The UN General Assembly's yearly get-together is a time for high-flying international diplomacy between world leaders. The General Debate, in particular, allows all world leaders who participate in the United Nations to deliver a public address to the General Assembly. As such, it has been used as a highly-visible platform by many countries' representatives to push their views.
This year's debate theme was "Adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means," which seems a little tongue-in-cheek given the current situation in parts of the Middle East and Africa.
As BBC Arabic reported that Somali and African forces were closing in on the final al-Shabab stronghold of Kismayo, Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ali gave his remarks at the Assembly, saying that there was no place in Somalia for the "few ideological extremists" in the Islamist group's ranks.
Barack Obama's appearance at the UN was brief, which some say was to avoid tough discussions with other world leaders on Iran and Syria. He honored Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, who was killed in an attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, and condemned the American-made film that criticized Islam's Prophet Muhammad and sparked anti-US riots across the Muslim world. Meanwhile, Libya's new president, Mohamed Yousek al-Magariaf, apologized for the attacks, and apologized to the world on behalf of Libya for Muammar Gaddafi's decades-long rule.
With regard to Syria, world leaders condemned the violence across the board, but their approaches to end the conflict varied greatly. According to IBA News, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Jordan's King Abdullah II both called for Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying that the Syrian president's ouster is vital to the success of peace efforts.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supported the Syrian regime, and criticized the efforts by the Western world to interfere in what he sees as an internal conflict. Ahmadinejad, in his last speech to the Assembly as a world leader, also spoke of his belief in the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ and the twelfth imam, Imam al-Mahdi, whom Shiites believe will come at the end times with the prophet Jesus to help humanity. The United States and Israel were both absent from the General Assembly Hall when he gave his remarks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also addressed the United Nations with a long-anticipated bid to join the UN General Assembly as an observer. The Palestinian Authority previously asked the UN for full member status last year, but had been rejected by the Security Council, which has the Israel ally, the United States, as a permanent member with veto power. Press TV reports that Abbas also lambasted Israel for its "ethnic cleansing" of Palestinians, as well as the ongoing occupation of Palestinian land. A UN report that came at the beginning of the week and before the General Assembly meeting echoed similar statements-- that Israel must do more to halt the abuse of Palestinian rights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stole the show by using a prop, which has not been done in the General Assembly since the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi pulled out a copy of the UN Charter and threw it in the air in 2009. Netanyahu used a picture of a cartoon bomb and drew a red line through it to illustrate how far Iran has come in enriching uranium, and how the United Nations must draw a red line for the country before it acquires enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Press TV analysts expressed concern over Netanyahu's mental health following this incident.
Outside of the Assembly Hall, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Rahmin Mehmanparast captured the attention of the American channel Fox News after he was attacked by a group of "about 100" Iranian dissident protestors on a New York City sidewalk. He managed to flag down an NYPD police car, but according to Dubai TV, the cops appeared "uninterested."
Image: Benjamin Netanyahu draws a red line on a bomb illustration at the UN General Assembly, September 27, 2012. Press TV / United Nations
Egyptian troops and protesters clash in Cairo as thousands rally
Al Jazeera - Over 20 people were injured in confrontations between the Egyptian security forces and protesters attempting to reach the headquarters of the Defense Ministry in Cairo. Al Jazeera correspondent reported that 20 armored trucks amassed in al- Abbasiyah Square after pushing the protesters away from the surroundings of the Defense Ministry. Tahrir Square hosted a demonstration against the Military Council, and so did al-Abbasiyah Square that received even more protesters.
Syrian troops storm Aleppo University killing four and arresting hundreds
BBC Arabic - Syrian opposition activists say a number of students at Aleppo University were killed by the gunfire of Syrian security forces when they stormed the campus.The university's president announced classes will be suspended until May 13th. Following these incidents, demonstrations broke out in and around as the faculties of Aleppo University in solidarity with the targeted students. Other demonstrations erupted in various areas as well.
Israeli court postpones Palestinian hunger strikers' appeals
Palestine TV - After Bilal Diab and Thaeir Halahla entered their 68th day of their open-ended hunger strike, a hearing was held today in the so-called Israeli Supreme Court, where their trial was postponed indefinitely to review the demand of their release. During the trial session, Bilal and Tha'ir's defense attorney presented the judge with his argument which condemns the so-called administrative detention, which allows the detention of the prisoners without any charges.
Blasts in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Taliban claims responsibility
Dubai - US President Barack Obama visited Afghanistan for six hours and met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The two leaders signed a strategic partnership pact for cooperation between Washington and Kabul. Following Obama's visit, Kabul was rocked by a series of explosions that claimed the lives of 6 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and warned they will launch an offensive against NATO on Thursday.
Al Alam - At least 20 people were killed, and 45 others were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself at a market in Bajur, leading to the killing and injury of dozens of people. He targeted a police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan. Among the dead were a number of policemen and civilians.
Image: A member of security forces jumps before throwing a stone back at protesters near Egypt's Defence Ministry May 4, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih