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After Syria Coalition Again Cites Ford on Obama, Istanbul Confab

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 29, more here -- Two weeks ago Ahmad Jarba's Syrian Coalition criticized US President Obama. Coalition spokesman Louay Safi said he "regretted" Obama telling CBS  "he dismissed the idea that supplying US arms to moderate Syrian rebels would have toppled President Assad, calling it a 'fantasy.'"

  Now two weeks later, after the Obama administration on June 26 announced it is asking Congress for $500 million for the vetted opposition -- read, Jarba's Syrian Coalition and the Free Syrian Army, still said by the UN to recruit and use child soldiers -- Safi has again blamed Obama, saying:

"'the connection between the Assad regime and ISIS has never been so intimately interwound as it is today with the progress being made by regime forces near Aleppo and that of ISIS in Deir Ezzor. These advancement have not been interrupted by a single clash between regime forces and ISIS, which proves the existence of full coordination between them.' Safi attributes the setbacks suffered by Syrian rebels to the reluctance of the friends of Syria group to provide the rebels with the advanced weapons that can tip the balance on the ground. This reluctance contrasts with the unlimited support the Assad regime receives from his Russian and Iranian allies, who have been conspiring on the Syrian people and their revolution for dignity and freedom. The resignations of some members of the FSA's Supreme Military Council were prompted by the lack of military support, which in turn led to a lack of a unified leadership capable countering regime forces and the Iranian militias." Furthermore, Safi agrees with the former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who blames the rise of extremist groups in Syria on the Obama administration’s hesitation to support the moderate opposition forces. The military situation is very critical, as regime forces are about to laid [sic] siege on Aleppo."

   Even by this logic, is ISIS or the Islamic State's advance in Iraq directly due to "full coordination" with Maliki? The Syria Coalition is set to meet in Istanbul, amid jockeying by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Back on June 22 Jarba's Safi said: "Had the Obama administration heeded the advice of the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his special envoy to Syria we would not have had the current situation in Syria or in the region as a whole.”

  Is Robert Ford running for office?

  On the Iraq - Syria border, the day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon speechified on June 20 at the Asia Society that "Syria’s neighbors should enforce a firm prohibition on the use of their land borders and airspace for arms flows and smuggling into Syria," ISIS took over a major crossing at Qaim, 200 miles west of Baghdad.

  At the UN's noon briefing on June 20, after Ban's speech, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric:

Inner City Press: I didn’t see it in his speech, but it seems like at least a large part of the Iraqi border may be controlled by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham) or ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).  So, in terms of realism, does this mean now absent Government control, it’s just an open flow of weapons? Is there an acknowledgement by the UN that nothing can be done in terms of weapons?

Spokesman Dujarric:  Well, I think, you know, Member States, groups that have an influence all have a responsibility to stop the flow of arms.

 Surely ISIS is listening to Ban. The Syrian Coalition of Ahmad Jarba, meanwhile, praised the speech and called for "serious" weapons. Inner City Press asked Dujarric:

Inner City Press: the Syrian Coalition of Ahmed al-Jarba has put out a statement praising the speech and saying that:  “There should be serious weapons and training for moderate opposition forces.”  And I wanted to know, just to be clear, the Secretary-General is not in favour of that, thinks this is a bad call?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary-General could not have been clearer when he’s speaking about an arms embargo and speaking for the halt of flow of arms into Syria.

 But how clear has Ban Ki-moon been, when he met with Jarba?

  Now it turns out that near the Asia Society Team Ban got served with legal papers about having brought cholera to Haiti. Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq told some media -- refusing to answer the Press -- that Ban himself didn't get the papers. We'll have more on this -- and on the UN's pre-spinning of Ban's speech, reviewed here.

   How can Ban's UN be taken seriously on Syria or anything else while dodging service of legal papers for cholera in Haiti, and refusing to answer about it?

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.”

  Later on June 20, Dujarric's and Haq's office murkily released a UN report which tracks Ban's speech, which the UN's go-to wire service then said it had "obtained."

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


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