Entries in United Nations (32)
US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan have given a joint press conference in a rainy White House Rose Garden. One would think with both world leaders on the same stage that topics like terrorism on the Turkish/Syria border, the ongoing Syrian crisis, and the sectarian strife in Iraq would be major priorities. They were not. These topics were not raised until more than halfway through Obama's opening comments, and there was no news beyond echoing very general statements that mirror the policies that have been more-fully expressed at other times.
Syria was clearly not on the agenda, though another journalist makes an important note that this may soon change:
Note that PM Erdogan will have 2 hour private dinner w/pres Obama tonight, it's when, Erdogan says, will talk Syria in depth #rosegarden— ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) May 16, 2013
More notable might be the questions from the press. Due to rain, the press conference may have been shortened, but the 1st question asked to Obama was about a domestic scandal (the IRS) and the 1st question to Erdogan was about Turkey's policies towards Israel. In other words, while having both leaders on record at the same time, some really interesting questions could have been asked about how these two leaders will pursue their most pressing common problem. Instead, they were squandered on offering the leaders an opportunity to echo talking points that they're already given.
State TV footage of the aftermath of Monday's car bomb in central Damascus
1616 GMT: Massacre in Homs. In the last week of March we posted evidence of a massacre in Abil, outside of Homs (map). Between 13 and 18 burnt bodies were found in the town, and eyewitnesses said that "shabiha," pro-regime militia, were the culprits.
People run from a regime airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Douma --- activists report that there were 20 deaths
2044 GMT: Syria. An airstrike on the Jobar section of Homs today:
1726 GMT: Syria. Insurgents drive a captured regime in the Jabal al-Zawiya area:
situation of chaos in the Kafar Batna suburb of Damascus which was shelled by regime forces with rocket launchers; there are reports of injuries also among the medical staff,
Bashar al Assad will likely live for more nights, but how many will have to die before his regime comes toppling down?
2028 GMT: This video was sent to us by Zilal, who has been speaking to people inside Damascus. It was taken from the south of the Presidential Palace in Damascus. The occasional gunshot or explosion, far in the distance, can be heard. More importantly, though, it reportedly shows the ambulances lined up on the road to the palace. Zilal describes the video:
This is Damascus tonight. [Zilal's sources] say that there are ambulances on the road leading to the presidential palace but we cannot see anything.
What we can see is that electricity is cut in many areas as you said before.
Insurgents in Taibet al Imam, near Hama, on Tuesday
2036 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that the UN has asked for a historic $1.5 billion in emergency aid in order to help those affected by the Syrian crisis avoid starvation or freezing to death during the winter which continues to get worse.
The upgrade in status at the UN will not be produce a two-state solution in weeks. Indeed, there is still no practical alternative to the reality before Palestine, with a political stalemate not only between Israel and the Palestinians but also between Gaza and the West Bank.
A 6-Point Guide....
2232 GMT: Bahrain British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has met this week with opposition political society AlWefaq and the loyalist National Unity Assembly. In a statement, Burt offers little more than the normal UK line, although he specifically notes the recent stripping of citizenship. This is likely to become an increasing issue for the British government as it has not only impacted Bahrainis resident in London but also left two former AlWefaq MP's who were visiting the UK, stranded as stateless
We discussed the current situation in Bahrain one year on from the Independent Commission of Inquiry’s report and our shared concern at the recent bombings. I reiterated the UK’s support for the Declaration of Non-Violence that was launched earlier this month by Al Wefaq and five other political societies. It is an important confidence-building measure and I encourage other leaders in Bahrain to declare publicly their support for this initiative. Violent protests are unacceptable and we condemn them unequivocally.
We also discussed recent actions taken by the authorities, such as the ban on protests and the withdrawal of citizenship from 31 individuals. I made clear that the UK is concerned about such steps which undermine potential reconciliation and that the UK is urging the Government of Bahrain to do more to create the right environment for meaningful political dialogue. I therefore welcome the Government’s acceptance of a needs assessment team from the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights next week to discuss this alongside follow-up to the recent Universal Periodic Review of Bahrain by the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The British Under-Secretary of State for Defence Lord Astor will visit Bahrain next week for talks with leaders.
Later today we will post the video of President Obama's speech to the United Nations General Assembly, but this morning I took a lighter look with BBC Radio 5 at the PR and politics in New York. The conversation started with British Prime Minister David Cameron's moment of glory this evening on the David Letterman Show, but then moved to the question of which world leaders President Obama and his Republican challenge Mitt Romney should be seeing this week.
That in turn brought a twist in the story: if the Jewish vote in America is so important, why isn't Obama giving the time of day to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week?
The discussion starts at the 1:52:27 mark.
The UN Security Council has an illogical, unjust and completely undemocratic structure and mechanism. This is a flagrant form of dictatorship, which is antiquated and obsolete and whose expiry date has passed. It is through abusing this improper mechanism that America and its accomplices have managed to disguise their bullying as noble concepts and impose it on the world. They protect the interests of the West in the name of “human rights”. They interfere militarily in other countries in the name of “democracy”. They target defenseless people in villages and cities with their bombs and weapons in the name of “combating terrorism”. From their perspective, humanity is divided into first-, second- and third-class citizens. Human life is considered cheap in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and expensive in America and Western Europe. The security of America and Europe is considered important, while the security of the rest of humanity is considered unimportant. Torture and assassination are permissible and completely ignored if they are carried out by America, the Zionists and their puppets. It does not trouble their conscience that they have secret prisons in various places on different continents, in which defenseless prisoners who have no legal representation and have not been tried in a court of law are treated in the most hideous and detestable way. Good and evil are defined in a completely one-sided and selective way. They impose their interests on the nations of the world in the name of “international law”. They impose their domineering and illegal demands in the name of “international community”. Using their exclusive and organized media network, they disguise their lies as the truth, their falsehood as true, and their oppression as efforts to promote justice. In contrast, they brand as lies every true statement that exposes their deceit and label every legitimate demand as roguish.