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On Annan to Damascus, Syrian "Thinks" He Can Get In, Ban Comparison: of Oil for Food and Kofi's Karma

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 23 -- In front of the UN Security Council on Thursday morning, Inner City Press asked Portugal's Permanent Representative Cabral what he'd think if former Secretary General Kofi Annan were named envoy to Syria. Cabral said Annan's "name's around, I like the idea but I'm not sure he would take it."

  India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri told the Press of Annan as envoy, "Why not? You need stature, and he has it."

  Throughout the day, as a debate on Women, Peace and Security took place inside the Security Council, a range of diplomats weighed in with Inner City Press. Several of them noted how much lower profile the UN Secretariat has become under Ban Ki-moon.

  "Kofi did Kenya," one of them said. "What's Ban got to show?"

  At 6:10 pm, Ban's spokesperson's office issued a statement that Kofi Annan was, in fact, the joint UN - Arab League envoy.

  Inner City Press asked Margot Wallstrom, Ban's sexual violence in conflict expert, about the appointment but she declined to comment.

  When Syria's representative who spoke in the Security Council came out, Inner City Press asked if Annan would be allowed into Syria, "can he come in?"

  "I think so," the Syrian said. There was a buzz, with some hearkening back to Annan trip to Iraq to see Saddam Hussein -- who later ended up dead by hanging. For Assad, bad karma? Or good Kofi?

(c) UN Photo
Kofi, Ban and bigger Kofi: question of stature

  A western diplomat told Inner City Press that Finland's Martti Ahtisaari was in consideration. "But after his Ahtisaari plan on Kosovo, the Russians wouldn't accept him," the diplomat concluded. Watch this site.

Footnote: while now Rwanda and Srbrenica are being raised, ironically the UN Oil for Food scandal was raised earlier Thursday to Inner City Press by a diplomat from the Sri Lanka mission, angry at Inner City Press' questions "leading to" their General Silva's exclusion from Ban's Senior Advisory Group on Peacekeeping Operations, by Annan's one time Deputy Louise Frechette.

  The diplomat said, by what right does Fechette point the finger given her role in the UN Oil for Food scandal? For the record, Frechette intervened directly by phone to bar UN auditors from forwarding their investigations to the Security Council, as detailed on page 186 of the 219-page interim report Paul Volcker’s Independent Inquiry Committee released February 3, 2005. Kofi's in there too...

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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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