It was natural that the Saudis would celebrate their country being elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations (UN) Security Council for the first time in history, describe this event as being both important and exceptional in Riyadh’s remarkable history of diplomacy.
However, Riyadh subsequently came out to reject joining the Security Council in light of the international body’s mismanagement of political issues, as well as its double standards in addressing the world’s major crises.
Saudi Arabia made the Syrian revolution one of the pillars of its foreign policy, and it has now come out to complain about the Security Council’s tacit support of the systematic violence and murder taking place there. On one hand, both Russia and China have overtly supported Bashar Al-Assad regime which continues its merciless killing of the Syrian people. On the other hand, there is the US, the UK, and France that do not provide the Syrian opposition with the full military and political support needed to resolve the battle with Assad. Consequently, all sides in their own way are extending the life of this bloody and criminal regime, and thus allowing it to continue killing and destroying its people using unprecedentedly brutal methods. In fact, the Syrian regime has used every weapon in its arsenal to kill its own people.
Saudi Arabia believes that the Security Council fell short of carrying out all of the duties and responsibilities the international community has entrusted it with to preserve peace and protect nations. The Security Council’s stance towards the Syrian crisis contradicts the positions it adopted regarding the tragedies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, East Timor, and Libya. Its attitude then was clear and explicit, taking a strong stand towards protection innocent people from violence and ethnic cleansing. All of this has changed in the case of the Syrian revolution. The international community completely failed to support this wronged nation, thus transforming the Syrian revolution into one of the tragedies of modern times as well as a major international humanitarian crisis given the death toll, as well as the number of people who have been internally and externally displaced. This is not to mention the psychological implications of the Syrian crisis and the complete destruction of the infrastructure in most of Syria’s major cities.
Saudi Arabia chose to decline a seat on the UN Security Council out of its moral duty towards the Syrian people and as a response to the double standards and contradiction in the Security Council’s decision-making.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry showed its teeth when deciding to take major steps to support the decision of the Egyptian street and public in their second revolution, supporting it by all possible means including political, diplomatic, and economic. Riyadh has now done the same regarding the Syrian revolution, taking a forceful position that cannot be overlooked.
Saudi diplomacy is known for its calm approach and for working diligently behind the scenes, rather than pursuing confrontation. This is something that was reaffirmed in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’s Hajj message. King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz stressed that Saudi Arabia would not allow external interventions to determine the fates of the Arab and Islamic people or humiliate them, continuing its great approach in fighting all forms of terrorism, oppression, and violence.
In fact, the Kingdom’s recent decision took everyone by surprise. Even those most familiar with the secrets of decision-making within Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy did not expect this, particularly given that Saudi’s own UN delegation was working hard to secure the votes to be elected in the first place.
Saudi Arabia’s rejection of membership is a historic decision which is to be credited and is far more important than a two-year membership rendered valueless in the light of the Security Council’s double standards and protection of tyrants. Syria is not the only problem; there is the Iranian nuclear file, Israel’s chemical arsenal, and the many UN resolutions that Israel has failed to respect. For all of these reasons, Saudi Arabia had to reject a seat that ultimately would have gained them nothing. However, by rejecting this seat in this manner, Saudi Arabia has increased its international stature.