Friday, October 7, 2016

On Syria's Aleppo, Russia Submits Draft, Here, For Vote After France's Saturday 2:30, Circus

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, October 7 -- Just before the UN Security Council met about Aleppo, with a briefing from envoy Staffan de Mistura on October 7, French Permanent Representative Francois Delattre told the press that the moment of truth, to vote on the Franco-Spanish draft resolution, was near -- Saturday at 2:30 pm, just for the drama, it seems. The Franco-Spanish draft is below.

Now Russia has submitted its own draft, which Inner City Press has obtained and puts on Scribd, here. As Inner City Press was reporting this and other UN legal stories it was told by the UN that it, but not other correspondents, had to leave. We'll have more on this.

Delattre was asked of the analogy of Aleppo to Rwanda and did not respond on that, Periscope video here - understandable to some given, for example, then French diplomat (now taciturn UN official) Herve Ladsous' 1994 memo obtained by Inner City Press, here.

Here is the French draft:

The Security Council,

PP1 Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012), 2118 (2013), 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2175 (2014), 2191 (2014) 2209 (2015), 2254 (2015) 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016),

PP2 Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, (pp.2 of R.2268)

PP3 Gravely distressed by the continued deterioration of the devastating humanitarian situation in Syria, and the fact that now more than 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, and that about 6.1 million people are internally displaced (in addition to the half a million Palestinian refugees who had settled in Syria), 861.200 people are trapped in besieged areas, (new)

PP4 Expressing outrage at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and at the intensified campaigns, in recent days, of aerial bombings in Aleppo and recalling in this regard the statement made on 29th September by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, reporting a situation of “now besieged eastern Aleppo”, (new)

PP5 Strongly condemning the increased terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction carried out by ISIL, Al-Nusra Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council, and reiterating its call on all parties to commit to putting an end to terrorist acts perpetrated by such organizations and individuals, while reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever, and by whomsoever committed, (based on OP 8 of R.2254 and PP9 of R. 2139)

PP6 Being appalled at the fact that the implementation of its resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014), 2191(2014) 2209 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016) remains largely unfulfilled, recalling in this regard the legal obligations of all parties to comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, reaffirming the need for the full and immediate implementation of all provisions of resolutions 2139 (2014) 2165 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2209 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016) including by immediately ceasing all attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including those involving attacks on schools, medical facilities and the deliberate disruptions of water supply, the indiscriminate use of weapons, including artillery, barrel bombs, incendiary bombs and air strikes, indiscriminate shelling by mortars, car bombs, suicide attacks and tunnel bombs, as well as the use of starvation of civilians as a method of combat, including by the besiegement of populated areas, and the widespread use of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary executions and extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, as well as grave violations and abuses committed against children (based on PP. 5 and OP.1 of R. 2258)

PP7 Noting with concern the report of August 24, 2016 by the UN/OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic that confirms the use of chemical weapons in Syria, looking forward to the supplementary UN/OPWC JIM report and affirming that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria shall be held accountable, (new, based on PP4 of R. 2235)

PP8 Strongly condemning the widespread violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, stressing the need to end impunity for these violations and abuses, and re-emphasizing in this regard the need that those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for such violations and crimes in Syria must be brought to justice, (based on PP. 24 of R. 2258)

PP9 Emphasizing that the humanitarian and human rights situation in Syria continues to constitute a threat to peace and security in the region, and will continue to deteriorate further in the absence of a political solution to the crisis, (based on PP 25 and 26 of R. 2258)

PP10 Recalling its intent, expressed in its resolution 2258 (2015) to take further measures in the event of non-compliance with this resolution or resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) and 2191(2014), (based on OP 6 of R. 2258)

PP11 Taking note of the joint arrangement of 9th September 2016 between the co-presidents of the ISSG on a cessation of hostilities in Syria, and welcoming their intention to undertake joint efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria, with special measures for the Aleppo region,

PP12 Underscoring that Member States are obligated under Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations to accept and carry out the Council’s decisions, (based on PP 27 of R. 2258)

OP1 Demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, in particular in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas, and fully and immediately implement all the provisions of Security Council resolutions 2139 (2014), 2165 (2014) 2191 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2254 (2015), 2258 (2015) and 2268 (2016), and recalls that those violations and abuses committed in Syria that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity shall not go unpunished; (based on OP 1 of R. 2258)

OP2 Calls upon all parties to implement and ensure full implementation of the cessation of hostilities as described in 2268 (2016) and its annex, including an end to all aerial bombardments as well as the provision of immediate, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, and urges the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group to ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and, to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city; (new)

