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At UN, Syria Stasis Not "Bamboozle," Sahel Boondoggle, Libya Unfreeze, Ashraf to Base?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 16 -- As the UN Security Council met Friday morning about Camp Ashraf in Iraq and a surprisingly large UN entourage traipsing through the Sahel, the hot topic just outside the Council was Syria.

  The draft resolution Russia introduced on Thursday -- click here to view, as scanned and re-uploaded by Inner City Press in .pdf format -- is, Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin told the Press, "still being absorbed" by Council members.

  Since on Thursday he told Inner City Press they had "yet to digest" the draft, to some this seemed like progress.

This was quickly disputed by a European Permanent Representative, who questioned whether Russia is "serious on Syria." In response, South African Permanent Representative Baso Sangqu told Inner City Press he thinks Russia IS serious, but is moving methodically and not "bamboozling" other Council members.

  One wag, and not Sangqu, said this could be contrasted to the pushing into blue and for a vote of the Council's Eritrea sanctions resolution, click here for that).

  Churkin said "maybe Monday" for the next set of consultations, probably at the experts levels. The US has said it is ready to work with Russia, but has changes. One well places Permanent Representative predicted "two or three weeks." We'll see.

  While the lame duck chief of the UN Department of Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe spoke behind closed doors to the Council about Camp Ashraf and the joint mission to the Sahel, he did not speak to the press afterward. One exiting diplomat who asks not to be quoted by name snarked "We've been to the Sahel and back."

  UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant stopped and described to Inner City Press a mission consisting of DPA, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, CTED, the African Union; he said the UK had asked that the forthcoming report focus on proliferation, terrorism and migration.

  The representative of one of the countries joining the Council in January told Inner City Press that added to that list should be drugs and the Taureg of Mali.

  One wag called the venture, "Fowler II," a reference to the UN's stealth envoy to Niger whose mandate only became known, or created, after he was kidnapped. He recently wrote a book about his captivity and one hopes to hear him at the UN.

(c) UN Photo
Churkin, and Sangqu who says Russia's not bamboozling, draft reso here

  On Camp Ashraf, while most members only said that UN envoy Martin Kobler is trying to convince the Iraqi authorities to extend their year-end deadline to close the camp, two told Inner City Press that he is trying to move camp residents to an ex-US base, "near the airport... for processing." But would Camp Ashraf residents agree? Watch this site.

Footnote: there is a proposal pending in the Council on Libya to unfreeze all Central Bank assets by 5 pm; "if no one breaks silence," a Permanent Representative told Inner City Press, "it will be done." And whither (or wither) the Libya Sanctions Committee?

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

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

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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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