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Qatari Chairs Alliance of Civilization, Outsiders Come Last, Saudis Say 110+ on Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 13 -- Back in March, Inner City Press asked Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser if the UN Alliance of Civilizations, which he now heads, could or would do anything about the destruction of religious sites in Syria.

  He replied that the "situation in Syria is very complicated. Our mission, it will come as soon as we end this conflict... we have first to bring the situation under control."

  But how? As Inner City Press noted at the time, Qatar for which Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser served as Permanent Representative to the UN has been funding armed rebels in Syria.

  Jump-cut to May 13. At noon, Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Martin Nesirky why Ban specifically thanked Qatar for its role in the release of four UN peacekeepers by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. Nesirky replied that unnamed "others" helped as well.

  At 3:30 pm, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser was set to chair a meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations. Milling around on the podium were long time UN official Iqbal Riza, and the Permanent Representatives of Spain and Turkey. But where was Ban Ki-moon?

When Ban arrived, he launched into a speech. The list of speakers ran through six pm, ending with "Q&A Session with Media and Civil Society Representatives, time permitting."

To make a long story short, time did NOT permit. Despite statements for example from the United States that civil society should be allowed to be more involved, there was no time. (Corporations like BMW, on the other hand, are allowed co-sponsorships).

The speeches were long winded, with at least two delegations joking about being invisible behind the load-bearing pillars in Conference Room 1.

Then right before Iran began to speak, Qatar's Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said, only three minutes per speaker.

Saudi Arabia began with praise of Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser -- in Arabic. Some wondered if the the "others" Ban was thanking for their connections with the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade include Saudis.

Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative, meanwhile, earlier on Monday told Inner City Press the vote on the Syria resolution in the General Assembly will be May 15. Inner City Press asked, 110 votes? He replied, "plus or minus, probably plus." We'll be there. Watch this site.

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