Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 18, 2013

Why Do The Saudis Want Then Decline A UNSC Seat?

Today Saudi Arabia got itself elected as non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. It was the first time that Saudi Arabia gained this position and an experienced diplomat expected great Saudi influence:
No doubt, it is a show of determination that the Saudi voice should be heard lest it is taken for granted by the big powers. It is a conscious decision to be assertive on the international stage.
...
Clearly, the Saudis are flaunting their prerogative to pronounce on the Syrian conflict. Many crucial decisions on Syria’s future will be taken at the Security Council through the coming year or two and Saudis want to influence them instead of being a passive onlooker.

If all this is going to be a good thing or not, time will tell. The notorious P5 gang will be looking quizzically at the great pretender. But, the point is, Security Council will now have five-and-a-half veto holding members. This never happened before and a new alchemy is called for.

But shortly after news of the election by the General Assembly ran over the ticker and the diplomats piece was published the Saudis backtracked. They declined to take the Security Council seat citing three reasons:
“The continuation of the Palestinian Cause without a just and lasting solution for 65 years, resulting in several wars that threatened international peace and security, is irrefutable evidence and proof of the Security Council’s inability to carry out its duties,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

“The failure of the Security Council to make the Middle East a region free of all weapons of destruction, its inability to subdue the nuclear programs of all countries in the region without exception…is more irrefutable evidence of its inability to shoulder its responsibilities,” it added.

“Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people through the use of chemical weapons, while the world stands idly by, without applying any deterrent sanctions against the Damascus regime, is also proof of the Security Council’s inability to carry out its duties and responsibility,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Notice that the first two very important and longstanding Arab issues will be barely mentioned, if at all, in "western" news reports. The Associated Press report  includes "Syria" nine times but mentions the Palestinian and WMD-free zone issue only in its thirteenth and last paragraph.

The Saudi move is a bit weird. A country does not get elected to the UNSC seat without wanting it. There is usually quite a competition about that position and bribes flow here and there to get the votes.

The Saudi foreign minister Saud bin Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has his position since 1975. He by now certainly knows his job. Did he really attempt to get the UNSC seat only to decline it?

This is the second time the Saudis are throwing a temper tantrum at the United Nations. The Saudis canceled their planned speech at the last UN General Assembly also citing lack of action by the United Nations as their reason. Nobody really cared about that just like nobody will care about Saudi Arabia rejecting the UNSC position.

Why then are the Saudis doing this? What is their plan?

Posted by b on October 18, 2013 at 09:20 AM | Permalink

Comments

It's all about the succession, I suspect. Hence the curious note, mostly about Syria but including those two bows to ancient, and long buried, Saudi policies. It just reeks of cobbled compromise and defensiveness: no doubt the "Anyone-But-Bandar (or his Dad)" factions are putting on the pressure.
Pepe has an interesting, now out of date, piece today.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 18, 2013 9:41:16 AM | 1

Taking their seat at the unsc the zaudis couldn't that easily play dirty games. Of coure, as members they would be expected to at least discuss and try to resolve through diplomatic means what they consider important issues. Simply, e.g. heating the Syria situation would be taken as contempt and affront.

As b already indicated, gaining that seat wasn't a quick step; it took time. Presumably the attempt to get that UNSC seat was started and followed up at a time when the zusa/zaudi/small-ME-whores empire simply saw this as a way to gain even more impact for their fraction.
Now, with zusa pushed into a more peaceful mode, the zaudi feel that being in the unsc might actually limit their options.
Furthermore, by not taking the seat, they keep an option for zusa open to do their dirty work through the zaudi poodles.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Oct 18, 2013 11:09:25 AM | 2

I tend to agree with bevin (@ #1) that it is most likely due to internal politics in SA, though who stands to gain, and what, is unclear. It confirms that there is a lot of turmoil in the Saudi ruling family.

