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PAT FOR 'RARE DISPLAY OF ANGER'

GCC, Egypt back Saudi rejection of UN seat

Riyadh, October 21, 2013

Saudi Arabia's Gulf allies and Egypt have applauded its decision to reject a UN Security Council seat in protest at the world body's failure to act on Syria, whose leader is backed by Russia and Shi'ite Iran.

Saudi Arabia turned down a coveted two-year term on the council on Friday in a rare display of anger with what it called "double standards" in the United Nations.

Permanent council members Russia and China have repeatedly blocked resolutions to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime ally of Iran, Riyadh's main regional rival.

Riyadh's frustration with Russia and China now extends to the US, its historic ally, not only over Syria, but also over Washington's acquiescence in the fall of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and its new quest for a nuclear deal with Iran.

Expressions of support from Saudi's Gulf friends contained no overt criticism of US policy, but echoed the kingdom's complaints about the Security Council's failure to end the war in Syria and resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Kuwait shares Riyadh's pain, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Khaled al-Jarallah said, citing the "bloody massacres" in Syria and the "suffering of the Palestinian people".

He said the Saudi rejection of a council seat had sent a message to the world.

No country has previously been elected to the council and then walked away. As an incoming member, Saudi Arabia would have taken up its seat on January 1 for a two-year term. Riyadh demanded unspecified reforms in the world's top security institution.

Plaudits also came from Cairo, which was promised billions of dollars in aid from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE in July after Egypt's army overthrew President Mohamed Mursi. The ousted Islamist leader's Muslim Brotherhood is viewed as a political danger in most Gulf states.

"This brave Saudi position is favoured with all of Egypt's respect and appreciation," Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said in a statement posted on his ministry's Facebook page.

The Egyptian head of the Cairo-based Arab League, Nabil Elaraby, also said Riyadh had every right to protest against the management of the Security Council, which he said should rethink the veto-wielding powers of its five permanent members.

Voicing its support, the UAE said it agreed that the views of Arab countries had been marginalised.

The Saudi decision had handed the UN secretary-general and the permanent council members "historic responsibility to review the role of the UN, its powers and its charter," UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said.

Bahrain praised Riyadh's "clear and courageous stand", while Qatar suggested it could shake the world out of complacency.

Addressing his Saudi counterpart, Qatar's Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah wrote on Twitter: "When you are angry, you send the world into disarray, so thank you."-Reuters




Tags: Saudi | UN | GCC |

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