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On Syria, French FM Says He Knows What UN Report Says, Jumping the Gun

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 12 -- For weeks the UN has said its report on chemical weapons in Syria will only say if they were used, not by whom. Since August 24 the UN has said it would release its report as soon as it was ready.

Now, from statements by Laurent Fabius in AFP this morning, and orchestrated leaks last night, neither it true.

Fabius says the UN report will be released on Monday -- in four full or five days -- and will implicate Assad.

First, the report wasn't supposed to implicate (or "finger," as one UN scribe pre-spun it) anyone. See Inner City Press story, here.

Second, why would France get a heads-up about the report, and why would Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delay its release for five days?

  The answer to the second appears to be: pure politics. With US Secretary of State John Kerry meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov today -- Fabrius brags of meeting with Kerry first, the pre-spin of the UN report never far away -- to release the UN report now would waste it.

  Better to play the card AFTER the Kerry - Lavrov meeting, the thinking seems to be, to gain maximum impact for what now may be seen as its dubious findings.

  Why dubious? This pre-release hardly bodes well. Plus, inconvenient as such connections may be for the UN, this is the same organization that exonerated itself for bringing cholera to Haiti, then refused to comment when its own experts reversed their findings. Click here for Inner City Press cholera stories.

  The truth, it seems, doesn't matter. Timing is everything. Watch this site.

Footnotes: Fabius saying the UN report will "implicate" Assad emanated from the shop of the WSJ's UN correspondents, cited to @CNNbrk. But at that time, it wasn't ON the @CNNbrk feed. Some appear to know the news before it happens, or the useful content of UN reports before they are released.

The UN should have to answer on this on Thursday. But, conveniently, it seems its whole noon briefing it given over to UN Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. We'll have more on this. Watch this site.


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