Posted by: FB Ali | Oct 18, 2013 11:13:09 AM | 3

My guess would be that this is the start of a campaign to normalize the notion of going outside the UN to 'get things done.' Yes, in the past 12 years we've seen the US and it's allies dis-regard the UN and do what they wanted anyway. But there has always been this nagging expectation that the UN should be part of the process or at least consulted. And it seems that Russia has put the US back in it's box and channeled it back toward working things out at the UN. The US has been constrained.
Now however, 'the West' can say "look, the UN and Security council is so broken that even Saudi Arabia (and perhaps others to come)don't want anything to do with it. It's a failed institution, and we will no longer be constrained by it until it is fixed." So there's my immediate interpretation: throwing down the gauntlet/putting down their marker; propaganda campaign to further malign the UNSC aimed at domestic audiences - get the meme out there that the UN is failed and we need to fix it; remove the shackles that have been placed on US freedom of action; get back to business of regime changes and aggressive foreign policy.

Posted by: skuppers | Oct 18, 2013 11:24:34 AM | 4

At the end of the NYT story about the Saudi rejection comes this line: "[A] Syrian official said on Thursday that long-postponed peace negotiations under international auspices would be held in Geneva in November."

A soon-to-be-brokered peace agreement in Syria is a likely reason for SA's UN tantrum #2.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Oct 18, 2013 11:56:03 AM | 5

Hmm - interesting theories ...

Some additional links from partisan sites/authors:

Russia slams Saudi for rejecting Security Council seat

Russia on Friday sharply criticized Saudi Arabia for rejecting membership of the UN Security Council, slamming the kingdom's "strange" argument that the body had failed over the Syrian conflict.

Moscow's traditionally testy relationship with Riyadh has become even more strained in recent years, with the two countries at loggerheads over Saudi support for the rebels battling the pro-Kremlin regime in Syria.

"We are surprised by Saudi Arabia's unprecedented decision" to reject the seat, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

"In this way, Saudi Arabia has excluded itself from collective work within the Security Council to support international peace and security."

It added: "The kingdom's arguments arouse bewilderment and the criticism of the UN Security Council in the context of the Syrian conflict is particularly strange."


---

As I understand there will be no replacement for the Saudis. The seat will be kept empty which may be a problem for the U.S. when it needs 9 out of 15 votes to get at least a vote on a resolution on something.

---
Also the Saudis first reject the seat and then initiate a new resolution that is rather funny when one thinks of Saudi payments for the mercenaries fighting in Syria?

Report: Saudi to Propose U.N. Resolution Condemning Foreign Fighters in Syria, 'Especially Hizbullah'

Saudi Arabia intends to propose a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the presence of foreign fighters in Syria, especially those dispatched by Hizbullah, a media report said on Friday.

According to a copy of the draft resolution obtained by Sky News Arabia, the text condemns “the intervention of all fighters in Syria, including those fighting to support the Syrian regime and especially Hizbullah's intervention.”

The resolution voices support for “the Syrian people's aspirations for a peaceful and democratic society” and calls for forming a transitional government enjoying full powers.

---

And this from a Saudi propagandist:

Saudi Arabia Shifts to More Activist Foreign Policy Doctrine

What few seem to understand is that such a powerful gesture is not merely symbolic. Rather, it will be accompanied by concrete policy changes and rectifications in the coming months and years that are going to set the tone for a completely transformed Saudi foreign policy. Saudi Arabia, the world’s energy superpower, and the economic engine and last remaining political heavyweight in Arab world, will continue for a variety of reasons to take a far more proactive and assertive role in maintaining stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa and the broader Muslim world.

First and foremost, the Syrian tragedy clearly represents a turning point in the historical practice of the West in intervening in the Arab and Muslim worlds. As has been shown during the last two and a half years, the United States, United Kingdom and France no longer have the political and economic stomach to unilaterally engage their militaries in the region. While the so-called Arab Spring brought about a host of revolutions and significant transformations, leading to varying degrees of instability and opportunity in numerous Arab countries, the West's disengagement is going to trigger even more important implications as regional realignments of sovereign borders and military alliances usher in a transition period from which only the largest and wealthiest states will emerge intact or strengthened.
....
The only way the Arab world can make progress is through a collective security framework initially consisting of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the GCC nations. It is time for the Arab states, working through a much-needed, reformed Arab League, to assume responsibility for their own region and work together to increase their collective security. Such a shift away from Western dependency and toward more local (and successful) interventionism will take some time. While Saudi Arabia has grown stronger in the last two decades, the other traditionally dominant Arab countries — Egypt, Iraq and Syria — have stalled, derailed or altogether abandoned state-building efforts to prioritize their survival. Despite this, through ever-growing Saudi leadership, a revitalized Arab alliance can and must rise to the challenge and prepare for a new paradigm in the security of the Arab world.


