Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Saudis spurn Security Council

Blast UN's failure to end war in Syria

  • Print

Just hours after winning a coveted place on the UN Security Council for the first time, Saudi Arabia did a stunning about-face Friday and rejected the seat, denouncing the body for failing to resolve world conflicts such as the Syrian civil war.

The unprecedented move at the United Nations appeared largely directed at Saudi Arabia's longtime ally, the United States, reflecting more than two years of frustration.

The oil giant and the world's superpower are at odds over a number of Mideast issues, including how Washington has handled some of the region's crises, particularly in Egypt and Syria. It also comes as ties between the U.S. and Iran, the Saudis' regional foe, appear to be improving somewhat.

The Saudis were displeased the U.S. backed off threats of military strikes against Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons. In Egypt, Washington has been critical of the military after it toppled president Mohammed Morsi while Saudi Arabia has strongly backed the coup, giving billions of dollars to the new army-backed government.

Saudi Arabia's reversal surprised UN diplomats and officials who had just welcomed the kingdom to a two-year term on the UN's most powerful body for the first time. Several noted the Saudis were lobbying for support right up until the vote.

Britain, Pakistan and other countries said they wanted explanations, particularly as Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, told reporters after Thursday's vote his government took the election "very seriously" and saw it as "a reflection of a long-standing policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means."

Al-Mouallimi's comments stood in sharp contrast to the strident tone of Friday's Saudi Foreign Ministry statement, which accused the Security Council of failing on multiple fronts in the Middle East, especially in ending the Syrian conflict but also in failing to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and rid the region of weapons of mass destruction.

"They should have thought of that before competing for the seat," said Guatemala's UN ambassador, Gert Rosenthal.

Several diplomats were asking each other whether there was a split in the leadership of Saudi Arabia, where King Abdullah has the final word.

The Saudi statement was especially critical of the Security Council's "inability to perform its duties" to end the 21/2-year conflict in Syria, saying this has enabled President Bashar Assad's regime "to kill its people and burn them with chemical weapons in front of the entire world and without any deterrent or punishment." The Syrian regime denies using chemical weapons.

Saudi Arabia backs the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad in a war that has killed some 100,000 people since early 2011.

The Saudis and other Sunni Arab governments are eager to counter their regional rival, Iran, which has strongly thrown its weight behind Assad.

Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the United Nations, joining on Oct. 24, 1945, the day the UN Charter was unanimously adopted in San Francisco.

It kept a low profile for decades but in recent years has become much more active at the UN, seeking and winning seats on the Human Rights Council and other bodies.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky, asked whether the Saudi rejection of the seat was unprecedented, said: "As far as we are aware, there isn't another case like it."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters he had not received any official notification about the Saudi rejection and said member states are holding discussions on how to deal with the Saudi move.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2013 A31

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Perry Bellegarde elected as national chief of Assembly of First Nations

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A nesting goose sits on the roof of GoodLife Fitness at 143 Nature Way near Kenaston as the morning sun comes up Wednesday morning- See Bryksa’s Goose a Day Photo- Day 07- Web crop-May 09, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 070619 LIGHTNING ILLUMINATES AN ABANDONED GRAIN ELEVATOR IN THE VILLAGE OF SANFORD ABOUT 10PM TUESDAY NIGHT AS A LINE OF THUNDERSTORMS PASSED NEAR WINNIPEG JUST TO THE NORTH OF THIS  SITE.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will you watch The Interview?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google