International Law and the Iran Impasse

by Aslı Bâli | published December 16, 2012

On any given day, provided her paper of choice still features international coverage, the average American newspaper reader can expect to be treated to one or two articles on attempts to halt advances in Iran’s nuclear program. These articles might cover efforts to levy fresh sanctions against the Islamic Republic; they might relay news of discussions among Iran’s primary interlocutors on the nuclear question, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (the so-called P5+1), about diplomatic overtures. Or the stories might echo the mounting calls for airstrikes or other military action to delay and disrupt the progress of Iranian nuclear research.

Four More Years

by Mouin Rabbani , Chris Toensing | published December 5, 2012

The 2012 US presidential election elicited less interest among Palestinians than any such contest in living memory. While most Israelis, and their government in particular, expressed a clear preference for a Republican victory, Palestinians seemed resigned to continuity in US foreign policy irrespective of which party won the White House. The main reason was that President Barack Obama, self-proclaimed apostle of change and widely hailed as such in the region when he assumed office four years ago, has yet to demonstrate a meaningful inconsistency with his predecessor George W. Bush when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Events since the election have only confirmed this policy direction and thus the validity of Palestinians’ indifference.

The Scourge of Palestinian Moderation

Peace Process or Peace Panic?

by Norman Finkelstein
published in MER158

In the early 1960s, before the major US escalation of the war in Vietnam, a negotiated settlement to that conflict was in reach. Such a settlement was supported by the leaders of the Soviet Union, China, France, Cambodia and North Vietnam, and the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. The United Nations, through then-Secretary General U Thant, put great effort into setting up negotiations. The essential precondition of such a settlement was recognition of the South Vietnamese people’s right to self-determination, a precondition the United States would not abide. In February 1965, an embittered and frustrated U Thant was moved to comment that

"Iran Will Require Assurances"

An Interview with Hossein Mousavian

by Aslı Bâli | published May 16, 2012

Hossein Mousavian has served as visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security from 2009 to the present. Prior to this position, he held numerous positions in the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including director-general of its West Europe department and ambassador to Germany from 1990 to 1997. Ambassador Mousavian was also head of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran during both terms of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005). In this capacity, he served as spokesman of the Iranian nuclear negotiations team from 2003 to 2005.

To Stop the Killing, Deal with Asad

by Aslı Bâli , Aziz Rana | published April 10, 2012

In the wake of the recent Friends of Syria conference, the United States and Middle Eastern powers that include Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are stepping up aid to armed resistance groups in Syria. Under American leadership, the conference pledged $100 million to provide salary payments to rebel fighters.

Whatever the humanitarian intentions, this strategy, along with discussions of “safe zones” and “non-lethal aid,” is misguided at best, and counterproductive at worst. For all the talk about safeguarding civilians, the proposals are far more likely to escalate violence than to reduce civilian casualties.

Libya's Lessons

by Chris Toensing | published March 5, 2012

Libya is commonly counted as a success story among the ongoing Arab uprisings. NATO bombing, the story goes, saved thousands of lives and allowed Libyans to overthrow the absurd and murderous Muammar Qaddafi. The intervention proves that the West has aligned its interests in the Arab world with its values -- and may even be a measure of redemption for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the deeper colonial past.

Not much of this comforting tale rings true.

The Middle Powers Amid the Arab Revolts

by Imad Mansour | published September 29, 2011

The UN Security Council has been a key arbiter of international action regarding the upheavals in the Arab world in 2011. In late February, the Council issued Resolution 1970 calling for an “immediate end to the violence” in Libya, imposing sanctions and an arms embargo, and asking the International Criminal Court to investigate the regime of Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi. Less than a month later, on March 17, the Council passed Resolution 1973 authorizing NATO “to take all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians, leading to Qaddafi’s eventual fall from power. In late September, the Security Council will also take up the request of Palestinian leader Mahmoud ‘Abbas for full UN membership for a state of Palestine.

Blocking Palestinian Statehood

by Chris Toensing | published September 26, 2011

When President Barack Obama addressed the UN General Assembly in September 2010, he sounded hopeful that by the following year there would be “an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.” Sure enough, in September 2011, the Palestinians asked the UN Security Council to recognize a state of Palestine -- but Obama ordered the US delegate to veto the request. What gives?

The Question of Palestine in Miniature

by The Editors | published September 16, 2011

The countdown to September 23 has begun. On that day, if he does not renege on his September 16 speech, Mahmoud ‘Abbas will present a formal request for full UN membership for a state of Palestine. The UN Security Council, which must approve such requests, will not do so, because the United States will act upon its repeated vows to exercise its veto. And then?

"Eventually There Can Only Be an Arab Solution"

An Interview with 'Abdallah al-Ashtal

by James Paul
published in MER169

Amb. ‘Abdallah al-Ashtal is Yemen’s representative to the United Nations. He served as ambassador for the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen from 1971 until May 1990, when he became the representative of the newly unified Republic of Yemen. In March and December 1990, he chaired the UN Security Council. James Paul interviewed him in New York City on December 26, 1990.

How would you assess the role of the United Nations in the Gulf crisis?

Even before the crisis, the UN had begun to work differently. One could sense a spirit of accommodation between the superpowers. The Security Council was no longer a forum for rhetoric but a place to lay out possibilities and try to come to a common position.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.