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When Jarba Went to Ban Ki-moon's Home, What Role for ID & UN Charter?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 2 -- Why did UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meet, last Saturday night at his UN-provided residence, with Saudi sponsored Syria rebel boss Ahmad al Jarba?

  It's a multi-part question Inner City Press has been trying to explore. Why did he meet with him at all? The answer, beyond that the US, France, Saudi Arabia and others wanted him to, appears to involve a race for relevance on the Geneva Two talks proposed for mid November.

  It may be that Jarba represents no one in Syria. But by hook or by crook his name has become known; it allowed Ban to issue a 106 word read out of his meeting, urging unity in Geneva.

  But why did Ban do the meeting in his residence? That answer may have become clear at the UN Security Council stakeout Wednesday morning. After questioning the Ambassadors of the UK and Luxembourg, Inner City Press asked Syria's Bashar Ja'afari about the meetings with Jarba.

  Ja'afari said that such meeting "inside the UN" violated the UN Charter. So did Ban try to work around that?

Inner City Press went to Wednesday's UN noon briefing and asked Ban's spokesperson Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: just now at the stakeout, the Syrian Permanent Representative, [Bashar] Ja’afari, reiterated that meetings held inside the UN premises with someone like Mr. [Ahmed] al-Jarba violate the UN Charter. That’s his allegation. Since he used the sewords “inside the building," I wanted to ask you to respond to the idea: Is this one of the reasons that the Secretary-General met with Mr. al-Jarba at his residence? And I also wanted to know, since you said it’s his residence, we should understand it wasn’t in the UN Media Alert, it seemed like that same day there were photos taken by UN Photo of him going into the building and looking at papers, relaxed after a day of hard diplomacy. So, how is that consistent? What time did he meet with Mr. al-Jarba? And why was no photograph taken, as was taken with Mr. Sellström?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I think we’ve already said the Secretary-General met on Saturday evening with Mr. al-Jarba and other members of his delegation and with Senior Advisers from the UN. And this took place at the residence for precisely the reason that I mentioned, that it was at the end of the day, it was arranged at relatively short notice, and so that’s the first point. The second point is simply this: that we’ve addressed the question of last week and that meeting that took place. I don’t have anything further to add to that.

  We are continuing to explore when, how and by whom the Ban - Jarba meeting was arranged.

  Research in public records by Inner City Press finds that on March 29, 2013, the "National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces" signed a contract with Independent Diplomat to "provide advice and/support to the Syrian Coalition on diplomatic communications (for example, letters to the UN Security Council), preparation for international visits and meetings, and assistance with drafting of speeches, aide-memoires, and other diplomatic materials)."

  This contract was filed with the US Justice Department on April 8, 2013.

  In July 2013, Jarba and his Coalition held a faux "UN briefing" in the clubhouse of the UN Correspondents Association, whose Executive Committee includes Pamela Falk of CBS as 2013 president, Louis Charbonneau of Reuters as apparently Permanent first vice president (he does spy for the UN, click here), and representatives from Al Arabiya, Agence France Presse, the Saudi Press Agency (still), L'Orient Le Jour and others. (Ironically also Moroccan state media, though ID represents the Polisario Front.)

Two attempts by this UNCA executive committee to "score" (for) Jarba another faux "UN briefing" in UN Room S-310 during General Debate week were postponed and then canceled.

  The questions by the new Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info about the attempted briefing were never substantively answered. Here's another question: since ID to its credit did, should UNCA have to register?

  Jarba held an aborted briefing in the Intercontinental Hotel with ID representatives out in the hall. (In full disclosure, Inner City Press respects much of ID's work, but not this.) But then Jarba scored big with Ban Ki-moon. Did Independent Diplomat, given its contract, play a role? Why can't Somaliland, then, get a meeting with Ban Ki-moon? Watch this site.


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