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On Syria, Ban Takes 2 Qs, Paid-For Race for Relevance, Khan Asal Erased

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 3 -- The UN's response to its marginalization in the debate about Syria was, on Tuesday, to cancel its normal noon briefing in deference to a 15-minute "press encounter" on Syria by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Inner City Press tweeted photo here.

  But when the time came, Ban took only two questions, the first of which was pre-selected and lame, from Pamela Falk of CBS News as president of the UN Correspondents Association, a group which facilitated a murky "UN briefing" by Saudi-sponsored rebel boss Jarba, publicized only to those who paid UNCA money.

  Click here for Inner City Press' story on that; questions on the UN's role, reiterated by Inner City Press Tuesday before Ban's encounter, have yet to be answered.

  UNCA's Falk asked what's inside the UN's "toolbox." The answer should have been obvious.

  The second and last question on Tuesday asked who limited the mandate of the UN inspection team to only if chemical weapons were used, and not WHO used them.

  Ban claimed that he made the decision. But as a Syria letter Inner City Press put online Tuesday morning shows, Syria says in March it asked the UN to say WHO used chemical weapons in Khan al Asad, but France, the UK and US opposed it. Guess which way Ban went?

  Ban said that his High Representative on Disarmament Angela Kane's meeting with the countries which requested the investigative shift to August 21 would take place in the afternoon. What is the goal of the meeting? What was the goal of Ban's two-question press encounter?  Inner City Press has dubbed it the Race for Relevance. Watch this site.

Footnote: Even before Ban's two-question encounter, Inner City Press submitted questions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sri Lanka, and reiterated others.

  The Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info wrote to Ban's two top spokespeople: "The Free UN Coalition for Access opposes the cancellation of the daily noon briefing, particularly for a short media encounter on a single subject. Other questions, particularly on the DRC and Great Lakes, should be answered."

  But in the briefing room, even when a former UNCA president asked current president Pamela Falk to complain about Ban not holding "real" press conference, Falk made excuses, saying Ban was on his way to the airport. And that's why the noon briefing on all other topics was canceled? UNCA has further declined, to become the UN Censorship Alliance. That's why this UN gives it the first question.


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