Saudi Royal Family Rejects Place on UN Security Council

Monday, October 21, 2013
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

In a bizarre turn of events Friday that left diplomats scratching their heads in disbelief, Saudi Arabia, which had politicked for three years to obtain election to one of the ten coveted rotating seats on the UN Security Council, abruptly reversed course and declined to take the seat it had won the day before. The kingdom released an unusually angry message calling the Council’s recent failure to act against Syria in its civil war “irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities.”


The abruptness of the decision caught even the highest ranking Saudi diplomats by surprise. Just hours before the reversal, Osama Nugali, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, forwarded a message on his Twitter account celebrating the kingdom’s election to the Security Council seat it had “sought for more than two years with the help of a team of the best Saudi diplomats to represent the kingdom.” The day before Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi told reporters that “we take this election very seriously as a responsibility to be able to contribute to this very important forum to peace and security of the world. Our election today is a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means.”


The rejection statement sounded a very different tone, focusing mainly on Syria, where regional enemy Iran supports dictator Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia is helping the rebels. It also accuses the Council of failing to find a “just and lasting solution” to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and of failing to prevent the proliferation in the Middle East of “all weapons of mass destruction,” apparently referring to Israel’s nuclear arsenal and Iran’s alleged nuclear ambitions.


The decision clearly came from the very top, a Saudi analyst who requested anonymity told Reuters: “Saudi Arabia has been working on (the council seat) for the last three years. They trained diplomats, male and female, the cream of the Foreign Ministry, our best talented youths. Then somebody made the decision suddenly to pull out,” which, he said, had to be either King Abdullah or Crown Prince Salman. The Saudi royal family, which rules the nation of Saudi Arabia as absolutely as King Louis XIV ruled France but with greater brutality and even less regard for human rights, is generally never criticized or even questioned in public.


Observers said there is no precedent for Saudi Arabia’s action.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Saudi Arabia Rejects U.N. Security Council Seat in Protest Move (by Robert F. Worth, New York Times)

Saudis reject Security Council seat, angry over Mideast inaction (by Angus McDowall, Reuters)

Saudi Arabia Rejects Seat on U.N. Security Council and Confuses Everyone (by Nate Rawlings, Time)

Dictator of the Month: King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Saudi Royal Family Organizes Fight against Arab Democracy (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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