Mosaic Blog

The Second Coming, Cartoon Bombs, and Angry New York Mobs: Mosaic's UNGA Roundup

 Press TV / United Nations


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


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Trouble in Pakistan

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have quickly soured following a helicopter strike on a border post that killed three Pakistani soldiers last week. The incident prompted Pakistan to close an important border crossing for NATO supplies into Afghanistan. Criticism of the U.S. and NATO has dominated the news in Pakistani media even after the U.S. apologized for the incident.


Meanwhile, the Pentagon has recently accused some elements of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the terrorist networks in the country, thus undermining the war against terrorism by the U.S.-led international forces in the region. Recently, militants attacked 50 NATO supply trucks in Pakistan's northwestern town of Nowshera, the seventh attack in a short period of time. The U.S. has dramatically ramped up strikes with unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan's tribal areas in recent weeks.


But these are not the only stories that dominate Pakistani news. Reports about the human suffering due to the recent devastating floods, though they have all but vanished from Western newspapers, remain in the headlines in Pakistani ones. Terrorism acts are constant reminders of instability and insecurity for the average citizen, most recently punctuated by two blasts at a shrine in Karachi which left 9 dead and scores injured. The economy has tanked, inflation is at 18-20 percent, and the government seems to be helpless to do anything about it.


Pakistan is a troubled nation with deeply divided loyalties.


Even the once prestigious military establishment is now in trouble. A video purporting to show a group of Pakistani soldiers gunning down six blindfolded men in the country's troubled northwest has been circulating on the Internet for weeks. The troubling video has renewed long-standing concerns about military human rights violations during operations against the Taliban.


The war in Afghanistan has entered its tenth year. Many Pakistanis believe that “America’s War” has become their war. Fears are growing in Pakistan that the U.S. could bolster its drone attacks with a bombing campaign using fixed-wing aircrafts. This would most certainly increase Pakistani anger that could spill over into violence aimed at the thousands of Americans who are currently stationed in the country.


“The U.S. is trying to win its war in Afghanistan, through Pakistan,” says journalist Imtiyaz Mohammed.


He added that Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is in a major predicament of trying to appease the United States while also trying to calm down an angry population.


Meanwhile, Pakistan is currently ranked the 10th most failed state in the 2010 Failed State Index released by Foreign Policy magazine this summer. Just three places below Afghanistan.


But former President Pervez Musharraf attributes Pakistan’s woes to "failure" of governance.


"I would say failure of governance is the greatest threat today," said Musharraf, who has announced his return to active Pakistani politics from London where he has been living in self-imposed exile since the general election of 2008.


However, many Pakistani pundits believe that this announcement is no coincidence, and has the United States' markings all over it.


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