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In an unprecedented move on Friday, Saudi Arabia rejected a prized seat on the United Nation Security Council, blaming the U.N.’s inability to resolve world conflicts, especially in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia rejected the two-year position, which it had won a day earlier for the first time, in a statement from the country’s Foreign Ministry on Friday. The statement denounced the Security Council for failing to end Syria’s civil war and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It also accused the Security Council of failing to rid the region of weapons of mass destruction, according to BBC News.
“The manner, the mechanisms of action and double standards existing in the Security Council prevent it from performing its duties and assuming its responsibilities toward preserving international peace and security as required,” the Foreign Ministry statement said, according to The New York Times.
Saudi Arabia’s decision stunned U.N. diplomats and officials, including Saudi’s longtime ally, the United States. The decision was especially surprising given Saudi Arabia’s U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallmi’s positive reaction to the news that Saudi Arabia had won a seat a day earlier.
“We take this election very seriously as a responsibility to be able to contribute to this very important forum to peace and security of the world,” he told reporters after Thursday’s vote, according to the Associated Press. “Our election today is a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means.”
It is possible that such conflicting statements could reflect a split in Saudi Arabia’s leadership, causing a sudden turnaround in only a day.