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An Hour Before Syria Vote, UN Admits Error to ICP, Diplomats Complain

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up to exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, August 3 -- Very late Thursday night, on the eve of the scheduled Friday morning General Assembly vote on Saudi Arabia's draft resolution about Syria, Inner City Press noticed that the UN Journal went online with a link to a version of the resolution that reverted to including sanctions and a call for Bashar al Assad to step down.

   Inner City Press worked to confirm and put in questions, and published an exclusive story

  Still at 8 am the UN's Department of Public Information e-mailed out the "wrong" resolution, and the French Mission to the UN told the world to tune in and watch the vote on it.

   Finally more than six hours after Inner City Press put the question, explicitly for its exclusive story, to the spokespeople of the President of the GA, and three of Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople, a single answer came in, and then was sent to all:

From: Nihal Saad [at]
Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2012 at 9:40 AM|
Subject: Press request regard UN Journal link to Syria resolution with sanctions & "Assad-step-down"
To: matthew.lee [at]

Dear Matthew, Obviously it is the wrong version of the draft resolution. The Documentation Control Unit acknowledged their mistake. The right version of the text will be distributed at the GA Hall.

   But there is still a problem.  Since the UN Journal goes out the night before, and is read in member states' capitals, the confusion caused is not so easily solved.

   As one diplomat put it to Inner City Press, they can't just change things like this. I take my instructions from my capital, based on what is sent out or put online.

   It seems the vote would have to be postponed. But the proponents have primed the(ir) media - so will the show go on?

  The President of the General Assembly is from Qatar, which arms the rebels in Syria and has declined to answer Inner City Press questions about how much has been spent on the Qatari presidency of the GA.

   At this PGA's direction, UN Television has been turned off just as Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar Ja'afari began to speak. When this happened a second time, Stephane Durarric of the UN took the blame (while Inner City Press had and published the name of the official who actual gave UN TV the order to turn off).

  So what will happen now? Watch this site.

   Thursday August 2 between 5 and 6 pm, the Saudi Permanent Representative belatedly met with the African Group on 47th Street.

  Inner City Press, which in three articles this week questioned why the Saudis met with all regional groups except Africa, heard about the meeting and went to stake it out, the only media in front. The Saudi Permanent Representative smiled as he left, saying "you are everywhere."

  African diplomats said "he had to come" and "he came just to say he had." One let it be known that the UK has said there are already 120 votes for the watered down Saudi resolution.

   But now, at least as linked to in the UN Journal, it is no longer "watered down." It has been "watered up."

  Another proponent of the amended resolution told Inner City Press he expects 125 votes in votes, while having projected only 70 if it had not been amended.

  Now what? Can the now-confused vote really go forward? Watch this site.

  The watererd down draft, which Inner City Press obtained from a well placed member state after 5 pm on August 1, is set for voting August 3 at 11 am (not 10 am as French Ambassador Gerard Araud said on camera midday Thursday, just to clear that up). Inner City Press is putting that draft online here.

  But online between late August 2 and early August 3 was the watered up version -- strangely, with a long list of sponsors:

Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Yemen: draft resolution  The situation in the Syrian Arab Republic

  Coming out of the African Group meeting with the Saudi Permanent Representative past 6 pm on August 2, of these Inner City Press saw diplomats from among others Cote d'Ivoire (Permanent Representative Bamba), Djibouti, Morocco (Deputy Permanent Representative), Saudi Arabia (Permanent Representative) and, one assumes, Egypt. Libya's Ibrahim Dabbashi came out, quickly, but Libya is not in this list above.

   What will happen next? Can the vote go forward? Watch this site.

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