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As Syria Claims Military Operations Are Over, UK Shifts Read Out of UN's Assad Call, Won't Dictate to Ban on Microphone

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 18 -- After the UN Security Council's session on Syria, UK Deputy Permanent Representative Philip Parham confirmed that a draft resolution is in the works, as Inner City Press reported half way through the meeting. Parham would not say if a referral to the International Criminal Court would be included.

  French Deputy Permanent Representative Briens called it a "resolution de sanctions," not mentioning the ICC. The German and Portuguese DRPs, both speaking in English, added their two centimes d'Euros. Then, unlike after the last Council session on Syria, the US joined in with the EU4, as DPR Rosemary DiCarlo cited the statements of President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

  Inner City Press asked the group what they thought of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's telephone call with Bashar al Assad, which recited that "President Assad said that the military and police operations had stopped," and if Ban should name an envoy.

  Parham said he wouldn't "dictate to [Ban] from the microphone" -- and so, a secret demarche meeting? -- that Ban's political chief Lynn Pascoe, in closed consultation, had said "President Assad implied that these things had stopped. But, in answer to your second question, no we don’t think they have stopped."

  Minutes later, Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari about the call, and the quote. He said, "it's a fact of the ground," the operations have ceased. The TV at the stakeout was not on, but a perusal of BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera would show different. Ja'afari answered a question in Arabic and referred, seemingly in scorn, to YouTube.

DiCarlo and Hardeep Singh Puri on August 10

  Inner City Press also asked Ja'afari if the UN humanitarian mission which OCHA chief Valerie Amos said would be there "this weekend" could go all over the country. Ja'afari said they will be in Damascus on Saturday, but did not answer on access.

  Ja'afari claimed that High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had not recommended ICC referral, only said to the Council, you "may" do it. Pillay spoke at the stakeout, but took only two questions, walking away as the Press asked, Can you describe where you got this information?

Footnote: Pillay said nothing about her Southern Kordofan report, which airbrushed out inaction by Egyptian UN peacekeepers. Will she answer the question around Friday's Council session on Sudan and Libya? We'll see.

UK's transcript of DPR Parham at stakeout, August 18, 2011:

Inner City Press: "Ban Ki-moon last night issued a readout of a call he had with Bashar al Assad? One of the quotes was that President Assad said that the military operations had stopped. And what the SG’s role in all this, should he appoint an envoy as he did on Libya? What do you think of the readout of that call, and should he now take a different approach after today’s meeting and report?"

DPR Parham: “Well on your first point, the briefing that we had from Lynn Pascoe just now on the phone call was that the Secretary General had expressed alarm at the widespread human rights violations and the use of force, and made clear that the military operations and mass arrests should cease, and that in response to that, President Assad implied that these things had stopped. But, in answer to your second question, no we don’t think they have stopped. All the evidence is to the contrary and that’s what we heard in the briefing just now. So what should the Secretary-General be doing? I wouldn’t want to dictate to him from the microphone at all. But he is clearly saying the right things to President Assad and delivering those strong messages which we hope that Assad will hear. And we can consider, and he can consider in due course, whether a Special Envoy would be a good additional tool in that process.”

From transcript of White House call on Syria, August 18, 2011:

Inner City Press: You said that the U.S. had led in the Security Council. I'm in front of it right now, and at least to the eye, it was mostly the European floor members that sort of took the lead. Is that going to change? And also, what do you make of criticism that sanctioning the Syrian cell phone company might actually make it harder for protestors to communicate and spread information about abuses there?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I'll take the first one, and then turn to my colleague. In terms of the Security Council, we led along with our European allies. I think those of you who have followed that know that the United States and our European allies supported a strong resolution against the Syrian regime. We were able to bring the council to a unified presidential statement of condemnation against Syria -- which, by the way, sent a very strong message that Syria couldn't necessarily look to some of its -- some of those who had protected it in the council in the past, but rather those members of the council joined us in condemnation.

So I think that was an instance of the United States working with our European allies through the council to get a strong outcome. And we'll continue to pursue avenues through the U.N. and other places to amplify the condemnation of the Syrian regime.

I think it also speaks, frankly -- that message of condemnation from the Security Council -- to the shrinking support for Syria in the international community. Frankly, they've principally been able to look only to Iran as a patron and supporter of their crackdown efforts within in their own country. And the choices of support that they seek in the international community are closing off. But I'll turn to my colleague to talk about the sanction question.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: With respect to the sanctions applied to Syriatel, that is a company that is controlled by Rami Makhluf, who is probably the most significant corrupt crony and supporter of the regime, who has used his preferred position with the Syrian government and the Syrian economy to siphon off enormous wealth from the Syrian people. The sanctions on Syriatel, because they're controlled by Makhluf, we do not think will result in the loss of communication ability among the people of Syria.

We will also be taking steps in the next few days to issue a general license pertaining to communication services in Syria that will also serve to facilitate communication among the Syrian people.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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

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