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Oct 19, 2013 at 07:42 o\clock

Angry with America, Saudi Arabia rejects UN security council seat

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Angry with America, Saudi Arabia rejects UN security council seat - The Times of India
WASHINGTON: Saudi Arabia on Friday renounced a rotatingUN security council seat that was there for the taking, evidently miffed with its long-time patron United States' overtures to Iran, among other peeves.
The unexpected Saudi rejection came just hours after the kingdom was elected unopposed on Thursday night as one of the council's 10 nonpermanent members. The two-year stint is prized by member countries because it gives them a temporary seat alongside the five permanent members, albeit without veto power.

The five rotating seats that opened up this year were uncontested, leaving Saudi Arabia, Chad, Nigeria, Lithuania and Chile to replace retiring members Pakistan Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, and Togo.

But in a sudden twist, Riyadh, apparently piqued with Washington over developments in the Middle East, lamented that the international community had failed in its duty towards Syria, where the Saudis have backed the largely Sunni rebels against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Saying the UN "allowed the Syrian regime to kill people" and use chemical weapons in front of "the entire world without facing any penalties," Riyadh said it was regretfully declining the UN seat.

"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 country's foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA, calling for unspecified reforms.

There were other Saudi gripes beyond the Syria "let-down," notably the US rapproachment with Iran, which reportedly led to the Saudi leadership ditching a scheduled speech at the UN general assembly last month. The largely Sunni Saudi Arabia is locked in a bitter feud with the mostly Shia Iran. It feels betrayed by Washington's recent advances with Teheran, whose nuclear program it views as a threat, although its own client state Pakistan is said to give the Saudis military and nuclear cover.

Given Saudi Arabia's preference for low-key, undemonstrative engagement, all this was masked in suitable diplomatese. "The failure of the security council to make the Middle East a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, whether because of its inability to subdue the nuclear programs of all countries in the region ... is a sign and proof of the inability of the security council to perform its duties and responsibilities," the Saudi foreign ministry said.

Saudi Arabia has quietly asserted primacy in the region in the years since Iran fell out with the US, mainly by buying military and nuclear cover from its rentier, client-Pakistan and diplomatic shield from its patron, the United States. Washington's recent rapprochment with Iran and its discarding of Pakistan has rattled Riyadh, particularly as it comes at a time the US is fast becoming energy independent on the strength of the vast gas reserves it has recently tapped domestically.

A recent Pew Research study on global attitudes showed Saudi Arabia's Image faltering among Middle East Neighbors, particularly in Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey. The country's most favorable rating came from Pakistan (95 per cent approval).



http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Angry-with-America-Saudi-Arabia-rejects-UN-security-council-seat/articleshow/24349312.cms
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