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Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealers Wheel

News & Opinion

Yesterday was a pretty amazing day.  This was achieved on Thursday night.

U.N.’s five big powers agree on Syrian resolution wording

NEW YORK — The United Nations’ five big powers reached agreement Thursday on a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution that would require Syria to dismantle its once-secret chemical weapons program or face the threat of unspecified measures, according to senior U.S. and Russian officials.

The deal reached by Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China followed several days of high-level talks in New York. The talks culminated Thursday afternoon with a face-to-face meeting between Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The draft U.N. resolution based on that accord says that if the Syrian government or the rebels fail to comply with their obligations to rid the country of chemical weapons, the Security Council “will impose measures under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter,” which is generally invoked to impose sanctions or approve the use of force. But considering such measures would require the passage of an additional resolution in the Security Council, where Russia is expected to block any proposal for the use of force and resist the imposition of stiff sanctions.

After Thursday’s meeting, a senior administration official said the agreed-on text would be shared later that night with all 15 Security Council members. French and Russian officials said a vote on the resolution was likely Friday evening. Lavrov extended his stay so that he could vote Friday.

And yesterday, the Security Council voted unanimously for the resolution.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Friday night to secure and destroy Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, a landmark decision aimed at taking poison gas off the battlefield in the escalating 2 1/2-year conflict.

The vote after two weeks of intense negotiations marked a major breakthrough in the paralysis that has gripped the council since the Syrian uprising began. Russia and China previously vetoed three Western-backed resolutions pressuring President Bashar Assad's regime to end the violence.

"Today's historic resolution is the first hopeful news on Syria in a long time," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council immediately after the vote, but he and others stressed that much more needs to be done to stop the fighting that has left more 100,000 dead.

And then some amazing things began to happen on Twitter.  There's a Twitter account that everyone has long suspected was the official English language account of Hassan Rouhani, and in the bio, it says it is the "Iranian President's Sole English Account" but for complicated reasons, he was not able to officially declare that it was his.  Twitter has a way of confirming the accounts of famous people and puts a blue checkmark next to the name. I don't know what their criteria are, but Rouhani's account has no blue checkmark. It's been a bit of a mystery for weeks, and journalists have been puzzling over it but one person with close sources explained a couple of weeks ago that it's hard for him to "cop to it".  Yesterday it was confirmed by circumstances that the account is his and is managed by someone close to him, probably on his media team because the president of Iran's media team began to tweet about the historic phone call with President Obama, pretty much as it was happening, and the tweets included details of what they spoke about and what they said. And along with that, there were other tweets with close up pictures of Rouhani smiling, on a plane getting ready to leave New York, etc.  The tone of the tweets was beyond enthusiastic and the elation came through, and a lot of people were watching.  This social media thing is really astounding and the fact that officials in every capacity all around the world are using it is a game changer.  For instance, the phone call between Obama and Rouhani was historic and lauded around the world, but this tweet below was considered to be almost equally historic and took the breath away of the observers on Twitter.


So, what is amazing about that tweet?  The image above is a screen capture, rather than the usual embed, because the amazing thing about it is the grey text that says "Retweeted by Hassan Rouhani".  Rouhani, or his social media team, presumably with his full knowledge, retweeted John Kerry's message to the world about the progress made between the United States and Iran.  You'll see many messages on Twitter from that State Dept. account, but when Kerry was appointed, they changed the Bio note to note that when tweets come from that account with a "JK" at the end of it, they are directly from John Kerry.  So while it might seem like a small thing, the fact that the president of Iran retweeted Kerry's message of optimism for the relationship between the U.S. and Iran was, as Joe Biden would say, a big effing deal.

Prior to the historic retweet of Twitter diplomacy, Housani had sent out messages about the phone call with Pres. Obama.  In fact they were so enthusiastic, that they decided to remove a few of them later.  There's an article below from the NY Times about that with screen captures of the original tweets before they were removed and replaced with different ones.  

