The U.N Generally Assembly gathers in New York this week with United States President Donald Trump expected to make a speech on Tuesday.
While some leaders did use the opportunity to work on trade policy and other issues, Monday’s main focus was Scandinavian teen sensation Greta Thunberg speaking (yelling?) at the summit on climate action.
While it’s unlikely that any concrete policy will come from the summit, that doesn’t mean it was entirely a waste of time… it did after all give us this epic gif.
The gathering of world leaders comes at a really interesting time in global affairs. On Monday afternoon the leaders of France, Britain and Germany jointly released a statement condemning Iran for the September 14th attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. They join the United States and Saudi Arabia in the condemnation, and used language similar to that of Saudi and American officials, specifically mentioning Iran was responsible for the attack, but stopping short of saying the strike was actually launched from inside Iran. Unlike the United States, the three European countries still remain party to the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, along with China and Russia.
Iranian officials deny any wrongdoing, with foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif laying blame at the feet of Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who have attempted to take credit for the attack. Intelligence agencies and world governments pretty much unilaterally agree that the Yemeni rebels don’t have the capabilities to launch an attack of such a sophisticated nature without help. This was some London Has Fallen, Terminator II, “holy fuck we’re in the future now aren’t we?” style attack.
Such a technologically advanced assault almost certainly had the backing of a nation-state behind it.
Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani, is said to unveil his Hormuz Peace initiative (the strait of Hormuz is a small but key shipping route for oil tankers in the middle east) on Wednesday. He told reporters he will not be meeting with President Donald Trump during his time in New York.
For those who aren’t aware, Saudi Arabia has been fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, their neighbor to the south. The campaign has been ongoing for years and while the Houthis have been backed by Iran, Saudi Arabia has enjoyed support from the United States, mainly via weapons shipments and light military assistance. The nature of that support however, is about to get an upgrade.
On Friday Acting U.S Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced that the United States, in response to requests by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, will deploy additional troops to those countries.
The deployment is an example of just how volatile the middle east region really is and how quickly things can change. Just two weeks ago President Trump was talking about meeting with the Taliban (yes the fucking Taliban!!) at Camp David for peace talks and possibly pulling out of Afghanistan. Now at least a couple hundred more U.S servicemen and women will deploy to the middle east.
A couple more quick tidbits for you lazy fucks who can’t be bothered to watch that 8-minute video:
- While U.S troops have been assisting, Secretary Esper says Saudi Arabia has been leading the investigation into the attack
- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, did not specify exactly how many troops would be deployed, but noted we’re probably talking about hundreds not thousands
- Esper said that additional troops could be deployed after this initial wave
- General Dunford noted that the U.S is merely just contributing to the Saudi defense and that they are asking for other countries to add to that defense as well
So the middle east is a shit show. What else is new. But the award for biggest clusterfuck story of the week will not be given to Iran, no that honor goes to the epic tale involving Joe Biden, his deceased son, Donald Trump, Ukraine’s new comedian president and a whistleblower. Got all that?
Our saga begins, as most adventures do, with an article from The Washington Post (WaPo.) The Post’s sources claim that an official in the U.S intelligence community was so troubled by a promise President Trump made to a foreign leader that he/she filed a formal whistleblower complaint.
According to WaPo the complaint was at least serious enough that the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson, brought it to the attention of Congress.
We’re in murky waters here. The acting Director of National Intelligence has refused to share any details on the matter, leaving all concerned parties in the dark… until President Trump made a startling admission.
Trump, in his own uniquely erratic manner, told reporters he spoke to newly elected Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky about current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his now deceased son’s business in Ukraine.
It’s unclear whether this was the conversation that the whistleblower was referring to was the one between President Trump and President Zelensky, but mainstream media has speculated that the whistleblower’s concern is about aid money from the U.S that Ukraine relies on.
Some have accused the President of asking for a quid pro quo, a quick little trade – the aid for an investigation into Biden’s son Hunter, who was an executive at a Ukrainian gas company while his father was Vice President.
President Trump said:
“What Biden did is a disgrace. What his son did is a disgrace. His son took money from Ukraine, his son took money from China. A lot of money from China. China would love to see — can think of nothing they’d rather see than Biden get in. Cause they would take this great deal that we’re about to make and they would really have themselves a deal.”
The President has not produced any evidence for these claims. His detractors have also not released any evidence to believe there was any quid pro quo on the phone call to Ukraine, a fact Trump was quick to point out saying “it’s a great call, it’s a very honorable call, it’s a nice call… I put no pressure on them whatsoever… I could have. I think it would have probably been ok if i did but i didn’t.”
President Trump says he has not decided whether or not to release transcripts of the call, noting he doesn’t think it sets a good precedent to release conversations with world leaders.
The story is almost certainly set to develop further with President Trump scheduled to meet with Ukraine’s President (who was a comedian before he ran for president by the way?!) on Wednesday, and Democratic calls for impeachment getting louder and louder leading up to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Thursday deadline to hear the whistleblower’s complaint.