Saturday, December 31, 2016

On Syria, "Clarification" Sought of Russian Ceasefire, UNSC on NYE

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 31 -- When Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin announced on Friday December 30 that he hoped for a unanimous vote on New Year's Eve at 11 am on a resolution endorsing his country's and Turkey's ceasefire plan in Syria, Inner City Press asked him which groups are included. Video here. 

  But at 11 am, Churkin said other Council members are difficult, and said they might not vote until "tonight" - New Year's Eve. Journalists laughed, nervously.

  The Ambassador of New Zealand, leaving the Security Council later in the day after a two year term, said clarification is needed as to what is exempt from the ceasefire -- all of Idlib? -- and that there's a problem with endorsing. The US hasn't spoken. Video here.

   Watch this site.

From the December 30 transcript:

Inner city Press: It is reported that Ahrar al-Sham have some reservations about the deal. Are Jaysh al-Islam also are part of the deal?

Churkin: The counting of the groups is very complicated, as you know. Our understanding is that 7 major groups have joined in this arrangement. Staffan de Mistura, as you know, counted as many as 98 different groups fighting in Syria. The relationship between those groups is sometimes very complicated, but the thing is that in those documents there are 13 armed groups who delegated two gentlemen who are named in the annex to the documents, who are delegated the authority to sign the agreement on their behalf, which they did. The agreement about forming the delegation of the opposition. So, by our account, those groups represent 60,000 fighters and they control a large chunk of the territory of Syria.

  Inner City Press also asked Churkin about Libya and he praised Haftar: see end of video.Watch this site.