Big dreams and near zero capacity to make them happen ...


Posted by: b | Oct 18, 2013 11:57:50 AM | 6

Perhaps because they've made their point.

As Pepe says,

"the House of Saud is livid facing the possibility of a negotiated solution for the Iran nuclear dossier - immediately after the Russian-US deal on Syria's chemical weapons. Yet now the House of Saud has even managed to find a pulpit to voice its anger"

But it was only a temporary pulpit, before the doors of which would close shut - leaving the Saudis resigned to their irrelevance on the chamber floor, in the company of Chad and Lithuania.

It's hardly the precious 'half a veto' position that Bhadrakumar suggests it would be.

Though not their ultimate intention when first setting off on their journey for membership three years ago, it's a sign of their invreasing petulance and frustration which follows on from giving the silent treatment at the UN general assembly two weeks ago. Ill-mannered diplomats act irrationally, but in similar fashion (see Susan Rice).

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Oct 18, 2013 12:20:34 PM | 7

The Saudis are now allied with Israel against Syria and Iran and the Palestinians. If they sat on the council they'd have to join the USSA in helping Israel and hurting Arabs/Muslims. It's not hard for me to see why they are taking a pass on that ... in public. Why they bought the post to turn it down ... they have too much money ?

Posted by: john francis lee | Oct 18, 2013 12:30:19 PM | 8

Or, because the world fell about laughing when Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador, said his country's election was

"a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means".

Nobody laughs at his Excellency and gets away with it..

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Oct 18, 2013 12:38:37 PM | 9

@8 "The Saudis are now allied with Israel" -why is that?

Posted by: james | Oct 18, 2013 12:41:05 PM | 10

All good speculation for this weird Saudi move, but I think it misses the most obvious reason.

The thoughts of Saudi Arabia having to sit in meetings opposite Sergei Lavrov, constantly scowling at them, for the next 2 years, proved to be so soul-crushing, so demoralizing and so terrifying, that they decided to skip the whole enterprise completely.

Never underestimate the power of Lavrov's disapproving stare. It obviously broke John Kerry sometime around the bombing Syria debate and that guy was a Vietnam vet.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Oct 18, 2013 1:05:35 PM | 11

The Saudis are allied with Israel because they are afraid of the Shia. Israel is anti-Shia ... anti-Muslim. The Saudis and the other Gulf Oil Oligarchs have cut a deal with the devil on their right hand to protect themselves from the one on their left. They're buying time. Too much money ... not enough time to spend it on.

Posted by: john francis lee | Oct 18, 2013 1:16:28 PM | 12

From Matthew Lee:
https://twitter.com/innercitypress/status/391171888472268800
and
http://www.innercitypress.com/saudi1flop101813.html
Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar's foreign ministry reached out "in the middle of the night" (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

Posted by: Yul | Oct 18, 2013 1:31:06 PM | 13

I think this is the Sauds' way of saying that they are going to press ahead with the Jihadi 'solution' to the Syria 'problem', and continue to apply the same 'solution' to Iraq, Central Asia, North and East Africa, etc, that they can afford to do it, and that they don't care what anybody in Washington or the capitals of any of the other P5 countries think about it. We should remember that they have Israel (not a negligible quantity) in their corner, well able to screw up western thinking with its inimitably shrill and twisted propaganda, and to push the fundamental contradiction involved in an Israel-Jihadi alliance out of plain view.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 18, 2013 1:32:38 PM | 14

The context makes this look rather simple. The campaign to win membership of the UNSC dates back several years. It reached its climax a few weeks ago, when the General Assembly met, and, just as victory was assured, the bottom dropped out of their plans.

Instead of being handily placed to push for a Chapter VII war in Syria and decry Russian vetoes, justifying a Coalition of the Willing, (which was perhaps what Bandar went to Russia to warn Putin of)the clever Saudis found themselves somewhat isolated, as the prospect of peace and negotiations suddenly strengthened. And the possibility of ignoring Geneva diminished.

