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On Syria, Araud Omits Chemical Weapons, AFP Makes Much of Them

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 28 -- Is the issue of chemical weapons use in Syria just a bargaining chip, flashed and then forgotten? Midday on Friday July 26 after a closed door meeting with Syrian oppositionists, French Ambassador Gerard Araud emerged, made a statement and answered questions. But he did not even mention chemical weapons.

  French Mission transcript here; Inner City Press analysis here.

  At 11 pm Friday, the UN e-mailed out a vague "joint statement" by the "Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs [Angela Kane] and the Head of the United Nations Investigation Mission," Ake Sellstrom.

  It was one line: "The discussions were thorough and productive and led to an agreement on the way forward." Inner City Press tweeted out this comment, as vague as US Secretary of State John Kerry's claim about an agreement to talk between Israel and Palestine.

  But while French Ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud showed by his silence how peripheral or unhelpful to the Gulf and Western cause the chemical weapons issue has become, Agence France Presse for example found a way to turn the one line into a whole story: add a quote from one of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's four Associate Spokespeople. This is how this UN works.

  AFP, by contrast, did not cover the UN's culpability for killing 5000 people in Haiti by bringing in cholera, which Inner City Press asked about at Friday's UN noon briefing; nor the many scandals swirling around Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to head UN peacekeeping.

  This too is how this UN works: faux UN briefing by non-media organizations which spy for the UN, to allow Saudi backed oppositionists to try to lay the groundwork, as Araud did, for a switch of UN seat as France has engineered elsewhere. But you won't read that in Agence France Presse. Watch this site.

Footnote: while many were dismissive of it, the footage taken in real time by Russian state television reporter Anastasia Popova at Khan al Asal becomes more pertinent - or does it? We'll see.


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