The Annual General Assembly Debate has started at the UN (28 Sept – 3 Oct) where several world leaders will make their political case. Therefore, till next Tuesday (6 Oct), I will comment the speeches delivered by six leaders.
Today, we start with President Obama's delivery.
At first glance, POTUS's speech seems an overall superficial statement; however, after a thorough analysis, it becomes clear this speech is about compromise. The United States of America is willing to make some interesting trade-offs with Russia, Asia-Pacific Nations and Israel.
Trade-off with Russia
“If Russia takes that path -- a path that for stretches of the post-Cold War period resulted in prosperity for the Russian people -- then we will lift our sanctions and welcome Russia’s role in addressing common challenges. After all, that’s what the United States and Russia have been able to do in past years (..) cooperating to remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons. And that’s the kind of cooperation we are prepared to pursue again -- if Russia changes course.”
The US offered itself to work with Russia in the Middle East and as a result, sanctions can be lifted (the same way the sanctions against Iran were recently lifted when Iranians decided to cooperate with America and Europe). This is very interesting because the Russian move, in Syria, pushed the Americans to re-think their position regarding Mr Putin – the Russian presence in such an important war theatre is a threat to US interests in the region, and therefore to control the damages it may be forced to give something to Russia in exchange for cooperation (one that, according to Caleb Newton, would enable “the US [to] indirectly establish a military presence in Syria by holding political leverage over the Russian forces”).
“America is pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as part of our commitment to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and pursue the peace and security of a world without them. And this can only take place if Iran seizes this historic opportunity.”
I only have one question: what if Iran already has the capability to assemble a nuclear weapon? I understand the Iranian Nuclear Deal however the job was incomplete: too many loopholes were left on paper and the advice to unleash the Blue Dragon was not made publicly clear.
Trade-off with Asia-Pacific Countries
“America is and will continue to be a Pacific power, promoting peace, stability, and the free flow of commerce among nations. But we will insist that all nations abide by the rules of the road, and resolve their territorial disputes peacefully, consistent with international law. That’s how the Asia-Pacific has grown”
This is a clear message to China. The Red Dragon should mind the fact that America is on a Coalition spree, therefore it could start working towards organising a Asia-Pacific group to counter the Chinese imperialistic demeanour. Considering that Japan has departed from a Pacifist stance...a word to the wise...
“Of course, terrorism is not new. Speaking before this Assembly, President Kennedy put it well: 'Terror is not a new weapon,' he said. (..) But in this century, we have faced a more lethal and ideological brand of terrorists who have perverted one of the world’s great religions. (..) Islam teaches peace.”
Yes, terrorism has been around at least since the 18th century but do history lessons matter to the victims of terror? No. Today, they only identify one type of terrorism: Islamic Terror. Islam teaches peace within the Ummah, not with the Kuffar “You'll find that the worst enemies of the believers are the Jews and the idol worshipers [Christians]” (Sura 5:82)
“That means contesting the space that terrorists occupy, including the Internet and social media.”
This was perhaps the most important message regarding terrorism: the responsibility that social media companies have in the fight against terror. They cannot hide behind the freedom of speech laws to continue allowing terrorist groups to indoctrinate, recruit and spread fear and hatred throughout the internet – this position is aligned with PM David Cameron's.
Message to the Islamic World
“It is time for the world -- especially Muslim communities -- to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of organizations like al Qaeda and ISIL.”
How can a devout Muslim do that when the Quran expressly states “Believers do not ally with disbelievers” (Sura 4:141)? Nevertheless, POTUS is trying to say that most of today's animosity towards Muslim Communities is due to their silence before Islamic Terrorism.
“There should be no more tolerance of so-called clerics who call upon people to harm innocents because they’re Jewish, or because they're Christian, or because they're Muslim.”
This is a clear message to the Palestinian Clerics, to the Ayatollahs, and to all others who teach Muslim children to hate and kill Jews, Christians and any “non-suitable” Muslim. President Obama should've extended his criticism to Political Leaders, like Pres. Abbas, who incite against Jews and call for their death.
Middle East Policy
“But the only lasting solution to Syria’s civil war is political -- an inclusive political transition that responds to the legitimate aspirations of all Syrian citizens, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of creed.”
America understands that eventually Bashar al-Assad may have to relinquish power but the situation on the ground militates against that wish – this position is aligned to PM David Cameron's present policy regarding Syria – therefore, ISIS/AQ must be degraded and destroyed first and then new political realities can be forged in alliance with Russia (if Mr Putin accepts the American proposal).
“I can promise you America will remain engaged in the region, and we are prepared to engage in that effort.”
This is a message to the Arab allies (who worry about an American withdrawal), but mainly to Russia: the US will continue to defend its interests in the region. Thus, Pres. Putin is not totally at easy in the ME.
Trade-off with Israel
“Understand, the situation in Iraq and Syria and Libya should cure anybody of the illusion that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the main source of problems in the region. For far too long, that's been used as an excuse to distract people from problems at home.”
The whole section discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict is a copy-paste from last year's UNGA Speech (highlighted by us in 2014). This apparent indolence offers the impression that the US has given up on the “Palestinian issue” but in fact this copy-pasting reveals a much deeper detail: in exchange for toning down its opposition to the Iranian Deal, the US is prepared to return to the Status Quo and give Israel space to solve the problem at its own pace and volition.
Final Evaluation: The most puzzling speech ever delivered by Barack Obama: result of intelligence crisis (i.e. tempering intel reports) or a subliminal promise of incoming drastic policy change?
(Image Downloaded from gadebate.un.org)