A nuclear-armed Iran is almost here. And the UN's top nuclear agency, the IAEA has this to say: "We had intensive discussions today but could not finalize the structured approach document that has been under negotiation for a year and a half now. Our commitment to continue dialogue is unwavering. However, we must recognize that our best efforts have not been successful so far. Therefore, we will continue to try and complete this process. A date for the next meeting has still to be set." And they won the Nobel Peace Prize for keeping us safe.
In Syria, the motto for stopping the bloodshed might be summed up this way: when the going gets tough, the tough hold a conference. That's the latest word from Secretary John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov who are planning the event for some time in June. Neither Assad, nor the opposition, has committed to attend. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly President Vuc Jeremić raised the number of dead on May 15 to "at least 80,000 people, most civilians." Syrian NGOs this week put the figure at more than 94,000. With the Assad regime busy adding to the death toll, and rebels recently releasing a video of one of their own cutting out and then eating the heart of a Syrian soldier, the unfortunate reality is that good guys are few and far between. Cannibalism versus mass murder appears to leave poor President Obama in a quandary not of his own making. But the reality is that it is the President who has repeatedly miscalculated on the Arab "spring" and who early on emboldened President Assad. Americans are genuinely concerned by the horrific human rights violations in Syria but are not interested in installing and promoting one more anti-American and anti-Israel Arab government at their expense. The Obama administration has made a mess of it, in large measure by taking its eye off the Iranian ball. Get serious about Iran and its client states and terror satellites will feel the blow.
In the words of the latest UN press release: the UN General Assembly "took action" on Syria. To be specific, the GA....adopted another resolution. Action, UN-style. And only 107 - of the possible 192 UN member states - even voted in favor of the condemnation.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court has opened an examination of the Turkish-backed terror flotilla or the "Mavi Marmara" incident. The examination is in response to a complaint lodged by a Turkish law firm who is acting on behalf of the state of Comoros, where the Mavi Marmara was registered. Israel - acting under direct pressure from President Obama who was with Netanyahu in Israel when the Prime Minister made the call to his Turkish counterpart - apparently was deluded into thinking an apology was the end game. Evidently, the terror-supporting state is just warming up. No word from President Obama on the actions of his Turkish friends.
Israeli air strikes on Syrian weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon highlighted the dangerous build-up in weapons in southern Lebanon, as Iran's proxy Hezbollah rearms and prepares to strike Israel again. The UN response? Send over the head of UN peacekeeping to Lebanon to do a PR tour congratulating UNIFIL forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces for keeping the peace. Said Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous: "I have high admiration for all the military and civilian personnel of UNIFIL." Buried in the UN press release is UNIFIL's job description: "Established in 1978, UNIFIL is tasked with ensuring that the area between the so-called Blue Line – separating Israel and Lebanon – and the Litani River is free of unauthorized weapons, personnel and assets" Ladsous somehow neglected to mention the job not done: thousands of Hezbollah rocket and missile sites, and underground bunkers stockpiled with weapons in the midst of civilian areas, created since 2006 courtesy UN "peacekeepers." This is a cover-up, not neutrality.
At a news conference, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeatedly dodged questions from reporters on Iran becoming chair of the UN Disarmament Conference. He responded that it's the fault of Member States. (Translation: I just follow orders even if incompatible with the UN Charter.) He also shrugged it off by claiming it's simply a matter of rotation. (Translation: We're all automatons.) Ban's rep even added that it's all about "the bigger picture" and "progress." So the UN's highest officer doesn't believe an Iranian chair is an obstacle to progress on disarmament.
The Obama administration now says it is upset by Iran's forthcoming ascension to the Chair of the UN Conference on Disarmament. The U.S. is a member of the Disarmament Conference. It knows that chairmanship rotates alphabetically through the 65 members. Assuming the State Department can spell, therefore, Iran's chairmanship after Indonesia comes as no surprise. But here's today's announcement: "Iran's upcoming rotation as President of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is unfortunate and highly inappropriate...As a result, the United States will not be represented at the ambassadorial level during any meeting presided over by Iran." No departure. No boycott. A blip and the U.S. $$ keep on flowing.
In case you didn't think the UN could get even more bizarre (and dangerous), try this one. Iran will soon become the President of the Conference on Disarmament. The Iranians rotate into the job for four weeks near the end of May. Their qualification for the position? Iran is the member state that comes next in the English alphabet after Indonesia. Iran will have the task of managing the 2013 Conference agenda, which includes "the cessation of the nuclear arms race and nuclear disarmament." On the one hand, since the mullahs running the country are engaged in a mad race to acquire nuclear arms, chairing a meeting on disarmament may be a bit of a struggle. On the other hand, the Conference just talks, and talking for its own sake is an Iranian art form. This isn't the first time that the Conference on Disarmament has faced similar controversy. In July 2011it was North Korea's turn to take the helm. North Korea took the appointment as a sign of approval. Its representative announced that the country was "very much committed to the Conference" and that "he would do everything in his capacity to move the Conference on Disarmament forward." So fast forward. We find an ever more aggressive North Korea sharing nuclear know-how with like-minded belligerents, such as Iran and Syria. The saddest part of this charade, therefore, is that these countries and their despotic leaders take sustenance from acquiring such formal trappings and basking in the accompanying diplomatic niceties. Bizarre, but not funny.
The UN Security Council held a briefing by the chairs of its top "counter-terrorism" bodies. (These bodies are composed of the members of the Security Council - taking off one hat and putting on another.) They used words like "further synergies" and "multiplier effect," while the UN press release chirped the bodies were working "full throttle." The whole gang effortlessly discussed counter-terrorism, even though they don't agree on what is terrorism. Islamic states also had no difficult denouncing terrorism; they just mean something other than armed struggle in the name of self-determination. In fact, the Chair of the UN Counter-terrorism Committee is Mohammed Loulichki, the UN Ambassador of Morocco; Morocco is a party to the Islamic Terrorism Convention and an advocate of the treaty's exemption clause for what in plain English is Islamic terrorism. Hence, the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee has never named a single terrorist, terrorist organization or state sponsor of terrorism. As for the contribution of specific countries: Russia told the Security Council that the international community should cut the "red tape" preventing action on terror. But they weren't thinking of the Russian veto preventing Council action on Syria. The Syrian ambassador was upset that states that support terrorism are not held "accountable." But he wasn't thinking about Assad. U.S. representative Jeffery DeLaurentis, repeated the Obama administration mantra: "Al-Qaida was weaker today." Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor said matter of factly: "in light of the possibility that Hizbullah could seize Syria's stockpiles of chemical weapons, he urged the Council to "act today, not tomorrow"" His plea - to an organization charged with protecting international peace and security - fell on deaf ears.