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On Syria, UN Calls Friday Notice to SC "Unofficial," Patrols Still Suspended

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- As General Robert Mood was slated to land in New York at noon on Monday, at the UN's noon briefing Inner City Press has a simple question to ask.

  What explains the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations' notice to Security Council members on Friday, obtained and exclusively published by Inner City Press on Friday at 10 pm, that in Syria "mobile operations" would be limited, and Mood's Saturday and Sunday press statement, that latter that his mission would witness the release of civilians?

  UN Associate Spokesman Farhan Haq said, "I wouldn't comment about the notice to the Security Council, the announcement on Saturday was the official announcement." He turned to other questions before allowing Inner City Press to follow up.

How is this notification to the Security Council, on Friday June 15, not "official"? Why pretend it didn't happen? Was Mood even behind it? Or rather, DPKO led by its fourth Frenchman in a row, Herve Ladsous?

Monday as Inner City Press covered the Security Council members as they met about Abyei (and had to step out of the UN during what turned out to be a false fire alarm), a range of diplomats commented that the Friday notificiation was strange, and Mood's behavior since stranger still.

"He needs to do his job," one Permanent Representative told Inner City Press, angry at the notification that the UNSMIS observers would stay in their hotels.

At the noon briefing, when Inner City Press asked about Mood's Sunday announcement that his mission "stands ready to monitor their release," Haq said that "the patrols remain suspended." Moody, we can call it. Or schizophrenic.

  So, again, why did Ban Ki-moon and his Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold that post, decide on June 15 to limit the mobility of the UN Mission in Syria, and to tell Security Council members but make no public announcement?

  Such Security Council documents routinely leak, predictably to the wire services affiliated with Western permanent members of the Council. But that did not happen in this case: rather, Inner City Press obtained a copy of the notification, confirmed and published it before 10 pm New York time on June 15.

  Eight hours later, still seeing no announcement by the UN or any Council member, Inner City Press asked the spokespeople for UN - Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan then for Ban Ki-moon and Ladsous to explain the notification, what lay behind it (i.e. what supposedly increased violence) and what they wanted next.

  Only Annan's Ahmad Fawzi replied, and only to say that UNSMIS and Mood would now be having an announcement.

  What explains the delay? And who made the decision?

  One working theory is that Ladsous, the head of DPKO whose notification it is, made the decision on behalf of his native France, for which he was an operative in the foreign ministry as recently as arranging Michele Aliot-Marie's flights on planes owned by cronies of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali.

  In this theory, though there was little INCREASED violence to point to, Ladsous and France wanted to raise the stakes for General Robert Mood's already scheduled visit to New York and the Security Council, to put it in the context of UNSMIS being OVER, no longer improvable.

  Otherwise, Mood should have given his public statement when the decision to limit his Mission was made, to obviate the risk of a Security Council leak on Friday.

  Such a leak did take place, but not in the most predictable way. Or, some wonder, did though Western-member aligned wire services know of the decision and not report it?

  And why, now, has Mood reversed course?

   Notably, the UN representatives of Reuters, Agence France Presse, (US) Voice of America and Bloomberg are four of five signers of a letter seeking to investigate and expel Inner City Press. We'll have more on this.

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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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