­The Saudi rejection of a seat in the UN Security Council was an unexpected and unprecedented move. The Saudis expressed their displeasure with the way things were being run in the Security Council. The continuing conflict in Syria and Iran’s nuclear programme were touted by the media as the primary factors that led to the decision.

Perhaps of more credence was the more than six-decade unresolved hostility between the Israelis and the Palestinians, which has contributed to pockets of militancy in the region. While the Saudi snub was generally viewed as favourable by many in the kingdom, others had some reservations on the issue. Here’s a compilation of what some had to say:

Ruwaid says that, “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a calculated risk of refusing the election for a 24-month membership of the Security Council. The risk of never being re-elected is there, but it is offset by the extensive media coverage in every corner of the globe of the self destructive ‘veto’ mechanism of the UN effectiveness. Despite the benefits of being a member of the Council for 24 months, the political message by the rejection may be more beneficial for KSA, Arab League countries as well as the Muslim world. There must be a concerted effort by the Arab League to pursue a review of the UN structure, elimination or modification of the veto rule as well as empowering newly emerging powers such as India, Brazil, etc.”

Irfan, an aviation expert, agrees with the Saudi decision. “Basically the role of the so-called Security Council chairman is to be a sleeping member who simply endorses what the big five powers do whether he likes it or not; just act like a dumb, blind, deaf chorus voice of approval. The five permanent members ought to create a custom made UN per their own specs, as nothing has changed positively by UN with the veto power since its birth. The participation of every country other than them is just to make up the numbers. I applaud Prince Saud for this strong positive spirit. Finally somebody from our region did speak up loudly and said enough is enough; stop the nonsense Hollywood style fantasy.”

Nabeel thinks that it is “not a good idea, unless the kingdom plans to intervene in a big way in Syria. Otherwise, it would have been a good pulpit from which to harangue the international community and keep the eyes of the world focused on Syria, lest it commits more crimes against humanity.”

Ahmad, a soft drinks executive, supports the decision wholeheartedly. “It’s about time the charade gets exposed. Just make up a score card of all the UN resolutions since its inception and see what was implemented and what was just selectively ignored. This is not to speak of the ones that were implemented by brute force of the so-called coalition of the willing. If we had the ‘Axis of Evil’ I think there is another term that we can coin for the Security Council, the ‘Axis of weasels’.”

Hanin was not so upbeat. “I think it’s sad. I can understand it’s like a boycott of a useless agency but at the same time its like cutting off your nose to spite your face. We must be involved to affect change. Sitting out of a game of duck, duck, goose will never catch the goose.”

Nouf adds: “Don’t understand it! On the surface, it seems like a questionable erratic temper tantrum. On the other hand the Security Council is worthless so being part of it is ineffective either way, except refusing it after lobbying for it makes us look like idiots in front of the whole world. That’s the only consequence, really ... Still I am very confused!”

Esmail offers another perspective: “Apparent cause is childish and irresponsible. However, this is politics and I believe the Saudi leadership measures their regional and global moves carefully, so I am a firm believer that this will serve the interest of the Saudi people and neighbouring countries.”

Another voice adds, “I think it’s a mistake not to accept a seat in the Security Council. You cannot have a perfect world where the Security Council is the man with the whip, but at least with Saudi Arabia in the Council, it can voice its power however weak it could be. A single vote can make a big difference.”

Mohammad was outright in his support: “It’s time for Arab leadership to put forth (in actions, not in artful words) their frustration with and rejection of UN monkey business. It’s the first step on the correct path.”

Nehad, a writer on Middle Eastern affairs, said: “The Saudis have sent a serious message that the Security Council in its present form is deficient and need reforming. A bold step, a shocking tactic, a massive jolt to the body of the UN, call it what you like, it will focus global attention on the UN failure to stop the massacres in Syria ... The Saudi move which I totally support has highlighted the shortcomings and inadequacies of the Security Council. There is something seriously wrong when a Russian veto paralyses the UN and protects the murderous regime of Syria…The Saudi action is understandable and I support it.”

Abdullah Al Muallem, the kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, perhaps brought up the frustration of many when he stated that, “For more than 60 years, the Security Council has been considering the tragedy of the Palestinian people while Israel continues its violation of international laws and denial of the rights to the Palestinian people, who continue to suffer in the absence of a solution and failure to translate UN resolutions confirming the rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of their state.”

While the inaction over Syria and Iran may have factored in the Saudi decision, it is the continuing Israeli policies, the indiscriminate detention of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the flagrant violations of the sanctity of the holy places, the displacement of Palestinians, and the policy of racism and ethnic cleansing in blatant disregard of the Security Council by Israel that likely tipped the Saudi hand.

Muallemi concluded: “It is time for your Council to renounce its policy of laxity. It needs to demonstrate more effectiveness to address the Palestinian question.” The message couldn’t be clearer.–Gulf News