UNESCO ratifies new contentious resolution on Jerusalem

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee has approved a resolution on the status of conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls. The international body agreed to maintain the place on the list of endangered world heritage and criticized Israel for its continuous rejection to let the UNESCO’s experts enter Jerusalem’s holy sites to verify their conservation condition.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list is known for its work in emphasizing sites of historic and cultural importance and endangered global heritage. The Old City of Jerusalem have been on UNESCO’s endangered list since 1982.

This resolution is the latest of diverse measures taken over decades and Israelis see it as another significant proof of inherent anti-Israel tendency within the United Nations. It was passed by the Committee’s 21 member countries from which ten voted for, two against, eight abstained and one was absent. Neither Israel, the U.S. nor Palestine is on the World Heritage Committee.

Israel suspended ties with UNESCO earlier this month over a similar resolution.

Iraqi and Kurdish troops to recapture the city of Mosul

The long-expected battle to seize back Mosul after more than two years of ISIS control has begun with military units moving on the northern part of the Iraqi city.

After months of planning, 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have surrounded the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq for several days, giving a start to the most critical assault against the caliphate. US, British and French special forces are also taking part in the offensive and will play a significant role, especially in airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Mosul.

Since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate in June 2014, Mosul has been central to the group’s objectives. It is believed that they have about 6,000 fighters ready to defend the city, hidden among approximately 600,000 civilians.

Triumph over ISIS seems to be likely. However there are great concerns about the terrible effects this decisive offensive may have on the civilians: International humanitarian agencies are preparing themselves for the aftermath of this battle.

The course of Yemen’s war could drastically change

The air raid on Saturday, which hit a funeral with thousands of mourners in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sana’a, killed 140 and left 525 people wounded. It was one of the deadliest attacks of the country’s civil war since the Saudi-led coalition started a campaign of airstrikes against the Houthi-Saleh alliance in March 2015.

The conflict in the country broke out in 2014 when rebels known as the Houthis took the capital by force and sent the government into exile. The Houthis are allied with army units loyal to a former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and they have been struggling for control of the country against groups that are loyal to the current president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is supported by Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies.

The airstrikes on Saturday came after a period of escalation since August, when the last round of peace talks definitely broke down. The last attack seems to impede any return to talks aimed at ending the conflict, while stimulating support in northern Yemen for military escalation against Saudi Arabia. Instability and uncertainty rule the country at the moment.

The attack has been condemned by the UN, the European Union and the United States. The US, like the UK and other European countries, supplies arms to Saudi Arabia and practical military advice. After the last attack’s repercussion, the White House issued a statement affirming that it had begun an “immediate review” of its support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen “to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests”.

The end of the 52-year guerrilla war in Colombia

After four years of tough negotiations in Havana, today the Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Marxist rebel leader Timochenko are signing a peace deal which will put an end to a half-century war that has killed a quarter of a million people, blocked the economic system and made Colombia a highly unstable country.

More than 2,500 foreign and local dignitaries are attending the ceremony in Cartagena, where these two leaders will shake hands for the first time in Colombia. The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, or the US secretary of state, John Kerry are some of the personalities who will be present at the historical peace treaty which will turn the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrilla group into a legal political party.

The agreement must be ratified by a plebiscite on 2nd October, but polls indicate that it will pass easily since there is widespread relief in Colombian society at an end to the kidnappings and hostilities of the last decades. Moreover, the revolutionary group will hand over weapons to the United Nations within 180 days.

Colombians and the rest of Latin American countries are optimistic, as peace will bring more positive results than problems. They hope to reduce security costs and open new areas for mining and oil companies, in order to restore social and political stability in the country.