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'We must respond,' declares UNESCO chief, launching #Unite4Heritage campaign in Baghdad
Taking an innovative step to support Iraqi youth and to mobilize young people worldwide for the protection of cultural heritage, Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched today at Baghdad University #Unite4Heritage, a social media campaign to counter the propaganda of cultural cleansing.
UN strongly condemns deadly terrorist attack on Mogadishu hotel
The top United Nations official in Somalia along with the members of the UN Security Council have strongly condemned yesterday's terrorist attack on a hotel in Mogadishu city that resulted in the death of many civilians, including the Somali Federal Government's Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva, Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari.
Syria crisis 'worsening' amid humanitarian funding shortfall, warns top UN relief official
The situation on the ground in Syria has “dramatically” worsened as the country enters its fifth year of war amid escalating fighting and targeted attacks against civilians, the top United Nations humanitarian official warned today as she urged the international community to bring the violence to an end.
Ban notes Saudi Arabia's military operations in Yemen, urges protection of civilians
Noting Saudi Arabia's announcement that, at the request of the Government of Yemen, it has begun military operations in the Gulf nation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and emphasized that despite escalation, negotiations remain the only option for ultimately resolving the crisis.
Bergdahl - the deflective media campaign begins
|Still images from a Taliban video of Bergdahl’s release|
It has not taken any time at all for a campaign to be mounted in support of accused U.S. Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl. It ranges from sympathetic media outlets to his high-powered defense attorney and even a few misguided online support groups.
The motivations for the campaign range from typical lawyer tactics to anti-military sentiments, usually from people who do not understand military service and its unique demands.
|Bergdahl at Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio, TX) in 2014|
My views on Bergdahl are clear (see my earlier article, Bergdahl - the Army does the right thing). I believe he deserted his post and should be held accountable - let him have his day in court. It appears that he is one step closer to that possibility as the U.S. Army has charged him with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy - both serious charges.
There is an Article 32 hearing scheduled for April 22. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, this hearing is similar to a civilian grand jury proceeding. The convening officer may refer the case to a general court-martial or dismiss the charges. I hope that the U.S. Army will continue to do the right thing as a result of that hearing, which in my opinion is to convene a general court-martial.
I also hope that the Administration will not put pressure on the Army to dismiss the case in the wake of the White House’s two public relations blunders - the Rose Garden ceremony with the President and Bergdahl’s parents, followed by National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s blatantly false claim that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction.”
On CNN* this morning, I was asked my analysis of the claim made by Bergdahl that he had left his unit so he could report “a breakdown in discipline and order” to senior military officials and did not intend to desert. I wanted to CNN anchor ask Alison Kosik, “Where do I start?”
I enjoy fiction but it has to be good fiction - this does not meet that standard. I have to assume that this claim is part of the legal advice that Bergdahl is receiving from well-known civilian defense attorney Eugene Fidell.
Fidell is well-regarded in military justice circles, and he will do his best to defend his client - I hope that stops short of suborning perjury. He claims that there is a “tidal wave of hostility from the right” toward Bergdahl is just more his part of the media campaign drumbeat….
First, there is an established chain of command that provides for soldiers to raise the issues Bergdahl claims he was attempting to report. That is best done at an installation to which Bergdahl had access periodically, not by deserting a forward outpost in the middle of the night in search of another unit.
Second, if he was truly looking for another U.S. Army outpost, he would have retained his body armor, night-vision googles and most importantly, his weapons. It is inconceivable to me that he chose to leave his post unarmed in the middle of an area known to be active with Taliban fighters on this mythical quest to report problems in his unit.
We can expect more of the deflection campaign. However, I am not buying it.
* Disclosure: I am a paid military analyst for CNN.
UN Somalia envoy condemns deadly terrorist attack on Mogadishu hotel
The top United Nations official in Somalia has strongly condemned yesterday's terrorist attack on a hotel in Mogadishu city that resulted in the death of many civilians, including the Somali Federal Government's Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva, Ambassador Yusuf Bari-Bari.
UN envoy says Libya latest peace talks have gone 'well beyond what we have expected'
Libyan stakeholders have reached a consensus on a range of issues – including on the need for a unity government and security arrangements – and are now convinced that there is a political solution to the country's crisis, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Bernardino LÃ©on, said at the conclusion of the latest round of peace talks which he praised for making “very important progress.”
Demanding 'immediate' ceasefire in Libya, Security Council extends UN mission in crisis-torn country
Unanimously adopting two separate resolutions on Libya, the Security Council, in the first, called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and extended the United Nations Support Mission there (UNSMIL) until 15 September, and in the second, adjusted the arms embargo on the country in light of the terrorist threat there.
In Egypt, Ban calls on Arab leaders to strengthen bonds for region's people, global security
With a raft of ills plaguing the Arab world – from the “shameful” conflict in Syria to the “tinderbox” that is Gaza and the steadily unraveling situation in Yemen – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called upon leaders gathered in Egypt to work with each other and the United Nations to “strengthen our bonds for the people of this region and the security of our world.”
Syria: UN health agency âunable to sustainâ operations without significant funding increase
Ahead of next weekâs third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, the United Nations health agencyâs top official in the country said today that more than 16 million Syrians and Syrian refugees are in need of health support, but that she had so far received no new funding to meet the $124 million needed to finance humanitarian operations in the country this year.