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After Latin Pushback & BRICS, Saudi Dropped Sanctions & Assad Leaving

By Matthew Russell Lee, Partial exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- Major pushback met Saudi Arabia the day after it presented a draft General Assembly resolution on Syria urging sanctions and Bashar al Assad to step down.

   Beyond the July 31 opposition by BRICSA -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- on which Inner City Press first reported, we can now reveal the surprisingly united position on August 1 of the Latin American & Caribbean Group, GRULAC.
  In a meeting in closed Conference Room 10, not only the leftist countries in the ALBA formation but the other GRULAC members told Saudi Arabia that its draft wouldn't fly.

  The philosophic underpinning of the opposition is not only that the General Assembly shouldn't be asked to call for "regime change" in a country among the early founders of the UN.

  Also, Saudi Arabia was told, unilateral sanctions like those of the Arab League are not celebrated by many in the General Assembly.  And so both provisions were dropped.

  Before the amendment, even Western diplomats were predicting vote counts as low as 70 for the initial Saudi version.  Now, asked by Inner City Press if the peak of 137 votes could be reached, a proponent of the resolution quipped, "Could be, if there is another massacre reported." Absent that, he predicted less that 137.

  It is understood that the UK advised Saudi Arabia not to even include these in its first draft. The position of France, which hosted a July 30 meeting about the GA draft, is less clear.

   Various Arab diplomats, learning of the venue of the July 30 meeting, expressed anger that the Arab Group would "put itself under France's wing," as one put it to Inner City Press.

  It was recounted that, until he quit to take a job with the French government, Kofi Annan's deputy Jean Marie Guehenno claimed to Arab leaders that he, Guehenno, spoke for the Arab League. The response was, Oh, really?

   The new draft, which Inner City Press obtained from a well placed member state after 5 pm on August 1, is now set for voting August 3 at 11 am. Inner City Press is putting the draft online here.

  Most contentious in the previous draft, opponents said, was the last perambular paragraph

"welcoming the relevant League of Arab States’ decisions, including its 22 July 2012 resolution, in particular its appeal to the Syrian President to step down from power."

  Now that language is goneAn opponent late Wednesday exclusive also told Inner City Press, they're afraid of us. They'd also pointed to operative paragraphs 20 and 21, which called on countries to adopt sanctions like the Arab League. That too is gone.

   Saudi Arabia has been opposed on sanctions and "regime change" by, among others, BRICSA -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- and some Latin American countries.

  Still in however is Paragraph 20which a non-BRICSA diplomat told Inner City Press, is "disrespectful" to Kofi Annan, directing him to "focus his efforts."

One BRICSA representative after Tuesday meeting said that Saudi Arabia put these in so as to negotiate. It looks like they were right.

   But since Saudi Arabia, like Qatar, is already giving weapons to the opposition, adopting a resolution even like this could be seen to provide a further pretext. Watch this site.

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