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On Syria, Doubts of Arab League Mandate For A New Brahimi, Churkin Says

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 3 -- One month ago, before Lakhdar Brahimi quit as UN - Arab League Joint Special Representative on Syria, Inner City Press reported and critiqued as his possible successor Tunisia's Kamel Morjane.

   But a related question is whether a Brahimi replacement would still also represent the Arab League. Inner City Press on June 3 asked Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin if he thinks a replacement should also represent the Arab League.

  After saying a replacement should first of all be a good and qualified person, Churkin replied that it is not clear that Arab League "Joint" status is helpful, citing the Arab League taking the seat of president Bashar al Assad.

  Churkin referred to unnamed others who don't want a Brahimi replacement at all. It seems Russia wants a replacement, probably one without a formal Arab League mandate.

  This would seem to make Amr Moussa, a name in the mix after Morjane, less likely.

Background: Morjane, as well as working in 1999 for the UN's troubled mission in the Congo MONUC and UNHCR, was Tunisian strongman Ben Ali's minister of defense then foreign minister, and had been groomed as a successor.

  If Morjane is named as envoy to Syria, it would be a case of a retread of a pre Arab Spring dictatorship blue-washed into one pushing to oust Syria's Bashar al Assad.

  Sources tell Inner City Press that after the Tunisian revolution Morjane was eyed for having helped launder Ben Ali's funds. They say his passport was revoked and ask: what type of passport does he have now? They say that about the Permanent Five members of the Security Council, France which supported Ben Ali so long would also support Morjane.

  Given that current UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous helped set up disgraced French foreign minister Michele Aliot-Marie's flights on "Air Ben Ali" -- he refused to answer Inner City Press on this then everything else -- it would perhaps not be a stretch.

  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon talked with the Arab League in Abu Dhabi, and the buzz is that while Rudd couldn't bring the Arab League's co-blessing, Morjane might. But to what end? Watch this site.

Footnote: The Kevin Rudd attempt is notably because he'd like to rise all the way to Secretary General, despite the position being committed to Eastern Europe. Rudd's calculus seems to be that Russia might veto most Eastern European candidate and there he'd be, waiting. But what of gender balance? We'll have more on this.


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