‘Syria deserves to be a member of the [United Nations] Security Council because
they represent a responsible government and the world’s people, and play an
important role in our part of the world,” explained Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador
Fawzi Shobkoshi. This was in October of 2001.
Twelve years later, the
Saudis have decided that because the UN has not done enough in Syria, Saudi
Arabia would refrain from serving on a Security Council seat it had been elected
to. “Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by the
[sic] chemical weapons, while the world stands idly,” the Saudis said in a press
release, “is irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security
Council to carry out its duties.”
Lest anyone believe the Saudis’ change
of heart is genuine, the reality is that this whole story of Saudi Arabia
“standing up for principles,” is a charade being carried out by one of the most
abominable countries in the world, a country that should never have been offered
a seat in the first place.
Let’s start with some history. The UNSC
consists of five permanent members with veto power and, since 1963, 10 temporary
members who serve two-year terms. The 10 non-permanents consist of three African
states, two Asia-Pacific states, Latin American states, Western European and one
Eastern European state.
Five are elected every year. For many years there
has been a tradition that one of the Asian or African states must be an “Arab”
state. The “Arab” seat rotates among nations, alternating every two years
between a North African Arab state, such as Morocco (served 2011-2013), and a
Middle Eastern state, such as Libya (served 2007-2009). Because the regional
blocs select their own candidates, there is little or no competition at the
final vote before the General Assembly.
A 2007 Security Council report on
the subject noted that the practice means “the UN membership at large has little
choice in the African candidate... in the case of the Security Council elections
it may lead to countries being selected based simply on rotation rather than
their capacity to support international peace and security.”
seems the worst countries are continually elected to the Security Council, but
it is simply that there are so many egregious rights violators out there. The
General Assembly does not pursue a democracy agenda in refusing to vote for
dictatorships or countries with terrible human rights records.
IT IS in
that context that Saudi Arabia allowed itself to be chosen as the Asian group’s
“Arab” candidate in 2013. After it was elected it supposedly decided to decline
the seat and released a statement claiming the world had let it down: “Saudi
Arabia, based on its historical responsibilities toward its people, Arab and
Islamic nations, as well as toward the people’s aspiring for peace and stability
all over the world, announces its apology for not accepting membership of the
Security Council until the Council is reformed and enabled to carry out its
This set in motion the “shock” expressed over the Saudi
Reuters claimed the Saudis were “angry over Mideast inaction.”
A Saudi expert complained that they had “trained diplomats...men and
women.” The Saudis portrayed themselves as defenders of Muslims being murdered
in Syria, and directed their complaints at Washington’s inaction. The kingdom’s
decision had the desired effect, with others scrambling to beg them to rescind,
like parents begging a child who throws a tantrum.
France’s UN Ambassador
Gerard Araud claimed, “we think that Saudi Arabia would have brought a very
positive contribution to the Security Council, but we do also understand the
frustration of Saudi Arabia.”
Arab states have released a statement
“urging the blessed” Saudis to reconsider so they can represent the “Arab and
Amir Taheri at Asharq Al Awsat claimed the “Saudi move
injects a dose of courage where it is most needed, it will be a much greater
contribution to international order than warming a seat.”
jumped all over themselves to excuse and support the kingdom. Colum Lynch of
ForeignPolicy.com argued that the Saudis objected to the fact that only five
members of the Council control everything.
Bridgette Kendal of the BBC
argued that they had used this opportunity to “lodge a public protest.” Dilshov
Achilov of East Tennessee State University posited that the Saudis were standing
up for the little nations of the General Assembly to have more of a
The most sycophantic of reactions came from former UK ambassador
to Saudi Arabia Tom Phillips, who noted that Saudi statements had referenced the
failure to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“How can it be, the
Saudis ask, that the West supports self-determination and democracy everywhere
except when it comes to the Palestinians?” And there was Syria: “It seems clear
that it is above all the Saudi sense of Western failure over Syria which has
driven their decision... there was no mistaking the note of genuine moral
outrage [over Syrian repression] which came from the very top of the Saudi
Phillips claimed the Saudis think the council “lacks morality...
they remain to be convinced that the West will put in a serious effort to
achieve a result.” The Saudis “feel betrayed,” he said.
narrative has been swallowed hook, line and sinker in the West. Remember, this
is a country with nine million foreign workers (one in three people in the
country), many of whom are cruelly abused and held in a state of semi-slavery,
their passports confiscated, forced to work more than 12-hour days, seven days a
Of the 1.5 million Indonesians in the country, NGOs report 60
percent suffered abuse, with some being murdered or committing suicide after not
receiving pay and being treated, in the words of one, “like animals.”
an example, one maid, named Sumiati Mustapa, was burned with an iron by her
employer numerous times and ended up in intensive care in 2010. Kikim Kamalasari
was murdered and thrown in a dumpster.
Saudi courts often execute the
maids (dozens are sitting on death row at this moment), who are accused of
Employers are never prosecuted.
In a particularly
egregious case, Sri Lankan Rizana Nafeek was accused of killing a baby at her
employer’s house and beheaded. She was 17.
Saudi Arabia talks of
morality, but it is one of the leading abusers of human rights in the world; a
mass killer of domestic workers and a kingdom that thrives on slavery and
According to one report, two of three Sri Lankan maids in Saudi
Arabia reported being raped. Saudi Arabia is literally a kingdom built on mass
rape. Mass rape on this scale has been defined as a war crime, no different than
what Syria is doing. The very existence of Saudi Arabia has literally harmed the
lives of tens of millions of poor foreign workers throughout Asia and
It is also the leading nation in whipping rape victims. In 2007 a
Saudi woman from the Shia Qatif province was attacked while driving with her
boyfriend. A half-dozen men raped her and filmed it. She was then sentenced to
200 lashes for the “crime” of being in the car with a man she was not related
The world is falling all over itself to beg the Saudis to be on the
Security Council, and academics and analysts are “understanding” their
complaints that the Council is not more democratic and needs
Except this call for democracy and reform is coming from a
country with the most severe of dictatorships; where women may not drive or
travel without “permission” from a male “guardian.” This is the country
demanding “reform”? This is the country talking about “double standards”? Saudi
Arabia, probably the nearest approximation we have to hell on earth, is being
coddled by the West, yet again, for its “standards” and “demands.”
Saudi agenda is clear: it is an opportunist out for its own interests, as is
made clear by its one-time support of Syria as a “responsible government.” It is
a country that wants the West to do its bidding in toppling Assad; Saudi blood
and treasure will never be spilled, because the kingdom’s way is to get others
to die for it.
They want the West to put in more “serious efforts”? It is
time the West demand “serious efforts” from the Saudis. Saudi Arabia must spend
its $100 billion budget surplus on its policies; it has a GDP per capita
rivaling most Western states, with its middle class’s primary complaint being
that they do not have enough maids from poor countries to abuse.
Saudis talk a good game about Islam and the Arab world, so why can’t they lead
22 Arab states and the 57 Muslim-majority states to do something about Syria?
They whine about Iran, so why don’t they go fight the Iranians? When the Saudis
had the chance to fight Iran they bribed the Iraqis to die in droves for them in
the 1980s, then turned around and begged the Americans to fight Saddam in 1990.
The whole world has been abused by the kingdom, but rather than stand up to its
charade at the UN, the world begs and the analysts take their tantrums
The Saudis should never have been offered a seat on the
Security Council. It is time to stop handing out presents to cruel and backward