News / Asia

US Sought Removal of UN Burma Envoy, Leaked Documents Show

In this photo released by the Burmese news agency, Burma Foreign Minister Nyan Win, left, shakes hands with the U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari prior to their meeting in Yangon Monday, 18 Aug 2008 (file photo)
In this photo released by the Burmese news agency, Burma Foreign Minister Nyan Win, left, shakes hands with the U.N. Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari prior to their meeting in Yangon Monday, 18 Aug 2008 (file photo)
Gary Thomas

Newly disclosed State Department documents show the U.S. sought to have the U.N. Special Envoy on Burma removed from his job.  A new batch of classified cables released by the activist website WikiLeaks also documents Chinese frustration with Burma's generals and rumblings about possible North Korean nuclear cooperation with Burma.

In a 2008 cable, then-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice asked the U.S. Mission to the United Nations to request the removal of Ibrahim Gambari as the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Burma.

In a set of talking points to be conveyed to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon or his deputy, the cable asked for Gambari's "graceful" termination from office.

It cited what it called Gambari's complete lack of progress on critical issues in Burma, namely, dialogue between the government and the opposition, particularly Aung San Suu Kyi, and release of political prisoners. It says some of the failure to achieve progress was attributable to regime intransigence, but that Gambari did not press the generals as forcefully as he might have, and that he was unrealistically upbeat about prospects for change in Burma.

Gambari was reassigned one year ago as head of the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur.

The cable also cites a loss of confidence in Gambari by Burma's democracy movement.  Opposition leaders had in fact often criticized Gambari as ineffective in advancing the cause of human rights.

Contacted in Darfur by VOA, Gambari refused to directly comment on the cable.  However, he points out that he remained in his post for another year and a half after Secretary Rice's request before moving on to a more high-profile job.  He also claims partial credit for Aung San Suu Kyi's release from house arrest last month, saying it was directly due to groundwork he had laid in his meetings in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

"It is very clear that that was in part the outcome of a lot of work that was done before then [the release], including, as you know, eight meetings between me and her on eight different occasions, and 10 meetings with the senior leadership of Myanmar," said Gambari.

The cable was one of the latest in a series of diplomatic communications obtained and released by WikiLeaks.

Another leaked cable, dated January 18, 2008, says China has also been losing patience with Burma's rulers. It quotes the Chinese ambassador to Burma as saying the generals' intransigence is making a bad situation worse.  The ambassador told the U.S. charge' d'affaires that fear of losing power and economic interests may be what is keeping the generals away from the negotiating table.

A July 2008 cable offers a sobering view of both the government and the opposition.  It says the generals keep their hold on power through a vast system of economic patronage that it likens to the Mafia. The cable says that rumors of splits at the top of the military government come from what it calls uninformed analysis and wishful thinking by Burmese exiles and outside observers.  The cable says while there are some disagreements, the generals stick together out of self-interest.

But there are also splits in the Burmese democracy movement.  The cable says that while Aung San Suu Kyi remains immensely popular, her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), does not share the same status.  It says a younger generation is frustrated with a party that is strictly hierarchal and controlled by elderly activists who fail to listen to the ideas of their youthful comrades.

Aung San Suu Kyi was freed from a seven-year-long house detention last month after elections.  Her party boycotted the elections, which critics say were engineered to ensure a majority for the generals.  However, that decision was criticized by some of the younger party members, and some disaffected young activists split from the NLD and did participate.

The WikiLeaks documents also raise the issue of possible North Korean nuclear cooperation and missile program assistance to Burma.  However, nothing in the cables offers any hard confirmation of those reports.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid