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As Saudi Rejects UNSC Seat, France Blames It On Assad, What Next?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 18, updated twice -- After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day's meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

  But France's Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the "Assad regime."

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council "unity" around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN's ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

  Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar's foreign ministry reached out "in the middle of the night" (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

The source told Inner City Press that "nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General." Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama's telephone call to Iran's Hassan Rouhani.

   But either way, the Saudi's look "bad," as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. "Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote," the Ambassador continued. "So did he not know?" See tweeted photos here, and of Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

Update of 1:20 pm -- A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 At Friday's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban's spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA's office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family. He said he'd check. Watch this site.


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