Tag Archives: Iran

Donald Trump and the United Nations General Assembly, by Gabriel C Banda



Donald Trump and the United Nations General Assembly,

by Gabriel C Banda

HOW will heads of state and government of the countries recently banned entry into the USA get to the United Nations?

Previously, there are those of us that wondered how international sports and culture events and interaction will be affected by Donald Trump administration’s fortress walls that have targeted persons from particular places of the world. (Some of that we had published on WordPress.com platform in February, 2017, as “Donald Trump and Olympics and Oscars.”)


One can assume that the 2028 summer Olympics have been awarded to Los Angeles because the Olympics Organisation assumed that the Trump fortress practice and influence will no longer be in place then. These games will be the third to be hosted by that popular city.

Now, a big concern by some persons has been what the Trump doctrine and practice will mean for the United Nations Organisation, especially when all representatives of nations and societies meet.

Every year, in September, representatives, most of them the rulers, of the United Nations member governments fly to New York city, in the United States of America, to participate in the General Assembly debates. They state their country’s situation in relation to humanity.

They are coming to share with others as a common humanity. They are not going to New York because they want to go to the United States. The United States happens to have the place that hosts the event.

How many of those from Trump’s banned list will arrive at the United Nations. And how many of them will not arrive? How many will not arrive because of the ban? And, of course, there are those that will test Trump by making the trip to the New York city.

And how many will merely send other representatives to a meeting that should be represented by the most senior government official?

Of course, there are Donald Trump’s fortress and isolationist stances against core items the United Nations was founded to grow and improve. Where there should be growth in human relations, Trump is building walls against targeted peoples and religions.

The Trump spirit has even acted against Creation itself, that through his plan to withdraw from the world climate agreement. From the earth’s view, the Trump spirit should be acting as an enemy of the earth.

Trump has started to develop some trade wars against those societies appearing to prosper in their trade and manufacturing. And where many persons need to be covered with health care as Obamacare tried to do, his plans may reverse this.

Whereas the United Nations was built to put an end to the practice of war, the Trump spirit breathes fire and fury towards others it differs with. The United Nations, as I have observed with the statues at the Head Quarters, believes in weapons eventually being turned into productive ploughs.

The United Nations has many times made joint declarations and plans to improve the lot of all of us in the world through collective planning and action. And indeed, in spite of some limitations, the world is overall a more stable place than if the United Nations had not been around.

It will be interesting to see if Bashar al-Assad and others from the listed ban list will attend the United Nations General Assembly. Of course, Assad may be busy dealing with the war in Syria. But we have to observe whether those from other banned countries will arrive. It may be that the United Nations may ask for exceptions or that the Trump administration may have exceptions for those going for the UN General Assembly.

But the reaction of the excluded governments will be interesting. Some may attempt to go to New York in defiance and assertion of their right to be with the United Nations body even when they are not in good books with the United States administration.  Others may send junior persons. Yet others may not send any high ranked official and do this as a way of protest against the Trump ban.

Some officials may be exempted from the ban but will avoid going to New York as a way of making some solidarity statement in support of their fellow citizens that are denied entry.

The doctrine and practice of the Trump spirit test the United Nations in its gathering, activities, and, essentially, Purpose. Interesting issues will arise at the first United Nations General Assembly under Donald Trump’s rule.

*                           *                          *

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the writer is involved in the arts, social development, and is a keen observer of Conflict and Peace issues.


– GCB, LUSAKA. April 2017/August 2017.





Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 10: Syria and Peace Talks Issues

Syria and Peace Talks Dynamics


Gabriel C Banda

SYRIA provides great lessons about issues affecting armed conflict and its resolution. After slowdown by conditionalities and problems from various involved parties, the January 2014 Geneva II talks are finally here. That it could have been possible to hold the talks earlier and avoid deaths and hardship is saddening.

Still, in Geneva II there is some window to prevent further suffering that can deeply affect generations in Syria, neighbours, and the whole world.

As many of us believed quite early and warned, neither the Bashar al-Assad government nor the rebel forces could through military victory expect to rule for long. Military conquest could only be temporary as significant sections of Syria’s society will not expect and accept to be ruled for long by those they strongly oppose.

The forces for both Assad and the rebels, both groups backed by internal and external support, are so significant that no side can by military conquest hope to rule Syria. As in other places, there can be no military conquest that will hold over Syria. Clearly, eventually, there could only be political settlement.

Sadly, the delay to talks dragged on because fighting parties and backers seem to believe that military gains will provide them strength to have their way in talks. Some rebels said they would only go to talks if they have more weapons to tilt military balance in their favour.

In many conflicts in the world, some only come to talks when they have been put under pressure by opponents.  They go to talks because of a military stalemate. Sometimes persons may not want talks to succeed.

Sadly, this is based on the military strength and prowess of the victor and not on what is the best way to settle a conflict.

