By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer-
United Nations (FinalCall.com) – President Barack Obama came to the world body in New York asking for a global support of his own war on terror, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, known as ISIL and ISIS, and a rubber stamp for military action already underway. He got what he asked for.
“The terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded and ultimately destroyed, as it has terrorized all whom they encountered in Iraq and Syria,” President Obama told the 193-member UN General Assembly Sept. 24 as leaders from around the world gathered here for the 69th United Nations General Assembly, an annual event.
Later that same day, President Obama said a 15-member UN Security Council resolution that had just passed unanimously was legally binding. It is rule of law which is “not optional” but mandatory for world nations, he said. The resolution was a greenlight to go to war fully with ISIS, including dropping bombs in Syria, and with the help of other countries. The United States wanted the war to be the world against ISIS, not just the United States.
The president justified the resolution by touting the need to respect such things as respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Since the passing of resolution 2178, however, questions have been raised by leaders of UN member states and activists questioning its legality. Many declared the UN has once again crumbled under the might of Washington. A U.S.-led air campaign against the ISIS in Syria started Sept. 22.
“He (Obama) should have gone to the UN Security Council first,” said Bill Fletcher, Jr., a racial justice, labor and international human rights activist. “In the minds of U.S. presidents, going to the UN is an option, perhaps based on politeness, but they simply do not wish to be constrained by the UN.” Mr. Fletcher agrees that ISIS “must be stopped.”
“But it is not a matter for unilateral U.S.-decision making,” he told The Final Call.
Prof. Stephen Zunes, an international relations scholar specializing in the Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy, told The Final Call there is no Security Council resolution on the table to bomb Syria. “Without the okay from the UNSC or the Syrian regime, then the bombing is illegal,” he said.
In UN corridors some agreed that the resolution did not give any approval for airstrikes in Syria. Some say what was passed was an expansion of global repressive measures in the name of “fighting terrorism.”
President Obama described the resolution as a call to strengthen the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Center, which has been working with nations on strategies under international law to deal with terrorists that cross borders.
James Paul, human rights activist and former executive director of the New York-based Global Policy Forum, was emphatic in his analysis that another UN Security Council counter-terrorism resolution was not needed. “Since 1999, the UNSC has created counter-terrorism resolutions such as the one passed in 2001, but one of the questions to be asked: how come that previous work did not solve the problem; and how can we assess it?” Mr. Paul said.
There is no “use of force” language in the latest resolution, he said. “In terms of the operational paragraphs starting on page four, OP2: talks about preventing ISIS/ISIL movements between states,” he added.
The U.S.-initiated resolution “allows the Security Council to use force to deal with ISIS in Iraq,” said international human rights activist Ajamu Baraka. “But for Syria’s sovereignty it creates what international law expert Francis Boyle calls ‘a bogus doctrine of hot pursuit’ that would allow the U.S. to bomb ISIS in Syria at the request of Iraq,” Mr. Baraka explained to The Final Call.
According to Mr. Boyle, “there is no international law doctrine that allows for hot pursuit on land,” Mr. Baraka added.
Many leaders speaking at the General Assembly argued only through reforming the United Nation, in particular the UN Security Council, would there be real consensus on how to deal with modern-day terrorism.
President Nicholas Maduro Moros of Venezuela called for an “in depth transformation of the UN–revamping the leadership of the Security Council. He argued that the “current methods” used at the Security Council, as was done in Libya “was a crazy race towards more terrorism and violence.”
Prime Minister Sheik Jaber al Mubarak al Hamah al Sabah of Kuwait said Arab states should have “a permanent seat” on the Security Council, especially since issues relating to the region top most of the decision-making body’s agenda.
There are 22 Arab states with 350 million people, representing 12 percent of the General Assembly, he said.
Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe, called on the United States to “promote dialogue to achieve peace, rule of law and common understanding among states.”
“We continue to witness the suffering and persecution of the people of Palestine at the hands of Israel. We have witnessed the callous murder of women and children in shelters where they seek refuge from Israel’s bombs. We have witnessed the brutal and random destruction of infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, and while these heinous acts were being perpetrated by Israel, the so-called civilized world maintained a deafening silence,” he observed.
“Lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved through a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. Any other maneuvers to change demographic realities through settlements or use of force will only prolong the suffering of the Palestinians,” Mr. Mugabe said.
Israel’s prime minister told the UN that to crush ISIS and leave Iran as a potential nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war. Benjamin Netanyahu said Sept. 29 that ISIS, the Middle East group Hamas and Iran are all part of violent extremism. All of these groups must be destroyed, said the Zionist president.
Iran’s president President Hassan Rouhani, speaking days before Mr. Netanyahu, condemned terrorism in the name of Islam, but blamed Western intervention in Iraq and support from America and her Arab allies for the growth of ISIS.
These so-called extremist groups are the children of actions by the West and “certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hands of madmen, who now spare no one,” Mr. Rouhani said. All who engaged in starting and backing terrorist groups must admit their actions and apologize, he said. Only justice and development will end terrorism, said Iran’s leader.
“To the east and west of my country, extremists threaten our neighbors, resort to violence, and shed blood. They, of course, do not speak a single language, they are not of a single skin color, and not of a single nationality; they have come to the Middle East from around the world. They do, however, have a single ideology: violence and extremism,” he said.
(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)