The United Nations launched its largest humanitarian aid request ever today, asking for $12.9 billion on behalf of 500 organizations - $6.5 billion of which would address problems from the Syrian conflict. The UN is trying to persuade China, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar to contribute more (especially as the United States and Europe have been struggling with domestic economic crises), but its fundraising goals are rarely met.
In Washington DC, panelists at the Middle East Institute’s annual conference clashed on the topic of a US-Iran rapprochement. Dr. Mohsen Milani of the University of South Florida remarked that a US-Iran rapprochement would more profoundly influence the Middle East in the future than either the Syrian conflict or sectarianism, but Dr. F. Gregory Gause of the Brookings Doha Center countered that Dr. Milani and others were “getting ahead of themselves.”
The annual power list at Forbes was topped by Obama every year except one until 2013. Obama is now #2 and Putin claimed the top spot this year.
Saudi Arabia was elected to a seat in the UN Security Council but quickly rejected that position and slammed the council for its "double standards" in diplomacy. The event particularly highlights Saudi frustration with the US and with the international community for failing to intervene in Syria, where Saudi has backed the rebels against Assad. Saudi suspicion of the warming relationship between the US and Iran only complicates matters.