

    not for agreement with the diary).

    •  That's all I'm looking for (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Christin, WisePiper

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:23:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is all we need; Obama, Annan, and Rezko. I (3+ / 0-)

        can just see the Fox News machine, which spent an eternity trying to destroy Annan with oil for food, and perhaps the same amount of time on Obama and Tony Rezko, salivating about even a hint of association between Obama, Annan, Rezko and the Syrian conflict.... How sweet...

        •  yeah...could have done without this line. (5+ / 0-)
          Barack Obama's connection to "Food for Oil"

          When Barack Obama bought his mansion on Chicago's South Side in 1995, the wife of Tony Rezko conveniently bought an adjoining landlocked parcel from the same seller on the same day. Tony Rezko had a reputation as Obama's bagman.

           stuff  snipped.

          I am not implying that Obama has anything to do with Kofi Annan's dilemma or that Assad has anything on him, but since I found this in my research, I wanted to share it with you because I think it well illustrates the reach of the corruption spawned by the UN Oil for Food program.

           claiborne please!

          We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear. Robert Louis Stevenson

          by Christin on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 06:47:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Another headline (4+ / 0-)

    direct from Fox News - even down to the use of the question mark.

    Bet you fell for the oil for food schtick in the lead up to operation loot Iraq.

  •  There was no massacre in Tremseh (6+ / 0-)

    If what occurred in Tremseh was a "massacre" then the US was/is complicit in hundreds of similar "massacres" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    As soon as a "freedom fighter" loses and starts to run away, he becomes a civilian.

    Details of a Battle Challenge Reports of a Syrian Massacre

    BEIRUT, Lebanon — New details emerging Saturday about what local Syrian activists called a massacre of civilians near the central city of Hama indicated that it was more likely an uneven clash between the heavily armed Syrian military and local fighters bearing light weapons.
    The picture emerging is that there was a large group of fighters from the town and the local area bivouacked in Tremseh. The Syrian Army moved in early Thursday, blocking all exits and blasting away with machine guns, tank shells and rockets fired from helicopters, laying waste to the town.

    “Whenever the Syrian Army knows there are fighters concentrated in an area, they attack,” said the leader of the Observatory, who goes by the pseudonym Rami Abdul-Rahman for safety reasons. “The majority of people killed in Tremseh were either rebel fighters from the village or from surrounding villages.”
    The broadcast also showed the identification card of what it said was a Turkish fighter in the group, and a captured man named Abdelsalem Darwish said there had been a Turkish fighter and some Libyans there, as well as money and arms from Turkey.

    •  I find it interesting that the NYT (4+ / 0-)

      is now starting to question the veracity of claims about massacres in Syria. It signals to me that the US is does not have hope that the armed opposition will being about the downfall of the regime and they are now giving themselves breathing space so that they don't have to take action at the UN. It doesn't mean the constant, low-level actions against Syria will cease - the regime has been weakened - but it means that they don't think that they can change the regime in the near-future.

    •  Tremseh was a massacre and the US has been (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisePiper, 2020adam

      complicit in hundreds of similar massacres in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam.

      The people of Tremseh faced a Catch 22. Civilians have the right to self defense but the minute they pick up a weapon they cease to be civilians.

      All reports, including the UN observers, say that Assad's forces attacked this village of 6,000 with tanks, artillery, and air craft. He was out to slaughter those people because they opposed his rule.

      Now, because some picked up weapons to defend themselves, you are here to defend the slaughter.

      Shameful, absolutely shameful!

      Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

      by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:16:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Claudius Bombarnac, protectspice

        Explain to me why in all the cities of Syria, the 'regime' picked Tremseh that day?

        Could it be the large arms cache that was discovered?

        Maybe you can point to some 'center of liberal beliefs' in Tremseh that no one knew about but Bashar had to quash. You would be the first. Everyone else is reporting that the Syrian side of events is closer to reality than the 'massacre' story.

        Maybe you can tell me how Clinton could have handled Waco better.

        Or maybe you can tell me why the 120 Syrians massacred  in Jisr Ash Shagur last year did not warrant UN notice.

        Here is an article describing your liberal 'friends':


        •  Everyone? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WisePiper, pot

          Remember history, Clay Claiborne, Director Vietnam: American Holocaust - narrated by Martin Sheen

          by Clay Claiborne on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 08:42:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Translation: folks who defend their village are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          Except the article you cite notes that the FSA is explicitly anti-terrorism and that ideological Islamists make up a small minority of its ranks.

          •  You obviously did not read the report... (0+ / 0-)
            The FSA’s leadership, a collection of mid-ranking Sunni Arab military defectors headed by  Colonel Riyad Musa al-As’ad from a base in Turkey, is actively courting Western support and has unambiguously condemned jihadi groups. This attitude is not necessarily shared by the fighters on the ground, who tend to label themselves FSA whether or not they are in actual contact with the FSA headquarters. With Sunni sectarian perspectives becoming more central to the armed uprising as time passes, most FSA factions are now steeped in religious rhetoric and there are a number of explicitly Islamist groups calling themselves part of the FSA, some of whom use radical jihadi slogans. One such group is the al-Bara bin Malek Brigade, which uses the Salafi-Jihadi flag made famous by al-Qaeda in Iraq and vows to carry out “martyrdom operations.”

