News / Middle East

Annual UN Meeting Wraps Up in New York

Margaret Besheer
The U.N. General Assembly annual debate closed on Monday.  The week of speeches and meetings focused largely on problems in the Middle East and Africa, including Islamophobia, the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program and the effort to send military help to Mali’s government. 

U.S. President Barack Obama was one of the debate’s first speakers.  He urged other leaders to speak out against violence and extremism in the wake of an amateur video mocking Islam that sparked deadly protests in dozens of countries.

"There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents.  There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.  There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan," he said.

Obama also sought to reassure Israel as he warned Iran over its controversial nuclear program. “Let me be clear, America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so.  But that time is not unlimited," he said.

The idea that time is running out to stop the Iranian government from enriching uranium to the level needed for a nuclear weapon was the central point of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address.

Using a cartoon drawing of a bomb, that subsequently became the butt of many jokes on the Internet, but succeeded in putting Mr. Netanyahu on the front page of many newspapers, the Israeli leader sought to persuade the international community that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat not only to his country, but also to the entire world.

"And by next spring, at most by next summer, at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.  From there, it is only a few months, possibly a few weeks, before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb," he said.

Netanyahu’s presentation pushed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ call the same day for a Palestinian upgrade in status in the General Assembly into the background at the annual meeting.

It also overshadowed a speech from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who mostly held forth on his idea of a new world order in his last General Assembly appearance.

But the conflict in Syria managed to top the international agenda, with scores of leaders calling for the bloodshed to stop and dialogue to begin.

Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Mouallem, was among the last speakers to address the annual meeting.  He reasserted his government's position that foreign fighters and terrorists are responsible for the violence that has killed more than 20,000 people in Syria.  Mouallem is heard here through a translator blaming several countries for the crisis.

He said, “We also wonder to what extent the statements made by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, France and others - to what extent do these statements that clearly induce and support terrorism in Syria with money, weapons and foreign fighters - are these in line with the international responsibilities of these countries in combating terrorism?”

Syria’s top diplomat also questioned the refugee crisis that has led nearly 300,000 Syrians to flee, saying it was “fabricated” by armed groups inciting civilians in border areas to escape to neighboring countries.

A Syrian opposition group called the minister’s speech “delusional” and accused President Bashar al-Assad’s government of having no interest in meaningful reform or dialogue.

Several crises in Africa were also discussed during the week, including the political transition in Somalia, the outstanding issues between the two Sudans, and violence in northern Mali.  France and the United States urged support for an African-led peacekeeping force to restore order, saying that Tuareg militants and al-Qaida-linked terrorists threaten to undermine stability throughout the Sahel.

A positive moment at the podium was the address by Thein Sein, Burma’s first civilian president in five decades.  He urged the international community to view Burma through a new perspective and said his country is on an irreversible path toward democracy.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: US Marine from: USA
October 01, 2012 5:26 PM
Sonders, no difference whatsoever... Arabs are Arabs... and the solidarity of the American Left and the Muslims in the Middle East which is the corner stone of the Obama administration... and its gradual distance from staunch friends like UK and Israel is more and more disturbing... it can not end well for US... just listen to the Iranian imposters on this site to get a feeling for the Iranian degeneracy...

by: Sonders from: UK
October 01, 2012 5:22 PM
what is the difference between Arab Syrians and Arab Palestinians and Arab Egyptians and Arab Iraqis...??? I think that there is no difference

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs