During last week's 64th annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, New York has turned into a big Broadway theatre where a number of politicians put on their shows, especially the US president Barack Obama, wrote Abdul Rahman al Rashed, a regular contributor to the opinion section of the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat. Mr Obama has moderated the UN Security Council session "like a teacher in a classroom", preaching global nuclear arms disarmament to nuclear powers.
The other star of this year's UN show was the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He practically granted every American television channel an interview or two and opened his Intercontinental Hotel suite for more journalists than diplomats. This, of course, confirms the Iranian president's care to restore his public image following last June's controversy over the presidential elections. Another official who tried to embellish his image was the UN secretary general himself, Ban Ki-moon. The man spared no effort trying to convince the world that he is more dynamic, independent and efficient than people are led to think. All these acts have sidetracked public attention from the many concurrent developments related to terrorist activity within the US.
Fuelled by last Friday's revelation of a new uranium enrichment facility in Qom, Iran's nuclear crisis is taking on a whole new dimension, with inevitable repercussions on the political situation in Lebanon, considering Hizbollah's strong alliance with Tehran, wrote Ali Hamade in the comment section of the Lebanese daily Annahar.
How would Hizbollah handle eventual tougher sanctions on Iran, or, even worse, a military intervention? That is the pivotal question that the Lebanese president must discuss with Hizbollah's leadership and the prime minister-designate, Saad al Hariri, before a cabinet is formed. A potential Israeli strike against Tehran is, indeed, feared by the Lebanese people, not that they are worried about Iran, but because they dread Hizbollah's military involvement in retaliation.
"The nature of Hizbollah's ties with Iran make Tehran's policies and decisions a full-fledged Lebanese matter." There is no longer room for the ethnic quota system traditionally adopted in the process of forming the Lebanese cabinet. Meanwhile, the newly returned "warmth" in the Saudi-Syrian relations - after the Syrian president visited Jeddah last Wednesday to attend the inauguration of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology - may help deliver a decent Lebanese government sooner than expected.
Despite the media criticism that Col Muammar Qadafi received for his speech at the UN General Assembly last Wednesday, the Libyan leader did not actually utter any insanities, commented Ahmed Kamal in the Bahraini daily Al Ayam. "Everything he said was based on facts," the writer claimed. He criticised the Security Council for its "excessive" and "absurdly unjust" policies towards third world countries. He was right to say that the resolutions of the UN General Assembly regarding world issues must gain precedence over the Security Council's interference.
Mr Qadafi argued that unrestrained use of veto power by the Security Council permanent member states dilutes the credibility of the United Nations as a whole. He also called for multibillion dollar compensation for all the peoples who have suffered under the boot of decades-long colonialism. "Indeed, many of his accusatory comments hit the nail right on the head and stressed legitimate grievances against the Security Council's systematic reversal of many resolutions in favour of third-world countries, especially the Palestinian cause." The United States has used its veto power more than any other country, casually overruling decisions that most of the world approved. It only stands to reason that the UN charter, which Mr Qadafi tore up during his speech, be revised.
Finally, and after so many failed attempts, the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, better known as the G20, has taken the first steps on a reform path that the global crunch has made irreversible, noted the Dubai-based daily newspaper Al Bayan in its main leader.
This new drive for change has an important aspect: it lays the first brick in the wall of a "new world order" that takes into account the specifics of the current historical juncture. "Obviously, some of those steps taken are still too slow in pace and limited in scope so that they might be expendable if the heat of the crisis happens to cool off sooner than expected." Actually, none of the decisions taken at the G20's summit in Pittsburgh, whether regarding reduction of carbon emissions to counter climate change or a new, more prudent financial system, are binding, which again prove the modesty of the body's efforts.
The summit has maintained government support as a safety valve protecting a slow financial convalescence. Having become a sort of supervisory commission on the world economy, pledging "a more balanced global growth," the G20 must now be held accountable for its policies and promises. * Digest compiled by Achraf A ElBahi firstname.lastname@example.org