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UN General Assembly offers little hope for peace

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: Oct 5, 2011 - 7:21:14 PM

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Palestinians appeal to member states for admission, Iran's president details Western, Zionist global crimes

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(L-R)President Barack Obama, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
(FinalCall.com) - The 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly convened in which leaders from 193 nations took part in plenary sessions and high-level meetings amidst a backdrop of several global conflicts, growing economic instability and lingering humanitarian crises.

The General Assembly is the United Nations main deliberative body. Important issues such as peace and security, new membership and budgets require a two-thirds majority vote for approval, while other issues require a simple majority, with each country possessing one vote.

In his opening remarks, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN's peacekeeping budget will reach $8 billion, which should be considered by member nations prior to dispatching troops.

“Seven billion now look to us—the world's leaders. They need solutions. They demand leadership. They want us to act. To act with compassion, courage and conviction. To act in concert—nations united at the United Nations,” he added.

Critics have questioned the relevance and efficacy of the body, saying that it really acts simply as a sounding board where member nations engage in rhetoric with no real substantive action, except when it comes to war or sanctions against weaker nations targeted by the powerful Western nations. The will of the United States, the United Kingdom and France dominates the UN Security Council. There are two other permanent member nations, China and the Russian Federation, while 10 other non-permanent members of the Security Council serve one-year terms.

U.S. President Barack H. Obama addressed the General Assembly Sept. 21 while American Jewish organizations criticized, threatened and pressured him regarding the request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for recognition of a Palestinian state as a full member of the United Nations.

“America's commitment to Israel's security is unshakeable. Our friendship with Israel is deep and enduring,” said President Obama. “The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied. The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland.”

His speech, however, contained no mention of provocative expansion by Zionist settlers that has been criticized by the international community, nor the disenfranchisement of Palestinian residents who suffered since the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel.

“War and conflict have been with us since the beginning of civilizations. But in the first part of the 20th century, the advance of modern weaponry led to death on a staggering scale. It was this killing that compelled the founders of this body to build an institution that was focused (not) just on ending one war, but on averting others; a union of sovereign states that would seek to prevent conflict, while also addressing its causes,” said Mr. Obama.

Ironically, under his direction after taking over for George W. Bush, the U.S. is still involved in military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and “shadow wars” have been ramped up in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen using airborne predator drones, Special Operations Forces and mercenary fighters. And, in a rhetorical exercise also reminiscent of his presidential predecessor, the name of Osama bin Laden was raised.

“Osama bin Laden is gone, and the idea that change could only come through violence has been buried with him,” said President Obama. Additionally, during his speech, saber rattling against Iran resulting from its peaceful nuclear program continued.

The president of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, spoke to the General Assembly on Sept. 23 aiming his words squarely at the imperialism and colonialism of Western powers—particularly the United States and Europe.

“Who abducted forcefully tens of millions of people from their homes in Africa and other regions of the world during the dark period of slavery, making them a victim of their materialistic greed? Who imposed colonialism for over four centuries upon this world? Who occupied lands and massively plundered resources of other nations, destroyed talents, and alienated languages, cultures and identities of nations?” asked President Ahmadinejad, who expanded his critique to include Zionists.

“Who imposed through deceit and hypocrisy, the Zionism and over 60 years of war, homelessness, terror and mass murder on the Palestinian people and other countries of the region? Who imposed and supported for decades military dictatorship and totalitarian regimes on Asian, African and Latin American nations? Who used nuclear bombs against defenseless people, and stockpiled thousands of warheads in their arsenals? Whose economies rely on waging wars and selling arms?” he continued.

President Ahmadinejad also described the “mysterious September 11 incident” as a pretext used by the United States to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq and obtain access to oil resources in the region. As it has now become a custom, the United States, the United Kingdom and France walked out of his speech in protest.

In perhaps the most anticipated moment of this session, Israel and the United States both were on the floor of the General Assembly as embattled Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that he presented a formal written request for Palestine to be recognized as a full member of the United Nations on the basis of the June 4, 1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.

“I call upon Mr. Secretary-General to expedite transmittal of our request to the Security Council, and I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favor of our full membership. I also appeal to the states that have not yet recognized the state of Palestine to do so,” President Abbas said.

According to the Institute for Middle East Understanding, approximately 100 nations already recognize Palestine as a state, with many maintaining diplomatic relations and operating consular offices in the Palestinian Territories.

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