Saudi U.N. envoy demands permanent Security Council seat for Arabs

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Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Abdallah al-Mouallimi demanded on Friday a permanent seat for Arabs at the Security Council, saying the U.N. body has failed to tackle Middle East issues.

The Saudi ambassador criticized the Security Council as “crippled” by the veto power, which only five countries hold. He said a “just international representation” is needed.


Saudi Arabia rejected last month to take a traditional Arab seat in the Security Council in protest at the body's failure to end the Syria war and act on other Middle East issues,

The Security Council is dominated by its five permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - which have veto power over its decisions.

To ensure diversity, the council's 10 elected members are made up of three from Africa, two from Asia-Pacific, one from Eastern Europe, two from the Latin American and Caribbean group, and two from the Western European and others group. Five are chosen each year to serve two-year terms.

Arab states are split between the Asia-Pacific and African regional blocs and there is an unofficial deal that at least one Arab nation is always represented on the Security Council.

Saudi Arabia was the Arab candidate from the Asia-Pacific bloc. Kuwait had put its hand up to be the next Arab candidate from the group and to run for the 2018-2019 term on the Security Council, which has led some diplomats to speculate that the Gulf U.S. ally could be a capable replacement.

Arab countries have been trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to take up the Security Council seat.

“Kuwait forms part of the efforts currently being carried out to convince Saudi Arabia to reverse its decision,” Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled al-Jarrallah told state news agency KUNA on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia's U.N. ambassador, Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, called on Friday for “rofound and comprehensive” reform of the U.N. Security Council that includes expanding its membership and “abandoning the veto system or restricting its use.”

“The Security Council has failed to address the situation in the Palestinian and Arab occupied territories, an issue under consideration by the council for more than six decades,” Al-Mouallimi told a General Assembly debate on Security Council reform.

“The Syrian crisis continues, with a regime bent on suppressing the will of its people by brutal force, killing and displacing millions of people under the watch and sight of a council paralyzed by the abuse of the veto system,” he said.

Syrian ally Russia, backed by China, has vetoed three council resolutions since October 2011 that would have condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and threatened it with sanctions.

Saudi Arabia has warned of a shift away from the United States in part over what it sees as Washington's failure to take action against Assad and its policies on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia on Monday and praised the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia as strategic and enduring, but strains in the nearly 70-year-old relationship were apparent.

(With Reuters)

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