(CNN) -- It was certainly an unprecedented surprise when
announced -- on 18 October, only a day after its election to one of the 10
rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council -- that it was turning down the
chance to participate in the world's top forum for discussion of international
So what happened?
The Saudi statement turning down the seat spoke of international double standards and the international community's failure to resolve key conflicts, homing in on the
Syria crisis, the long-running sore of the
Palestinian issue, and the failure to achieve a Middle
East free of weapons of mass destruction. The Saudis demanded
reforms to the Security Council, and said they would refrain from membership
until that body was capable of discharging its responsibilities to maintain
international peace and security.
Of course, many countries outside the magic circle of the Permanent Five (the UK, U.S., France, Russia and China) have wanted to see Security Council reform, and some of the P5 countries have themselves worried that the Council's failure to reflect changing patterns of world power -- and the wider ability to open up the government of international bodies to new players -- will inevitably eat into the legitimacy and credibility of the U.N.
The Saudi argument that steps should be taken to arm the Syrian opposition was driven by a belief that those being oppressed had a right to self-defence. But they were also keen to prevent a further hardening of the "'
Crescent" stretching from Iran via Iraq
and Syria to Lebanon and
Hezbollah. I believe nevertheless that they have tried to target their
assistance towards non-extremist groups, having learnt better than almost
anyone else the lesson of Afghan resistance against the Soviets -- that arms in
the wrong al Qaeda hands will one day become a threat to the Kingdom itself. It
is however also hard to guarantee in whose hands weapons will end up in such
From a Saudi perspective, the message the West and above all the Americans have sent through their handling of the chemical weapons crisis is that it is has lost the will to get tough (a message which they think will not have been lost on the Iranians); that it lacks consistency (not all that long ago Western spokesmen would say that Assad was toast, and now even Kerry is praising his government for its cooperation with the OPCW inspectors); that it is not concerned about the strategic consequences of the conflict and the risk of refugee flows and other pressures destabilizing Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq; and that it lacks morality. Surely, they would argue, the signal conveyed to Assad is that it is acceptable to shoot protesters, but not to use sarin against them. They remain to be convinced that the West will put in a serious effort to achieve a result at the Geneva II conference now scheduled for late November.
Least one country stands up for the bully 5 p members, it is not magic 5p but cynical sick disease unless a major surgery UN will be a useless brainless body with massive gigantic fat in their body! Certainly Saudi rejections are healthy and good for the world!