They would have been members of the security council but with no reason for being there except to draw attention to themselves, which is not what they had wanted.

This is another indication, I believe, that there is some substance behind the apparent changes which have been taking place in the diplomatic arena in the past few weeks. Changes real enough to upset Saudi plans and reduce them to repeating old nostrums such as a WMD-free zone and justice in Palestine. Perhaps this will be enough to wake up the grown-ups in Riyadh to the radical and suicidal follies being perpetrated at the Director of Intelligence's behest.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 18, 2013 2:43:50 PM | 15

I agree with FB Ali re 3, that this represents disagreement within the Saudi regime.

The way that the disagreement would work is that the person appointed to lead Saudi at the UN would be controversial, perhaps the present ambassador, Abdullah al-Muallimi. The Council of Princes voted against inclusion in order to prevent the representative from presenting a case which they don't agree with.

This represents a major conflict within the Saudi regime. What is it?

The obvious question is whether Saudi should conduct an active foreign policy or not. Should it pursue a war against the Shi'a to the ends of the earth? Or is that a danger to the existence of the Saudi regime itself? I could imagine that many Saudi princes are beginning to be worried by such extremism. The Saudi regime is indeed in danger. The problem of the Shi'a in the Eastern Province is indeed serious, but it is not to be resolved by breaking the Shi'a everywhere in the Arab World.

So we have an important step-back in Saudi policy. The princes don't agree that their privileges be put in danger.

So support for the rebels in Syria will decline. They have lost.

Posted by: alexno | Oct 18, 2013 3:47:48 PM | 16

It is simple, Tehran has won it Shia/Sunni battle in Syria for now.

Posted by: cloned_poster | Oct 18, 2013 4:04:17 PM | 17

Some brighter bulb thought it through and reminded the Saudis their greater exposure would make it more difficult to hide their corruption.

Posted by: ruralito | Oct 18, 2013 4:12:17 PM | 18

@12aa further to the question of saudi arabia's and israels relationship - from oct 10th rt article - http://rt.com/news/israel-saudi-alliance-us-950/

i too think this latest turnabout represents some conflict within the sa leadership over the direction they want to go in.

Posted by: james | Oct 18, 2013 5:46:23 PM | 19

I guess they realized that they would not wish to vote with their largest trade partner against their "security" ally or vice versa.

Posted by: somebody | Oct 18, 2013 6:08:58 PM | 20

personally im happy they declined: fter all the sauds crushed peaceful protestors in Bahrain and have never been charged with this

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya - the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MD02Ak01.html

Posted by: brian | Oct 18, 2013 7:47:25 PM | 21

Al Qaeda obtained biological weapon in syria?

http://freebeacon.com/al-qaeda-aligned-groups-in-syria-may-have-access-to-biological-pathogens/

Al Qaeda want to obtain chemical weapons

http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/15/uk-russia-chemical-plot-idUKBRE99E06120131015

Posted by: adroof | Oct 18, 2013 9:51:56 PM | 22

The fact that Qatar is evidently in a placatory mood could be interpreted in various ways:

Nine Lebanese held by Syrian rebels since May 2012 released
Reuters/al-Akhbar, Oct 18 2013

Nine Lebanese Shia pilgrims who were kidnapped by a rebel group in northern Syria over a year ago have been released, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel announced on Friday night. The pilgrims are currently being transported from Syria through the northern border to Turkey where a top Lebanese security official is waiting to receive them, Charbel said in remarks carried by the National News Agency. Their return to Lebanon will raise hopes for the release of two Turkish pilots who were abducted in Beirut on Aug 9 by the families of the nine Lebanese, who accused Turkey of doing too little to win their release. A Lebanese security source quoted a member of the Shi’ite family holding the pilots as saying the men, who appeared in a video this week saying they were in good health, were likely to be released soon. The nine Lebanese pilgrims were among 11 abducted in May 2012 by the Northern Storm Brigade while on their way home from Shia religious sites in Iran. Two were later released. In his remarks, Charbel said Qatar’s “mediation led to the release of the Lebanese.” Qatar has been a major political backer of the Syrian opposition throughout the Syrian civil war.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 19, 2013 12:04:21 AM | 23

Saud turned the seat down due to thier handlers were denied and it would be disrespectful to take the seat.