OP3 Underlines the need for an enhanced monitoring of the respect of the cessation of hostilities under the supervision of the United Nations, requests the Secretary General, within five days of the adoption of this resolution, to propose options to this effect, with a view to a swift implementation, and encourages all member States, especially the members of the ISSG, to contribute to the information of the monitoring mechanism; (new, based on French non-paper of Sept. 22, 2016)

OP3 bis Demands all parties to comply with United Nations requests for humanitarian access by observing the cessation of hostilities as described in resolution 2268 (2016), and that the Syrian government end all aerial bombardments, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all of Aleppo by the UN and its humanitarian partners, recognizing this requires a sustained absence of violence as determined sufficient by the UN and its humanitarian partners to allow humanitarian assistance;

OP3 ter Underlines that humanitarian access should be to the full number of people in need as identified by the UN and its humanitarian partners, with the full spectrum of humanitarian assistance as determined by the UN and its humanitarian partners, and evacuation of urgent medical cases should be facilitated by all sides based solely on urgency and need;

OP4 Requests further the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution, by all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict, every two weeks; (new)

OP5 Reiterates that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions; (PP 5 of R. 2254)

OP6 Expresses in this regard its fullest support for the Special Envoy’s efforts towards a full implementation of resolution 2254 and urges all parties to the Syrian domestic conflict to cooperate constructively and in good faith with the Special Envoy to this end; (based on §8 of the PRST of August 17th, 2015)

OP7 Decides that it will take further measures under the Charter of the United Nations in the event of non-compliance with this resolution by any party to the Syrian domestic conflict; (based on OP6 of R.2258)

OP8 Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

Back on September 25 as Inner City Press in a nearly empty UN covered the General Assembly debate on September 24, it heard of an emergency Security Council meeting about Aleppo called for the next day, Sunday, at 11 am.

When Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari spoke, Samantha Power, UK Matthew Rycroft and French Francois Delattre all left the Chamber.

While French Duputy Alexis Lamek stayed, the UK and US were at a lower level. For the US, Deputy Michelle Sison returned when Staffan de Mistura replied to Ja'afari.

   Inner City Press asked Churkin about the walkout and he said, Ask the Ambassador of Syria. So Inner City Press did, and Ja'afari said it “proves they are not Permanent Representatives.” Minutes later on UNTV Inner City Press asked de Mistura about the walkout, and for the status of the UN investigation of the strike on the aid convoy and if it was an AIR strike. He said, No comment on either. Video here. It's come to this.

On September 26, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq about the UN investigation of the strike on the convoy, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: the strike against the aid convoy in Syria, it was a big topic yesterday in the… in the speeches back and forth.  I tried to ask Mr. de Mistura, what's the status of any UN investigation?  And when he did his stakeout, what's the status of any UN investigation into the strike on the aid convoy?  And he said he had no comment.  But I just wanted to ask you, as a factual matter: Is the UN looking at it?  Is it the UN's position it was an airstrike as opposed to any other kind of strike?  What is the UN doing to get to the bottom of it? 

Deputy Spokesman:  At this stage, as you're aware, we have no on-the-ground presence that could conduct an investigation.  We would like to receive any relevant information.  This deserves to be fully investigated.  As we've pointed out, any deliberate targeting of humanitarian convoy would constitute a war crime.  So it's the responsibility of the parties on the ground to be able to provide any relevant information on this.

ICP Question:  But it… does the UN believe it's an airstrike or not?  Does it not even… can you not even make that distinction between air and…

Deputy Spokesman:  At this stage, as you're aware, there are many contradictory accounts of what's happened, so we want a definitive account.

 Earlier at 10:40 am arriving despite Ban Ki-moon's Press eviction order, the Ambassadors of Russia, France and the UK spoke on their way in. Russian's Vitaly Churkin was asked if he thought the calling of the meeting was a stunt (which US Samantha Power called Russia's meeting the week before.”

   We don't accuse anybody, Churkin said, we are too self-confident for that. Vine video here.

Inside the Chamber, as Samantha Power spoke of the airstrikes in Syria, it was hard not to think of those in Yemen, too. France's Francois Delattre cited Guernica, a replica of Picasso's painting of which still hangs at the UNSC stakeout where journalists waited for Ban Ki-moon's delayed Cyprus press statement.

Russian's Churkin recounted that John Kerry has assured he wouldn't go public with two Russian planes over the struck aid convoy but "other agencies" in DC leaked it.

Two days after the UN Security Council meeting on the US-led coalition's bombing of Syrian soldiers in Deir Ez-Zor, the US denounced an airstrike on an aid convoy, below. Also on September 19, Saudi Arabia hosted a Syrian opposition event at the Westin Hotel near the UN, Inner City Press Periscope here. 

