Sunday News

Obama, Castro Herald Thaw In U.S.-Cuba Relations
With an historic handshake, President Barack Obama said that after more than a half-century of official estrangement, the U.S. and Cuba were on “a path toward the future.”

The Summit of the Americas, which began in Panama on Friday, is the first time U.S. and Cuban leaders have met for talks since 1957.

Cuban dictator Raul Castro took time to express his belief in a tweet that following a “splendid, historic meeting. A new era begins. Friendship between Cuba and US is now an important reality.”

The leaders agreed that disagreements would remain, particularly over human rights, reports Bloomberg.

“We will continue to try to lift up our concerns about democracy and human rights,” Obama said Saturday while sitting next to Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

“We can disagree with a spirit of respect and civility and over time it is possible for us to turn the page.” Castro said he is willing to “discuss everything.”

The summit was disrupted for some time after dissidents and supporters of Cuba clashed.

Crisis In Yemen
On Friday, UNICEF reported that one-third of the fighters in the current conflict in Yemen are children.

“We are seeing children in battle, at checkpoints and unfortunately among [those] killed and injured,” UNICEF’s representative to Yemen said yesterday in Geneva, according to The Guardian.

The agency also reported last week that since March 26, at least 74 children are known to have been killed and 44 children maimed. Those are conservative estimates, they added.

“Children are paying an intolerable price for this conflict.” said UNICEF Yemen Representative Julien Harneis speaking from the Jordanian capital Amman. “They are being killed, maimed and forced to flee their homes, their health threatened and their education interrupted. These children should be immediately afforded special respect and protection by all parties to the conflict, in line with international humanitarian law.”

The first ICRC shipment of medical supplies since the start of the Saudi intervention arrived in Sanaa today. The ICRC is planning on sending another shipment, as is UNICEF, as concerns about medical shortages and a growing humanitarian crisis continue to mount. The United Nations estimates that at least 560 people have been killed since the current round of violence began in mid-March.

Pakistan’s parliament voted unanimously to remain neutral on the conflict in Yemen, rebuffing requests from Saudi Arabia that Islamabad contribute to its international war effort.

Have Opponents To Iran Deal Forgotten Logic Of Arms Control?
Steven Metz contends in a piece in World Politics Review that the opponents of the Iran agreement have forgotten a key rule to successful arms control – the more dangerous the threat, the more need to talk.

“Opposition to the Iran framework agreement has many sources. One of the most important is that, after several decades with no major arms control agreements, the American public and its elected representatives no longer understand the complex and often counterintuitive logic of arms control. Paradoxically, the more hostile and dangerous an opponent, the more important arms control becomes,” he writes.

He draws a comparison with the warnings issued during negotiations with Russia over its nuclear arms stockpiles, saying that eventually, “the arms control process between the U.S. and Iran depends on whether Obama can convince the public and key members of Congress that an agreement is better than any other realistic outcome, since the failure to reach an accord would probably make Iran even less restrained and more dangerous.”

Meanwhile, Michael Totten argues in World Affairs that even if the negotiations prove to be successful, Iran will continue to be a threat as it pursues its ultimate goal – regional hegemony.

“Much of the pontificating and bickering among those in the chattering class is a bit premature, but one thing at least should be clear: the Iranian government is and will continue to be a pernicious force in the region regardless of any agreement. Even with a good deal from our point of view, replacing a rapid expansion of Iran’s nuclear weapons program with sanctions relief and economic growth will at best be a wash,” Totten maintains.


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