Saturday, December 31, 2016

On Syria, Russian Turkish Efforts Welcomed, Questioned, UNSC Flags 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.  Video here.

But after language was changed to welcoming with some other amendments, final version Tweeted here, the Security Council members returned at 1 pm and adopted the resolution. Afterward for the US Mission to the UN Deputy Ambassador Michele Sison, not Samantha Power, gave a speech of skepticism, as did the UK's Peter Wilson. There were no right of reply, and the Syrian delegation did not speak.

   After the meeting came the ritual changing of the flags. New Zealand, for one, watched its being removed. The delegations of Bolivia, including Permanent Representative Sasha Llorenti, and of Kazakhstantook photos with their flags. Video here

   Since Italian journalists in front of their Wall Street event on December 16 praising Ban Ki-moon emerged to assault Inner City Press while it broadcast Periscope, throwing its camera and yelling, “What do you do for Aleppo?” it must be noted they were not present for the December 31 Syria vote, or flag change. There must be change at the UN.

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 this video. Watch this site.