News Release

UN: NSA Scandal, Syria, Iran, Congo’s Dead Millions

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MARK WEISBROT, beeton at cepr.net
At the start of the UN General Assembly meeting, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attacked the U.S. government’s global spying network. She told the UN: “We must establish multilateral mechanisms for the world wide web” to ensure “freedom of speech; multi-lateral governance with transparency; the principle of universality and non-discrimination; cultural diversity without imposing values; and network neutrality.” Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and recently wrote the piece “Brazil’s Cancellation of State Visit Marks Another Low Point in U.S.-Latin American Relations.”

MUHAMMAD SAHIMI, moe at usc.edu
Professor at the University of Southern California, Sahimi has been analyzing Iran’s political developments for the past two decades. He currently the editor of the website Iran News & Middle East Reports. Sahimi said today: “Iran is ready to negotiate a reasonable diplomatic solution to the standoff over its nuclear program. The deal can be made if the war lobbyists are contained.”

GHADA MUKDAD, ghada.almukdad at hotmail.com
U.S.-based representative of the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace, Mukdad was forced to leave the country in 2012. She ran for parliament in Syria as an independent candidate in 2007. She is critical of both the regime and of the violent, foreign backed rebels. She stresses the lack of the international community helping the humanitarian disaster. While President Obama presided over an event Monday at the UN stressing the importance of civil society, Makdad notes that civil society in Syria, along with the nonviolent opposition, has been ignored by the U.S. and other governments as well as most most media.Now based in Dallas as an independent activist, Makdad recently met with other Syrian activists in meetings on Capitol Hill and is quoted in “Rep. Carolyn Maloney: Syria’s Women Must Be Included In Debate” from the Huffington Post.

JAMES PAUL, james.paul.nyc at gmail.com
Author of Syria Unmasked, until recently Paul was executive director of Global Policy Forum, a think tank that monitors the UN. He said today: “The Syria crisis has taken a dangerous turn in the UN Security Council as negotiations between the U.S. and Russia have brought renewed threats of Western military strikes. The hawks in Washington know they have a friend in U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power who has made no secret of her preference for the military option. But Russian diplomacy has considerable momentum and wide international backing, though the mainstream media have missed this point entirely.” See CNN: “U.S. ‘blackmailing’ Russia on Syria, Lavrov says.”

MAURICE CARNEY, info at friendsofthecongo.org
Executive director of Friends of the Congo, Carney said today: “Earlier this year in an interview with the New Republic, when asked about U.S. intervention in Syria, President Obama retorted how does he weigh ‘tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?’

“The United Nations says the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the deadliest in the world since World War II, where millions have perished since 1996. Yet the response from the U.S. and the UN has been anything but commensurate to the scale of the tragedy, primarily because U.S. allies Rwanda and Uganda are implicated in the Congo conflict. Both countries have waged a 17-year war of aggression against the Congo by invading twice (1996 and 1998), fighting each other on Congolese soil and sponsoring militia groups inside the Congo.

“Rwanda and Uganda have been able to escape UN sanctions and significant global pressure in large part due to diplomatic and political cover from the United States. Even though President Obama as Senator passed a bill into law (Public Law 109-456) in 2006 that authorizes the U.S. Secretary of State to hold Congo’s neighbors accountable for destabilizing the Congo, the Obama Administration has yet to fully implement its own law, which could advance peace in the Congo and save innocent lives.”