Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Prince Salman 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Russia on Friday slammed Saudi Arabia for refusing to accept its seat on the UN Security Council, calling the kingdom's decision "strange" in light of its anger at the international community to end the conflict in Syria, AFP reported.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was surprised at Saudi Arabia's move and puzzled by its accusations against the Security Council.
"With its decision, Saudi Arabia has removed itself from the collective work of the UN Security Council to support international peace and security," the ministry said.
A decision of such magnitude would have to have been taken by King Abdullah or Crown Prince Salman, said a Saudi analyst who asked not to be named.
"Saudi Arabia has been working on (getting onto the Security Council) 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," he said.
"The kingdom's arguments arouse bewilderment and the criticism of the UN Security Council in the context of the Syria conflict is particularly strange," AFP quoted the ministry as saying.
The kingdom condemned what it called international double standards on the Middle East and demanded reforms in the Security Council.
Citing the Security Council's failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, take steps to end Syria's civil war and to stop nuclear proliferation in the region, Riyadh said the body had instead perpetuated conflicts and grievances.
AFP cited a Security Council diplomat as saying Riyadh's announcement was "totally unexpected".
"We all had to look into the council history for a precedent and there is not one," said the unidentified diplomat, adding that the Saudi decision was "even more surprising" given that securing membership on the 15-member council usually encompasses years of preparation.
Saudi Arabia has reportedly yet to provide an official statement on its position.
Riyadh's frustration is mostly directed at Washington, its oldest international ally, which has pursued policies since the Arab Spring that Saudi rulers have bitterly opposed and which have severely damaged relations with the United States, Saudi analysts have said.
Saudi Arabia has also been angered by a rapprochement between Iran, its old regional foe, and the United States, which has taken root since President Barack Obama spoke by telephone last month to the new Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, in the highest-level contact between the two countries in more than three decades.