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On Syria, France Claims Jarba Recognized by UN Vast Majority, Russia Disagrees

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- After UN Security Council members met informally with four Syrian opposition figures, France's Permanent Representative Gerard Araud emerged and declared that the vast majority of member states in the UN General Assembly view these four as the only legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.

  Inner City Press asked Araud what this was based on, since the proponents of the last UNGA resolution repeatedly said it was not a referendum on who to recognize at the UN.

  Araud replied, calling himself "scientific" and saying that "any any mathematical system 107 votes (of 193 member states) proved what he had said.

  Moments later, Inner City Press asked Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin about Araud's claim about the vast majority of states recognize this groups as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

  Churkin said, he's such a great mathematician, then said that discussion was out of place, it was not the purpose the meeting to recognize anyone.

  After hearing the claim at the North Lawn stakeout, publicized and open to all UN accredited journalists, that the Syrian opposition has not set any pre-conditions for going to the Geneva Two talks, the oppositionists went to a pseudo UN briefing which was only publicized to those who pay money to the UN Correspondents Association, whose email to its dues paying members said:

UNCA will hold a press briefing with the delegation of the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces tomorrow, Friday, July 26th in the UNCA Meeting room S-310 soon after the informal UN Security Council Meeting.

The delegation will include:

Ahmad al-Jarba, President of the Syrian Coalition

Michel Kilo and Burhan Ghalioun, Syrian Coalition members and members of the Syrian Coalition Political Committee

Dr. Najib Ghadbian, Special Representative of the Syrian Coalition to the United Nations

  It is a choice, and a bias, to list Najib Ghadbian as the "Special Representative of the Syrian Coalition to the United Nations."

  Several member states brought this up to Inner City Press (and one, to the new Free UN Coalition for Access); on behalf of both at Friday's noon briefing Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesperson Eduardo Del Buey if such a position exists, and why the UN gives a big space to UNCA to hold briefing such as this publicized only to those who pay money.

  Del Buey promised to look into it and provide an answer. Inner City Press asked that some answer be given before the dubious session by UNCA, led by Pamela Falk of CBS News. But none came.

  Inner City Press filmed the outside of the meeting, and afterward one of the oppositionist being interviewed at length blocking the door to Inner City Press' shared office, with the Free UN Coalition for Access sign based on which the UN Department of Public Information on June 24 threatened to suspend or withdraw the accreditation of Inner City Press - based on an anti-free speech (and single party) rule it adopted with UNCA, its UN Censorship Alliance, as a formal party.

  Why would the UN give its -- the member states' -- space to a group that invites only some types of speakers, and does not publicize it to all UN accredited journalists?

  And what does this birds of a feather connection say about al-Jarba et al? Why not just do it in the Saudi mission? Or have Saudi Arabia sponsor a real press conference, in the UN briefing room, publicized and comfortable to all UN accredited journalists?

Inner City Press has shown that UNCA's first vice president Louis Charbonneau leaked to the UN's top accreditation official an ostensibly internal UNCA document three minutes after saying he would not. Story here, document here, audio here.

  Even after this was documented, UNCA took no action. This is a dubious organization.

  Charbonneau and current UNCA president Pamela Falk of CBS News made a variety of statements after, as an alternative to UNCA which tries to get the investigative press thrown out of the UN, the Free UN Coalition for Access was formed.  On the record audio here, and here (Falk); here and here (Charbonneau).

  In full disclosure, Inner City Press first crossed swords with UNCA when its then president organized such a pseudo UN event for the government of Sri Lanka to deny war crimes charges. Click here.

  To prop UNCA up (while threatening to suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' accreditation unless it takes down even a FUNCA sign from the door to it shared office), the UN gives UNCA an office, Press passes for their non-journalist interns (who take "focus booth" space denied to actual working journalists), and a big meeting room for events like the one with al Jarba.

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