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On Syria, Russia-Convened P5 Meeting Ends in 1 Hour, UK Has No Comment

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 29, updated -- Alongside the UN Security Council on Thursday, the Permanent Five members met on Syria from 2:30 to 3:30 on Thursday. The meeting was called by Russia, the day after the UK made a proposal for all necessary measures to protect civilians from chemical weapons.

That language, however, is the same as the Council approved on Libya and Benghazi, leading to air strikes all over that country until Gaddafi was deposed, to say the least.

So Russia called a meeting. The media massed outside it, largely ignoring a stakeout on another conflict, stoked by shelling of Rwanda from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Finally some of the P5 representatives shifted over to another, non country specific Council meeting in the chamber. UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant left and was asked if the UK resolution is dead.

"I have no comment to make," Lyall Grant replied. Watch this site.

Update: some say the split was between those who wanted to talk only about the draft resolution, the UK, and those wanting to talk about... Geneva Two. And about doing more inspections in Syria, not only the ones just requested by Syria but Khan al Asal, the reason Sellstrom's team was let into Syria.

    Much is still being made of the Syrian government's delay in granting the UN's request for its chemical weapons inspection team to visit al Ghouta.

Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq at Tuesday's noon briefing when it was that the UN formally requested access to al Ghouta -- on Saturday, August 24 or before? Video here, from Minute 12. Video with captions, on Inner City Press YouTube channel, here and embedded below, with transcript.

Haq read out a press statement from August 22, in which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said a request is being sent. Then, Haq said, Ban's High Representative on Disarmament Angela Kane "stepped forward with the request" -- on August 24, Saturday.

It was granted the next day.

Inner City Press asked again, was there any formal request by the UN other than Ban's press statement, before August 24? Haq called this "semantics." But when Inner City Press asked Ban's spokespeople to respond to widely circulated press releases about a request being made to Ban, the UN says the actual formal request had not been received yet, and so: no comment. Why should the UN say it must be different for Syria?

How could the UN be so sloppy? Or was it sloppy?

  While the delay to Sunday (or Monday, when the team got out and said, if this YouTube video on which Haq declined comment when Inner City Press asked is not false, that they are not even looking at what type of munition was used in part because they didn't want to put it in their white UN 4 by 4) is now an element in the case for missile strikes, the UN didn't formally ASK until Saturday, in the person of Angela Kane

   Inner City Press covered Kane when she was head of Ban's Department of Management, including an investigation by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services for favoritism in the UN's so-called UMOJA computer management system.

  When Japan's Yukio Takasu returned after a pause from being his country's Ambassador to the UN to take over Kane's job, Kane's native Germany lobbied for her to get another top UN job. She was offered one in Lebanon, as Inner City Press reported, but did not want it. So she "got" Disarmament.

  This connection must be noted: it was Germany which got Kane this job, in the same way that France installed Herve Ladsous as the fourth French head of UN Peacekeeping in a row, and the US picked Jeffrey Feltman, formerly the State Department's chief on the Middle East to replace B. Lynn Pascoe as Ban's political chief.

  So the fact that Germany has expressed a willingness to join a coalition to strike Syria, without UN Security Council approval, and the Germany's Angela Kane's role in the "UN's" chemical weapons inspection team should be noted.

  But by most media covering the UN, it is not. When Inner City Press even mentions Ladsous' and UN Peacekeeping's French connection, Ladsous refuses to answer questions, and some media, including the French wire service Agence France Presse on one of whose management boards Ladsous served, have even filed complaints with the UN against Inner City Press.

  This is dysfunction, and is now being countered by the Free UN Coalition for Access, @FUNCA_info.

  Another major wire service, Reuters, joined in the second of AFP's complaints. On August 26 Reuters based a piece essentially selling or planning for the legality of military strikes on Syria without Security Council or even General Assembly approval around, as lead, a comment by the Council on Foreign Relations' Richard Haass.

  But on that CFR call, as noted by Inner City Press, was Judith Miller. Given her role during the lead up to the US intervention in Iraq, one might think this would have been included in an overly-long rehash story. But no.

 Notably, Reuters' UN bureau has been shown to have spied for the UN, handing over an internal anti-Press document of the UN Correspondents Association (which under 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS hosted Syrian rebel Jarba for what it called a "UN briefing") to UN official Stephane Dujarric. Story here, audio here, document here.

This beat just goes on. Watch this site.

From the UN's August 27 transcript:

Inner City Press: On Syria, I wanted to ask you, the Syrian Foreign Minister held a press conference and he said that the UN only asked for access to Ghouta on Saturday. Thatís what he said. And I wanted to know when the UN team actually asked for access...

Associate Spokesperson Farhan Haq: I just want to read to you a paragraph from a statement that we put out and gave to all of you on the 22 August, which is to say the day after the attack, which says the following:

The Secretary-General now calls for the mission, presently in Damascus, to be granted permission and access to swiftly investigate the incident which occurred on the morning of 21 August. A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay.Ē

So that was issued on 22 August, which is last Thursday.

Inner City Press: Sure, but as the Secretary-General himself sometimes says, thereís public statements and then thereís actually receiving it. So, I wonder, can you say when, formally, legally, the request to go to Ghouta was made?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Well, I just read you that request, which was a clear request that was issued on Thursday. Angela Kane was immediately dispatched and then she arrived in Damascus on Saturday, so she was also stepping forward with that request; but, as you see, we made that request on the 22 August.

Inner City Press: The press statement is the request?

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Itís not just a press statement. When we make these things, as the statement makes very clear, ďa formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the Government of Syria in this regardĒ.

Inner City Press: And it arrived on Saturday in the form of Angela Kane? I just wanted you to respond to that.

Associate Spokesperson Haq: Thatís basically a question of semantics. Youíve heard exactly what the formal request is. It went out far and wide on Thursday. Angela Kane was conveying this and she did arrive on Saturday.


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