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On Syria, Annexes to Last Minute, France Wanted In, Sources Tell ICP

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- When the UN pulled the plug on the Intra-Syrian Talks, or as envoy Staffan de Mistura said merely pushed them back, de Mistura said that the UN "is not prepared to hold talks for the sake of talks."

  Then de Mistura was scheduled after delay to brief the Security Council on Friday, February 26 at 3 pm, in connection with a vote on a US - Russian draft Inner City Press had seen.

 After a delay described below, de Mistura briefed by video, saying he intends to re-convene Intra-Syrian talks on March 7.

  The Council approved the resolution 15-0, Russia's Gatilov spoke of strict implementation, and the need for "immediate" talks.

 At 2:40 pm, UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft was in the hall outside the Council, talking heatedly into his cell phone. Another Council diplomat, on background, said there would be a delay of at least 30 minutes or an hour - someone didn't agree.

 Inner City Press was told by sources it was to renegotiate the annex of groups.

Now Inner City Press has been informed of more. In the public session, UK Matthew Rycroft said "The HNC represents a broad sweep of the opposition forces fighting in Syria against the tyranny of Asad. They deserve our whole-hearted support, which regrettably was not reflected in this resolution."

  Other changes were to the Cairo and Moscow platforms. But, the sources tell Inner City Press, the country which occasioned the delay was.... France.

  France was miffed to have been left on the sidelines by the Russian - US bilateral negotiations. Similarly miffed to have been left on the sidelines of the US - China negotiations on North Korea? Strange how when elected members complain, for example about their exclusion from the so-called "Group of Friends on Western Sahara," France is unconcerned or happy. Now, they feel excluded...  We'll have more on this.

 On February 19, Russia convened a UN Security Council meeting and proposed a draft resolution on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. Western powers, as they're called, were dismissive the draft.

  Here's some of what Turkey's Permanent Representative said, as fast transcribed by

"The fighting, it’s not only bombing militarily, hospitals, schools, medical facilities, are being bombed, after the Russian Federation’s intervention in the war, the majority of the civilian casualties are caused by this intervention. So it is, the resolution is there, so why do we need another resolution in that regard? When I see the text I found it... silent on the humanitarian issue.

 "For us, any terrorist organization is a terrorist organization, full stop. For PYD they seem to try to get legitimacy by seeming fighting with Daesh. Actually this is not the case... For us, fighting against another terrorist organization does not give legitimacy to any terrorist organization."

 Here is what US Ambassador Samantha Power said, as transcribed by the US Mission - which is aware of the UN trying to eject investigative Inner City Press for covering a meeting in the UN Press Briefing Room, UN letter here:

"Quick comment in my own right, which is that what’s really important is that rather than trying to distract the world with the resolution they just laid down, it would be really great if Russia would implement the resolution it’s already agreed to. We have Resolution 2254, we all came together in the Council before the end of the year, we all united around its provisions, and our emphasis should be on implementation.
Right now, we have a bombing campaign in the northern part of Syria that is hitting hospitals, that has caused mass displacement, more than 70,000 people gathering now at the border – huge suffering. We need to focus on implementing 2254. It’s incredibly important that there’s de-escalation, that all parties use restraint and show restraint.
But this is a distraction from the core fact, which is that 2254 needs to be implemented. We have a resolution on the books. It’s the right resolution. We’ve committed ourselves to it, and we need Russia to do the same."

 Inner City Press -- in the middle of being thrown out of the UN for seeking to covering meetings in the building, click here for that -- talked its way through a UN Security block at the Council stakeout and asked Turkey's Permanent Representative Cevic if his country would send in ground troops. He said only if part of a multinational force.

  Also at the stakeout - with a UN Security "minder" still trailing Inner City Press, like one of Ban Ki-moon's thought police as one wag put it -- Inner City Press asked the President of the Council for February, Venezuela's Rafael Ramirez, if he would convene and emergency meeting if Turkey or Saudi Arabia were to send in ground troops. He said yes, he would convene such a meeting.

  But as things stands, even with Ban Ki-moon's censor Cristina Gallach receiving calls to delay and reverse her decision, Inner City Press could not cover such an emergency Security Council meeting.

  We'll have more on all this.

 On February 16, Inner City Press asked Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari about de Mistura's and Ban Ki-moon's explanations of why those talks ended - and about the UN saying Ban was misquoted in or misinterpreted by the Financial Times.

  Ja'afari said that the UN would rather blame itself than the opposition, because then the UN would get push-back from “Westerners.” Ja'afari said that de Mistura's deputy only provided him with a partial list of the opposition delegations as the talks were ending. Ja'afari called them badly organized.

  Before Ja'afari spoke, the Security Council's president for February Rafael Ramirez of Venezuela told reporters that the Council's members agreed to tell Turkey to comply with international law. Associated Press - click here for AP's UN rape reporting on Feb 15 - asked if that meant all members.  All to different degrees, was the answer.


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