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On Syria, Medelci Calls Anwar Malik Just One Algerian, W. Sahara a Colonial Issue

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 11 -- When Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci held a press conference at the UN midday on Wednesday, he wanted to talk about his country, emphasizing that it has no foreign debt, and about the Group of 77 and China, of which Algeria has the chair from Argentina.

   But most press questions directed to him concerned Syria, including about Anwar Malik, the Algerian member of the Arab League observer mission who left the mission in disgust, calling it a farce. "Other Algerians didn't speak," Medelci responded, saying that "they might have different opinions."

   And Medelci is seemingly among them, emphasizing that the violence in Syria does not only come from the government, calling the claims and counterclaims "intriguing." He said Algeria is opposed to strong cuts of Syria air flights, says it punishes civilians, not the government and its officials.

   That is what he explained about the 165 member Arab League mission: it includes 10 representative of the Algerian state, who have not quit, and "a few dozen representatives of NGOs," including (until he quit) "one Algerian."

   He was asked by a Turkish journalist if he believes that France committed genocide in Algeria. While remaining diplomatic, he said that "our children need to know about... massacres" committed by France.

He was then quickly asked by a French journalist about protests in Algeria, including by the unemployed. He replied that people always want more, and this is understandable, but said Algeria is more open than were Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

Inner City Press asked Mourad Medelci about Western Sahara, whether Algeria thinks the UN Mission there MINURSO should have a human rights component. Video here, from Minute 31:34.

  Mourad Medelci, again diplomatic, said that there are only a few remaining issues of decolonialization, and that Western Sahara is one of them and should be dealt with only on that basis. Video here, from Minute 36:43.

(c) UN Photo
Mourad Medelci Jan 11 w/ Ban Ki-moon & Kim Won-soo, Anwar Malik not shown

   Inner City Press asked Mourad Medelci if he thought Morocco joining the Security Council changes things. He did not answer this part of the question. As the Moroccan mission has argued to Inner City Press, Western Sahara is by no means their only interest. And this is true: as Inner City Press reported yesterday, Morocco has requested a Council briefing on the humanitarian consequence of Israel's settlement policies.

On Wednesday Inner City Press asked Moroccan Permanent Representative Loulichki for the status; he said the Council's president is consulting with members but he is an "optimist." And, like Medelci, a diplomat. 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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