Blog Roundup #86

A sampling of United Nations related blog commentary

Regime Change Iran: “The United Nations wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and five of his relatives and aides, including his younger brother, for questioning in the murder of Lebanon’s former premier, Rafiq al-Hariri. (Assad has tried to negotiate immunity for himself and his brother in exchange for handing over the others – but the U.N. wouldn’t play.)”

TPM Cafe (Michael Levi): “Inspecting Iran – Are inspections a technical or a political process? That question comes to mind as Iran prepares to resume its uranium enrichment activities, after the IAEA Board of Governors reported its case to the UN Security Council this past weekend. Until now, Iran’s enrichment activities had been suspended under an agreement with Britain, France, and Germany; the suspension had also been requested by the IAEA itself. Now, as Iran restarts its work, the IAEA will resume routine but spare inspections, monitoring Iranian installations for unauthorized production or diversion of nuclear material.”Terrorism News: “The former U.N. weapons inspector who said Iraq disarmed long before the U.S. invasion in 2003 is warning Americans to prepare for a war with Iran. “We just don’t know when, but it’s going to happen,” Scott Ritter said to a crowd of about 150 at the James A. Little Theater last Sunday night. Ritter described how the U.S. government might justify war with Iran in a scenario similar to the buildup to the Iraq invasion. He also argued that Iran wants a nuclear energy program, and not nuclear weapons. But the Bush administration, he said, refuses to believe Iran is telling the truth. He predicted the matter will wind up before the U.N. Security Council, which will determine there is no evidence of a weapons program. Then, he said, John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, “will deliver a speech that has already been written. It says America cannot allow Iran to threaten the United States and we must unilaterally defend ourselves.” How do I know this? I’ve talked to Bolton’s speechwriter,” Ritter said.”

Counterterrorism Blog: “The Treasury Department’s OFAC designation today of leaders and entities affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is an important step in at least tracking and identifying the leaders of lesser-known al Qaeda affiliates. It will have little real economic impact because the group does not have assets in the United States, but if the measure is extended to the UN, it could make it more difficult for the group to operate.”

Screenshots: “Imam Ahmed Abu- Laban, the Danish Muslim cleric accused of instigating the world wide protests over offensive caricature depicting Prophet Mohammed, says the escalating violence is no longer about the cartoon, but a reaction to the West’s view of Islam. Imam Abu- Laban leads a mosque in Copenhagen. This contrasts starkly with the Kofi Annan-anchored joint effort by the United Nations, the European Union and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that appeals for an end to violence around the Muslim world that has now escalated into a global crisis. In Iraq, the Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani condemned the Muslim inciters, says a Washington Post editorial. These pictures from London streets are distressing and alarming. When is there a closure?”