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Ed Webb

US and Israel lose UNESCO voting rights - Americas - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • UNESCO has suspended the voting rights of the United States, two years after it stopped paying dues to the UN's cultural arm in protest over its granting full membership to the Palestinians, according to a UNESCO source.

    The US has not paid its dues to UNESCO due to the decision by world governments to make Palestine a UNESCO member in 2011. Israel suspended its dues at the same time and also lost voting rights on Friday.

  • The US decision of not paying UNESCO was blamed on US laws that prohibit funding to any United Nations agency that implies recognition of Palestinian demands for their own state.
  • The withdrawal of US funding, which to date amounts to about $240m or some 22 percent of UNESCO's budget, has plunged the organisation into a financial crisis, forcing it to cut programmes and slash spending.
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  • Some fear that a weaker US presence will lead to growing anti-Israeli sentiment within UNESCO, where Arab-led criticism of Israel for territorial reasons has long been an issue.

    "We won't be able to have the same clout," said Phyllis Magrab, the Washington-based US National Commissioner for UNESCO. "In effect, we (now won't) have a full tool box. We're missing our hammer."

    Israel's ambassador to UNESCO, Nimrod Barkan, told The Associated Press that his country supported the US decision, "objecting to the politicisation of UNESCO, or any international organisation, with the accession of a non-existing country like Palestine."

    Elias Sanbar, Palestinian Ambassador to UNESCO told Al Jazeera: "We need them (the United States) to be active. By taking this decision, first of all, they have created big problems for UNESCO, but they have also lost part of their role and we need their role."

    UNESCO designates World Heritage sites, promotes global education and supports press freedom among other tasks.

  • The Palestinians have so far failed in their bid to become a full member of the UN, but their UNESCO membership is seen as a potential first step towards UN recognition of statehood.
Ed Webb

To Ousted Boss, Arms Watchdog Was Seen as an Obstacle in Iraq - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    Seems to support the realist view of international institutions: largely instruments of the will of the powerful states. But not straightforwardly so.
Ed Webb

Obama to World: Bad News. The American Empire Is Dead. | The Cable - 0 views

  • "The United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries," he said in his address before the 193-member General Assembly. "The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't borne out by America's current policy or public opinion."
  • The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war -- rightly concerned about issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world -- may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill
  • In addressing the conflict in Syria, Obama said U.S. aims were largely humanitarian.

    "There's no 'great game' to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe haven for terrorists,"

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  • a rather modest account of American "core interests" in the Middle East and North Africa: countering military aggression against U.S. partners in the region, protecting global energy reserves, and confronting the dual threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation
  • The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region," he said. "But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action -- particularly with military action. Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and people of the region."
Ed Webb

Syria isn't Kosovo and this isn't 1999. Not even close | openDemocracy - 0 views

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    Useful contrast of the two cases, reflecting how careful one must be with historical analogies.
Ed Webb

Samantha Power's case for striking Syria - 0 views

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    Well worth 20 minutes. Whether or not one agrees, this is an admirably clear account of how we got here and the logic of compellent force in this instance, where deterrence has failed.
Ed Webb

Exclusive: Intercepted Calls Prove Syrian Army Used Nerve Gas, U.S. Spies Say | The Cable - 0 views

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    Leaks prepare the ground for military action - standard procedure in Washington.
Ed Webb

At United Nations, Renewed Focus on Syria, if Not New Ideas - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • “The Americans have a talent for finding reasons not to act on the peace process,”
Ed Webb

A simple guide to Palestine's application for membership of the United Nations | Carne ... - 1 views

  • an overall feeling I have that the legal and political consequences of this initiative are in general being overstated.  Susan Rice has a point when saying that the consequences of the initiative on the ground are nil (though, in my view, that does not mean that the initiative is not worthwhile).  That said, already and at a minimum, the PLO has succeeded in putting the issue of Palestine at the top of the international agenda for UNGA Ministerial week.  This is no small achievement in a year that of such extraordinary events.
  • Despite the President's undertakings last year in his GA speech to support a 2-state solution based on exactly the parameters that everyone else agrees (with the exception of Israel), the US will be isolated at the UN in blocking the Palestinian initiative.  This will undoubtedly damage the US image in the Middle East in particular.  The desperate efforts by the US to stave off this diplomatic mess by getting Israel and the PLO to agree to talk again look unlikely to succeed in time.  If they do succeed, the initiative may, in a sense, have helped US efforts by forcing the issue to a head, and pressurizing Israel to the table (though the US would be loth to admit it).  But if they fail, as they appear likely to do, the fundamental weakness, if not to say bankruptcy, of US mediation efforts will be exposed in a very embarrassing fashion.  US arguments that the Palestinian initiative will damage the peace process are now treated with considerable and justifiable scepticism, as there is no substantive peace process to speak of, just lots of people (Quartet, Tony Blair etc) talking about a peace process.
  • note that it is the PLO that is leading this initiative, reflecting their traditional role as the international representative of the Palestinian people
Ed Webb

Palestine's Date with the United Nations « The Osarseph Report - 1 views

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    Analysis from Dickinson College alumnus
Ed Webb

Ahmadinejad and the 9/11 attacks - Americas - Al Jazeera English - 1 views

  • About 46 per cent of the world's people believe that al-Qaeda launched the 9/11 attacks, while 15 per cent think the US government was behind the assault, and seven per cent blame Israel, according to a
    2008 world public opinion study carried out by the Program on International Policy (PIPA) Attitudes at the University of Maryland, which interviewed 16,063 people worldwide.

    But Ahmadinejad views himself as a leader in the Arab and Muslim worlds. And, in these regions, surveys show significant sectors of the population believe that the US and Israel launched the 9/11 attacks to meet their own geopolitical goals.

    In Jordan, 31 per cent of those polled by PIPA believe Israel was behind the attacks, while only 11 per cent blame it on al-Qaeda. Likewise, 43 per cent of Egyptians blame Israel, and 12 per cent
    think the US was responsible, while only 16 per cent think al-Qaeda brought down the towers.

    A 2006 poll from Scrippsnews says 36 per cent of Americans consider it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that US government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried or launched the attacks
    themselves.

  • Ahmadinejad is speaking to a significant global constituency. There is little evidence to suggest that they include "the majority of the American people, as well as most nations and politicians around the world", as the Iranian leader said in his UN speech. But the 9/11 "conspiracy theories" are not a fringe phenomenon either.
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