Thursday, December 22, 2016

On Syria, ICP Asks of Foua & Kefraya, France Says No More Deals, Russia Says Can't Let Pass

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, December 18 -- After the failure of two previous resolutions on Syria, New Zealand on October 13 circulated a draft resolution, which Inner City Press published that day, here.

On December 18, France convened consultations to then vote on its draft resolution about Aleppo. But on the way in, Russian Permanent Representative Vitaly Churkin said, "We cannot allow it to pass," called it unrealistic. Periscope here - 36 hours after UN thugs grabbed and smashed Inner City Press' Periscoping phone as it broadcast including about Aleppo. &

  France's Permanent Representative Francois Delattre, when he came in, said there would be no further compromise. US Permanent Representative Samantha Power told the press she'd make her comments "in the Chamber."

Inner City Press asked UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson about photos of busses meant to evacuate Foua and Kefraya being burned. The UK's answer was that they've seen the reports and condemn any attack, that that it's no excuse...

But isn't it all connected?

Then in consultations, Russia circulated it own draft...

Consultations were suspended and diplomats milled around, using cell phones...

On December 13 a Security Council meeting was scheduled for noon about Aleppo. The UN canceled its noon briefing, for the second day in a row; questions about Yemen, Myanmar and Burundi could not be asked (anyway Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople no longer answer).

  But in the Security Council chamber, Russia's Vitaly Churkin mocked Samantha Power for speaking as if she were Mother Theresa. By the same Syria's Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari spoke, not only Power but then also her deputy Michele Sison, previously the US ambassador to Sri Lanka, another killing zone on which the US did nothing, made a point of walking out. Mother Theresa indeed.

   Afterward Inner City Press sought to asked UN envoy Staffan de Mistura a question. He seemed to have pegged Inner City Press, saying he knew Inner City Press would ask him if he was resigning.

(Actually, our question has been about his previously hiring Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee, whom Ban has more recently promoted to the top UN job in Kenya without recusing himself. But we digress).

   Inner City Press asked de Mistura about Palmyra -- he said some 20% of the population remains -- and if he had in fact managed or scheduled to meet Team Trump. He'd said he aimed to; now he told Inner City Press he would have no comment since Trump has yet to take office.

From the UN's transcript:

Inner City Press Q. In Palymra, what is the status of civilians? And also, is there any update on your desire to meet with the team of the incoming US president. Have you met with them or will you do so this week?

SdeM. Regarding Palmyra, the issue is very confused at the moment because as you know ISIL, or Daesh, has been actually taking over the city by surprise, with a substantial number of fighters. The population to a large degree, according to the government, has been evacuated just in time, they were not that many so it probably did take place. But there is a concern for those who have not been able to be evacuated which is about 20 percent of the population at the time. What we hear is the intension of fighting back and retaking Palmyra. But what is shocking and surprising and worrisome is that they were actually able to do so, having lost the control of Palmyra. Regarding meetings with the President-elect team, our line is not to comment on it, because it is an informal environment given that the President-elect is not yet in charge and his whole team is not totally there. Whatever meetings with may be taking place and have taken place I will make no comments on that.

   What changed? Is it that Ban hasn't been able to get a meeting? Ban later on December 13 was set to 
meet New York City's Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Back on November 23 Inner City Press was informed of an “Egyptian draft put in blue on Aleppo,” which would demand a “ten day humanitarian pause around Aleppo with 72 hours advance notice.”

This draft went through a number of changes before it was double-vetoed on December 5. Inner City Press has learned that language included for a time in the draft, distinguishing between designated terrorist groups ISIS, Nabhat al Nusra and aliases and other armed groups was opposed - by Gulf Cooperation Council countries, Qatar in particular.

   Diplomats expressed a mixture of surprise and disgust, given the separate public push for action in the General Assembly. Inner City Press waited at the UN Security Council stakeout on December 8 to try to ask UN envoy Stephane de Mistura about all this.

  But de Mistura and his spokesman had already chosen from whom they would take questions - don't forget that de Mistura similarly “selected” Ban Ki-moon's son in law Siddharth Chatterjee for a promotion as his chief of staff in Iraq, buying his way in a la Jan Mattson. And none of the selected questions touched on this. Ban doesn't need promotions for his son in law anymore, having promoted him without recusal himself to the top UN job in Kenya.

    Meanwhile de Mistura says he will mean with some in Trump's team, Monday or Tuesday. Will the UN's Yemen envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed? Watch this site.