On September 17 an emergency UN Security Council meeting was called by Russia at 7:30 pm after reported US airstrikes killed more then 60 Syria soldiers in Deir Ez-Zor.

This came a day after a planned briefing of the Council by Russia and the US was canceled. It was also just as UN General Assembly week began, with a meeting of the International Syria Support Group planned for Tuesday morning. Now this.

  Russia's Vitaly Churkin as he went into the Council told the press he'd explain “at some length, afterward.”

Then US Samantha Power arrived and went straight to the UNTV microphone, reading from notes about the loss of life (Vine here(Beyond the Vine here) called the meeting a stunt,Vine here, and saying that Russia's spokesperson Maria Zakharova should be ashamed of herself.

Russia's Churkin re-emerged and criticized Power for speaking before even entering the meeting. He asked, Who is in charge in Washington - the White House or the Pentagon?

Inner City Press asked Churkin about quotes that the Pentagon would consider "condolence" payments to the families of Syrian soldiers. He said, It's for the Syrian government to respond. Beyond the Vine here; Vine here

Afterward, Inner City Press was locked out of the UN Security Council stakeout due to the eviction orders of UNSG Ban Ki-moon and his head of communications Cristina Gallach, Beyond the Vine video hereNYT here; petition here.

Back on September 9 when the UN's Staffan de Mistura and Stephen O'Brien held a joint stakeout in Geneva, the letter from NGOs breaking off cooperation with the UN was the elephant in the room.

But the room, off-camera, was either not full or ill-prepared. The UN moderator called on Voice of America, which had nothing; she called on France 24 twice, and without further identification “Egyptian TV.”

   At the UN in New York, Ban Ki-moon's UN has gone out of its way to break its own rules for Egyptian state media, giving never-present Akhbar al Yom the office space from which Ban and his Under Secretary General Cristina Gallach haveevicted Inner City Press, which reported on de Mistura's hiring of Ban's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee.

   Chatterjee, after using threats and more to get an Indian pick-up of that story scrubbed from the Internet, has blocked Inner City Press on Twitter. Ban has given the top UN job in Kenya to his son in law Sid; now his spokesman Stephane Dujarric refuses to answer basic Press questions, calling them“ridiculous accusations” and running from the podium.

  The podia or rostrums in Geneva were both branded “United Nations;” as de Mistura and O'Brien began speak, UN Security struggled to raise a blue UN flag behind them. Branding before all else.

   John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov were meeting, even showed up in one of France 24's two questions - but at least according to their opening remarks, they had North Korea's nuclear test on their minds. And the Next UNSG? We'll have more on this.

   As Turkey's August 24 military operations inside Syria began, in New York the Turkish mission filed a letter with the UN Security Council, which Inner City Press put online here. 

In the letter, Turkey's outgoing Permanent Representative to the UN Halit Cevik cited not only Article 51 of the UN Charter but also UNSC resolutions 1373, 2170 and 2178. It does not mention the Kurds but only DEASH (sic).

  Turkey's letter states among other things that “Turkey initiated a military operation in the early hours of August 24, 2016, against DEASH which has been directly and deliberately targeting Turkey.” It states that Turkey respects Syria's territorial integrity and political unity. The word sovereignty is not used, but “political transition” is.

  Meanwhile a journalist from Turkey's state media TRT, also apparently outgoing, to his credit disclosed that his interview with Cevik's Syrian counterpart Bashar Ja'afari was unceremoniously pulled from broadcast and won't be online.

  As noted, Ban Ki-moon's UN gives this same Turkish state media TRT a solo office, (for) now next to Egypt state media Akhbar al Yom, while throwing the independent Press into the street and confining it to minders. We'll have more on all this.

On August 11 when the the UN's third Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura invited the media to a question and answer stakeout on August 11, the turn-out was decidedly light. While the UN used to provide interpretation of stakeouts, this time it didn't.

 Present for a predictable question was Voice of America, with which Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokesman has worked to evict the critical Press (one FOIA document here, more forthcoming). Ban finally did the eviction earlier this year, film here. This is Ban's UN.

   In his prepared statement, de Mistura added a word to the UN's old saw, saying there is no “sustainable” military solution. He quoted a response the day prior in New York by OCHA's Stephen O'Brien - an answer which the UN Department of Public Information under Cristina Gallach didn't even include when it put up the video of the OCHA briefing (which was about South Sudan, another failure of Ban's UN.)

   More than anything, Ban's UN seems to want to be perceived as relevant: it wants to be spoken with, and to brag about its discussions. De Mistura told the near-empty stakeout about his work in previous mediation. Ban himself was out in Los Angeles, bragging about talks with... Norman Lear. This is today's UN.