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Post Kofi, Spin on UN Mission & Aleppo Killings, Ladsous Drops Hammer?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 2 -- In the wake of Kofi Annan quitting as Syria envoy, a spin war broke out between members of the Security Council.

 Despite scheduling an August 16  meeting to consider extending the UN Mission in Syria, Council president Gerard Araud of France said only one mandate will be extended this month: UNIFIL in Lebanon.

  Then on his way into the 3 pm briefing by the fourth French head of UN Peacekeeping in a row, Herve Ladsous, Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin chided Araud for declaring UNSMIS dead even before the meeting or Ladsous' report.

  But perhaps Araud knows (or dictates) the content of Ladsous' reports, one stakeout wag snarked, predicting that Ladsous will drop the hammer on the mission, saying to kill it off.

  Sources tell Inner City Press of a DPKO plan to reduce to as little as 20 personnel, not from Troop Contributing Countries but the UN's own Department of Safety and Security.

  Indian Permanent Representative Hardeep Singh Puri told the press that the international must do something about Syria, even if UNSMIS ends on August 20. (Araud uses August 19 at the date.) 

   One idea floated is the use of drones or aerial surveillance.  Ladsous, as Inner City Press first reported, has proposed that his UN Department use drones, in the C-34 Committee. Once reported, Ladsous called it innuendo, and now refuses to answer any questions from Inner City Press.

  But what would be the safeguards? Who would get the information?

   Araud in describing the upcoming month's Program of Work referred dismissively to the debate on Kosovo as a "ritual."  This may bring him into conflict with the next president of the General Assembly, Vuk Jeremic of Serbia, who is reportedly facing push back in Belgrade for his $7 million PGA budget request. Click here for Inner City Press' previous coverage of this.

   Meanwhile the current Qatari President of the General Assembly put out a statement "understanding" Annan's quitting, and citing the actions only of the Syrian government, as if the Qatar (and Saudi) armed rebels can do no wrong at all.

  A video has emerged of the rebels summarily executing prisoners in Aleppo. But this did not make it into the Qatari PGA's statement. Like we said: spin wars.

   Meanwhile yet more detail on how and why the Saudi Arabia drafted General Assembly resolution was amended has emerged.

  Multiple sources tell Inner City Press that after Saudi Arabia on July 31 presented a draft General Assembly resolution on Syria urging sanctions and Bashar al Assad to step down, it was pressured by among others Egypt, the UK and France to drop those elements to gain a higher vote count.

  Not only the opposition by BRICSA -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- on which Inner City Press first reported was determinative: the position of, for example, Argentina carried weight.

   If even the Argentines oppose it, an involved source told Inner City Press, we had to change it.

  And so not only a major Western country, but also Egypt, told Saudi Arabia they might get only 70 votes for their draft.  One particpant actually thought 85 to 90 votes were possible. But "moving" Saudi Arabia was the key. And Saudi moved.

   Most interesting, the sources tell Inner City Press, was the position of the United States. Unlike the UK and France, the US was not pushing as hard to take out the references to sanctions and Assad stepping down. It was speculated, as one sources put it, that this was because "what if the Romney camp found out the US wanted these out?"

  The prospect of US support for keeping these elements in made Saudi Arabia take longer to agree to make the amendments, but finally they did.  Now, the proponent sources told Inner City Press they predict a vote count of 110, while internally hoping for 125.

   The 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.

  For now 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."

   With Kofi having quit, will that paragraph change? Watch this site.

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