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On Syria, Ban's Speech Dodges US Moves to Support FSA, ISIL Border Control

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 20, more here -- On Syria, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for an arms embargo, without directly addressing US moves to support the Free Syrian Army and ISIL's control of “Iraq's” border with Syria.

The afternoon before Ban's speech at the Asia Society, Inner City Press asked the senior UN official who described the speech what Ban would say to US moves to support the FSA. That's a matter for member states, the senior UN official said, adding that the UN had thought long and hard whether Ban should use the word “angry,” finally settling on “disappointed.”

To many, another disappointment: Ban did not name a new Syria envoy to replace Lakhdar Brahimi. The senior UN official explained that the UN thought it best to first outline the goals, then pick a person to perform them. But as one attendee at the background briefing said, it's the naming of a new envoy that would be news, not this speech.

The UN thought this was big, even as it was outstripped by developments in Iraq. Of his arms embargo proposal, Ban said “if divisions in the Council continue to prevent such a step, I urge countries to do so individually.” He added, “Syria neighbors should enforce a firm prohibition on the use of their land borders and airspace for arms flows and smuggling into Syria.”

But much of Iraq's border with Syria is controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL.

On the humanitarian front, Ban “appealed for an end to the sieges” and for “immediate unfettered humanitarian access across internal front lines and across borders.”

A draft resolution on cross-border aid is being negotiated in the Security Council. But on June 19, Australian ambassador Gary Quinlan told the Press there will be no vote this week. When there is, will that be news? Watch this site.


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