Addressing the United Nations General Assembly this evening, Abdel Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia expressed deep concern that the international community has been unable to save innocent Syrians from the “killing machine” that has devastated their country and led to the world’s most tragic humanitarian crisis.
Opening his address, he said the question of Palestine had long been on the agenda of the General Assembly. Noting that Palestinians continued to suffer, he denounced Israel’s flagrant violations of international law. The Palestinian people deserved to live in dignity, he declared, and urged action to that end that is in line with relevant Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.
Turning to the Syrian crisis, he said that tragic conflict, which is entering its fifth year, has devolved into the worst humanitarian disaster of the current era. “Yet, the international community continues to be unable to save the Syrian people from the killing machine that is being operated by Bashar al-Assad,” he said, underscoring that the conflict has claimed some 300,000 lives and driven millions of desperate people from their homeland.
Calling for urgent collective action to bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people, Mr. Al-Jubeir said every effort must be extended to arrive at a political solution as set out in the 2012 Geneva Communique. That framework outlined, among others, the steps to formulate a transitional council to govern the county, but President Assad and “other perpetrators of crimes” should be part of that process. “Those whose hands are stained with the blood of the Syrian people” have no place in a “new Syria.”
As for Yemen, Mr. Al-Jubeir said the use of military force had been “the last option” in addressing the situation, but Saudi Arabia conducted the intervention at the request of the legitimate Yemeni Government, following the seizure of the presidential palace by the Houthis rebel group. The intervention had seen the liberation of the port city of Aden and other areas. A political solution based on the initiative of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, known as GCC, is necessary.
Calling for the destruction of all nuclear weapons in the region, he welcomed the Iran nuclear deal. However, that country should exercise good neighbourliness and stop making negative interventions in the affairs of Arab nations. On development, he stressed the importance of taking into account specific aims and level of development in each country. Finally, he underscored the need for the United Nations to reinvigorate itself to adapt to a rapidly changing world.