One of the deleted tweets details how the phone call ended, with each president saying something pleasant in the other's language.  Obama will probably get a lot of flak because of his farewell message, but clearly he had thought that through, since he had prepared by knowing the Farsi term before the call began, which is pretty cool, in my book, even though I'm not big on all the god things.  

Details of Conversation With Obama Deleted From Twitter Account in Rouhani’s Name

Another of the deleted updates, captured by The Lede, described the two presidents wishing each other farewell in their own languages. Mr. Rouhani offering the American blessing, “Have a nice day!” and Mr. Obama responding with the Persian word for goodbye, “Khodahafez” —literally, “May God protect you.”

And below are the tweets that remain about the conversation from the Rouhani mystery account.  Make sure you go look at the NY Times article that I linked above to see the original, if perhaps a bit too enthusiastic ones, for someone like Housani.  Can you picture the exchanges between him and his (probably young) social media team?  I find the whole thing to be fascinating and frankly, strangely amusing too, to watch the biggest news organizations in the world reporting about "tweets" and using Twitter as one of their key sources.  And open source methods of getting information also just continue to fascinate me.  Now the next logical step for Rouhani is to open up social media again for the people of Iran.  We'll see if that happens at some point in the near future.

Buzzfeed illustrates exactly of how things went down, with Rouhani announcing the phone call on Twitter, even before Obama's official televised statement, and the various goings on. It's really interesting (and it's also what the NY Times article above used as a source).

Obama: I Spoke On The Phone With The Iranian President
The phone call represents the first direct contact between U.S. and Iranian presidents since 1979.

President Barack Obama said Thursday that he spoke on the phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, marking the first direct contact between a U.S. and Iranian president since 1979.

“Before I discuss the situation in Congress, let me say a few things about two important opportunities in our foreign policy,” President Obama said. “Just now I spoke on the phone with President Rouhani of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The two of us discussed our ongoing efforts to reach an agreement over Iran’s nuclear program. I reiterated to President Rouhani what I said in New York. While there will surely be important obstacles to moving forward and success is by no means guaranteed, I believe we can reach a comprehensive solution.”

Before Obama announced he had spoken on the phone with the leader, Rouhani tweeted from his official Twitter account: “In a phone conversation b/w #Iranian & #US Presidents just now: @HassanRouhani: “Have a Nice Day!” @BarackObama: “Thank you. Khodahafez.”

Now we also have quite a few people who don't seem to be very happy about these developments.  There has been something that is clearly a talking point going around since Rouhani's speech at the UN.  I heard it first on CNN, immediately after his speech, and immediately suspected it was a point of messaging that was coming from powers that be who really do not want peace between the United States and Iran. The talking point is that Rouhani is using a "charm offensive" and that he is not sincere, and is rather sinister and none of this should be trusted or taken seriously.  After that first mention of the "charm offensive", I heard it several more times on cable news, both CNN and MSNBC. I don't think that's an accident.  

Two sets of damage control type talking points have been making their way around.  One is that if Obama hadn't prepared to bomb Syria and hadn't done a full court press to start another war, we would have never achieved a diplomatic solution.  This, I suspect, is a way of trying to save face.

The other one, a newer one, is that the sanctions on Iran were a good thing, and led to this progress with Iran and led to the Iranian people choosing a more moderate leader.    Rachel Maddow apparently tried to push this last night on MSNBC making these assertions, and boy did she get a tsunami of push back on Twitter about it.

And Samantha Power swung by Twitter to try to do some damage control too, with a side order of 11 dimensional chess, though if things had been up to her, we'd probably have triggered WWIII by now.  She doesn't mention that part.

Not very graceful.

Rouhani also retweeted this, which is from the CEO of Twitter, who is amazed at what is happening on his social media platform.

Lastly, the gracious Susan Rice, lol.


Stop Watching Us.

The revelations about the National Security Agency's surveillance apparatus, if true, represent a stunning abuse of our basic rights. We demand the U.S. Congress reveal the full extent of the NSA's spying programs.

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