At the U.N. General Assembly, Iran and the United States expressed their intentions to negotiate on Iran's disputed nuclear development program, however Iran seemed to apply the brakes on diplomacy. In his speech at the General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama said he was encouraged by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's "more moderate course" but maintained that the United States would prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Later in the day, when Rouhani approached the General Assembly, he said "Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world" and that "Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran's peaceful nuclear program." He continued that the United States and Iran "can arrive at a framework to manage our differences" if Washington did not give in to the influence of "warmongers." However, despite signals that the U.S. and Iranian leaders would meet for the first time and the General Assembly, Iran pulled back saying that it would be "too complicated" for Rouhani and Obama to bump into each other. However, U.S. officials vowed to move forward with diplomacy and Obama said that he had ordered Secretary of State John Kerry to oversee engagement with Iran.
Several powerful Islamist rebel groups have rejected the authority of the main opposition Syrian National Coalition, calling for an Islamic leadership. Thirteen groups signed a statement late Tuesday calling for the opposition to be organized under an Islamic framework and led only by groups fighting within Syria, saying, "all groups formed abroad without having returned to the country do not represent them." Three of the groups have been considered part of the Western-backed Supreme Military Council that leads the Free Syrian Army. The move may threaten international efforts to organize the increasingly divided Syrian opposition and may jeopardize funding as the West has sought to funnel assistance to moderate factions. Meanwhile, a team of U.N. chemical weapons inspectors has returned to Damascus in order to investigate up to 14 instances of alleged chemical weapons use. The team will again be led by Ake Sellstrom, who said they hoped to release a final report "possibly by the end of October."
Arguments and Analysis
'Banning the Muslim Brotherhood will worsen Egypt's divisions' (Carrie Wickham, The Guardian)
"The Brotherhood's achilles heel was not its embrace of ideological extremism but a reluctance to accept other social and political forces as equals, and to initiate confidence-building measures needed to earn their goodwill and trust. The Brotherhood emerged from 60 years of authoritarian rule with its organisation relatively intact, yet the group's top leaders remained encapsulated within the movement's insular networks, convinced that they were uniquely qualified to manage society's affairs. Such characteristics left the group ill-prepared to govern a highly fractious society -- particularly one with officials of the deep state having in effect a veto, and an economy teetering on the brink of collapse.
The primary responsibility for the disruption of Egypt's democratic transition, and the paroxysms of violence that have ensued in its wake, however, lies with General al-Sisi and the Egyptian army. Over the summer, hundreds of unarmed civilians -- most of them Brotherhood supporters -- who were unwilling to leave protest sites have been gunned down. Under these circumstances, it is understandable if the rage and sorrow of its members undermine their capacity for serious introspection."
'Under Morsi, Red Lines Gone Gray' (Jonathan Guyer, Jadaliyya)
"The job of political cartoonists is to push the envelope. But what happens when the size and shape of the envelope changes? That, in effect, is what has been happening ever since Hosni Mubarak was removed from power by the combination of a mass uprising and a military coup. Since then, the contours of permissible speech have been shifting constantly. This has led as much to confusion as it has to creativity.
Cartooning has long been one of the pillars of the public discourse in Egypt. Especially during authoritarian times, cartooning has often been where political critique is loudest, or most daring. But the inherently ironic logic of cartooning means that the volume and barb of this critique is never straightforward. In fact, its very meaning derives from the fact that it tacks closely -- and ambiguously -- to red lines. The political value of cartooning, it might be said, depends on the existence of these red lines. This leads to a paradox: rather than impeding creative cartooning, censorship and the suppression of free speech sometimes enable it."
--Mary Casey & Joshua Haber
Allan Tannenbaum-Pool/Getty Images
The Middle East Channel offers unique analysis and insights on this diverse and vital region of more than 400 million.