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As If Scripted, Plea to Saudi to Maintain UNSC Seat from Arab Group, Minus Syria

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 19 -- The day after Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat it won without competition on October 17 (click here for Inner City Press coverage), on Saturday the Arab Group at the UN issued a statement calling on the Saudis to "maintain their Membership in the Security Council." The unofficial translation into English is below.

  While not noted by, for example, Agence France Presse, this statement was only unanimous and the "silence procedure" for objection not broken because the Arab Group at the UN has thrown out the Syrian Arab Republic.

That is, to make decisions unanimous, throw out those who disagree.

  This takes on the flavor of a choreographed tantrum by the Saudis, to get the attention of the United States, drive the US away from Iran's Hassan Rouhani or toward renewed military threats on Syria. And then reverse course and "accept" the Security Council seat?

  Notably, Saudi Arabia has been "in training" for the Security Council seat for some time, "going to Columbia University for help," as one observer put it. They began to fund a procedural Security Council reporter. This contributed to the surprise occasioned by their October 18 announcement.

  But this fast and public Arab Group request that they "maintain" their seat cast things in a different light. This way, even in reversing course Saudi Arabia could save face, saying they only took the seat because their fellow Arab countries -- minus at least one of course -- begged them to. "We're doing this for you," the Saudis could say.

But what would the "this" be? Urging the same rebels it arms and tells not to negotiate with Assad to go to Geneva Two? Removing or loosening sanctions on Iran?  For more on that, click here for this reporter's longer piece on Beacon Reader, a new feature. Watch this site.

Here is the Arab Group (minus Syria) press release of October 19, 2013:

"The Arab Group, at level of Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York, discussed in an extraordinary fashion, the situation regarding the position of the Brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regarding their Membership in the Security Council. With our understanding and respect for the position of the Brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we hope that they, which are amongst the blessed who represent the Arab and Islamic world at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region, to maintain their Membership in the Security Council and continue their brave role in defending our issues specifically at the rostrum of the Security Council."


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