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As Jarba Disavowed by Fighters in Syria, UN Stonewalls on Faux "UN Briefing"

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 25 -- With Saudi-sponsored Syria rebel boss Ahmad al Jarba now disavowed by major groups inside Syria actually fighting the Assad government, Jarba's lobbying campaign includes an attempt to be see as accepted by the United Nations.

  To that end, today he is for a second time hosted for what the UN Correspondents Association has insisted on calling a "UN briefing," although when asked neither Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's Office nor his Department of Public Information would answer if this blue-washing of a Saudi-sponsored rebel by UNCA is an appropriate or accurate use of the UN name, as in "UN briefing."

  Yesterday Inner City Press asked four separate DPI officials "whether tomorrow's session with Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba, the second held in Room S-310, can properly be called a "UN briefing" as UNCA did in July. Also, it has only been publicized to those who pay UNCA dues -- but it is in a UN room. These questions should be answered today."

  But these four DPI officials did not answer any part of this question. Rather, a fifth DPI official on Wednesday morning, less than two hours before the increasingly dubious event, asked that the question (which he acknowledged he had seen) be re-sent.

   It was re-sent, by the Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info along with this: "Still waiting to hear what percentage of "Reserved" seats DPI would accept -- that should be publicly available and the same for all countries -- and, on the event scheduled for 11 am, waiting for DPI's answer -- before the event."

Rather than answer the multiply-asked question -- can this properly be called a "UN briefing" -- this fifth official, Stephane Dujarric, answered on the event only with this: "On the UNCA issue, as we've told you in the past, UNCA briefings are open to all accredited correspondents."

  That's not the point, and is not responsive. Why does DPI give a large room in the UN to UNCA, then allow them to hold partisan fake "UN briefings" to try to bolster the credibility of Saudi-sponsored rebels, and then repeatedly refuse to answer if it IS a UN briefing? And secondarily why it is only publicized by UNCA's 2013 president Pamela Falk of CBS to those who pay money to UNCA? This is called selling the UN name.

On France marking a large number of seats for Francois Hollande's press conference "reserved," Dujarric responded with this:

From: Stephane Dujarric [at]
Date: Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 10:24 AM
Subject: Re: Thanks, but; & re Syria rebel Jarba in S-310: a "UN briefing"? Was, French "reserved" seats in Press Briefing Room - challenge and question by FUNC
To: funca [at]
Cc: Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal [at], Hua Jiang [at], Isabelle Broyer [at]


There is no hard and fast rule. It's a matter of courtesy and common sense which I leave in MALU's hands with full confidence. We have a duty to all journalists -- resident correspondents and travelling press to make sure they can cover as many events as possible. As to who got to ask a question, that's clearly up to the people who are organizing the press conference From where I was standing in the back room, there were as many frustrated journalists from the travelling press corps as there were from the UN. Furthermore, from your own photo, most of the reserved seats where on the left side of the room and went most of the way to the back. They were not all bunched in the front.

On the UNCA issue, as we've told you in the past, UNCA briefings are open to all accredited correspondents.

Stephane Dujarric (Mr.)
Director, News & Media Division | Department of Public Information

  In terms of "accredited correspondents," DPI has threatened suspend or withdraw Inner City Press' accreditation for merely hanging  signs of the Free UN Coalition for Access on the door of its shared office, while UNCA has five or more signs. (On September 24 the UN came and removed and confiscated one of the FUNCA signs, and another sign, from this door.)

  But given not only UNCA's Executive Committee's history -- including its first vice president Louis Charbonneau of Reuters demonstrably spying for the UN and Dujarric -- but its current politicization, there is an absolute right for another group to exist. Watch this site.


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