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Argentina's Month, With Snowden Not Syria, Ends with Dancing in the Dark

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 29 -- When Argentina held its end of UN Security Council presidency reception Thursday night, the smell of the Permanent Five members' domination of international affairs was still acrid in the air.

Thursday afternoon at 2:30 pm the P5 held a meeting in their clubhouse next to the Security Council. It continued as regular rank and file members of the UN filed into the Council chamber to hear a "wrap up" debate about Argentina's month.

But Syria the biggest issue, at least according to the media and Western capitals, was debated in a small room with just five countries. Left to the other elected ten, and to the UN's other 178 members, were conflicts in Africa, generic issues like cooperation with regional organizations and the protection of civilians.

Argentina did well with these two. As Inner City Press reported from the first day of their presidency, the regional cooperation debate included Cuba for CELAC, and a healthy dose of Latin outrage at the grounding of Evo Morales' plane and the US spying through the NSA, exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

  (Bolivia raised it again on August 19, in connection with the UK's nine hour detention under anti-terrorism laws of journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda.)

  These important topics are rarely heard in the Security Council, so Argentina deserves credit.

  The UK might say different, angry that the August 6 session focused in on the Malvinas or Falkland Islands. We have to report it: while UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant was back from vacation at the P5 Syria meeting on Thursday, he left right after and was not seen, at least by this reporter, at Argentina's end of presidency reception.

This was held out of the UN, at Malbec / Tango House on Lafayette south of Astor Place. A bit of full disclosure, or making-of: CitiBike is a welcome program, but at six pm on First Avenue in front of the UN there are no bikes. Nor on 43rd Street in front of the Ford Foundation, nor even on 39th and Second. Once found on 32nd, it's a nice ride to Astor Place.

Inside, the wine was Argentine, and the talk turned to, what else, Syria. Inner City Press was told that the P5, so dysfunctional, will meet with Ban Ki-moon on Friday, and that a Council session on Monday, Labor Day, is possible.

  The read-out from the closed door P5 meeting included not only what Inner City Press already reported (Russia pushing Geneva Two and UK its resolution) but also request for more inspections inside Syria, not only Ghouta. Good luck.

Pursuing other issues, Inner City Press learned that the slide of UN Peacekeeping under Herve Ladsous into the position of combatant began even before the killing this week of a Tanzanian soldier in the UN Intervention Brigade. There is a lot of concern, but few will say it. We will.

On stage, five couples and four musicians conjured Buenos Aires, with split skirts and accordian and bow on stand-up bass. Inner City Press joked it should have been done in the Security Council, with dapper Oscar Fernandez Taranco, himself Argentinian or Italian as convenient, briefing amid a dance.

There were DPRs, PRs like Togo and Australia, next month's president. Argentina's Permanent Representative Perceval, civil and classy all month, continued to the end. Anyone who missed the dancing in the dark missed out. But the Security Council is so often dancing in the dark. Watch this site.


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