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In Syria, UN Says Patrols Stopped, SC Says Continue, Ladsous' Moody Memo

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 18 -- While at noon the UN Secretariat told Inner City Press that in Syria its mission's "patrols remain suspended," when Inner City Press five hours later asked Security Council president Li Baodong of China, he said the mission is "still working."

  The source of the mystery is Mood, specifically General Robert Mood and the head of UN Peacekeeping Herve Ladsous. The latter notified the Security Council on Friday that the UNSMIS mission had, as of 6 pm local time in Syria, stopped mobile activities. Inner City Press obtained the memo and exclusively published it Friday at 10 pm.

  But then Mood, after belatedly reiterating Saturday on YouTube the Friday night notification, on Sunday said he and the mission stand ready to witness the release of civilians. It was this to which Li Baodong referred. But if even the UN doesn't understand what its Mission in Syria is going, how are Syrians supposed to understand?

Mood will brief the Security Council on Tuesday afternoon, but it seems behind closed doors. He has yet to do a stakeout, and Herve Ladsous is legend for rebuffing most of the media, and Inner City Press entirely, saying "Well, Mister, I will start answering your questions when you stop insulting me and making malicious and insulting insinuations." The video, at Minute 28:10, is online here.

   But how NOT to "make insinuations" when the communications are so unclear, and never clarified?

   Meanwhile in the North Lawn building on Monday, many uniformed peacekeeping leaders milled around in the ACABQ office vacant as they committee travels to Senegal and West Africa. Several greeted Inner City Press warmly, referring to last year's visit and questions and answers. Maybe they haven't gotten the memo from Ladsous. It seems the Security Council got his Friday memo, but some don't quite believe it.

  So, again, why did Ban Ki-moon and his Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous, the fourth Frenchman in a row to hold that post, decide on June 15 to limit the mobility of the UN Mission in Syria, and to tell Security Council members but make no public announcement?

  Such Security Council documents routinely leak, predictably to the wire services affiliated with Western permanent members of the Council. But that did not happen in this case: rather, Inner City Press obtained a copy of the notification, confirmed and published it before 10 pm New York time on June 15.

  Eight hours later, still seeing no announcement by the UN or any Council member, Inner City Press asked the spokespeople for UN - Arab League Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan then for Ban Ki-moon and Ladsous to explain the notification, what lay behind it (i.e. what supposedly increased violence) and what they wanted next.

  Only Annan's Ahmad Fawzi replied, and only to say that UNSMIS and Mood would now be having an announcement.

  What explains the delay? And who made the decision?

  One working theory is that Ladsous, the head of DPKO whose notification it is, made the decision on behalf of his native France, for which he was an operative in the foreign ministry as recently as arranging Michele Aliot-Marie's flights on planes owned by cronies of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali. That's why he won't answer.

  In this theory, though there was little INCREASED violence to point to, Ladsous and France wanted to raise the stakes for General Robert Mood's already scheduled visit to New York and the Security Council, to put it in the context of UNSMIS being OVER, no longer improvable.

  Otherwise, Mood should have given his public statement when the decision to limit his Mission was made, to obviate the risk of a Security Council leak on Friday.

  Such a leak did take place, but not in the most predictable way. Or, some wonder, did though Western-member aligned wire services know of the decision and not report it?

   Notably, the UN representatives of Reuters, Agence France Presse, (US) Voice of America and Bloomberg are four of five signers of a letter seeking to investigate and expel Inner City Press. We'll have more on this.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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