The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran's nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent.
Being a self-appointed observer and satirist of all things political, there are times when your zest is terminally dampened. Collective missteps by those who seem hell-bent on deciding our collective direction would do that to you. It all becomes especially worrisome with the increasing evidence these so-called leaders may not possess the necessary talent or character.
I can't help wondering what six Kurdish men currently facing execution in Ghezel Hesar Prison near Tehran might think of the praise being heaped on Rouhani? Like numerous other condemned prisoners in Iran, they face the gallows after being convicted of vaguely-worded offences, including "enmity against God" and "corruption on earth".
Across the world, the contentious debate over the future of nuclear power continues apace. In East Asia, for instance, it emerged last month that a nuclear plant in Taiwan may have been leaking radio-active water for three years. Meanwhile, Japan is still struggling to contain radio-active water from Fukushima; and in South Korea prosecutors are conducting a huge investigation into forged nuclear safety certificates.
The eyes of the world are focused on the UN in New York this week in an amazing turnabout in international politics. We could have been in the midst of a Middle East war with the US and France having attacked Syria, triggering resumed fighting across the border of southern Lebanon and Israel. Instead, the UN is back on centre stage, the Security Council is functioning again, and its five permanent powers are in a constructive dialogue over chemical weapons in Syria for the first time in two and a half years.
You have to hand it to the new Iranian President. The Washington Post op ed, the NBC interview. Ahead of Rouhani's much anticipated visit to New York for the UN General Assembly, he's got the world singing his tunes. All the right buzz words are there: "peace and stability among all nations", "win-win game", "friendship and dialogue."
While the US-Russian deal to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons is a welcome sign that diplomacy has a central part to play in this crisis, the retreat from early talk of military action also suggests a growing reluctance on the part of the US and UK to intervene directly in the Middle East. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, it is certainly something new.
If the US attacks Syria on its own, it won't be the first time in a solo operation after a British rejection. UK politicians have short memories when trumpeting the Special Relationship. Some may recall Bill Clinton's first foreign trip as President was to the UK to seek support for operations to end the bloodbath in Bosnia after four years of carnage and NATO/UN fence sitting.
The coalition of the willing done a good job of creating just the opposite, seemingly. Large majorities in both the UK and US still do not support attacking Syria, and it is those most passionate about politics who seem to most object. For the antiwar left, any use of force by the West is neo-imperialism and repeats the mistakes of ten years ago...
According to Syrian opposition sources, more than 1,300 Syrian citizens have been killed in a chemical weapons attack near Damascus on Wednesday 21 August. The Syrian National Coalition claims toxic gas was used by President Bashar al Assad's forces during a bombardment of rebel-held areas outside the Syrian capital.