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Fabius Claims Three France Conditions for Strikes, Turkey on Kurds UNanswered

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 30 -- When French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius walked into the UN Security Council on September 30 he was asked about Russia's airstrikes in Syria. He did not answer.

  But on almost no notice, he appeared in the UN Press Briefing Room later than morning, saying that France has three "conditions" for airstrikes. Inner City Press asked, three times, if Turkey's bombing of the Kurds meets France's conditions.  Video here.

 Fabius refused to answer, even as some scribes traveling with him noted he should answer.

  He'd said, in French (as transcribed by InnerCityPro - the French only send their transcription to some UN correspondents)

"Simplement, nous avions observe que il y avait des critiques formules, a l’egard de beaucoup, les americains, les francais, les autres, parce que nous ne serions pas efficases contre le daesh. Nous agissons. Et donc j’ai dis qu’il fallait agir contre le Daech. Et je maintiens toute a fait ca. Aujourd’hui il y a des actions qui sont menes. Il restera a voir contre qui elles sont menes. Si elles sont menees effectivement contre Daesh et les groupes terrorists, bien. Des lors que d’autres groupes ne sont pas vises. Et puis, ells doivent s’accompagner d’action pour empecher les bombaredment des population civils, et puis elles doivent s’accompagner aussi de la recherché d’une solution politique que je viens de definir. La France n’a pas changer d’opinion.
Si d’autre veulent agir contre le Daesh, il serons le bienvenue. Des l’ors que les 3 conditions de l’efficacite sont respecte."

  So does Turkey's blasting the Kurds meet the conditions?

As the Syrian Coalition becomes even more marginal on the Syria issue, during the General Assembly week it has again gone behind closed doors with the UN Censorship Alliance, like Ahmed al Jarba but not Hadi al Bahra, we note.

  With news of deployments inside Syria, and French president Hollande bragging about airstrikes, one would think current Syria Coalition president Khaled Khoja would want to speak to all journalists, webcast all over the world, in the UN briefing room.

 Especially now that he wants to speak against other airstrikes.

But no.

Reverting, the Syrian Coalition under Khoja has gone back behind closed doors, with UNCA, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance. This is a group which has tried to get the investigative Press ejected, and which said nothing for example about Turkey's detention of three and now one Vice News journalist -- about which Inner City Press for the new Free UN Coalition for Access asked Turkish Prime Minister Davutoglu on September 28, here.

  Davutoglu didn't put his press conference, at which he took critical questions, behind closed doors. Are the Syrian Coalition and Khoja not ready for prime time?

 They cancelled a September 29 presser, then rescheduled one on September 30. The UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric promoted it. But it is NOT a "UN" press conference. It is a scam.

 When Khaled Khoja, as then-new president of the Syrian National Coalition, held an actual UN press conference on April 29, Inner City Press asked him about the Free Syrian Army working with Jabhat al Nusra, and the UN reports that the FSA has recruited and used child soldiers.

  Khoja acknowledged that the FSA has had "tactical alliances" with al Nusra, for example in Idlib. He said the ties are exaggerated, including by "media of the regime." But given that Nusra is a UN-designated terrorist group, what to make of these alliances?

  The question on FSA child soldiers was not answered. Khoja said that the US train and equip program for now does not benefit the FSA.

Back on April 24 when the UN's Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura came to the UN Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press asked him if the Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen changed any of the dynamics on Syria.

  In reply, de Mistura told Inner City Press that "everything in the region these days is connected." He added that he is focused on Syria.

 Inner City Press also asked de Mistura about criticism made by his former adviser Mouin Rabbani on Qatar's Al Jazeera TV, that Mistura is out of his depth and not up for the task.

 De Mistura replied, I will not respond, you would do the same, if one of your ex-colleagues...

  Inner City Press asked the question because it hadn't been asked, tellingly.  Now Inner City Press has heard more; watch this site.

 Dina Kawar said Mistura “mentioned what he will do next month in Geneva, holding separate meetings with the Syrian parties, representatives of the civil society and regional and international actors. He will provide his assessment to the Secretary General and keep the Security Council informed,” Kawar said, taking no questions.

  Staffan de Mistura emerged, saying he would take two or three questions. He said, “the only way is to test, a stress test,” a phrase like his previous “freeze.” He said, “by end of June we should be in the position to reassess whether any convergence on substance and report to the Secretary General.”

  De Mistura said, “This is not Geneva Three, this is a series of consultation, one to one. We can convene and ask everyone to come and not exclude anyone.. Iran is a member country of the UN, it is a major play in the region, it has influence in Syria. The UN has the right, and will be inviting everyone.”

  Unlike Montreux, it was observed by... one wag.

  Back on April 16, that the Syrian chemical weapons victim and doctor who briefed the UN Security Council did so behind closed doors, with no UN Television coverage, was a product of the Council's rules.

  It was an “Arria formula” meeting, which was not be listed in the UN Journal or even on the blue electronic signs outside it. (The sign said the meeting was about "nutrition.")

  Afterward chemical weapons victim Qusai Zakarya took some questions in the hall, before again going behind closed doors of the UN Censorship Alliance, see below.

  Inner City Press in this public space asked Qusai Zakarya what he thought of UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura.

