Saudi Arabia rejects UN Security Council seat

Saudi Arabia cited the Syrian crisis as a reason for the rejection.

Saudi Arabia, in an unprecedented show of anger at the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria and act on other Middle East issues, said on Friday It would not take up its seat on the UN Security Council.

The kingdom condemned what it called international double standards against the Middle East and demanded reforms in the Security Council.

Citing the Security Council’s failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, take steps to end Syria’s civil war and stop nuclear proliferation in the region, Riyadh said the body had, instead, perpetuated conflicts and grievances.

“Saudi Arabia is refraining from taking up membership on the UN Security Council until (the council) has reformed and can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace,” said a Foreign Ministry statement issued on state media.

The conservative Islamic kingdom has traditionally avoided big political statements; preferring to wield its influence as world’s top oil exporter, birthplace of Islam and chief Arab ally of the United States, behind closed doors.

However, its anger at the international response to Arab issues, particularly the Syrian conflict, boiled over after Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, escaped U.S.-led military strikes in response to a poison gas attack in Damascus by agreeing to give up his chemical arsenal.

It is the second time this month that Saudi Arabia has made a public gesture over what it sees as the Security Council’s failure to take action to stop the civil war in Syria.

Earlier this month, the Saudi foreign minister cancelled a speech at the UN General Assembly in frustration over the international inaction on Syria and the Palestinian issue.

“The kingdom sees that the method and work mechanism and the double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering its responsibilities towards world peace,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the state news agency, SPA.

The kingdom’s anger coincides with a rift between the US and another Washington key Middle East ally, Egypt.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister said relations were in turmoil after Washington moved to curtail military aid to Cairo in a row over the removal of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Saudi Arabia, along with Nigeria, was among five countries elected by the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday to serve a two-year term on the 15-member UN Security Council.

The body, which has powers to authorise military action, impose sanctions and set up peacekeeping operations, has 10 rotating members and five permanent members.

(Reuters/ NAN)

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