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 How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves in Landmark Discovery

    Researchers likened discovery to difference between looking at piece of music on paper and then hearing it in real life

    Prince Ali: FIFA Politics Affected International Fixtures

    Some countries faced unfavorable treatment for not toeing political line inside soccer world body, Jordanian candidate to head FIFA says

    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.
    NATO to Target Migrant Smugglersi
    X
    Jeff Custer
    February 11, 2016 4:35 PM
    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.