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As Jarba Goes Saudi on Geneva 2, "He'll Be Missed," Russia Says, Syria Counter-Story

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 22 -- Before today's meeting in London with the "moderate Syrian opposition," the foundering Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmad al Jarba released his speech in advance. It appeared on Reuters and Al-Arabiya.

  In front of the UN Security Council in New York, Inner City Press asked Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin what he thought of the headline: Jarba will not attend the Geneva Two talks unless the objective is the exit or ouster of Bashar al Assad.

  Churkin smiled and said, of Jarba, "He will be missed."

  To some long-form analysts of Saudi Arabia's on-again off-again drive for a seat on the UN Security Council, Jarba's vacillation on going to Geneva, like his rise to power, has a Saudi flavor to it.

  Syria's Mission to the UN has a different story: of a faux hand-picked leader who was jailed in the country not for rebellion but another crime; that while in jail he heard of a plot against the Saudi royals and once out, traded it in Riyadh for a green card. And the rest is history! That's just a counter-story: we're open to more official biographies.

  The Syrian National Coalition has a media e-mail list, deploring by rote attacks by the armed opposition on the ground in Syria. But Jarba's words go out in advance only to friends.

  When Jarba came to New York in July, he was hosted for a faux "UN briefing" by the UN Correspondents Association, which has on its Executive Committee Reuters, CBS, Agence France Presse and Gulf media.

  In September, such a faux briefing was twice scheduled and twice questioned by the new Free UN Coalition for Access @FUNCA_info. Eventually Jarba appeared in a smallish room in a midtown hotel -- then at Ban Ki-moon's UN-provided residence.

  And now, according to Churkin, he will be missed. Watch this site.


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