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Without Disclosure, UN's Ban Meets Saudi-Sponsored Jarba, Not in Media Alert

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 28, updated -- After a range of groups fighting the Assad government in Syria disavowed and denounced as Gulf and Western-annointed the Saudi-sponsored rebel boss Ahmad al Jarba, France tried to prop up Jarba by hosting him to speak for twenty minutes in the UN's ECOSOC Chamber on September 26.

  On September 27 in front of the UN Security Council, Inner City Press asked Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari about France's Jarba meeting. Ja'afari said his country had written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in advance of the meeting, arguing that it violated the UN Charter.

  Inner City Press then asked French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, who admitted that if the argument was that the meeting violated "the rules of this house," that could be discussed.

  But it couldn't be discussed, then, with Ban Ki-moon: at the stakeout, he took only two question, both from board members of the UN Correspondents Association which supports and hosted Jarba for a faux UN briefing in July.

  They tried again this week; the new Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info asked Ban's spokesperson's office how this was legitimate and was told to "ask UNCA." Friday the briefing was held outside the UN in a hotel; Jarba left early.

  Despite reports that Jarba had left the US on Friday to try to prop up his legitimacy with opposition groups on the ground in Syria, at 7:41 pm on Saturday night Ban Ki-moon's office suddenly issued a read-out that Ban himself had met with Jarba earlier in the day -- when and where is not clear.

  The UN Media Alert for Saturday, as updated in e-mails to correspondents, did not list any meeting of Ban with Jarba. But this was issued at 7:41 pm:

Subject: Readout of Secretary-General's meeting with National Coalition for Syrian opposition forces
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
Date: Sat, Sep 28, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Readout of Secretary-General's meeting with National Coalition for Syrian opposition forces

The Secretary-General met today with the President of the National Coalition for the Syrian opposition forces, Mr. Ahmad al-Jarba. He underlined the suffering of the Syrian people on all sides, as a result of the conflict, and also the hardship of the neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees.

The Secretary-General welcomed Mr. al-Jarba's commitment to send a delegation to the Geneva Conference, and urged the National Coalition to reach out to other opposition groups and agree on a representative and united delegation.

He stressed the paramount importance of embarking on serious dialogue as soon as possible, as well as the need to ensure accountability for war crimes.

New York, 28 September 2013

  Inner City Press immediately wrote to Ban's top two spokespeople:

Having just seen read-out of the SG's meeting with al-Jarba, here are questions on deadline:

1) when did this meeting take place? Where? Who attended?

2) Why this meeting not in the UN Media Alert or updates as emailed to correspondents?

3) Please confirm the Secretariat's receipt from Syria of an objection to the meeting of the "Group of Friends of the Syrian People" featuring Al-Jarba in ECOSOC, and please state the Secretariat's response to the charge that the meeting was inappropriate / violated the UN Charter.

  Watch this site.

Update: Ban's spokesperson, we're glad they at least responded quickly to the above, has replied:

Subject: Your questions
From: UN Spokesperson - Do Not Reply [at]
To: Matthew.Lee [at]

The Secretary-General met with Mr. al-Jarba at his Residence this evening with a small number of the Secretary-General's senior advisers.

The Spokesperson is not aware of any letter so far from the Syrian Mission on the topic you mention.

Watch this site.


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