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In Arab League Run-Up, Kerry Pitch on ISIL, Syria Coalition Wants Seat

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 6 -- Starting from the beheading of US journalist James Foley, the Syrian Coalition has pushed harder to equate Assad and the Islamic State, and to present themselves, based in Turkey, as a key to fighting ISIL. Their pitch on the Arab League meeting is below.

 But first, this read-out from a Senior US State Department official, of Secretary of State Kerry's call with Nabil al-Arabi:

"Secretary Kerry spoke with the Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby today to discuss developments in the region and to provide an update on efforts to combat ISIL in advance of the Arab League meetings which start tomorrow.  They discussed the need for the Arab League and its members to take a strong position in the coalition that is developing against ISIL and the importance of decisive action to stop the flow of foreign fighters, counter ISIL's financing, and combat its incitement.

"The Secretary emphasized that the military aspect is only one part of this effort and that to degrade and destroy the threat posed by ISIL will require a holistic approach that will take time, persistence and require coordination with our Arab partners at the international, regional, and local level – combining military, law enforcement, intelligence, economic, and diplomatic tools. Both leaders also recognized that Iraq is on the front line in the war against ISIL and that Iraq, the United States, the region, and the international community must stand together to assist Iraq in facing this threat."

  Earlier on September 6 the Syrian Coalition issued a statement that:

"Nasr al-Hariri, Secretary General of the Syrian Coalition, calls on the Arab League to go beyond political recognition of the Syrian Coalition and grant it full legal recognition as the representative of the Syrian people during a meeting held today with Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi.

 "Al Arabi invited the Syrian Coalition to occupy Syria’s seat in the Arab League tomorrow and speak on behalf of the Syrian people. 'Fighting terrorism cannot be done piecemeal, therefore the Arab League’s resolution must include putting an end to the terror practiced by the Assad regime against the Syrian people,' Al Hariri said commenting on the Arab League’s intention to pass a resolution to confront terrorism during the upcoming ministerial meeting."

  There were other statements aimed in advance at this Arab League ministerial meeting, including about Gaza, from UNRWA:

"In a speech to be delivered tomorrow (Sunday), to Arab League Foreign Ministers in Cairo, UNRWA’s Commissioner General, Pierre Krahenbuhl, will ask for 47 million dollars for 4 weeks emergency work in Gaza.
"In his first major policy address since the ceasefire, Krahenbuhl will tell the ministers that 'there is a crying need for financial support now, today. Longer term reconstruction must be addressed but will depend on the outcome of negotiations on access for building materials. My main message to you today is please do not wait for weeks before providing support.'
"In a message to Arab League Secretary General, Nabil al-Arabi he will say 'UNRWA can only carry out these tasks if it has the funds to do so. We depend almost entirely on voluntary contributions. Secretary General, you kindly co-chaired a meeting with Mr Ban Ki-Moon in New York a year ago which generated a renewal of the commitment of Arab governments to aim at providing 7.8 % of UNRWA’s programme budget. I have to say that performance at 4% still falls well short of this target. I urge your members to give more generously to allow UNRWA to continue its vital work.'"

   We'll see how much support for UNRWA comes out of the Arab League -- and how much support for the "coalition" against ISIL.

Footnote: Agence France Presse, purporting an info-graphic of journalists killed last year, listed four as killed "in Gaza." Since all other listed jurisdiction are full UN member states, some surmised AFP's nomenclature let off the hook the killer of those journalists. Despite calling it social media, 17 days later AFP has not responded.


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