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel-seeks-un-security-council-seat-will-power-proffer-power/2013/10/07/

Posted by: too many wtf | Oct 19, 2013 12:35:16 AM | 24

@24: Nice hypothesis, but I don't quite buy it. First of all, the Saudi official statement makes a very pointed reference to Israel, and it isn't a favourable one. I fully understand that secretly (if there is still any such thing as secrecy in this global goldfish bowl), the Sauds and the Zionists are very much in bed together, and the Jihadis despite their invocations of "Next year in al-Quds" are actually clearly instructed to avoid Jewish targets unless very special instructions for false flag events are given. Nevertheless, on the more formal level, one of the Sauds' main complaints is that the US prevents the Security Council from recognising the horror of Israel's WMD arsenal, which is of course huge, and comprises the full CBN range of WMDs. Secondly, the Sauds and Israel have never been and will never be in direct competition for one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the SC, since they belong to different regional groups. The Sauds belong to the 'Asia-Pacific' group, while Israel belongs to WEOG ('Western Europe and Others'). If you want to understand the bizarre system of unequal shares and alternating elections, look here. Africa always has 3 seats, Eastern Europe only 1 seat, and the other 3 blocks have 2 each. Why Africa should have more than Asia is probably because Russia's permanently seat is thought of as one up for Asia already. But anyway, there it is.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 19, 2013 5:04:01 AM | 25

Two dogs chasing a car. One asks: "What are we gonna do if we ever catch the damn car?".

The Saudis just caught the car.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Oct 19, 2013 6:19:47 AM | 26

WEOG was not scheduled to replace either of its representatives on the Security Council this year, anyway. A WEOG member nation can be replaced in alternate years, of which this is not one.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 19, 2013 6:45:24 AM | 27

First they didn't deliver a speech at the General Assembly because they have nothing to say that would not make the whole audience burst out in laughter. (Democracy? development? women and minority rights? workers rights? partnership with neighbour countries?)
Then they couldn't take the seat because it would mean to opt for one of the two different currents within the brothel, and neither has yet total control. So they could not articulate a coherent policy. (See their: we condemn the MB and support the army in Egypt but we want Syria to become a new Iraq and support indirectly the MB there)

Posted by: Mina | Oct 19, 2013 10:19:00 AM | 28

xymphora seems to think that Bandar ‘organized’ the unsc seat but that other factions were against. Certainly this turn-about signals scissions amongst the Royals, there is no other way to explain it.

http://xymphora.blogspot.ch/2013/10/saudi-mysteries.html

I think, speaking very generally, what we see here is a fear of the spotlight, and a fear of commitment.

Once at the unsc KSA would be forced to take some positions, no matter how wishy-washy or double spoken. And these positions (pro Isr. pro US etc.) might be very uncomfortable, create strife amongst the Royals, and/or make them public, which is anathema to ‘regimes’ of this kind.

Plus, the citizens of KSA might be either puzzled, doubtful or violently outraged - not that they count for much, but the fear of Arab Springiness must be very acute. No boat rocking! (And no other kind of rocking either.)

So it is an attempt to conserve, or reinforce, outsider, minority power. Like the flamboyant populist on the block who won’t join the Citizen Association, or the Syrian rebels who won’t join peace talks (they have nothing to negotiate or say.) Such positions always fall back on ideological purity and deep-rooted principles, or sticking points (e.g. Palestine) which is exactly what the Saudis did. From their pov it was probably the best decision. They can afford not joining in because of oil wealth.

