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UN's Mood Says Lead-Up to Houla Unclear, UK Admits, Germany Says No

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- After the UN Security Council issued its Press Statement on the killings in Houla, Syria, late Sunday afternoon, Inner City Press put questions about it to the Ambassadors of the UK, Syria, Germany, Russia and France - for the latter two, the Deputies.

  First, a BRICS representative told Inner City Press that General Robert Mood has said that the circumstances leading to the killings in Houla were unclear or murky, and had mentioned killings by close-range shooting and "extreme physical abuse" - a shorthand for beheading.

  Even before the statement was read out by the Azerbaijani presidency of the Council for May, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari told Inner City Press exclusively that his government viewed Houla as analogous to "Algeria in the 1990s" -- brutal beheadings meant spark a civil war.

  Ja'afari also said a goal of those behind the beheadings included increasing the size of the UNSMIS mission, militarizing them and internationalizing investigations and accountability, mentioning "Ocampo" of the International Criminal Court (soon to be replaced by Ms. Bensouda).

  When the formal stakeouts started, Inner City Press asked French Deputy Permanent Representative Martin Briens to respond to the analogy to Algeria in the 1990s.

  He said no further comment is necessary, it is the responsibility of the government to protect civilians. But it's said Houla was not in government control.

  Inner City Press asked German Permanent Representative Peter Wittig to confirm that Mood said that the circumstances leading to the killings in Houla were unclear. Wittig replied that in its view things were not murky.

  But UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant, when Inner City Press asked him the same question about Mood's statement that the lead-up was unclear, to his credit acknowledged that was said.

  He went on to say that in a sense it didn't matter, Syria should not have used tanks, these should have already been back in the barracks.

Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Pankin said that Russia called for the briefing. Inner City Press asked him about the analogy to Algeria in the 1990s.

  He replied that there is the presence of a third force, or external forces, who want to bring about military intervention or victory. He said that an investigation is much needed. But who will do a credible investigation?

  As the last speaker, Syrian Permanent Representative Ja'afari called the statements of Wittig and Lyall Grant a "tsunami of lies," which different from what General Mood had said. "What about Ban Ki-moon," Inner City Press asked: was he and his letter more akin to Mood or to the German and UK Ambassadors' presentation? He replied, closer to the UK and Germany, of course. Of course!

  Finally, Inner City Press asked Ja'afari if this might lead to an increase in the size of UNSMIS. Yes, Ja'afari said. So, in a cynical view: a jobs program? The investigation is important.

Footnote: During the afternoon's closed consultations, representatives of several countries not (yet) on the Security Council came to monitor proceedings. Inner City Press tweeted that Sudan and Norway were there, then that Liechtenstein and Finland had been first.

  At the end, Australia let it be known that they had been present too, and give a written statement by Foreign Minister Bob Carr. Duly noted. But where was Luxembourg, which is running against Finland and Australia in October for two seats on the Security Council in 2013-14? Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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