Saudi rejects seat on ‘double-standards’ Security Council

October 18, 2013 1:29 pm

“Failing to find a solution to the Palestinian cause for 65 years” it said, has led to “numerous wars that have threatened world peace.”

Likewise, it said, “allowing the regime in Syria to kill its own people with chemical weapons… without confronting it or imposing any deterrent sanctions… is a proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and assume its responsibilities.”

The ministry also criticised the body’s “failure” to turn the Middle East into a region free from weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms – in a reference to Iran and Israel.

Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia is a fierce critic of Shiite Iran’s nuclear programme, which the West and Israel suspect of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, a charge Tehran denies. Israel is the sole, if undeclared, nuclear power in the region.

Riyadh has been a vocal critic of the UN’s handling of the conflict in Syria, where a peaceful movement that called for reforms emerged in March 2011 and was met with a brutal repression and quickly escalated into civil war.

Last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal refused to speak or even hand out a copy of his speech at the UN General Assembly in anger over the Security Council deadlock on Syria and Palestine.

“It was a sign of the frustration felt,” said Nawaf Obaid, a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Centre and an advisor to Saudi officials.

In addition to its five permanent members, the Security Council has 10 seats that are awarded for two-year periods by the General Assembly, which holds a vote every year for five of the seats.

Saudi Arabia was chosen along with Chile, Chad, Lithuania and Nigeria.

Security Council powers had cautiously welcomed Saudi Arabia’s election.

“Having them on the Security Council allows you to debate those issues in a way which you can’t if they are not on the council,” said one UN diplomat.

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