Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1361, (21 - 27 September 2017)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1361, (21 - 27 September 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Challenges in New York


اقرأ باللغة العربية


New York City is in the midst of the flurry of international diplomatic activity it experiences every year at this time, both in the UN headquarters where the General Assembly is inaugurating its 72nd session and in nearby hotels that become venues for bilateral diplomatic meetings and even some summits between various heads of state. The questions of international security and the restoration of stability have forced themselves on the agendas more than ever this year due to mounting tensions in a number of vital regions, such as the Middle East, Europe and East Asia. The UN leadership hopes to dedicate this session to giving a tangible boost to resolving many of the world’s problems. There are two primary concerns most related to the goal, the first being conflict prevention. There are many conflicts and few solutions. Therefore, the chief role of the international community today is to do its utmost to forestall the outbreak of further conflicts. Averting conflict saves lives, as well as money. The second concern is migration. This is a global phenomenon and one we all have to deal with in one way or another.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi presented Egypt’s vision to the General Assembly Tuesday. Covering the array of concerns and issues facing the international community, he addressed how to bolster international peace and stability and, in this context, presented Egypt’s positions on regional issues in the Middle East and the fight against terrorism in particular. He also took part in the UN Security Council meeting on upgrading UN peacekeeping efforts. He outlined Egypt’s efforts in this regard, as Egypt is the seventh largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces. Egypt took part, so far, in 37 UN missions, with a total of over 30,000 personnel, in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

Through its participation in the activities of the UN General Assembly, Egypt underscored the importance of stimulating multilateral international action geared to promoting and enhancing efforts towards reaching political solutions to current international and regional conflicts. Egypt has also contributed to stimulating discussion of internationally crucial economic, developmental and social issues in its current capacity as a member of the UN Security Council and the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.

The Middle East occupied a large share of attention in New York, as it does in every major international forum. This year occasioned the first appearance of US President Donald Trump at the General Assembly. Trump attended high-level meetings focusing on the crisis between the quartet of Arab countries (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain) and Qatar, due to the latter’s support for terrorist groups that jeopardise the national security of these four countries and regional security as a whole. Some observers believe that US mediation may succeed where others have failed, especially now that the crisis has lasted for more than 100 days. However, the signs in New York suggest that a real breakthrough is unlikely, especially after Doha’s diplomatic display at the 2017 US-Islamic World Forum, in defiance of the quartet’s demands that Doha stop funding extremism in the Middle East.

North Korea, of course, was the subject of intensive talks in light of Pyongyang’s escalation and Washington’s threat to respond to its missile tests. The Iranian nuclear question has also resurfaced since Trump took office. In addition, the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar loomed to the fore as a priority on the General Assembly agenda after more than 300,000 of this minority were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Opportunities to reach solutions to many of the world’s problems appear slight in New York. However, the annual opening of the General Assembly offers a space for dialogue and a give-and-take of ideas between effective players in the international sphere and various regional arenas. This, in itself, is not an insignificant gain, given the chaos that is striking the very foundations of the international order and that threatens to spread instability to other regions such as Southeast Asia, which is one of the spectres that world leaders assembled in New York are working to ward off.

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