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Syria Deal Leaves Open Who Protects Inspectors, Ban's Wan Report, Qatar Falls

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 15 -- On Syria the UN sped up its chemical weapons report but now it's largely moot as the US and Russia cut their deal in Geneva. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sped up his race for relevance, even calling the report "overwhelming" on Friday morning before he had even seen it.

  But that "news" was overtaken. Now what?

  Saturday US President Barack Obama played 27 holes of golf with the hosts of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," a phrase one wag applied to the last ten day's Syria news cycles in Washington. (Monday Obama will speak from the Rose Garden but not on Syria -- rather the fifth anniversary of the day Lehman Brothers bombed.)

  Even with the abrupt change of course on Syria, some still stuck to and inflated the previous script. George Stephanopoulos, promoting his pre-recorded interview with Obama, said that Bashar al Assad has killed "hundredS of thousands" of Syrians, and no one corrected him. Call it inflation.

  From DC on Sunday one question was who will accompany and protect the inspectors in Syria? On Fox News Sunday Republican Congressman Michael McCaul of Texas said he hoped it would be Russian soldiers. But what about the UN Peacekeepers under Frenchman Herve Ladsous' command? (Click here for Inner City Press story on Ladsous' past, here for his last press conference.)

  The question points out a crossroads that will be hit: could such a protection force included countries who are openly arming the rebels in Syria?

  Monday in Paris, US Secretary of State John Kerry had a lunch scheduled with Laurent Fabius of France and William Hague of the UK. Now it's said he'll also meet there with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which dominates much of the opposition through Ahmad al Jarba and others.

  So where is Qatar? Have they really fallen this far? Ban Ki-moon did an already outdated interview with France 24 in the so-called Qatari Lounge, which says it all. In terms of what Ban said, he refused to take responsibility for UN Peacekeeping bringing cholera to Haiti, since a UN report said otherwise.

  But the authors of that report have since changed their conclusion. Ban pointed out, but not formally, not legally. This makes it even more difficult to take seriously his pre-spun report on Syria. But many will. Watch this site.


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