Still, going for the seat and then refusing it is a sign of weakness and division which I bet they regret deeply, phones will not only have blown up but been thrown out the window. ;)

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 19, 2013 10:53:43 AM | 29

Mina (28), I don't think that's quite right: I think that the MBs were exclusively a Qatari proxy in Syria, and in Egypt too. But this leaves the question of why exactly the MBs lost the game in Egypt unresolved. My hypothesis is that Israel gave the green light for the Egyptian army coup against Morsi, because as I said at the time, Morsi was crossing a very serious red line by building up MB fighting forces in the Sinai, which if not stopped, would have opened the border with Gaza. Israel didn't want that, and Saudi is now Israel's great regional ally, so Saudi probably had more to do with the effective sacking of the old Emir of Qatar than any US pressure. Perhaps Qatar under the new Emir is less favourable to the MBs also. If you think of Israel as the great regional power behind the scenes, then its influence via the Saudis might be decisive in really smashing MB power region wide (though then the MBs or at least Hamas will just turn to Iran again). And insofar as all this brings Salafi-Jihadis to the fore in Syria, it is very much contrary to US desires, though Israel paradoxically has less to fear from Salafi-Jihadis than it does from MBs.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 19, 2013 1:27:52 PM | 30

What is their plan?

The Royals - those who reign in KSA - only plan is to protect their privileges, that is support anything that upholds it, and back off from anything that might dilute or threaten it. This makes for an ad hoc foreign policy, which is uniquely geared to maintaining the status quo and keeping citizens or inhabitants accepting, peaceful, obedient. Managed by oil rents.

KSA does not aspire to any world status or influence, it is reactive purely. There is no plan, except for economic ‘diversifying’ and ‘infrastructure’ and ‘modernizing’ (telecoms, banking, educational partnerships, water desalination, etc.) - growth as it is said, beyond oil, run for a large (?) part by public investment, i.e. it is in turn dependent on oil, nat. gas and minerals. Much as ‘green’ ethanol in the US, dependent on subsidies and oil itself.

Modernity is an image issue, and KSA has understood that. Local Royals who just splash spend and buy SUVS and camels and castles and abroad swell about in High Class Yachts and top venues lording it over anyone, and indulging in extremely *sinful* activities, are not a good advert.

see, Ministry of Economy and Planning (KSA) in English speeches and position papers - none of the links to this site work. > Google: ministry of economy and planning saudi arabia

one country description (exports etc.)

http://atlas.media.mit.edu/country/sau/

Note the pink areas (exports) are all petroleum derivatives. The rest is confetti pixie dust.

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 19, 2013 1:50:04 PM | 31

sorry i did not close the tag

Posted by: Noirette | Oct 19, 2013 1:51:00 PM | 32

KSA does not aspire to any world status or influence, it is reactive purely.
Noirette, you may or may not believe that when Bandar went to Moscow, he told Putin that he (Bandar) controlled the Jihadis in Chechnya and most of those in Syria too. But I believe it.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 19, 2013 1:59:35 PM | 33

We should concentrate on the question of why the evident dissension among the princes in Saudi.

There is no question, as mentioned above, but that Saudi princes' main interest is to preserve themselves. The main problem is the Shi'a of the Eastern Province, who happen to be sitting on the oil-fields. There is no question of liberalisation here. If the Saudis allowed them their rights, Saudi would be back to a bedouin kingdom with no resources, other than the Hajj to Mecca.

In general, the Saudis have reached agreements with the other Sunni tribes in the Hijaz, but there's still a problem in the southwest, on the coast, where the people are treated like shit, and considered "Africans".

The question is the Shi'a of the Eastern Province. What to do in order to maintain submission. The Saudi regime is very North Arabian bedouin, and they are not about to become multi-cultural.

Bandar and his faction's solution is a forward one, to declare war on Shi'ism wherever it is to be found, mainly in the Arab countries, not so far in Iran. The technique is jihadis. They were the kind of people who brought the Saudis to power in the 1920s and then suppressed, because difficult. A revolution eats its revolutionaries. I think it was Bandar who said "We know how to control Jihadis".

Evidently, there is also a faction opposed to the forward policy, fearing blow-back. They are right: a forward policy puts the Saudis in danger. Jihadis may decide that Saudi is corrupt, and may come back to overturn the regime.

I would say that it is this conflict which is at the heart of the Saudi refusal to take its place in the Security Council. The proposed representative would have been of Bandar's faction. The Council of Princes would have voted against, suggesting that there is a majority against Bandar's policy.

This has important future implications. Can Bandar continue his policy of war against the Shi'a, when the the Council has voted against one important element? Can Bandar continue his forward policy, when the majority of princes are in doubt?

