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UN Silent on Syria Except For Some From Seoul, Brahimi Moves From Moscow

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 29, updated -- While the UN heavy promoted the idea of -- and its role in -- a possible Eid ceasefire in Syria last week, when the ceasefire fired amid car bombs and bombardments the UN's silence was deafening.

  Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who previously issued statement even about planes he was on landing and taking off, said nothing.

   On Sunday, along with asking if UN Headquarters would be closed two day this week for Hurricane Sandy, Inner City Press asked the four top UN spokespeople (one for Lakhdar Brahimi), "is there no statement by envoy Brahimi or the UN about the status of the Eid ceasefire in Syria?"

  The UN's answer to Inner City Press was this: "Mr. Brahimi has not yet made any comments about the observance of the cease-fire. If or when we have anything we will share it with journalists."

  Seventeen hours later, there was still no statement by Brahimi at all. Apparently he was waiting to speak alongside Sergey Lavrov in Moscow -- this from the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' twitter feed, not the UN.

But fifteen and a half hours after responding to the Press request for any "Brahimi or UN" statement "about the status of the Eid ceasefire in Syria," Ban Ki-moon's spokesman's office sent out Ban speech in South Korea accepting the Seoul peace prize.

As sent out, the speech was entirely illegible.

As with Brahimi's whereabouts and speaking plans, information was not available from the UN, but in his case from wire services present for Ban's now somewhat ironically-timed award ceremony.

On Ban's Secretary-General website, even after the selective Seoul speech, the most recent speech was one from October 23, at the South Korean Mission to the UN in New York. On Ban's spokesperson's office website, Ban's most recent statement, on the morning of October 29, was from October 25.

What explains this? In fairness, the UN is closed on Monday due to the approach of Hurricane Sandy. But even countries' missions to the UN have been tweeting their staff will work from home on Monday.

As Inner City Press noted, and then was asked to correct last week by Ban's spokesperson's office, when envoy Annan's and then Brahimi's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi left on October 23, he was not replaced.

(Inner City Press has asked when the UN Secretariat will put forward a budget for Brahimi's work, like the now-spent $7 million one for Kofi Annan. This simple question, publicly asked well before the approach of any hurricane, has yet to be answered.

  This is increasingly a problem in the UN, among top Ban Ki-moon officials. Ban's Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous has taken to refusing to answer any Press questions, due to what he calls (without defining) "insulting insinuations." 

  Tellingly, Ladsous was chosen by France for the post -- which has apparently been assigned to that country. This was without so much as an interview to vet him on his statements as France's deputy UN ambassador during the Rwanda genocide, or his arranging of disgraced ex-French foreign minister Michele Aliot-Marie's flights with cronies of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali.

   Now Ladsous proposes the UN use drones, without being willing to answer Press questions on any safeguards. Drones in Syria? Or drones on Syria?)

    When he left, Fawzi and then the UN said that questions should be sent to one of two people: the New York base spokesman for the UN Department of Political Affairs, or a spokesperson who is still in Ban's spokesperson's office in New York (as that Office asked Inner City Press to clarify, which was immediately done, here).

But which is being spoken for? Brahimi went invisible during the near immediately shattering of "his" ceasefire. Ban issued a speech about sports and peace, and then an illegible one while accepting a peace prize.

Only large, either state or corporate media which covered Ban in Seoul got what he said. Are these problems? We think so. Watch this site.

Update: while the UN has yet to correct or post Ban Ki-moon's Seoul speech, Brahimi from Moscow is (by non-UN sources) reported this "Special Representative of the UN and the Arab League on the Syrian Crisis Lakhdar Brahimi has assured that the UN has no plans to send peacekeepers to the country." Great. The UN or Brahimi's office, whatever it is, has yet to send out any transcript. Forward to Beijing! Watch this site.

Second update: when the UN belatedly sent out the transcript, Brahimi's statement was "The United Nations is not considering sending a peacekeeping force to Syria.  The United Nations and the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping has explained this a few days ago, he is doing their normal work, doing some contingency planning."

  So Brahimi quoted Ladsous, who refuses to answer any Press questions about safeguards of his DPKO's planning (for example of drones) or actions. Watch this site.

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