Saudi Arabia declines United Nations Security Council seat

Inter3RIYADH. — Saudi Arabia, in a display of anger at the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria and act on other Middle East issues, said yesterday it would not take up its seat on the United Nations Security Council.The kingdom condemned what it called international double standards on the Middle East and demanded reforms in the Security Council, which has been at odds on ways to end the fighting in Syria.

Unlike in the past, when Riyadh’s frustration was mostly directed at Russia and China, it is now also aimed at Washington, its oldest international ally, which has pursued policies since the Arab Spring that Saudi rulers have bitterly opposed.

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 membership of the UN Security Council until it has reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace,” said a Foreign Ministry statement.

France, a Security Council permanent member, said it understood Saudi concerns. “We share their frustration after the paralysis of the Security Council,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Russia has slammed Saudi Arabia for rejecting membership of the UNSC, criticising Riyadh for its “strange” argument that the world body has failed over the Syria crisis.

“We are surprised by Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement yesterday.  The kingdom’s arguments arouse bewilderment, and the criticism of the UN Security Council in the context of the Syria conflict is particularly strange,” it added.

Saudi Arabia is widely held as a major supporter of the foreign-backed militants fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Middle East powerhouse has also assisted Bahrain in its continued crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in the Persian Gulf island nation.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday won a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the first time and was to start a two-year term on the 15-member council on January 1, along with Chad, Chile, Lithuania, and Nigeria. — Reuters/Press TV.

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