Yet conflict resolution and agreement should not depend on military victory and the weakening of an opponent. Agreement arrived at through the military strength or weakness of some parties will not last long. Even if it takes generations, military balances of opponents may change and fighting will resume. Violence begets violence

It is important to face the issues in a conflict. As Nelson Mandela’s South Africa showed the world, it is important to have healing, reconciliation, and fairness for all if a society has to work and strengthen towards harmony.

Some delays to Geneva II arose from deciding who comes to the talks. This question affected both government and rebels. The rebels had differences amongst themselves. Some did not want the talks as those rebels’ aim is to remove the Assad administration or take over office to become the rulers. Some do not recognise Assad’s administration as government.

Then there was the problem of which rebels could claim to be representatives of the rebellion. The rebels were many fighting groups that did not necessarily have similar background, vision, and views. There has been much rebel on rebel violence.

And some rebels did not want President Assad to be involved in the talks. Many rebels wanted Geneva to be a surrender meeting for Assad and colleagues. Some rebels did not recognise Assad as ruler. This attitude contributed to prolonged fighting and suffering.

Assad, expected to be under great military pressure, was expected to yield, leave office, and go into the uncertainty that has characterised rulers who have been deposed by armed rebellions that later dominate rule. But, learning from examples of Iraq, Libya, and even Egypt, Assad was more prepared for survival.

On the part of the Assad administration, it did not want to deal with some of the rebels. This was, I believe, an error as agreement should be made by reaching out to all fighting parties and their forces. Thus both the Assad government and rebels prolonged the armed conflict by insisting on who should attend or insisting on working only with those they got on well with.

But reaching agreement to solve a conflict requires that you even deal with those you do not like. What is important is to reach agreement that is fair for the rights and safety of all in a society.

Another problem was which external forces should be involved. Because of their own relationship issues generally unrelated to the internal Syria conflict, the United States and others were opposed to Syria neighbour Iran being involved in the talks. The US has been at Cold War with Iran.

Yet, for conflict to be settled, involved internal and external forces must be engaged. If we seek long term conflict resolution, there is no logical reason why Iran’s government should not be at Geneva II.

Iran, whose situation is more than just about being backers of Syria but also has to consider its own existence if Shiite linked regimes fall in the region, is important for settling Syria’s conflict. So too are Iraq. And others like Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and all neighbours.

Besides Turkey, rebel backers like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are important part of the Syria quiz and its solution. So too are rebel backers like United States, Britain, France, and other offshore rebel supporters. These must be involved, in various roles and ways, in settlement issues at Geneva II.

Other important forces are Russia and China’s governments, who although may, like the western governments, have interests in the region, are also concerned about the spread of religious based armed rebellions to their own countries.

Deciding to include or exclude some internal and external parties has contributed to continuation of the Syria war. Violence begets violence.

We should open up and accept that other persons who may vary from us are also truly citizens and members of society and are entitled to actively participate. Opening up our minds, we should learn to let go of our own narrow, inflexible, and limited inflexible stances and consider the health of all.

From the poor and avoidable examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt it is important that rulers of conflict countries be involved in designing transitions to provide environments of fair and good governance. When current rulers and opponents are involved, their local and external supporters will be more supportive of agreements made and systems designed.

It is important for all parties in a conflict to work together in designing and finding the constitutional, systems, structures, processes, elections, and governance practices that the renewal should have. Syria needs agreement as they go towards Assad’s presidential term end, scheduled to be in 2014.

Egypt’s poor management of the transition from Mubarak contributed to current problems and tension there.  A dispute is more likely to be solved if it involves all parties in a dispute. A conflict stands better chance of long term resolution if it covers persons in various situations, such as colour, ethnic link, language, culture, religious and spiritual path, geographical location, origin, political stance, and material and financial status.

The discussion must deal with the situations and interests of these persons and aim at fairly covering them. Talks and mediation must involve inside and outside forces closely related to a conflict.

The results of recent conflict places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Egypt show that exclusion of some members of society has led to building of conflict, some of it armed, and disharmony that is affecting stability of societies. Syria cannot succeed without involvement of key internal and external players involved in the conflict.

Yes, there is significant support for both Bashir al-Assad’s government and rebellion forces. Assad represents much more than himself. This is a conflict which neither the government nor the rebels, with its various formations, can win on the military field and hope to rule over others.

We can only hope fighting parties do not use Geneva II as a window to pause, reorganise, and rearm for further armed action.

Both internal and external forces have contributed to deep problems for Syria. Even when a ceasefire decision arises from Geneva II, there are other rebellion forces, some not even present in Geneva, that will not accept ceasefire but are determined only in military conquest.

Those who are participants or backers should not vet who comes for peace talks. For Syria and Geneva II, the United Nations should be more active and in the forefront. Talks are better facilitated by the United Nations organisation, in league with other organisations, and not controlled by those who have taken sides and are belligerents.

A primary purpose of the United Nations is not only to stop war but to put an end to war. That is, put an end to the practice of war.

Parties to a fight do not have to reach huge arms arsenals in order to be involved in negotiation. Even without weapons, committed persons and parties can reach agreement.

                                                                                           *          GCB, Lusaka, January 2014.



Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing, social development, and peace issues.