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Abkhaz on Council Agenda But Not Yet in UN, with Ossetians in Possible Basement Meeting, Kebabs for Iran

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Muse

UNITED NATIONS, February 9 -- In the conflict between Georgia and Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and Russia behind them, the UN has become a sideshow and a prop. This week the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia expires; it was rolled over to February in part to put it past Bush into the Obama era. But Monday the Group of Friends on Georgia met and afterwards UK Ambassador John Sawers told the Press that they are close to agreeing on a resolution to merely roll the mandate over again, sticking with the precedent that the word Georgia not appear. All of this to give time to the Geneva talks. There are a few remaining issues, Sawers said without naming them.

   Inner City Press' sources say that while Georgia wants a "straight rollover" with no changes, the European Union wants some additional language about new security mechanisms. Georgia opposes this because they see a need for a complete revamp of the mission in Abkhazia, "real peacekeepers" as they put it. They argue that Abkhazians, if they truly want to be independent, would be better served by peacekeepers to protect their interests vis-a-vis Russia as well as Georgia. They say the South Ossetians are another matter, their leadership entirely aligned with Russia.

  In Georgia, now the Saakashvili government has lost not only former UN Ambassador Irakli Alasania but also Viktor Dolidze, the ambassador to the OSCE.

UN envoy Verbeke, Abkhaz and Ossetian representation not shown

  So while the first roll-over of the mandate may have been attributable to turn-over at the top of the U.S. government, now there's a rationale for deferring decision pending a change of government in Georgia.

   While some in the UN Secretariat disagree, Inner City Press' Council sources predict that Russia will this week demand that representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia be allowed to participate in the Council's process, in the chamber. "Russia doesn't have the votes, thought," they argue. A so-called Arria-formula meeting, held in the UN's basement instead of in the Council chamber, might be possible.  One wag joked, for once recently someone really wants to come to the UN.

  Footnote: this same format might be the one for the Sri Lankan briefing that Mexico requested and Inner City Press has exclusively reported on, click here for that.

  Foodnote: most Council members, and many other Ambassadors, on Monday celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, complete with hummus and roasted and stewed meats, honey pastries and no alcohol. Of the food, one General Assembly wag quipped that the Axis of Evil always serves the best spread. But what about North Korea? There was talk of Iran chairing the executive board of the UN Development Program; there was prouder talk of Iran's new satellite. We can look down at the US, one gleeful staffer said. Ban Ki-moon showed up and engaged in staged talk with Iran's Ambassador, as the press pushed in but couldn't hear. At 8:40 Aramark turned the house lights on and off. It was time to go. What will the next thirty years bring for that ancient culture?

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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