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On Syria, Power Tells Press No One "Decent" Supports Qaeda-Linked Groups

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 5 -- When US Permanent Representative to the UN Samantha Power spoke Tuesday about Syria's chemical weapons and the humanitarian situation in the country, she said 55 visas have been delayed or denied to UN staff by the Syrian government.

  Inner City Press asked Ambassador Power about aid access to areas held by armed opposition, like al Raqqa and Jarabulus, as well as about Turkey. Video here, from Minute 9:26, here on YouTube and embedded below, as is transcript.

  Ambassador Power replied that "it is clear there are a lot of no-go areas. As desperate as conditions are in the 'go' areas, imagine circumstances behind the lines, in areas not visited for more than a year by the UN or international NGOs. This underscores the importance of your question -- every country and individual should use leverage of the actors it has influence over... to allow access."

  Earlier, Power said Iran should use its leverage in Syria for humanitarian access. 

  Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin told Inner City Press he still hoped the Geneva Two talks could happen on the scheduled announced - that is, in November.

  Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari did not speak Tuesday at the Security Council stakeout, into the rules of which Inner City Press has been inquiring.

  As to the Al Qaeda affiliated groups, Ambassador Power told Inner City Press it's a challenge, they "do not have the support of any right-thinking, decent, humane member of the international community."

  Some noticed she did NOT say they do not have the support of ANY member states of the UN. Who is supporting these groups? Who has supported them? These are questions that should be answered. Watch this site.

Footnote: while the UN produced, and Samantha Power had, specific visa-denial figures for Syria, when Inner City Press asked the UN for similar figures for Sudan, it was told these are not cumulated anywhere. Why is this done in one case (Syria) and not another (Sudan)? We're digging into this.

US Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: What about the humanitarian situation in areas held by the armed opposition like Raqqa and Jarablus? Do you have anything to say on that? And also there are reports now of the al-Qaeda-type groups either targeting Turkey, or in some way looking to—there’s a report yesterday of bombs going over the border.  What can you say about that northern area, and how can the UN system address humanitarian needs there?
Ambassador Power: Well, you know, in talking both to the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and to other organizations active on the ground, it is clear that there are a lot of ‘no-go’ areas. And as desperate as conditions are in the ‘go’ areas, you can imagine what circumstances are likely like behind the lines, places that have not been visited, accessed, in some cases for more than a year by the United Nations or by other international non-governmental organizations.  So, that just underscores the importance of your question.  Every country, every individual should be using its leverage over those actors that it has influence over.  When it comes to al-Qaeda affiliated groups, this of course presents a significant challenge, because these are groups that do not have the support of any right-thinking, decent, humane member of the international community.  So, we push for access, we push on those who are supporting groups of that nature—that would target civilians, that would violate the laws of war—whether they’re on the regime’s side or whether they call themselves affiliated with the opposition, everyone should use their leverage in order to try to cut off supplies to those actors, and to deter the kinds of horrors that they’ve inflicted on civilians across the region.  In addition, all actors should be encouraged to allow access to people in need.


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