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At UN on Syria, Libya Echo in Speeches, Of Who Could Monitor & Transition

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 9 -- As inside the UN Security Council speeches proceeded about the "Arab Spring," mostly but not only Syria, the press was told that French foreign minister Alain Juppe would come to the stakeout. Then it was said there would be a delay, that Juppe wanted to stay in the Council and hear China's Permanent Representative Li Baodong.

  Li Baodong in his speech echoed Russia in questioning how the Council's Libya resolution was implemented, cautioning against "exceeding mandates." (Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov had said that on Libya some had "misled the international community.")

  Inner City Press asked Juppe, then this UK counterpart William Hague, about Russia and China's accusation. Juppe was dismissive. Video here.

   Hague, asked more specifically about the second of the five point Lavrov announced from Cairo, "impartial monitoring mechanism," said the UK would have not a problem with that: "As to any role for a monitoring mechanism or process, well that would obviously depend on the political process that is agreed... We’re not opposed in principle to such a thing." Video here.

But what would it mean? On camera, Inner City Press asked Lavrov to explain it. The answer veered into the role of Kofi Annan. Video here.

  But Annan does not have binoculars. And Inner City Press has been told, and it is fairly obvious, that some no one trust current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to run an "impartial monitoring operations," after he announced in December that NATO had strictly complied with Resolution 1973 and its protection of civilians mandate.

France dropped weapons into the Nafusa mountains; the BBC has reported on the UK's training role in Libya. The recent UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report on Libya says NATO killed some 60 civilians, including 18 rescuers in Majer. How can this impartially be called "strict compliance"?

Beyond the continuing disagreement on whether a UN resolution should call for a "transition" -- or "regime change" as some call it -- there is also this question of who would monitor that even protection of civilians or humanitarian aid wouldn't turn into an exercise in importing weapons, including by French like airdrops.

Inner City Press told India's Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri what Alain Juppe had said about political transition. "Where?" Hardeep Singh Puri asked. "In France?" Another Council diplomat called France the most interested, given Sarkozy's electoral campaign.

Inner City Press asked top UN humanitarian Valerie Amos if she'd met with the Syrian opposition. She said she'd tried to get into an opposition held area of Homs -- not Baba Amr -- but had been unsuccessful. Inner City Press asked for her view of the narrative that Assad's forces were attacking armed opponents, in Homs and now Idlib, versus the narrative that after such attacks, people armed themselves in defense. She said narratives don't matter, civilians should have to be in harm's way.

Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky for the third time to disclose who went to Syria with Kofi Annan -- on TV, former UN officials Alan Doss and Ahmed Fawzi were plainly visible, at least in Cairo -- and now, which businesspeople Annan met with. The UN's Lynn Pascoe on March 9 told Inner City Press Doss would be going in, but Ban's spokesman Nesirky has yet to confirm even that.

At Monday's ill-attended noon briefing -- two journalists, this time -- Inner City Press asked Nesirky for Ban's response to Lavrov's call for Ban to address NATO's civilian casualties in Libya. Nesirky said Ban was meeting with Lavrov and it might come up and be in the read out.

Inner City Press asked Lavrov, did you raise it to Ban? Yes, Lavrov said. But what did Ban respond? Watch this site.

Footnote: When Hillary Clinton spoke at the stakeout, she began with the killing of Afghan's by a US soldier described as "rogue." Her spokesperson Victoria Neuland called on two questioners, neither based at the UN. Clinton herself, however, allowed one more, though her answer was equally as scripted. In her speech in the Council she spoke of Yemen, without mention the impunity Ali Saleh has gotten with GCC and, many in the Yemeni youth movement say, US support.

Likewise on Egypt she said the US will support IMF lending, even as many in that country say they shouldn't have to pay back loans taken by the military SCAF government, just as some in the Syrian opposition say that any new Syrian government won't pay any loans taken out over March 2011. Where are Las Vegas odds makers when you need them?

 From the UK's transcript:

Inner City Press: “Both Russia and China seem to refer pretty openly to the [Libya] Resolution, and how it was implemented, "don’t mislead the international community and don’t exceed mandates," and Mr Lavrov’s second point is this idea of an impartial monitoring mechanism, which is something that China has also echoed. I don’t know what the idea would be, maybe to ensure that humanitarian assistance, or protection of civilians, didn’t turn into arming the opposition. What do you think of that second point, and can you imagine agreeing to a Resolution which would make it impossible to arm, to provide further arms to the opposition?”

Rt Hon William Hague: “We want any Resolution to contribute to bringing about a cessation of violence and that would be on all sides. And our position from the United Kingdom and the European Union, is that we have an arms embargo on Syria completely, so I think where we stand on these things is very clear. Of course we want an end to violence in every direction in Syria. We want a political process. We want people to be able to express themselves in a free and democratic way, but to be free to do so, not to do so in a violent way. As to any role for a monitoring mechanism or process, well that would obviously depend on the political process that is agreed, whether one can be agreed through the work of Kofi Annan, or embodied in a Security Council Resolution, that would depend on that. We’re not opposed in principle to such a thing.”

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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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