Posted by: alexno | Oct 19, 2013 4:37:39 PM | 34

Apols for being slightly off-topic, however there is currently a rather notable article in the Saudi royal mouthpiece Asharq Al-Awsat, entitled 'Syria: Tensions escalate between Islamist rebels and Hamas'.

Quote:

****
Hamas-Iran rapprochement following collapse of Brotherhood project in Egypt provokes the ire of Syrian opposition.

[...] Syrian rebel groups have expressed dismay at recent statements issued by Hamas leader Khaled Mishal in which he criticized the military and sectarian dimensions of the Syrian conflict, calling on the Palestinian group to stop interfering in Syria’s domestic affairs.

'In a recent statement, Mishal urged the “groups fighting in Syria to direct their rifles towards Palestine,” announcing his “support of a peaceful solution in Syria that guarantees the freedom and dignity of people.”

“Peoples have the right to rise up for their rights, but this must be done through peaceful means,” Mishal said in reference to Syria’s armed rebels. However the Hamas leader affirmed that he “opposes sectarian violence, regardless of its source.”

Mishal’s remarks prompted the Army of Islam, one of the most active rebel groups in Rif Dimashq, to strongly criticize the Palestinian leader, accusing him of “having links with Iran.”
****

Full article at:
http://www.aawsat.net/2013/10/article55319727

Posted by: Noah | Oct 19, 2013 9:02:24 PM | 35

"Mishal’s remarks prompted the Army of Islam, one of the most active rebel groups in Rif Dimashq, to strongly criticize the Palestinian leader, accusing him of 'having links with Iran.'"

Of course that is all that matters to the Takfiri scum - links with Iran. These foul traitors to Islam would be crying about how many times a day the Shia pray while Israel bulldozed Al-Aqsa.

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 19, 2013 9:43:17 PM | 36

"Notice that the first two very important and longstanding Arab issues will be barely mentioned, if at all, in "western" news reports."

It is entirely missing from many of the reports I have read. Entirely.

As if we needed more proof that the western media have more interest in protecting Israel than in telling the truth...

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 19, 2013 9:45:00 PM | 37

It's just hit me that I misunderstood the Saudi statement about refusing the UNSC seat. The KSA statement cited the UNSC's failure to:

  1. resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute,

  2. take steps to end Syria's civil war, and

  3. stop nuclear proliferation in the region.

That third complaint was not directed at Israel at all. It was directed at Iran.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Oct 20, 2013 12:30:27 AM | 38

b @ 6.
I suspect that the quotes from the Russian Foreign Ministry contain all the clues needed to interpret Saudi's peculiar behaviour.
1. Russia's moves in defusing the Syria situation helped to re-legitimise the UN which, as we all know was a IsFrUKUS lapdog.
2. That was a DISASTER for IsFrUKUS Foreign Policy - especially exercises in military unilateralism not approved by the UNSC.
3. The Saudis turned the UNSC seat down because the US told them not to add insult to injury by endorsing the "new" (fair, just & legal) mindset of the UN.
4. Nobody gives a rat's arse what (US proectorate) Saudi Arabia thinks, or says it thinks, so the thing to watch for is who will next add their weight to an anti-UN coalition.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 20, 2013 12:43:29 AM | 39

@38 Why do you say that it wasn't directed at Israel, I think it is quite clear it is directed at both:

“The failure of the Security Council to make the Middle East a region free of all weapons of destruction, its inability to subdue the nuclear programs of all countries in the region without exception…is more irrefutable evidence of its inability to shoulder its responsibilities,”

It's just not been reported in the Western media like this.

http://www.aawsat.net/2013/10/article55319608

Posted by: guest77 | Oct 20, 2013 9:24:22 AM | 40

Assad's interview
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/assad-hamas-has-betrayed-us-repeatedly-but%E2%80%A6

An Inner City Press source has a different take on the Saudi seat: "But the hunger not only of Western powers but also of their affiliated media to get Saudi Arabia on the Security Council to take a hard line on Syria and Iran is so great, the source continued, that they cut corners."
http://www.innercitypress.com/saudi5flopfraud101913.html
Other views here
http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/why-did-riyadh-turn-down-un-seat

