September 22, 2014

CNAS Press Note: Key Issues for Obama's UN Appearance

Washington, September 22 – President Obama is scheduled to preside over a meeting of the United Nations Security Council during the 69th session of the United Nation's annual General Assembly starting on September 16. He is scheduled to speak September 24. President Obama’s appearance provides an opportunity to focus policy and media attention on several key issues, including:

  1. The U.S. Response to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The rapid advance of extremists from Syria into Iraq over the summer took Washington and the world by surprise, and the United States is working with a growing number of allies and partners to strike back. Domestic and international audiences will expect to hear more detail regarding how the United States intends to counter the ISIS threat, and its broader policy toward Iraq and the continued strife in Syria. Obama will focus on the ways in which working multilaterally, through a strong coalition of Western and Arab and other allies, is the only way to defeat ISIS. He will call on the UN member states to take measures to stop the over 12,000 foreign fighters flowing into Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS and other terrorist groups. Please find CNAS Leon E. Panetta Fellow Dr. Dafna Rand’s report on the foreign fighter threat.
  2. U.S. Policy in the Middle East. Last year at this time, President Obama outlined three priorities for the United States in the Middle East. While the news this year has focused on the conflict on Syria and its spillover into Iraq, the President can be expected to address the two other priorities: ongoing P5+1 negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and U.S. efforts to support Israeli security while working toward a two state solution. The President will renew his commitment to reaching a deal with Iran by November and will discuss the importance of protecting Israeli security, reaffirming a strong Palestinian Authority, and responding to the needs of the Palestinian people after this summer's Gaza conflict. Please find CNAS Middle East Program Director Colin Kahl’s op-ed on Iran’s nuclear bargaining chip.


  3. Russia's Destabilizing Behavior. Moscow's invasion of Crimea and ongoing support of Ukrainian separatists has destabilized Eastern Europe. Coming off the September NATO Summit in Newport, Wales, President Obama will likely address Russia's behavior and the role of the United States and its NATO allies in helping partners in Eastern Europe. Please find a report by CNAS experts Julianne Smith, Dr. Nora Bensahel, LTG David Barno, and Jacob Stokes on NATO’s challenges.
  4. U.S. commitment development, humanitarian response, and human rights. The President will urge the international community to address urgent humanitarian needs such as the Ebola outbreak in Africa. The Pentagon is in the process of deploying a significant humanitarian operation to Liberia to respond to this public health crisis.  He will also focus on the importance of responding to the refugee crisis in Syria and other global humanitarian needs. He will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to supporting good governance and human rights. Please find CNAS President Richard Fontaine’s policy brief on the U.S. internet freedom agenda.

CNAS experts available for interviews on the subject include:

To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at, or call 202-457-9409.