World News

Threats, tension mark UN General Assembly in face U.S., Iran, Saudi and global conflict

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Oct 2, 2019 - 4:30:41 PM

What's your opinion on this article?

In this photo provided by the United Nations, Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, left, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is greeted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 26, at UN headquarters.

Animosity is growing and prospects for war engulfing the Middle East didn’t decrease as heads of states, foreign ministers and ambassadors addressed the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The annual session, scheduled for Sept. 17-30 at UN headquarters in New York, opened under the theme “Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion” as leaders laid out their vision for tackling pressing issues around the globe. Climate change was a priority discussed at the UNGA74 and with the mid-September attacks on key oil refineries in Saudi Arabia, Middle East tensions loomed large in general debate.

President Trump, who came to power turning America’s back on international platforms like the United Nations, its Human Rights Council and global efforts like the Paris Climate Accord on Climate Change, spoke at the gathering for a third time. There was little difference from the themes of his previous speeches. He stressed an anti-globalist and America first worldview he dubbed “national renewal.”

In his 34-minute speech, Mr. Trump emphasized spending over $2 trillion enhancing the U.S. military after enjoining the nations to look out for self as America is doing.

“I have the immense privilege of addressing you today as the elected leader of a nation that prides its liberty, independence and self-government above all,” said Mr. Trump.

Each nation represented has a cherished history and culture that they should always put first, he advised. “The future does not belong to globalists,” he added. “The future belongs to patriots.”

Other leaders in keeping with “inclusion” as part of the overarching theme of this year’s session, disagreed with the president’s bent.

“The idea of a conflict between patriotism and globalism is false and dangerous,” said Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, who represented the European Union. “Twenty-first century patriotism must have a global dimension, if it is not to become national egoism,” he warned. “The love of one’s homeland cannot become hatred towards one’s neighbors.”

After laying the base for America First, Mr. Trump sniped at Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba and leveled accusations of unfair trade practices and corruption at China.

The General Assembly came on the heels of destructive attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities that pushed up global oil prices and knocked out nearly 6 percent of daily global crude oil and natural gas production. The U.S. blamed Iran for the attacks and used the General Assembly as a platform to call for isolating the Islamic Republic.

In the opening days of the General Assembly, France, Germany and the UK joined the U.S. in blaming Iran for the attack. The U.S. is sending troops and weapons into Saudi Arabia and has formed a military alliance with other nations called the International Maritime Security Construct to protect ships passing through major Mid-East oil transportation routes. Some see the alliance as a threat to Iran, which presented its own plan to protect these waters absent a “foreign” military presence. Iran invited all affected Gulf states to join its Homos Peace Endeavor.

Still the General Assembly presentations of the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Iran were contentious.

Saudi Arabia echoed President Trump, calling for total isolation of Iran and placing “utmost pressure with every tool available” to end Iran’s alleged aggressive conduct. The Saudis said the best way to control Tehran is by cutting off its financial resources. Addressing the General Assembly Sept. 26, Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf blamed Iran for the Sept. 14 missile and drone attack on the Kingdom’s oil facilities.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back at U.S. assertions saying Washington, while “imposing extra-territorial sanctions and threats against other nations has made efforts to deprive Iran from participating in the global economy.” He accused the U.S. of “international piracy” and misusing the international banking system.

In contrast, he said, Iran has been a pioneer in freedom seeking movements throughout the region while seeking peace and progress. “We have never surrendered to foreign aggression and imposition,” Iran’s president noted Sept. 23. He chided America in his speech as a government whose officials impose the harshest sanctions on countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia and China. “The Iranian nation will never ever forget and forgive these crimes and these criminals,” vowed President Rouhani.

He further told the General Assembly that Iran would not negotiate with the U.S. until America returns to the negotiating table under the proper terms, building on a multi-lateral agreement that the U.S. scrapped.

Europe paid lip service to its commitment to the agreement, while Iran upheld its end of the deal governing acquisition of nuclear capacity, said President Rouhani.

“They call us to negotiations while they run away from their commitments,” he noted, warning there were limits to Iranian patience.

If the U.S. desires to talk, return to the negotiation table and commitment to the nuclear deal between Iran and the five members of the Security Council plus Germany, said Iran’s president.

“We will never negotiate with enemies,” he said.