U.N. Security Council seeks aid for Syria

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner
September 30, 2013

The U.N. Security Council delivers statement on humanitarian aid in Syria, Rouhani’s nuclear stance could be driven by financial turmoil, and Berlusconi meets with lawmakers after shoving Italy’s government over the brink. Today is Monday, September 30, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

Abboud, 12, plays with a cat while holding his weapon in Aleppo’s Sheikh Saeed neighborhood, September 28, 2013. Abboud and his brother Deeb, 14, both school-going children before the civil war, joined the Free Syrian Army after the deaths of two of their brothers and an uncle in the conflict. REUTERS/Muzaffar Salman

Switching gears on Syria. Following Friday’s unanimous adoption of a resolution for the eradication of Syria’s chemical arms at the U.N. General Assembly, the U.N. Security Council shifted its efforts towards solving the country’s humanitarian crisis:

The Security Council is considering a statement to try to boost aid access in Syria by urging Syrian authorities to allow cross-border deliveries from neighboring countries and asking parties to the conflict to hold humanitarian pauses in the fighting… Deputy U.N. council envoys are due to meet to discuss the proposed Security Council presidential statement on Monday, said diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Unlike a resolution, a presidential statement is not legally binding. The draft text, obtained by Reuters, urges all parties to “agree on the modalities to implement humanitarian pauses, as well as key routes to enable promptly – upon notification from relief agencies – the safe and unhindered passage of humanitarian convoys along these routes.”

Syria’s two-and-a-half year civil war has displaced over one million people and left roughly 100,000 dead. Some diplomats said that Russia has been constructively engaged in drafting the aid statement but others warned the country would be reluctant to back a council declaration that called for cross-border assistance in the region. Friday’s declaration marked the culmination of weeks of debate over the details of a Syrian chemical disarmament plan, during which the U.S. and Russia clashed over the option of military force against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The resolution removes the option of automatic punishment under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, which allows the council to use military force or sanctions to punish a breach. Experts from a world chemical watchdog will head to Syria on Tuesday, and the U.N. chemical inspectors depart today. On Sunday, Assad said he would respect the resolution.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani speaks with Asia Society President and CEO Josette Sheeran during an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Asia Society in New York, September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Keith Bedford

All about the Benjamins. Some analysts say that Iran’s recent efforts to build up relations with the U.S. are driven by internal economic woes:

Iran is adept at surviving economic pressure, but sanctions have bitten deeply. Existing U.S. and EU measures have reduced Iran’s oil exports by more than half from pre-sanction levels of about 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd), costing Tehran billions of dollars in lost revenue a month. The U.S. Congress could soon pass a bill to squeeze Iran’s oil exports further. Deeper cuts in oil sales, if accomplished, could worsen the damage Western sanctions have already done to Iran’s economy, which suffered a loss of about $26 billion in petroleum revenue in 2012 from a total of $95 billion in 2011; soaring inflation; and a devaluation of its currency, the rial…Mehrdad Emadi, an economist at Betamatrix consultancy, said knock on effects of sanctions on businesses included lack of investment and job losses. In the car and related components sector, about a third of workers had lost jobs in an industry that is Iran’s largest after oil, he said.

On Friday, Presidents Obama and Rouhani spoke on the phone  in a historic conversation that marked an acceleration in the level of direct communication between the nations. Prior to the call, Rouhani and Obama had exchanged letters.

People of Freedom party (PDL) leader Silvio Berlusconi (R) carries his pet dog upon arriving at his residence in Rome in this still image taken from video, September 30, 2013. REUTERS/via Reuters TV

Berlusconi breakdown. Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi meets with lawmakers from his center-right People of Freedom (PDL) party on Monday after ordering five ministers to resign from Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s coalition over the weekend, leaving the country’s government in disarray:

Financial markets, which have been increasingly nervous about Italy after a week of rising political tensions, are expected to sell off government bonds and stocks on Monday, adding to the atmosphere of crisis. Letta will go before parliament to seek support to continue in a confidence vote, probably on Wednesday, leaving two days of maneuvering among the parties, starting with a meeting between Berlusconi and PDL parliamentarians on Monday afternoon. The billionaire media tycoon, who is fighting moves to expel him from parliament following his conviction for tax fraud last month, said at the weekend he wanted elections as soon as possible. But he faces resistance not just from President Giorgio Napolitano, who would have to order parliament to be dissolved, but also from his own increasingly fractious supporters, some of whom may switch allegiance and back Letta’s government.

Italy has struggled under Letta’s government, which was hobbled together after February’s deadlocked elections and has failed in efforts to lower its budget deficit.

Nota Bene: Car bomb kills at least 54 in Shi’ite districts of Baghdad.

Standouts:

Pseudo-science - A Saudi cleric warns driving can hurt a woman’s ovaries… (BBC)

Science - … and a Saudi doctor says it won’t. (Associated Press)

Dress code - Turkey lifts ban on headscarves in most state offices. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Maternity saddle - An inflatable cushion turns donkeys into ambulances for Afghan women in labor. (The Atlantic)

Arrested for sleeping outside - A new Hungarian law could make being homeless a criminal act. (Al Jazeera)

From the File:

  • Israel showcases Iranian spy case as Netanyahu visits U.S.
  • India, Pakistan agree to work on ceasefire.
  • Gunmen kill three Egyptian policemen.
  • Turkey’s Erdogan introduces reforms to boost Kurdish peace process.
  • Germany’s SPD warns forming a government could take months.
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