It's been 20 years since the Rwandan genocide, in which political ideology and ethnic hatred gave license to thousands of Hutus to kill Tutsi families. But ethnic ideology may not have unleashed the genocide if the international community had not stepped back and allowed it to happen.
One notorious episode of abandonment changed forever the role of the United Nations peacekeeper. Early in the morning of April 7, 1994, thousands of Tutsis began arriving at a school on the outskirts of the capital, Kigali, seeking the protection of Belgian soldiers stationed there for the U.N.
It has been 33 years since the United States and Iran had diplomatic relations. Now, after an exchange of letters between President Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, there is new hope for diplomatic dialogue between the two countries.
Iran is currently under UN and Western sanctions over its controversial nuclear program. It claims it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, but according to the BBC, the United States and its allies suspect Iran of trying to build a nuclear weapon. Next week, Rouhani will be in New York for the annual General Assembly of the United Nations.
Dr. Shaul Bakhash is the Clarence Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University. He explains the complexity of diplomacy between the two countries.
Things are changing fast regarding the situation in Syria. UN technicians are working around the clock to analyze samples from the chemical attacks in Syria. President Obama says he won’t wait for those results.
But definitive proof that Assad used chemical weapons – either from the UN or from another intelligence agency – could have far reaching consequences.
The BBC’s Middle East editor Sebastian Usher has been keeping tabs on UK politicians since they rejected military intervention last week. Usher says proof that Assad used chemical weapons could be enough to tip the balance of public opinion in the UK. He says that could lead to a second parliamentary vote, a vote that could reverse the country’s position and authorize the UK to join the US led coalition against Syria.
Meanwhile, the UN is urging a more cautious approach. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon suggested yesterday that any offensive strike in Syria without UN Security Council approval would be illegal.
Sebastian Usher spoke today with KUOW’s David Hyde.
Thousands of Syrians have crossed the border into neighboring countries to escape the civil war that has been raging since September of 2011. Simon Eccleshall is the head of disaster and crisis management with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. He joins us from Geneva to talk about efforts to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Syria.