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Churkin Critiques Expulsion of Syria Diplomats, Ladsous Blames Shabiha

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 29 -- After the UN Security Council heard from Syria envoy Kofi Annan's deputy Jean-Marie Guehenno and his second successor atop UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous on Wednesday, Inner City Press asked Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin about Ladsous' comments that there is a "strong rumor" that the killings in Houla were started by pro-government Shabiha militia.

  Tuesday during Ladsous' press conference he was already pronouncing on his "strong suspicions" that the Shabiha did it. But he flatly refused to answer any questions from the Press, saying "Well, Mister, I will start answering your questions when you stop insulting me and making malicious and insulting insinuations." Video here, at Minute 28:10

  Wednesday Churkin answered Inner City Press that the investigation of Houla is not finished, and that as an investigator Ladsous does not have "all the tools."  It may be that truer words have not recently been spoken at the UN.

  Inner City Press also asked Churkin about the trend of countries expelling Syrian diplomats. He replied that while this is a bilateral matter, it had come up in the Council's consultations. He said that such moves could be "misinterpreted" as presaging a military intervention.

  Churkin took questions without a spokesman mediating. By contrast when French Deputy Permanent Representative Martin Briens spoke, his Mission's spokesman Brieuc Pont took full control of who could ask questions. After the series, as Inner City Press asked "what about expelling diplomats," Briens shrugged and walked away from the microphone.

  German Ambassador Peter Wittig, also mediated by spokesman, did much the same thing, walking away as the Press started asking the "expelling diplomats" question. The previous day Wittig bragged on the record at the stakeout about his foreign minister expelling Syria's representative from Berlin. It would be good to take the question: watch this site.

Footnotes: When a representative of Agence France Presse asked Churkin if Russian weapons were being used to kill civilians in Syria, Churkin responded that the sales were in the past and had complied with law. Not asked was France's more recent air-dropping of weapons into the Nafusa Mountain in Libya: how many of those weapons are in today's Mali / Azawad?

  In an interesting aside, Ja'afari slammed Germany, saying it controls the maritime portion of the UNIFIL mission and did not stop a ship of weapons from Libya meant for non-governmental forces in Syria. Inner City Press' more recent reporting on Germany and military operations has been its new initiative, through the EU's Operation ATALANTA, to strike up to two kilometers inside Somalia. Choices, choices.

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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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