News / Middle East

Gulf States, Egypt Back Saudi Rejection of UN Seat

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote unanimously to approve a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal at a meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sep. 27, 2013.
Members of the United Nations Security Council vote unanimously to approve a resolution eradicating Syria's chemical arsenal at a meeting during the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sep. 27, 2013.
Reuters
Saudi Arabia's Gulf Arab allies and Egypt have applauded its decision to reject a U.N. Security Council seat in protest at the world body's failure to act on Syria, whose leader is backed by Russia and Shi'ite Iran.
 
Saudi Arabia turned down a coveted two-year term on the council on Friday in a rare display of anger with what it called “double standards” in the United Nations.
 
Permanent council members Russia and China have repeatedly blocked resolutions to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime ally of Iran, Riyadh's main regional rival.
 
Saudi Arabia, which backs the mostly Sunni Muslim rebels fighting to overthrow Assad, has described his attempts to crush them as genocide. Assad, whose Alawite sect is derived from Shi'ite Islam, enjoys solid support from Iran and the armed Lebanese Shi'ite movement Hezbollah. The Syrian leader denounces his foes as al-Qaida-linked groups backed by Sunni-ruled states.
 
Riyadh's frustration with Russia and China now extends to the United States, its historic ally, not only over Syria, but also over Washington's acquiescence in the fall of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and its new quest for a nuclear deal with Iran.
 
Expressions of support from Saudi Arabia's Gulf Arab friends contained no overt criticism of U.S. policy, but echoed the kingdom's complaints about the Security Council's failure to end the war in Syria and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

"Brave Saudi position"
 
Kuwait shares Riyadh's pain, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said, citing the “bloody massacres” in Syria and the “suffering of the Palestinian people”. He said the Saudi rejection of a council seat had sent a message to the world.
 
No country has previously been elected to the council and then walked away. As an incoming member, Saudi Arabia would have taken up its seat on January 1 for a two-year term. Riyadh demanded unspecified reforms in the world's top security institution.
 
Plaudits also came from Cairo, which was promised billions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates in July after Egypt's army overthrew eletected President Mohamed Morsi. The ousted Islamist leader's Muslim Brotherhood is viewed as a political danger in most Gulf states.
 
“This brave Saudi position is favored with all of Egypt's respect and appreciation,” Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said in a statement posted on his ministry's Facebook page.
 
The Egyptian head of the Cairo-based Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, also said Riyadh had every right to protest against the management of the Security Council, which he said should rethink the veto-wielding powers of its five permanent members.
 
Voicing its support, the United Arab Emirates said it agreed that the views of Arab countries had been marginalized.
 
The Saudi decision had handed the U.N. secretary-general and the permanent council members “historic responsibility to review the role of the United Nations, its powers and its charter,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said.
 
Bahrain praised Riyadh's “clear and courageous stand”, while Qatar suggested it could shake the world out of complacency.
 
Addressing his Saudi counterpart, Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah wrote on Twitter: “When you are angry, you send the world into disarray, so thank you.”

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs