Saudi rejects seat on ‘double-standards’ Security Council

October 18, 2013 1:29 pm


File photo shows a high-level UN Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on August 6, 2013/AFP
File photo shows a high-level UN Security Council meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York on August 6, 2013/AFP
DUBAI, Oct 18 – Saudi Arabia rejected membership of the UN Security Council on Friday, a day after it was elected to the body, accusing it of “double-standards” in resolving world conflicts, namely Syria.

One analyst said the move also reflects Riyadh’s disappointment with the diplomatic opening between ally Washington and arch foe Iran, which it accuses of interfering in regional states.

“Work mechanisms and double-standards on the Security Council prevent it from carrying out its duties and assuming its responsibilities in keeping world peace,” the foreign ministry said.

“Therefore Saudi Arabia… has no other option but to turn down Security Council membership until it is reformed and given the means to accomplish its duties and assume its responsibilities in preserving the world’s peace and security,” the statement said.

Oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia – a staunch backer of the rebellion against the Iranian-backed regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – won the seat Thursday for the first time ever.

Saudi UN Ambassador Abdullah al-Mouallimi welcomed the election as a reflection of Riyadh’s “long-standing policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes in peaceful means.”

But the foreign ministry on Friday said Riyadh would not be member of a body that has been unable to tackle long-standing Middle East conflicts or rid the region of the threat of nuclear war.

Saudi analyst Abdulaziz Sager, who heads the Gulf Research Centre, said Saudi Arabia wanted to send the world two messages.

“First it wanted to show that it is a power to be reckoned with (by securing 176 votes in the 193-member General Assembly). And then it decided to act from a position of strength.

By declining the seat it is expressing its “indignation” with the veto-wielding five permanent members of the council and its “displeasure” with US policies in the region, mainly Iran.

The United States, a Saudi ally, is one of the five permanent members of the council along with Russia, France, Britain and China. It has recently opened up diplomatically to Riyadh’s arch-foe Iran.

“Saudi Arabia believes Iran is interfering in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain… and that the United States is willing to let Iran play a role in the region,” Sager added.

The foreign ministry statement pointed specifically to the nearly three-year civil war in Syria and the protracted Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as key reasons to decline a council seat.

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