Tuesday, January 19

Mordor Update: The war within the Syrian War grinds on

"We used to produce five years ago around 400,000 barrels of oil; we consume inside Syria some and we export some. Now this oil is stolen by Daesh and sent to Turkey ... If these neighboring countries, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, implement the Security Council resolution to counter terrorism, 70 percent of our crisis will be finished and the 30 percent I promise you to end before the end of this year."
--  Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, January 15, 2016

United Nations Palace of Nations and grounds in Geneva, Switzerland

January 13, on the grounds of U.N. in Geneva

Pundita [chewing her cheese danish and shouting through her helmet mouthpiece to the Vogue reporter 1/2 click away] Incoming!

Vogue [to the U.N. waiter] I bribed you for a cheese danish? Go back in there and get me a brioche.  [to Pundita] What are you seeing?

Pundita:  I can't see anything. I'm behind a hedge. What are you seeing? 

Vogue:  I'm seeing either a giant bowl of vomit or a giant plastic globe filled with snakes.

Pundita:  That's the Armillary Sphere, also called the Celestial Sphere. It weighs about 1.300 pounds. One of the sculptures for the UN peace monuments. 
Vogue:  It looks like a bunch of snakes squished together or vomit.  

Pundita:  It was made sometime in the 1930s and installed in 1939 so maybe the sculptor was a little pessimistic about world peace. 

Vogue:  How old is the UN?

Pundita: This complex was built to house the League of Nations. 

Vogue:  How are we getting closer to the action?

Pundita:  We're going to pretend we're typical New Yorkers who got separated from our tour group.

Vogue:  Can I bring the cameraman?

Pundita.  Leave the cameraman. Take the brioche.

Inside the Palace of Nations
January 13 meeting between U.N. special envoy to Syria and 
ambassadors to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council

The trilateral meeting between Russian, US and UN diplomats should stop Saudi attempts to influence talks that aim to draft the list of Syrian opposition, one of the leaders of Syria's opposition Popular Front for Change and Liberation told Sputnik Wednesday.
MOSCOW (Sputnik - January 13), Svetlana Alexandrova — The three-way meeting, which kicked off earlier on Wednesday, comes in preparation for a major intra-Syrian conference in Geneva on January 25 where opposition will meet with Syrian authorities.
"We expect that Russian, UN and US representatives will…put the gone-too-far Saudi Arabia in its place as it is trying to exceeded its authorities with respect to the process of forming a list of opposition," Qadri Jamil said.
Wednesday’s meeting in Geneva is expected to take further steps to implement the UN Security Council resolution on the Syrian crisis that calls to list Syrian opposition and terror groups, Jamil continued.
Several groups of Syrian external opposition met in the Saudi capital Riyadh last December despite protests from Damascus. They formed a council that hopes to handpick delegates to represent opposition at the upcoming talks with Syrian authorities.
Jamil accused the opposition that met in Riyadh of trying to monopolize influence and claim a monopoly when forming a united list of opposition.
Damascus said last month it did not recognize the Saudi-backed opposition, who demand that President Bashar Assad step down, and vowed to treat them as terrorists.
Now that the tide of battle in Syria has turned in favor of the Syrian government's coalition, the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are doing everything within their power to stop the Geneva III peace negotiations from going forward on January 25.

And if they can't halt or delay the negotiations, wreck them by every means at their disposal. One of the means has been to launch a propaganda blitz via media in countries where the governments are beholden to them that portrays Assad as engaging in a campaign to starve Syrians as part of siege warfare against places under the control of opposition fighters.

The claim is completely untrue but the United Nations, dependent on large donations from Al Saud and the Gulf Arab kingdoms in the Saudi coalition, has gone along -- despite the fact that the peace negotiations are led by the U.N.  And Western governments such as Germany and the U.K., trying to stay on the good side of the Gulf potentates and not wanting to rile Turkey -- the key transit point for migrants flowing into Europe -- have cooperated in spreading the propaganda.

The objective is to force a halt to the planned negotiations in Geneva between the Syrian government and opposition groups. This on the vaunted grounds that the humanitarian issue must be resolved before negotiations can go forward. However, there are no grounds -- a fact that Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister pointed out.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov enduring blasts of hot air 

GENEVA (Sputnik - Jan 14) – Linking the start of intra-Syria reconciliation talks with the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syrian cities is in violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2254, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told journalists.
"We are not denying the importance of this problem and think that the population in need in Syrian settlements that are under siege must of course be provided with prompt humanitarian aid deliveries, but we believe that linking that to the start of [reconciliation] talks would be wrong and would be inconsistent with UNSC resolution 2254," Gatilov said on Wednesday.
Then there is the matter of the list:
The deputy foreign minister explained that the resolution stipulates the formation of a broad Syria opposition delegation prior to the start of reconciliation talks.
According to Gatilov, Russia has not yet seen the list of opposition groups to be included in the delegation that will take part in the January 25 talks and it is not clear if it will include any terrorist organizations, such as Jaysh al-Islam.
Al Saud formed the Riyadh coalition in December in a bid to take control of the all-important list of accepted opposition groups:
MOSCOW (Sputnik - Jan 16), Svetlana Alexandrova – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry are set to meet in Zurich on Thursday, five days before the intra-Syria talks in Geneva.
"The opposition list has not been agreed yet. The issue will be discussed and, I believe, finally agreed at the January 20 meeting of Lavrov and Kerry. I think that the decision will be made that this list will consist of two groups – Riyadh-proposed opposition members and the second, which would be proposed by Moscow and Cairo,” the source said.
During the last round of international negotiations on the Syrian settlement on December 18, the sides failed to reach a consensus on what groups within Syria should be designated as terrorist and banned from the Geneva conference, where opposition representatives will meet with Syrian authorities.
On Wednesday, Russian, US and UN diplomats took part in a meeting in preparation for the January 25 meeting.
Moscow considers that forming a list of credible and moderate opposition representatives is a necessary condition for starting the intra-Syrian talks. Earlier this month, Lavrov said a sustainable settlement in Syria was impossible without an agreed single list of terrorist organizations operating in the country.
Several groups of Syrian external opposition met in the Saudi capital Riyadh in December despite protests from Damascus. They formed a council that hopes to handpick delegates to represent the opposition at the upcoming talks with Damascus representatives.
Vogue: I didn't hear anything about Saudi Arabia at that meeting. Where to next?

Pundita:  Zurich. January 20.

Earlier Pundita dispatches from Mordor:

December 23, 2015

December 27, 2015


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