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After Brahimi Quits, Spills Beans on Saudi, Khan al-Asal & Israel to Der Spiegel

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 8 -- Now that Lakhdar Brahimi has quit as envoy to Syria, he is letting it all hang out. From his interview with Der Speigel:

SPIEGEL: To what degree does this conflict pose a threat to Israel?

Brahimi: Israel is very happy. Things are going very, very well for them. If Bashar goes it's great; if Bashar stays it's great. Syria is being weakened. Syria had some kind of strategic weapon with their chemical weapons and that's gone. So Israel is doing very well, thank you very much. You don't need to worry about them.

  The UN Office of the Spokesperson refused last week to confirm what a Permanent Five member of the UN Security Council's Permanent Representative told Inner City Press, that the UN Secretariat doesn't want a Brahimi representative to also represent the Arab League. Brahimi said:

SPIEGEL: We have been told that the Saudis even refused to meet with you.

Brahimi: That's a fact. I think they didn't like what I was saying about a peaceful and negotiated settlement with concessions from both sides

  So, no Arab League it would seem. From the section on chemical weapons:

it does seem that in Khan al-Assal, in the north, the first time chemical weapons were used, there is a likelihood that it was used by the opposition.

  Brahimi's conclusion, which Der Spiegel turned into a headline:

It will be become another Somalia. It will not be divided, as many have predicted. It's going to be a failed state, with warlords all over the place.

  Just on Inner City Press note: Somalia may not be "divided," but Somaliland (and Puntland) assert independence...

   On May 13 after Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi publicly resigned at the UN, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric selected who could ask him questions, with a decided slant. After Brahimi left, Inner City Press asked at the subsequent noon briefing if Brahimi will return to work for Algeria, specifically as a Bouteflika deputy.

  Dujarric said that should and could be posed directly at Brahimi at his question and answer media stakeout later in the day. Video here.

    Inner City Press waited. But when Brahimi came to the stakeout, Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq selected essentially the same questioners as Dujarric picked for Brahimi at noon. What was the point? Beyond propaganda? 

  In the earlier session, Inner City Press, which on May 3 reported that former Tunisian foreign minister and Ben Ali associate Kamel Morjane was being vetted to replace Brahimi, had this and another question to ask. Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric, however, made a selection of questioners which left these out, while including the so-called “Holy Seat” of the UN Correspondents Association, become the UN's Censorship Alliance.

  Brahimi was not asked about his future plans; Ban was not asked about vetting Morjane. After the two left, Dujarric continued taking questions along the same line. When called on, Inner City Press asked about Morjane and this: is Brahimi planning to take a role in Algeria once his resignation is effective on May 31?

  Dujarric said that should be asked to Brahimi -- what a surprise -- and then said without knowing it to be true that it could be asked later in the day to Brahimi after he briefs the Security Council. As he should know there are deadlines: including two more questions pending to be written about shortly.

  On this, what sources tell Inner City Press concerns Brahimi working with Bouteflika in Algeria. Out of respect for Brahimi, Inner City Press didn't reported it, wanted to let Brahimi himself address it on camera at this resignation press availability. But no. Watch this site.

Footnote: the debate seems to be whether Brahimi's replacement should "be an Arab" -- if so, North Africa is seen as the likely but shallow pool -- or, say, Javier Solana. We'll have more on this -- and on Dujarric contradicting one of the publications he called on for Ban and Brahimi, that the UN's Martin Griffith has himself been Banned from Damascus....


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