Saudi Arabia calls for UN reform
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.