            Outside the FSA umbrella, there are other groups which are more radical and more hostile to Western influence over the uprising. These include the Ahrar al-Sham Brigades, a network of Islamist militias spread over several provinces, as well as a Salafist group in Homs called the Ansar Brigade.

            •  Again, shocking, the behavior of a... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Clay Claiborne, pot

              civilian population under attack. Unbelievable that they'd turn to religious and familial identification. Why would they turn to sectarianism when nationalism still has so much to offer them?

              Unbelievable that they would arm themselves and fight their government, despite the fact that some people in their country are radical and don't like America. Some even dare to agree with the violent jihadi Claudius Bombernac who analysts have described as being "hostile to Western influence over the uprising."

              The argument that Bashar al-Assad is facing down Al Qaeda is the same as the argument that al-Qaeda in Iraq's existence legitimizes our destruction of Iraq. Just because these people exist all over the world doesn't mean everyone else in the vicinity loses the right to fight violent dictatorshp. Government power doesn't become absolute and unquestionable wherever right wing religious nuts reside. Should Syrians call the whole thing off and go back inside because Salafis haven't been eradicated yet?

              •  You keep putting your own meanings to other's (0+ / 0-)


                My post was simply a response to your statement:

                Except the article you cite notes that the FSA is explicitly anti-terrorism and that ideological Islamists make up a small minority of its ranks.
                What are you trying to say here?
                Some even dare to agree with the violent jihadi Claudius Bombernac who analysts have described as being "hostile to Western influence over the uprising."
                The argument that Bashar al-Assad is facing down Al Qaeda is the same as the argument that al-Qaeda in Iraq's existence legitimizes our destruction of Iraq.
                The were very, very few Al Qaeda types in Iraq before the US bombed the shit out of that country and killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the name of regime change.

                Al Qaeda thrives on the very thing that the US and it's warmongering partners in Europe and the GCC create in nations not friendly to their economic interests.

                They go into these countries and stir up shit until things reach a boiling point and all hell breaks loose. The only way to stop it is to understand what is going on before things get out of hand (as they now are).

                The MSM got 80% of you Americans all pumped up to go out and "kick some ass" in Iraq - all based on outright lies and deception. We are watching it happen again right now.

    •  Alternatively, once a civilian gets tired of... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      having their children tortured and their village bombarded by heavy artillery, they get labeled a jihadi, terrorist or armed rebel, for daring to defend themselves.

      •  What would be the purpose of "bombarding" (0+ / 0-)

        villages and "torturing children"?

        UN Observers entered el-Treimseh Saturday to try to ascertain the facts on the ground and verify reports of a military operation on the village. On the basis of this preliminary mission, UNSMIS can confirm that an attack, using a variety of weapons, took place in Treimseh on July 12.

        The attack on Treimseh appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists. There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases.

        The UN Team also observed a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them.

        A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms.

        The number of casualties is still unclear. The UN Team plans to go back into Treimseh tomorrow to continue their fact finding mission.

        •  Ooh, sorry, you're gonna... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          have to try again.

          Is your contention that among the Syrian people are a large bunch of especially good liars, coordinating fabrications about a torture archipelago, vacuuming up untold numbers of innocents?

          •  Syria is not the only country that treats (0+ / 0-)

            children under the age of 18 as adults. The US is a major offender in this human rights violation. These children get raped and beaten when incarcerated with adults.

            United States: Thousands of Children Sentenced to Life without Parole

            There are at least 2,225 child offenders serving life without parole sentences in U.S prisons for crimes committed before they were age 18, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said in a new joint report published today.

            While many of the child offenders are now adults, 16 percent were between 13 and 15 years old at the time they committed their crimes. An estimated 59 percent were sentenced to life without parole for their first-ever criminal conviction. Forty-two states currently have laws allowing children to receive life without parole sentences.

            The United States is one of only a few countries in the world that permit children to be sentenced to LWOP. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by every country in the world except the United States and Somalia, forbids this practice, and at least 132 countries have rejected the sentence altogether. Thirteen other countries have laws permitting the child LWOP sentence, but, outside of the United States, there are only about 12 young offenders currently serving life sentences with no possibility of parole.

            Thousands of Iraqi children were killed or maimed on the streets and in their homes or were incarcerated in Abu Ghraib by American Government Forces. Some were even sodomized and tortured while in detention. If children were big enough to shoot a gun or carry explosives, they were "fair game".

            Kids sodomized at Abu Ghraib, Pentagon has the videos - Hersh

            Does all this mean some violent groups of people should have taken up arms and attacked the government of the United States?

            What about the following? The rebels dressing up their children and giving them guns to fight on the front lines?

