5 August 2018   Leave a comment

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was created in 1949 to address the issue of Palestinian refugees who fled the state of Israel after its creation in 1948.  At that time there were about 750,000 refugees.  UNRWA considers all the descendants of the original refugees to be refugees as well, and the total number of refugees is now around 5 million.  The agency that was created to address a serious humanitarian crisis is now an agency that supports what many regard as a permanent situation.  The refugees insist upon a “right of return” and Israel refuses to consider any possibility of the refugees returning.  The US has been one of the largest contributors to the UNRWA budget, but it is now reducing money for the Palestinians and recently released documents suggest that it is now official policy of the US to see UNRWA ended.  Jared Kushner is the US official responsible for Middle East peace and last January he wrote an email to various US officials, including President Trump’s Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt.  The email read, in part:

“It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.

“This [agency] perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace….

“Our goal can’t be to keep things stable and as they are. … Sometimes you have to strategically risk breaking things in order to get there.”

There is not, however, any indication of a substitute for UNRWA.  Some believe that ending UNRWA is exactly the right thing to do.  But few have any suggestions for protecting the 5 million people who will be at risk if that happens.


There is a very confused situation in Venezuela right now with two story lines.  First, there are reports that there was an assassination attempt against Nicolas Maduro, President of Venezuela.  The reports suggest that the attempt used explosives attached to two drones and was unsuccessful.  It happened while Maduro was giving a speech in Caracas.  The story is that the attempt was made by resistance groups opposed to Maduro and the attempt will likely lead to a serious crackdown on what limited protests are currently allowed in Venezuela.  Maduro blamed Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos but offered little evidence at the time for the accusation.  The attack indicates how close Venezuela is to collapse.  Turkey and Russia offered words of support for Maduro, and US National Security Adviser John Bolton denied that the US was in any way involved in the attack.

The alternative explanation for the events is that there was a gas line explosion while Maduro was giving a speech and that the reported story is simply a false flag designed to legitimate the final crushing of the opposition to Maduro.  We will have to wait to see which explanation is correct.

Posted August 5, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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