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As Syria Supports $7 Million for Annan, Murky Geneva Budget, Rwanda Echoes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 22 -- Syria envoy Kofi Annan's over $7 million budget was discussed Tuesday in the UN's Budget Committee.

Annan's work was praised by Syria's representative, who urged full funding so that Annan can reach out to "Arab partners" and get them to refrain from undermining the so-called Six Point Plan.

After the session Inner City Press asked the Syrian representative if these referenced "Arab partners" included Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which it is said the US is advising which Syrian opposition groups to fund. The representative smiled. He also urged that humanitarian concern expand to those "23 million Syrians" subject to "unilateral sanctions."

  Inner City Press has repeatedly asked Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi about the budget proposal which on Tuesday was formally introduced, but not yet approved. Four weeks ago on April 25 Inner City Press asked Fawzi

"quick questions about the budget presentation: 11 substantive international staff (1 USG, 2 ASG, 2 D-2, 2 P-5, 2 P-4, 2 P-3) -- Are the two deputies the ASGs? Which of the other position have already been filled or designated, and by whom? Likewise, what (and how high) are the "extra-budgetary resources" for three Political Affairs Officers for six months, and a Senior Advisor for three months? Has the Senior Advisor been chosen? Who? And, the "refurbishment of office space ($30,000)" -- which office is this?"

  The questions have not been answered. Nevertheless on May 21, after the previous week asking Inner City Press to censor an already published story about the visit to Syria by Annan's duputy Jean Marie Guehenno as his second French successor as head of UN peacekeeping, Herve "The Drone" Ladsous (so named because he has proposed the UN use drones), Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office referred Inner City Press' questions to Fawzi.

Inner City Press: this trip that was made by, I believe, Ladsous, Mr. [Jean-Marie] Guéhenno and Babacar Gaye — what's the breakdown? It was described prior to the trip that Mr. Guéhenno was going there on a, quote, “on the political track”. What's the division of labour between them? Is Mr. Ladsous only concerning the observers or is he also something of a mediator on the political track, and was there any request for Mr. [Nasser] al-Kidwa, who is the other deputy of Kofi Annan, to in fact enter Syria?

Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq: I think Mr. [Ahmad] Fawzi made clear that Mr. Guéhenno’s work is to assess what the situation is on the ground, and he had suggested that there would be a deputy of Mr. Annan going there, and that Mr. Annan might make a visit later down the line. As for Mr. Ladsous, I just read out a note about his work and what he was doing. Again, if you didn’t hear it, he was there to meet with observers from the UN Supervision Mission and to assess the progress on the ground to date.

Inner City Press: What about Mr. al-Kidwa? Is he, I mean, what’s, what’s his function as the Joint Special Envoy’s second deputy? Has he ever entered Syria? Has he been denied ability to enter Syria?

Associate Spokesperson: He is one of the deputies; you can talk to the Joint Special Envoy’s spokesperson, Mr. Fawzi, about what he is doing.

  And so an hour after this May 21 noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Fawzi:

"just now at the UN noon briefing I asked for a description of the division of labor and mandates between the JSE's Deputy Guehenno and DPKO chief Ladsous, and if the JSE's Deputy El-Kidwa has since taking the post asked to enter Syria, and what the response was. I was told to ask the JSE's spokesman: you. So I am asking, along with the outstanding questions below.

"Relatedly, Syrian state media says that Mr. Annan is the 'UN envoy' - do you correct that? - while KUNA reports that Ladsous 'will meet leaders of opposition groups in Syria to discuss their views of the crisis.' Is that what he is discussing, and what is the division of labor and mandates between the JSE / Deputy Guehenno and DPKO chief Ladsous?"

  More than 24 hours later, these questions have not been answered. Fawzi now has assistant spokespeople, provided from Ban's spokesperson's office in New York. 18 posts are being funded, and the refurbishment of an office space Fawzi had not provided the location of in more then four weeks.

 At the same UN Budget Committee session, another UN Special Envoy Haile Menkerios was urged to move from New York to the region (he covers Sudan and South Sudan), to be closer to the parties and to save money. But Kofi "Seven Million Dollar Man" Annan is based in Geneva.

  Also, it is proposed to spend $3 million for a new building in Arusha, Tanzania for the so-called residual mechanism dealing with the 1994 Rwanda genocide, in connection with which Annan ignored Romeo Dellaire's reports that machetes were being stockpiled. Plus ca change. Watch this site.

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