            Child Fighter Takes up Arms in Syria

            When you go to war to end conflict, the carnage just increases. Anyone with a modicum of common sense realizes that supplying the opposition with tons of arms will just increase the conflict. But, this is the very reason that the Saudi's and Qataris with the complicity of the US and other westerns nations have done this very thing.

            The US is directly responsible for the current conditions in Syria. It is has been covertly and overtly fomenting regime change since at least 2005. This has been well documented since 2007 when Hersch wrote an expose The Redirection

  •  Is that the conspiracy theory of the day? (4+ / 0-)

    And it even has a reference to "Barack Obama's connection to Food for Oil"?   I could not read the whole thing but because of the Obama/Rezko reference it sounds more like a right-wing conspiracy theory that would fit better in Redstate.    

  •  I doubt it's that. He did the same in Rwanda as (3+ / 0-)

    you're saying and they almost definitely didn't have anything on him.

  •  I don't find your diary persuasive (6+ / 0-)

    It's just a hit piece on Kofi Annan when in fact he was just part of hundreds of people and an entire system that allowed this type of corruption - the OFF program -to happen.

    UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 7 -- A U.N.-appointed panel investigating corruption in prewar Iraq's oil-for-food program delivered a scathing rebuke of Secretary General Kofi Annan's management of the largest U.N. humanitarian aid operation and concluded that Kojo Annan took advantage of his father's position to profit from the system.

    Former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker, the head of the Independent Inquiry Committee, said blame for the program's failure was shared by the Security Council, other members of the United Nations and Annan's senior advisers. In a dramatic appearance before the Security Council, Volcker warned Annan and the 15-nation council to change the way they do business or face a worldwide loss of public support. link

    I don't think that anyone would be able to do a good job a the moment in Syria but I think that's about the situation there not about Annan's part in OFF. (You want Annan to behave in they way Jeffrey Feltman has been behaving since he was Ambassador to Lebanon and he has had many, many failures.) Annan's position right now may also just be reflecting a western assessment of the impracticality of intervening in Syria and the (unwelcome) recognition that their current methods of undermining his regime are not working and they are preparing to step this down a few notches and await their next chance.

    As for your 'innocently' bringing up an Obama connection in this - it's not only irrelevant, it's nutty despite your claims that you're just presenting the facts. And this is a far more civil response than your diary merits.

    •  I found it too long to read (0+ / 0-)

      Given the diarist's past obsession with ascribing the worst known human attributes to Kofi Anan and virtually the entire global diplomatic corps. The diarist is a good conduit for news reported by others, but he is hyperbolic in his commentary. I could not justify the time to read such a long screed.

  •  very odd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If I may say so.

  •  Barack Obama's connection to Oil-for-food? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Seriously?  That's some serious Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon there, particularly when the early degrees are spawning pits of conspiracy theories.

    At this stage, I am not convinced anything short of a resounding of the opposition or an Assad death or exile will end this mess in Syria.  Without commenting on the merits (or lack thereof) of Annan's plan, the sides are too entrenched - Iran and Russia simply have too much riding on Assad and the opposition, who are now all marked for death by Assad's regime, will probably, if things get bad for them, choose death in the field over death in Assad's prisons.  The former may be more merciful than Assad's torture.

    "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

    by auron renouille on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:12:40 PM PDT

  •  Kofi Annan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Kofi Annan is a useless waste. Why is this news to anyone? I can't imagine there was anyone who really thought he would do anything of value in Syria. Assad and his people are fighting for their lives and don't care how many civilians they have to kill and now they've created a situation where the civilians are also fighting for their lives. I think the regime will eventually crumble - not sure if what replaces it will be any better. I have this little fantasy that in the midst of the chaos, Syrian Kurdistan will break off and join with Iraqi Kurdistan, but that's not all that likely. It's much more likely that this ruins Hezbollah's day and that is certainly something to root for.

    Language professors HATE me!

    by Zornorph on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:23:09 PM PDT

  •  This one is for you Clay (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    An Executioner for Syria's Rebels Tells His Story
    Human Rights Watch has condemned abuses committed by Syrian rebels in their stronghold of Homs. But one member of a rebel "burial brigade" who has executed four men by slitting their throats defended his work in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. "If we don't do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account," he said.
  •  Without even passing judgement on... (0+ / 0-)

    Kofi Annan's character or misdeeds, it should be obvious that the Arab League of Dictators and the United Nations Security Council weren't going to hire someone who would give people the idea that revolting against oppression is a good idea.

    Would Saudi Arabia really agree to setting the precedent that the international community should involve itself in negotiating between dictators and those who fight them?

    •  It should be obvious that the name of the (0+ / 0-)

      game in Syria is to feed the warring factions with enough arms and money so it will destroy itself from within. Unfortunately, it will be the innocents on both sides of the Syrian conflict who will suffer.

      Nothing new in that scenario. It's been happening for 100's of years by the Imperialistic countries.

      BTW, the US, UK, EU and GCC started this shit in Syria overtly and covertly since from at least 2005. Before that, Assad was a favorite goon for doing their dirty work.

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