Saudi Arabia's criticism reveals weakness of UN Security Council

Saudi Arabia’s recent rejection of membership in the U.N. Security Council reveals historic failure of the Security Council. Photo: Stalin's 70th birthday - public domain

SAN JOSE, October 20, 2013 – The government of Saudi Arabia recently revealed their true sentiments of their assessment of the value of the United Nations Security Council by refusing to take a seat on the prestigious  international council, according to a report from Reuters. Apparently, the Middle Eastern government’s rejection of membership in the U.N. Security Council was mainly due to their assessment of the failure of the international body and the broader international community to effectively act on critical Middle East issues, especially to end the current conflict in Syria.

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Saudi Arabia, along with Chad, Chile, Lithuania, and Nigeria was elected by the U.N. General Assembly this past Thursday to serve a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council. This is in accord with the structure of the current Security Council as it is composed of 15 member nations: the five original and permanent members that are empowered with veto authority, as well as ten nations being elected by the Assembly for two years terms.

In a surprise declaration, the Saudi government seems intent on channeling their anger toward the U.N. Security Council into a public rejection of the seat they were recently awarded by vote of the General Assembly, according to a recent article by Angus McDowall filed with Reuters.

The kingdom condemned what it called international double standards on the Middle East, and seemingly views the Security Council, which is chartered to maintain international security and peace throughout the world, as failing to fulfill their mission specifically with regard to current turbulence in Syria. Specific grievances also zeroed in on the Council’s failure to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian problem and nuclear capabilities from states in the region, notably Iran. The Saudi’s have backed opponents of Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad. McDowall’s article explained that Riyadh had complained that the Security Council, the most powerful body of the U.N., had actually perpetuated conflicts and grievances in the region.

McDowall’s article quoted a Foreign Ministry statement that had been issued on state media: “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 conclusion was that the Saudis have demanded reforms in the Security Council. “Saudi Arabia … is refraining from taking membership of the U.N. Security Council until it has reformed so it can effectively and practically perform its duties and discharge its responsibilities in maintaining international security and peace.”

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Citing unnamed “Saudi analysts,” McDowall indicates that “Riyadh’s frustration is mostly directed at Washington, its oldest international ally, which has pursued policies since the Arab Spring that Saudi rulers have bitterly opposed and which have severely damaged relations with the United States…” Such a perspective is quite an interesting observation but it seems that this major nation in the Middle East may have stumbled upon an enlightening conclusion: that the  “double standards in the Security Council prevent it from properly shouldering… responsibilities towards world peace.” This touches upon a truth that has existed for decades, not just recently.

The unfortunate reality is that the United Nations Security Council was doomed from the day it began. The core of the U.N. was actually the five major allies: Great Britain, France, Nationalist China, the Soviet Union, and the United States.  According to the original charter of the UN, these nations became the five permanent members of the Security Council, the organ at the heart of the UN’s effort to maintain stability and security in the aftermath of the worst global conflict humanity had experienced. Yet, of the five primary nations at the core of the Security Council, the Soviet Union was under the dominion of an absolute dictator: Joseph Stalin.

Although he appeared as a “benign dictator,” and had joined with the allies to fight against the Nazis, he held his secret schemes close to his vest. During the war he was trusted by the allied nations as he was an enemy of the Nazis, and the Soviet Union helped greatly in the defeat of Adolf Hitler.  But, in that time, the people of the world knew little of the reality of Communism the way the people of Russia experienced it under the repressive dictatorship of “Uncle Joe” Stalin. Ultimately, the world came to know Stalin to some extent because he refused to withdraw Soviet troops from Eastern Europe, and helped to establish repressive dictatorships throughout the world according to the precepts of International Communism.

In reality, trusting the Soviet Union as a member of the Security Council proved to be the same as the proverbial wolf trusted a to protect the hen house. Initially, the wolf did not appear to be a wolf.  In 1940, Stalin appeared to the world as wanting the same thing as all the rest of the freedom-loving world: He wanted the defeat of Hitler’s forces first and foremost. However, before his nation joined forces with the Allies, he had been an ally of Hitler. On August 23, 1939, the Soviet government entered into a 15 year “non-aggression” agreement with the Nazi government. The world took note of the “non-aggression” pact and envied Stalin for a seemingly wise move with an overly militaristic Nazi Germany.

Unfortunately, the world was unaware of the secret part of the pact between Hitler and Stalin at the time. Essentially, the secret protocol initiated a mutual agreement to invade and divide Poland between the two scheming nations, as well as dividing other nations like the Balkan states into respective spheres of influence. It emboldened Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September of 1939. Historians acknowledge this date as the beginning of World War II; yet only Nazi Germany was held responsible in the eyes of the major leaders of the Allied nations. Stalin cleverly delayed the Soviet attack upon the Polish forces and claimed to the world that they needed to enter Poland “to protect” their neighbors. 

Although this was a devious lie, Winston Churchill even fell for it, as he declared in October of 1939, that the Red Army invaded Poland to protect Russia from the “the Nazi menace.” However from this point, the USSR became publically more pro-Nazi and began using rhetoric to denounce Britain and France for creating a war to maintain the capitalistic system under the Treaty of Versailles. Stalin only changed his tune when Hitler broke the pact the following year and invaded Mother Russia. Stalin in an attempt to align himself with a fellow dictator, was totally outmaneuvered by Hitler. It was only after he recovered from such a shock, that Stalin joined with the Allied forces.

With the inception of the United Nations, Stalin was quite pleased with the Soviet’s seat as a permanent member of the Security Council. The real Stalin, with veto power on the Security Council, was able to retain Soviet troops in Eastern European nations without any U.N. interference. The real Stalin was able to demand the separation of Eastern and Western Germany and to initiate building of the Berlin Wall without any U.N. interference. The real Stalin was able to influence the overthrow the Nationalist government of China and the formation of the People’s Republic of China. The real Stalin gave permission for dictator Kim Il-sung’s North Korean invasion of South Korea.

Ironically, in this instance, he Security Council was able to act as the Soviet Union had been boycotting Council meetings as a way of protesting no permanent seat on the Council being awarded to the People’s Republic of China. The other four members of the Security Council on June 25, 1950, unanimously condemned the North Korean invasion of South Korea, with Resolution 82, and voted for troops from member nations assist the Republic of Korea. This resolution of armed action has only been utilized two other times because the Soviets did not use their veto power: the use of coalition forces in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991 and in Libya in 2011.

To Stalin, the power to veto or stifle any collective U.N. action regarding police action or international security was too good to be true, and he was usually able to take whatever military action he wanted without worrying about retribution – and he did. They would not be absent from Security Council votes in the future. And today, the old Soviet Union, now known as Russia, under the control of former KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, is hindering the efforts to deal with Syria, and that is a real reason why Saudi Arabia would see a need for the U.N. Security Council to be reformed because without a positive and constructive effort to reform it, the world cannot expect world peace to originate from the United Nations.



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Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member  at West Valley College in California.  He also currently writes a column on history and one on American freedom for the Communities at the Washington Times.


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