Saudi Arabia calls for UN reform

Sunday 25/09/2016
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef conferring with member of his delegation

LONDON - Saudi Crown Prince Mo­hammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz denounced the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, recently passed by the US Congress, that al­lows families of victims of the Sep­tember 11th, 2001, attacks to sue the kingdom, calling it “a serious threat to the sovereign rights”.
Speaking during his first address to the UN General Assembly, Prince Mohammed, who is also the king­dom’s Interior minister, highlight­ed Saudi Arabia’s record fighting terrorism.
“Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries that suffered from terror­ism,” Prince Mohammed said, add­ing that the kingdom since 1992 has foiled 100 terrorism operations but also suffered 18 terrorist attacks.
“Before September 11th, Saudi Arabia had signed agreements with other Arab states to fight terror­ism,” Prince Mohammed said. The kingdom was waging “an unrelent­ing war against terrorist groups”, he said, adding that Saudi Arabia was a party to 12 international agreements to fight terrorism.
The Saudi crown prince warned that the United Nations as an in­stitution had to reform to confront the challenges facing the world and the Middle East in particular, from wars in Yemen and Syria and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as the refugee crisis.
“We either join together in a collective effort to address the dif­ficult challenges and disasters we are confronted with in the world or fail and in doing so history will not be on our side,” Prince Mohammed stated.
“The type and scale of the chal­lenges we confront require us to work hard towards the reform of the UN system, increase the effec­tiveness of the Security Council and revitalise the role of the Gen­eral Assembly and all the relevant bodies of the United Nations,” he added.
Prince Mohammed’s speech touched on a number of issues related to the Middle East, par­ticularly the refugee crisis. Saudi Arabia has provided aid to Syrian refugees of more than $800 mil­lion.
“The kingdom has received around 2.5 million Syrian citi­zens and it is keen on not treating them simply as refugees or putting them in refugee camps,” he said. “On the other hand, the kingdom safeguarded their dignity and en­sured their safety by granting full freedom of movement and issuing residency permits for hundreds of thousands of Syrians who wanted to remain in the kingdom.
“The kingdom has also given them access to the labour market and provided health care and edu­cation free of charge. There are more than 141,000 Syrian children pursuing their education free of cost.”
With regards to the war in Syria, Prince Mohammed called for a po­litical transition by supporting the moderate opposition, while also faulting the international com­munity for its failure to “take con­certed decisions to save the Syrian people from the crimes that take place there, murders, destruction and displacement, all of which is made by President Bashar Assad”.
The Saudi crown prince said his country called on Iran to “desist from all of the policies of discrimi­nation, racism and sectarianism and to begin to build positive rela­tions with its neighbours on the ba­sis of the principles of good-neigh­bourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states”. He also condemned Tehran’s sup­port for “terrorist militia groups” in Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Prince Mohammed called for an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and con­demned Israel’s “terrorist practices and acts of aggression”.
“Achieving any progress in end­ing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict seems impossible in light of the continuation of the Israeli settle­ment policy, the tampering with the holy city of Jerusalem ruining the Arab, the Islamic and Christian identity of the city and the heart­less policy of repression practised against the Palestinian people,” he said.