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The UN, Climate Change and Iranian ‘Warming’

The UN, Climate Change and Iranian ‘Warming’

Monday, 23 September, 2019 - 07:15
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

It is natural for all eyes to turn this week to the United Nations headquarters in New York. The annual General Assembly attracts leaders from across the globe with their concerns, fears and aspirations.

It is natural for climate change to top the UN’s concerns. We are speaking here of an imminent danger to our planet.

Global warming is threatening us with droughts and floods. A drop in snowfall and melting glaciers. A rise in temperatures and sea levels. It is bringing with it diseases and epidemics. This will mean the disappearance of coastal cities and islands. Many creatures will also disappear.

Years ago such talk would have been dismissed as exaggeration. Today, however, there is a general acknowledgment of the extent of the problem and its danger, in spite of US President Donald Trump’s claims. International scientific reports speak of climate change that could in coming decades lead to the displacement of millions of people within their own countries or beyond. The migration could negatively impact development, job opportunities and stability.

The issue has gone beyond ringing the alarm and has kicked off discussions about practical measures aimed at containing the impending problem. UN chief Antonio Guterres is giving climate change top priority with the backing of ngos, which have taken it upon themselves to urge world leaders to take tangible steps to save the planet from the damaging effect of global warming.

Climate change will not be the only issue that dominates General Assembly discussions and meetings. Another issue from the Middle East has imposed itself on the agenda. It is the crisis that was sparked by the hostile attack against Saudi oil facilities. The aggression is unique in its nature and danger because it is directed against the entire world by targeting global energy security and oil supplies.

An issue of such gravity requires patience for the results of investigations to be revealed. Pinpointing the location from where the missiles and drones were launched is important in order to set things straight about the attack and discuss measures to avert its recurrence. However, the images of Iranian weapons that were used in the attack have led to discussions about “Iranian fingerprints”. They were evident in all attacks carried out by the Houthi proxy in recent months.

It is certain that a problem exists in relations between the Iranian regime and the majority of countries in the region and between the regime and the majority of the world because the attack targeted the global economy.

Prior to the attack, President Hassan Rouhani could have presented before the UN Tehran’s version of the mounting tensions between it and Washington. He would have certainly talked about the use of economic sanctions as a weapon and the impact they are having on the Iranian people. It is no secret that his speech would have persuaded some of the attendees, especially since European countries are still striving to salvage the nuclear deal despite Washington’s withdrawal.

The picture now seems different.

In the eyes of many, Iran is accused of attempting to take energy supplies hostage. It is not demanding their release in exchange for the world to recognize its rights. But it is instead demanding that it recognize the breaches and infiltrations it has achieved in the Middle East in recent years. The world will find it difficult to believe Rouhani’s remarks on agendas to achieve stability in the region. They will also dismiss his claims that foreign military deployment in the region is the source of evil. It is clear for everyone to see that Iran, which is demanding the withdrawal of foreign forces in the region, is through its actions providing them with all reasons to stay and increase their numbers.

It is odd that Iran, which condemns foreign deployment, does not seek to assure countries in the region, but instead gives them more cause to worry. Days after the oil facilities attack, AFP reported Imam of Iran’s Mashhad city, Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, as saying: “Iran today is not just Iran. It is not limited to its geographic borders. The Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen, National Defense Forces in Syria and Islamic Jihad and Hamas groups in Palestine are all Iran.” One could dismiss these remarks as sensationalist rhetoric had they not coincided with repeated similar statements by Revolutionary Guard generals about four Arab countries that are now in Iran’s sphere of influence.

It is clear that the Iranian regime is seeking to impose new conditions on the ground in the region and changing balances in the region and sometimes, even within countries. It is seeking to cement rhetoric and behavior that completely contradict international laws and the UN Charter. The regime is insisting on fanning the flames and refusing to transform into a state. It has turned the policy of exporting the revolution into reactors that send emissions to destabilize the region. The emissions lead to the fragmentation of countries and the violation of maps with missiles, drones and militias. The Iranian “warming” that changed the climate of the Middle East has turned into a regional and global problem.

It is not odd for New York to witness intense discussions about the dangerous global and Iranian warming emissions. It is a test to the global organization and the spirit of responsibility of players on the global arena.

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