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Friday, October 18, 2013

Saudi Arabia Rejects UN Security Council Seat

In an entirely unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia turned down the seat it had just won on the UN Security Council mere hours after being elected to it. No other country has ever refused a seat on the council.

Accusing the body of “double standards,” the Saudi foreign ministry said that the country would not accept a seat on the council until it is “reformed” and able “to carry out its duties and responsibilities.” Saudi Arabia was particularly critical of UN inaction on Syria, but its critiques extended to its failure to find a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and to rid the region of WMDs.

Russia denounced the decision as “strange,” but representatives from Western countries were more understanding, with France’s UN ambassador noting, “The fact is that the Security Council has been unable to act now for more than two years.”

More Info on Kenya Mall Attack

New CCTV footage has recently emerged from the first day of the Westgate Mall siege showing four attackers calmly walking through corridors, calmly shooting panicking shoppers as they try to hide or flee. It is not yet clear if more gunmen were involved than the four seen in the footage and whether any escaped.

Charred body parts pulled from the rubble yesterday are “highly likely” to be from the attackers, as they were found next to AK-47 rifles (not used by the Kenyan military) and a grenade launcher. The BBC has identified one suspected attacker as Somali-born Norwegian national Hassan Abdi Dhuhulow, although it is not known whether he is dead or alive. Conclusive identification of the bodies will require advanced forensics, since “with body parts it’s difficult to tell.”

Bad News for Moderate Syrian Rebels

Moderate rebel factions – those the West has vowed to support – are struggling for funding and as a result, losing fighters to hard-line Islamist groups, many of whom have generous backing from oil-rich Persian Gulf states. With no substantial increase in Western support after the August 21 chemical weapons attack, many have begun to look elsewhere for patronage.

Even Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been one of the rebels’ staunchest allies, has been forced to take a step back as Western countries back away from additional involvement, al-Qaeda-backed rebel groups become more powerful and Turkey fears for its border security.

 UN Calls on US to Declassify Drone Information

Warning that the United States’ drone strikes might violate international law, the UN called on the US to declassify information on unmanned drone attacks coordinated by the CIA. The report examines incidents in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Gaza and Pakistan – in the latter, there have been up to 330 drone strikes in the northwestern tribal regions alone since 2004. Specifically, it called on the US to reveal the number of civilians killed in American drone strikes, since a preliminary report indicated more than 450 civilians may have been killed in 3 different countries.

The UN general assembly is due to debate the use of remotely piloted aircraft next Friday.

Weekend Read: Wrongful Termination Suit Offers an Inside Look at How the Fed Handled ‘Too Big to Fail’ Banks

Lawyer Carmen Segarra said she was pressured to change her finding that the way Goldman Sachs managed conflicts of interest was flawed. Via Pacific Standard.

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