Saudis Decline UNSC Seat

Saudi Arabia has just decided it doesn’t want to be on the UN Security Council after all. In the elections held for the 10 non-permanent seats on the council, the Saudis won the seat set aside for the Arab nations. For the first time in years, each seat for each region was uncontested. Just hours later, the kingdom’s foreign ministry announced it could not accept taking the seat owing to “double standards” that make ending conflicts difficult. It is a noble and principled stand that would make a great deal of sense if Saudi Arabia weren’t such a huge contributor to the world’s instability.

“The kingdom sees that the method and work mechanism and the double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering its responsibilities towards world peace,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA. The ministry cited the Palestinian conflict and the Syrian Civil War as prime examples of the USC’s inability to deal with matters of life and death.

It is easy to pick on the UN, and it usually is an ineffective body if the idea is to resolve matters once and for all. As originally envisioned, that would have been its function, but Stalin made sure it was a toothless beast. The UN is, at best, a diplomatic forum that provides world public opinion a place to express itself and for diplomats from countries that don’t like each other to speak without fear of political backlash.

However, the UN might be more effective if the Saudis had not spent $280 billion to export their rather toxic brand of Wahabi Islam around the world. Without that money, Al Qaeda and the Taliban could not have become the monstrosities they are. The violence plaguing Iraq, where the Shi’ite/Sunni conflict has raged for years, persists because of Saudi money. Pakistan would not be a part-collaborator in Fascistic terror. And the rebels in the Syrian Civil War live off Saudi funds.

Saudi Arabia is a regional power, and with a seat on the UNSC, it would have had a platform from which to argue its points even more forcefully. The fact that the UNSC doesn’t act uniformly is a function of political posturing and conniving among the nations of the world. The UN cannot compel any state — at best, it can create a legal framework under which member nations can use force. The precedent was set in Korea; the UN didn’t have troops to send, but America and its allies did. Technically, the UN fought North Korea and the Chicoms. In fact, it was the US and its Cold War partners who engaged the communist aggressors.

Saudi Arabia could have used its position on the council to press for reforms and influenced the permanent members to its own national advantage. Instead, the kingdom has made a play for sympathy from the gallery. It will be forgotten in a week. The Saudis can sit in theirs tent and sulk like Achilles, but unlike the Greek hero, no one cares if they ever come out to fight the good fight ever again.