Saudi Arabia’s decision to decline the newly-won non-permanent UN Security Council seat has stirred up a political storm, globally.
I agree, and I strongly believe, that it was indeed high time, a country like Saudi Arabia stood up to the United Nations, and made them realize the new and emerging truth.
The new truth is that any world body that claims global peace as one of its objectives, and yet does not take action in solving critical global problems, is not being effective; unless it recognizes flaws in its own policies and governance, and changes those to satisfy the changing needs of the International Community.
On Thursday, according to TIME magazine, the 193 countries that make up the U.N. General Assembly held a secret ballot to select new members of the Security Council.
Each year, the Assembly elects five new countries to serve two-year rotating posts. As competition is very keen, many countries lobby years in advance for a seat in the Council that is considered the highest table in international politics.
The new countries Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia which were selected to serve a two year term starting 1 January 2014.
They were to replace Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo, the five countries which will be completing their term on 31 December 2013.
But within 24 hours of the selection, Saudi Arabia announced it was rejecting the coveted seat on the Council.
This was an unprecedented move that shocked the diplomatic community.
From what I understand of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy, and from its press statements being released now, it is clear that the country is mainly angered by two major factors.
Firstly, it is angered by the Council’s inability to take strong action on the current crisis in Syria. And the blame is squarely on Russia and China, for their vetoes. Maybe it is time United Nations gives a serious look at how the permanent members of the Security Council can use their veto power.In fact, the veto power by the permanent members itself should be abolished.
Secondly, it is angered by the Council’s lack of will in creating a road map to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the blame for this rests on US. It could particularly be for US’ overt backing of Israel and blocking of Palestine, in curbing constructions of more settlements in occupied territories.
Three days ago, the Al Jazeera reported that an Israeli NGO says 1,708 new homes were started in occupied West Bank in first half of 2013. This is a 70 percent rise from last year!
Maybe it is high time US recognizes that this forcible occupation of Palestinian land must stop. USmust also accept and work towards the recognition of Palestine as a new state.
One of the other points of contention, I am sure, is the increasing rapport between Washington and Iran which has taken root since President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Iran has always been Saudi Arabia’s old regional foe, and this new friendliness, even if it is little, is not liked by many.
The words used by Saudi, in their statement, are obviously very strong.
“The manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities toward preserving international peace and security as required,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry had said.
“Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment is clear proof and evidence of the U.N. Security Council’s inability to perform its duties and shoulder its responsibilities,” it also added.
While the GCC countries are appreciative of Saudi’s decision, some other Arab countries are not. However, the courage shown by Saudi Arabia, I am sure, is a major warning signal to the UN to reform its policies on matters related to Middle East.