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Syria Says Turks, Saudis & Qataris "Declare War," US Too, Rice Says Non-Lethal

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, April 2 -- After Kofi Annan gave a closed door briefing Monday to the UN Security Council, Ambassadors including those of Russia and China said that April's Council president Susan Rice of the US would give a summary and statement.

When Rice emerged she read from notes then took questions. Inner City Press asked if there had been a discussion of Gulf countries in the Friends of Syria group saying they will fund the rebels, and about the US provision of communications equipment to the opposition, are there any safeguards?

Ambassador Rice said that "one delegation" had raised the funding of the rebels issue. On US aid, she said it would be non-lethal.

Moments later Inner City Press asked Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari about this aid to the rebels and opposition. He quickly denounced the meeting in Istanbul of the "Enemies of Syria," going on to call the funding of rebels an act of war.

Inner City Press asked again about the US, and Ja'afari denounced this communications aid as well. He was asked about Turkey's assistance to refugees. He replied that Turkey is not an enemy of Syria, but Turkey's government should have consulted Damascus before hosting such a meeting and should stop talking about regime change.

Ja'afari referred to Annan as the UN envoy, and did not mention the Arab League, which has called for a "political transition" away from Assad. There is a game, of who Annan is representing. On March 31 a Security Council Ambassador, one of the Elected Ten and not Permanent Five, told the Press on background

Before Rice spoke, Russian Ambassador Churkin told the Press that it was a "good meeting" and that "Kofi Annan is working hard." Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong told the Press that "we are studying his proposal" and "we will have a chance to discuss." Will that mean a Security Council "output"? Watch this site.

From the UN Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: Was there any discussion-was there any discussion of the announcement by some of the Friends of Syria that they would begin to pay salaries to the Free Syrian Army or other rebels? And can you also say-the U.S. offered to provide communications equipment. Can you specify a little bit who would get it, whether it could have any lethal usage, and what safeguards are in place?

Ambassador Rice: Well, let me in my capacity as president be clear in saying, I think, if I'm not mistaken, only one delegation raised that issue. Most were focused on the contents of the Joint Special Envoy's briefing today. From the U.S. point of view-now speaking in my national capacity-as you know, we announced our readiness not only to increase our humanitarian assistance now to $25 million but also to begin to provide non-lethal assistance to the opposition, including in the form of communications equipment. That communications equipment is by its nature and by its definition non-lethal, and we will continue to work with other partners in the Friends of Democratic Syria, as was agreed in Tunis, to strengthen our efforts to support the effectiveness and coherence of the opposition.

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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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