Maybe the damage done to Libya/Egypt/Lebanon, as collateral economic victims (and possible next stage for greater violence, on the Iraqi/Syrian model) have made a few countries start to think about how to fix the problem? It won't be a piece of cake.
http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/64/84267/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-in-talks-with-Libya-to-free-seized-drivers-m.aspx

Turkey backtracks.
http://www.myantiwar.org/view/265620.html

SyrPer claims Turkish intelligence is nowtipping the Syrians
http://www.syrianperspective.com/2013/10/first-post-october-19-2013-syrian.html

Posted by: Mina | Oct 20, 2013 11:16:44 AM | 41

Comment #7 on the "Turkey Blamed..." thread contained this link to an article about an Israel-Saudi "superpower" from late August.
http://consortiumnews.com/2013/08/29/the-saudi-israeli-superpower/

Imo, the Saudis and the Israelis believe enough of their own bullshit, and are sufficiently gullible, to fall for a dramatised word-picture. If this idea was being sold to the Saudis when the article was written it could help to explain Saudi's out-of-the-blue rejection of a seat at the UN. Who'd bother joining the UNSC when they're having ecstatic delusions of grandeur about being part of a brand spanking new Superpower coalition?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 20, 2013 11:50:10 AM | 42

John Frances Lee@12,

The Saudi royals and the Israelis both want full-on regional war. And they want their American pets to do the fighting and dying and paying. They are currently making this clear to their American congresswhores through well-greased payola channels.

I wonder if Netanyahu thinks he can pull off another USS Liberty in the day of the Internet.

Posted by: Cynthia | Oct 20, 2013 12:02:40 PM | 43

@42 Sa'd ibn Muadh would turn in his grave.

Posted by: dh | Oct 20, 2013 12:09:18 PM | 44

Rowan Berkeley@30,

Saudis and the Gulf States are far from impotent. They just suffered a bit of a setback in Syria. Saudis still are the ones controlling the action in Libya and have stepped in Egypt to dictate what is going on through their financial assurances to really put the kibosh on the Muslim Brotherhood.

It is the US who is increasingly impotent in the Middle East, but the real action is in Afghanistan/Pakistan/India right now, especially with the upcoming Indian elections and a real chance the BJP takes power again. BJP won't take $hit from the Pakis in Kashmir and be as willing to turn a cheek in Afghanistan as they are hit time and time again by the ISI-backed Taliban forces there.

Posted by: Cynthia | Oct 20, 2013 12:13:15 PM | 45

Noirette@31,

The Saudi family should take heed, the People are tired of their phony “Royal” facade, which was imposed on those people by – you guessed it – the Brits. They even helped create that Fascist form of Islam, Wahhabism. Just like the phony Shah who was foisted on the Iranian people by the CIA at the behest of – you guessed it – the Brits and BP. The person who has advised them said that they should pack up and get out of Dodge, so to speak. When TSHTF there, the Middle East will really be in turmoil. I don’t think the West really wants that one to crash, but who knows what those evil oil-creatures have in mind?

Posted by: Cynthia | Oct 20, 2013 12:17:13 PM | 46

Most of what is written is true. Israel is ruled by CORRUPT Zionists while Saudi ruled by most CORRUPT and Hypocrite CANCER being ALSaud.

Declining the seat in UN Sec Council is the best move in a chess game to avoid confrontation with Superpowers and avoid being blamed by 55 Islamic countries for doing NOTHING !

This way they continue with Blind loyalty for the West/East/Isarel or anyone who will protect them against the MUSLIM people by sending Oil,GAS even their own wives, daughters.

The world is slowly realizing that CORRUPT Alsaud are the source of TERRORRISM in most of the Islamic and Arab countries.

They continue to steal OIL,GAS,LAND,Mineral wealth, HAjj revenues in the name of ISLAM while millions suffer from poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment...etc.

The west realizes by now that dealing with a Democratic / True Islamic country is a better longterm bet Economically and Politically than a CORRUPT Dictatorship which will backfire like sitting on a timebomb.

Abbas

Posted by: Abbas | Oct 20, 2013 4:45:31 PM | 47

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