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On Syria Aid, Gulf Praised As Also Funds Combat, South Korea Low

By Matthew Russell Lee

UN System, January 15 -- With the Syria "Geneva Two" talks still set for January 22, albeit in Montreux, today in Kuwait UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pitched for aid to Syrians inside and mostly outside the country.

  Some praised $60 million pledges by Saudi Arabia and Qatar without comparing it to funding for combat coming from within each country. Ban was previously foreign minister of South Korea, but its contribution is less than five percent of what even those calling Saudi Arabia a "good actor" say should be expected of it.

  Back on January 7 Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Farhan Haq what the UN thought of the Syrian information minister saying whatever is agreed there would be subject to a referendum in Syria. Video here and embedded below.

The UN's Haq declined, twice, to comment on the idea of a referendum, saying that such review would itself be subject to the negotiations in Switzerland, to which thirty countries (not including Iran) and three organizations beyond the UN have been invited.

At the US State Department on January 6, deputy spokesperson Marie Harf was asked if Iran might have some "associate" role at the talks -- it sounded like a side table for children.

  On January 7, the UN sent reporters its rules for accreditation to cover the talks, including that media must be "formally registered as a media organization in a country recognized by the United Nations General Assembly" and that the UN "reserves the right to deny or withdraw accreditation of journalists from media organizations whose activities run counter to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."

  (It was immediately joked that this clearly didn't apply to the PARTICIPANTS in Geneva II).

The Free UN Coalition for Access has been critiquing and opposing these type of vague UN rules, which invite double standards and hypocrisy, such as is demonstrated by the January 7 visit to the UN of Google's "Head of Free Expression" Ross LaJeunesse after Google censored from its Search a leaked e-mail to the UN from Reuters' bureau chief, who sought to get the investigative Press thrown out of the UN.

Do the principles of the UN include freedom of expression? Democracy? Watch this site.


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