Might Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s antics at the Durban Review Conference have helped Israel’s cause more than they hurt it? So argues Rasool Nafisi in, of all places, the Jerusalem Post.
Want a piece of the Berlin Wall? This guy‘s still the one to go to.
(image of the Berlin Wall, from flickr user siyublog under a Creative Commons license)
Three heavyweights — Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, and Lakhdar Brahimi — team up to focus attention on the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Now may be the last, best hope for reunification, they argue, which would bring, among other benefits, raised incomes, improved infrastructure, and the ability of Cypriots to send text messages across the dividing Green Line. Maybe even road signs in both Turkish and Greek?
To this propagandistic denunciation of the UN report on Israeli actions in Operation Cast Lead, I’ll add only this: the report does acknowledge the role of inexcusable Hamas tactics to endanger civilians; Israel has not fully cooperated with UN investigations, and Ban Ki-moon is not distancing himself from the entire report, even if he is regrettably not following up on one of its recommendations to create a further commission.
Senator Kerry and Rep. David Dreier explain how signing a free trade pact with Georgia will help improve relations with both Tbilisi and its larger neighbor to the north. Not sure Russia will see it that way, but this may be one of those things that Moscow will just have to get over.
Roger Cohen praises Barack Obama’s “mellow doctrine” — but don’t call him Mello Yello; he’s a “Kansan-Kenyan cat.”
The Wall Street Journal reports a positive “starting over” for Haiti — optimism tempered with problems, though I’m not as convinced that Bill Clinton is one of them.
UPDATE: Aravind Adiga, author of The White Tiger (a book recently read by me), has a great piece about the Tamil Tigers in The Daily Beast. Adiga gives a coherent summary of the evolution of Sri Lanka’s anti-terrorist/anti-Tiger campaign, and identifies an overlooked victim in the country’s military onslaught — journalists.
Good news for a baby gorilla in DR Congo’s dangerous Virunga National Park.
Motorbike ambulances are helping South Sudanese pregnant women, one of six out of whom tend to die during pregnancy from easily preventable causes.
And Tony Blair is impressed by the return of tourism to Sierra Leone.
UN expert Stephen Schlesinger zeroes in on the smaller foreign policy universe of Obama’s interactions with the United Nations and, citing accomplishments like paying back peacekeeping debt, restoring funding to UNFPA, and pushing to ratify important nuclear non-proliferation treaties, gives the Prez a solid A-.
And, the indefatigably anti-UN Anne Bayefsky has a nearly 2000-word anti-Durban screed (I know, the topic is surprising, huh?) in Forbes. Her attempts to capture the history of the conference seem to be growing ever more desperate and more personal, such that she needs to cite her own writings as a martyred example of the propaganda that the UN human rights commissioner praised the less partisan press for resisting. Hopefully this will be her last such tirade, though I seriously doubt it (my thoughts on the memorialization of the conference here and here).
Eugene Robinson argues that, instead of a handshake, a slap might have been more appropriate for an encounter that Hugo Chavez was clearly trying to use as a bit of theater. (A literal slap, of course, would only play right into Chavez’s hands face).
The Guardian editorializes in praise of airships (at least airships not named “Hindenburg”) as an efficient low-carbon method of transporting cargo.
Continuing in the vein that ignoring North Korea will be a much more prudent policy than taking the bait of its provocationg, Doug Bandown, of the Cato Institute, proposes “bored contempt” as the appropriate response to Pyongyang’s missile-waving attempts to attract attention.
And a couple good recent articles, in the Post and on RealClearWorld, on the fragile and uncertain Kurdish democracy. The UN is preparing reports on Kirkuk and other areas, and the decisions of where to grant greater Kurdish control — and, perhaps more importantly, of how Iraqi political parties will react — will determine whether or not the region continues to be a model, or ignites a new conflagration.
(image from flickr user Liqueur Felix under a Creative Commons license)
Middle East: During the last 48 hours of the continued ceasefire, humanitarian workers have delivered food to hundreds of thousands of people, repaired water and sanitation infrastructure, re-stocked medical supplies, and some of the 520,000 displaced Palestinians have returned to their homes. However, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator remarked the scale of needs remains “unprecedented in the Gaza Strip.”
Middle East: At today’s informal session of the General Assembly on Gaza the SG remarked that the most recent ceasefire has held since yesterday at 8 a.m. local time. He noted that a durable ceasefire is necessary and UN shelters must continue to remain safe zones. The SG thanked UN staff in Gaza and will fly the UN flag at half-mast tomorrow in memory of those who died in the conflict.
Middle East: The SG commended Israeli and Palestinian parties for committing to a 72-hour ceasefire that took place at 8 a.m. local time today. He urges all parties to abide by the ceasefire and commence peace talks in Cairo to address underlying issues and agree on a durable ceasefire to sustainably stop the violence. The UN lends its full support toward these efforts.
Middle East: The SG condemned yesterday’s shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah that killed at least 10 Palestinian civilians. The SG stated that the attack violated international humanitarian law and UN shelters must continue to be safe zones and not combat zones.
SG: Last night the SG spoke at a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica where he repeated his call for an unconditional and extendable humanitarian ceasefire. Speaking about yesterday’s shelling of a UN shelter he said: “Nothing – nothing – justifies such horror” and demanded “that all parties immediately respect UN premises”.
SG: The SG met with President Ortega yesterday in Nicaragua where he visited a wind farm and praised the country’s commitment to renewable energy. The SG arrived in Costa Rica today where he is expected to lecture about “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century”.