Qusai Zakarya said replied to Inner City Press, "I think Staffan de Mistura is a hypocrite. I think his very disgusting attempt to shine up the image of the regime is exposed to the Syrian poeple and to a nlot of members of the international community. His offer on freezes was a joke. If he really cared about saving lives he would have convinced the regime to stop using its fire power. We have a lot of outrage against his attempts, the deal he was trying to offer, it's just another false attempt to shine up the image of the regime."

   Inner City Press asked him if he would meet with any UN official. “I can't answer that questio right now,” he said. Then the convoy went to the clubhouse of the UN Censorship Alliance, which had sent notice only to those who pay it money: "They will have just presented their accounts in front of the UN Security Council at an Arria-formula meeting on Syria Chemical Weapons."

     But why would the doctors, in holding a supposed press conference afterward, not do so in the UN Press Briefing Room on UNTV, as can be done by any NGO or individual as long as sponsored by a member state?

    Instead, the sequel  show was also behind closed door, in the UN Censorship Alliance (UNCA), not on UNTV. This is the same UNCA which hosted former Syrian Coalition head Ahmad al Jarba, allowing him to claim he had a “UN press briefing.”  It is a scam.

  And so on April 24 Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Dujarric if Jarba's successor, after Hadi al Bahra, Khaled Khoja will hold a Q&A session in the open UN Press Briefing Room. We'll see.

    UNCA and its board members have, for example, sought to get other journalists thrown out of the UN, for reporting on the financial relationship of UNCA's then and now president Giampaolo Pioli with an alleged war criminal, accepting rent money from him and later agree to screen his war crimes denial film inside the UN, under the UNCA banner.  If one has a case to make, this is not the place to make it.

  Even since its outright censorship bid, the way UNCA is run gives less and less confidence. On April 10, the UN Spokesperson's Office announced over its public address system that "in a few short moments in the UNCA room there will be a press conference by a State Department official."

   But as Inner City Press immediately reported, it wasn't any "press conference" -- it was off the record spin, typical of this UNCA now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance (the invitation they send to those who pay UNCA money is below.)

  Just before 5 pm, the UN Spokesperson's Office made a second public address system announcement: it was NOT a press conference, but rather an off the record presentation by the US State Department.

  All this in the big room the UN gives to UNCA, its Censorship Alliance. Why is the UN involved in this in any way at all?

  The announcement by UNCA president Giampaolo Pioli, sent only to those who pay UNCA money (then forwarded to Inner City Press along with messages of shock and disgust) said

"For correspondents interested in an informal off-the-record meeting with [the] Deputy Director, Media Hub of the Americas, U.S. Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs, please join us in the UNCA Meeting Room, Friday, April 10th at 3:30pm.

"The meeting will be to explain the work of the State Department Public Affairs bureau that works with international media, to provide assistance in gaining better access to State Department officials and information, in addition to presenting the work done in the Media Hub of the Americas where the Director is the State Department spokesperson in Spanish and Portuguese for regional media and Spain and Portugal.

Thank you,

Giampaolo Pioli
UNCA President"

 Pioli's invite linked to a self-description of this US Bureau of Public Affairs, that “PA/IME works in close collaboration with State Department and interagency colleagues to create and manage tools to ensure accurate coverage of U.S. foreign policy by major international media.”

    UNCA represents only part of the UN press corps. This writer, for example, quit the group after 2012.  UNCA is said by UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric to receive the first question in the UN Press Briefing Room “by tradition,” even after UNCA's Executive Board tried to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN for its reporting about Sri Lanka, UN Peacekeeping and colonialism (Herve Ladsous) among other topics.

 UNCA did nothing when Ladsous adopted the policy of refusing to answer any questions from the investigative Press, and having his spokespeople physically grab the UNTV microphone to try to avoid the questions being heard.

  Now UNCA wants to facilitate “accurate coverage of U.S. foreign policy.” Does it perform this service for other countries?

    Inner City Press, like the new Free UN Coalition for Access which it co-founded after quitting UNCA, is not against "accurate coverage of US foreign policy." Last month, Inner City Press asked the US State Department about Yemen (including the decision not to evacuate Yemeni Americans from the country), Cuba (the US restrictions on its diplomats at the UN), the Maldives, Middle East and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In each case, Inner City Press reported the answers in full, where possible with video.

  But why provide this platform for one country and not others? Earlier on April 10 UNCA will have a presentation by a former US CIA employee who served in Saipan, Korea, Vietnam and "Burma," as the UNCA notice puts it.

  What has happened to this UNCA under Pioli and presumably current Executive Committee members from Reuters, the US Broadcast Board of Governors and ANSA? And how now can the UN continue to “partner” with UNCA, exclusively, using this partial group as a proxy for the wider press corps?

 Earlier on April 9, when the UN with little notice canceled its question and answer noon briefing in deference to a "press encounter" with Ban Ki-moon at which Dujarric handpicked the questioners and Ban notably did not call for a halt or even pause in airstrikes on Yemen, UNCA said nothing. (They will, however, have a "Prosecco toast" with Ban later in the month.)

 The Free UN Coalition spoke up in criticism, as here. We'll have more on and of this.


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