There were some precursors over the last several months to Saudi Arabia’s decision today to decline its seat on the United Nations Security Council. The Saudi regime was angered when President Obama backtracked from his red line on military action against Syrian president Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. It is worth recalling that the petro kingdom informed Secretary of State Kerry that it would even fund a full-blown invasion of Syria.
In unusually non-diplomatic language, the Saudi regime accused the Security Council of practicing “double standards” and “allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by the chemical weapons.”
To protest political inertia at the U.N. over Syria, the Saudis had pulled the plug on their address to the General Assembly in September.
While the Saudi regime sent a backhanded slap at Russia and China – two of the five permanent Security Council members – for blocking punitive measures against Syria, the Gulf monarchy also aimed to express its dissatisfaction with an erratic U.S. foreign policy.
Saudi ruler King Abdullah now sees President Obama’s cordial relations with Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani (Syria’s main supporter) as a growing existential threat to the preservation of his Sunni monarchy. After all, Iran’s Shiite clerical regime has perfected the delay tactic of negotiating with the U.S. to secure more time to build a nuclear-weapons device.
Iran remains the deadliest international security threat; and has used its proxy, the Lebanese terrorist entity Hezbollah, to murder Americans.
However, the Saudis should not be let off the hook. As Hillel Neuer, the head of the watchdog organization U.N. Watch, said today, “While the Saudi statement invoked U.N. ‘double standards’ as their grounds for refusal, the truth is that Saudi Arabia’s entire system is a double standard. Under Saudi law and practice, there is one standard for men, and another for women, who cannot vote, drive a car, or travel without a male guardian; one for Muslims, and another for Christians, 53 of whom who were arrested this year by religious police for praying in a private homes.”
Moreover, Saudi Arabia continues to export Wahhabism, an incorrigibly reactionary and brutal form of Islam.
Nevertheless, the most potent national-security threat for the U.S. is Iran because of its nuclear-weapons program and its long-range missiles that can target America and our allies.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal