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Jarba's Syria Coalition, With Many Absent, Votes to Go to Geneva II, Comparisons

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 18 -- From the Istanbul base of the Syrian Opposition Coalition comes word that the coalition has voted to attend the Geneva II talks: 58 for, 14 against, and three abstentions.

  Less reported is that some 44 members did not attend or vote. 44 plus 14 is... 58.

  France back in September declared Ahmad Jarba of the Syrian Coalition the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Jarba held a faux "UN briefing" on the clubhouse Secretary General Ban Ki-moon gives to the United Nations Correspondents Association, now known as the UN's Censorship Alliance (they also screened a Sri Lanka government film denying war crimes, click here for that.)

   What will the military situation on the ground in Syria mean at the talks in Montreux and then Geneva? Well, at the South Sudan talks in Addis Ababa, what does the joint SLPA - Ugandan re-taking of Bor mean? And if Salva Kiir can call in Uganda to "take out rebels," without any criticism by the UN, why can't...  We'll have more on this.

 Five days before the Geneva II talks on Syria begin (in Montreux, Switzerland), the UN in New York on January 17 was full of talk about Syria.

There are competing events, Norwegian sponsored Voices of Syria featuring Amineh Sawan, Heba Sawan, Anas al-Dabas, and another event across First Avenue on accountability, featuring a pollster. There is a Security Council Arria formula meeting urging women's involvement in Geneva II.

Back on January 6, Inner City Press asked UN acting deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq if the UN had anything to say about the lack of women in the South Sudan peace, or at least ceasefire, talks in Addis Ababa:

Inner City Press: with the talks in Addis, many people have commented on the lack of women in either sideís negotiating team, in light of the things the UN has said under resolution 1325 (2000) and otherwise. Does the UN have any response or comment on that?

Deputy Spokesperson Haq: Certainly, we support the idea of the parties coming together at Addis. This is, as you know, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The Secretary-General has made very clear that he supports this process and youíll have seen the statement that we had issued recently about that. Beyond that, of course, we hope that the parties have inclusive delegations, but I donít have any specific comment on who is representing the various parties.

  Since then, the UN has said very little about the lack of women in the South Sudan talks. On Syria, two days before the Security Council's Arria formula meeting about women and the talks, Syria's mission to the UN sent a four page letter to each Security Council member country. Inner City Press has obtained a copy and puts it online here.

  Notably, Syria contrasts the status of women before 2011 in Syria, and since. They pillory an outside cleric's call for "marriage Jihad" (sometimes called "sexual Jihad") of which they say the marriages can last for as little as an hour. They denounce "Takfiris and Wahhabis." They don't directly name Saudi Arabia, but Inner City Press has confirmed the obvious: that's who they mean.

  Syria's Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar Ja'afari, who will attended the talks, is still in New York, and will speak at the Security Council's open debate on January 20 about the Middle East, then head to Switzerland. Ban Ki-moon travels there the same day: same flight? Seat or cabin-mate? There's still that outstanding "note verbal," click here for it.

At the January 18 press conference after the Arria formula meeting on women's participation in the Geneva II talks on Syria, Inner City Press asked Luxembourg Ambassador Sylvie Lucas if the Security Council will trying to same approach to the Addis Ababa talks on South Sudan.

   Lucas replied that this was really a day to talk about Syria -- when isn't it? -- but that on South Sudan, the hope is for (more) inclusive participation in a second round of talks.  But will there BE a second round, now that Uganda has helped Kiir re-take Bor? Watch this site.


 

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