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March 1, 2011: Libya

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After Failed UN Syria Vote, Rice Cites IBSA Solidarity, Of Motive & Ban Dodges

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 4 -- After the Syria resolution was double vetoed by Russia and China, with Lebanon and India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) abstaining, US Ambassador Susan Rice said "this is not about Libya," adding that for some it was about selling weapons to the Assad government.

  When Rice came to take questions, Inner City Press asked her about the IBSA abstentions, for example Brazil: was she saying Brazil wants to sell weapons to Syria?

  Or could it be that the way the Libya resolutions were implemented resulted in these three abstentions on Syria?

  Rice opined that India, Brazil and South Africa were trying to "maintain solidarity." But the question remains, did the way the NATO allies implemented the Security Council's Libya resolutions make the IBSA members more bent on maintaining solidarity?

  When the Council's four European members came to take questions, Inner City Press asked them if their actions, particularly the airdropping despite a UN arms embargo of weapons into Libya by France, led to IBSA skepticism or solidarity.

 The UK's Mark Lyall Grant is the one who answered, only to say that he wouldn't speak for other countries' motives. But he'd just finished saying that their motives WEREN'T Libya.

Araud, who did not answer the question about his country's arms-drops into Libya, did say that Russia and China has "vetoed the Arab Spring."

Russia's Vitaly Churkin called Araud's a "cute little phrase.. but one a serious one," saying that the Arab Spring should not lead to civil war. Churkin cited not only Libya but before that Cote d'Ivoire, where it was decided "in a European capital" -- that would be Paris -- to take action as soon as an electoral winner was declared.

Churkin casting veto Oct 4, 2011, Cote d'Ivoire not shown

Given UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's role, in letting his Department of Peacekeeping Operations under Frenchman Alain LeRoy, since replaced by fellow French Herve Ladsous, operate with the French Force Licorne to literally oust Laurent Gbagbo from power, and more recently in saying Assad "lost all humanity," Inner City Press asked Churkin about Ban.

Churkin cited only Lyall Grant's quote of Ban, that "enough is enough," and said that he agreed. In fact, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari in answering Inner City Press' question also said, "enough is enough," while dodging about Ban and his comment.

  Afterward some surmised that this dodging is because they still have to deal with Ban Ki-moon, or that he has little power -- like "a checkout girl with a Bomb Iran t-shirt," as one wag put it. But this is why the UN is not reformed and there's little accountability. Watch this site.

Footnote: while there was talk of a similar double veto on Myanmar, Inner City Press was reminded of the vote on sanctions on Zimbabwe on July 11, 2008: double veto by China and Russia (then as now under Churkin), abstention by Indonesia, and no votes by South Africa (under then Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo), Vietnam and, ironically, Libya.

  That day, UK Ambassador John Sawers was fuming. Two days later, Ban Ki-moon trashed Zimbabwe's Ambassador for (candidly) calling his Department of Political Affairs under Lynn Pascoe biased, click here for that. Where did that go? Will this one work out any different? We'll see.

From the US Mission's transcript:

Inner City Press: Ambassador Rice, in the chamber you said, this is not about Libya, it's about countries that want to sell weapons to Syria. And I guess what I wonder is, is the countries, say the IBSA countries, countries like Brazil and others, do you think that what happened on Libya, that a resolution was passed, and then NATO bombed-from the point of view of those countries, things went further than they authorized-do you really think it had no impact on this? Or do you think all of those countries are selling weapons?

Ambassador Rice: I think this is an excuse. I think the vast majority of countries, even today on the Council that were not able to vote in favor of this text, know that this was a resolution that, in substance, was unobjectionable. And their decisions to vote as they did may have had a lot less to do with the text than it did with some effort to maintain solidarity among a certain group of countries. So I think Libya has been beat to death, overused, and misused as an excuse for countries not to take up their responsibilities with respect to Syria.

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Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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