Category Archives: United Nations Securiy Council

Israel Belongs on the UN Security Council

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The Trump administration has stated that it intends to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. While this is important, there is a far more urgent goal because time is running short: helping Israel get a seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC), for which Israel has formally applied, when vacancies open up in 2019. There won’t be another opportunity until 2029.

Some background information is in order before considering strategies. The relevant facts are disturbing, to say the least, and deserve to be better known.

From 1946 to 1965, the UNSC had eleven members. Five were permanent: the US, the UK, France, the Republic of China (later PRC), and the USSR (later Russia). The six non-permanent members were drawn from five regional groups: two from Latin America and one each from Commonwealth of Nations, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Western Europe. To qualify for a nonpermanent seat on the UNSC, a UN member had to satisfy three conditions, which still apply today: (1) membership in a regional group; (2) group concurrence; and (3) concurrence by a majority of the entire UN membership.

Though a UN member after 1948 when it was created, Israel never even qualified for a seat on the UNSC because it did not belong to any of the five regional groups and thus failed to meet the first condition. The countries belonging to the Middle East group, which were dedicated to the destruction of Israel, conspired successfully to keep the Jewish state out of the group and in bureaucratic limbo. Why they were able to get away with it is not a mystery. The UN was perfectly content to treat Israel as a pariah state hoping it would disappear, an attitude that persists to this day.

After 1966, UNSC membership expanded to 15. The five permanent members kept their seats while the five regional groups were redefined and got two non-member seats each: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Latin-America and Caribbean, Western Europe and Others (WEOG), and Eastern Europe.

If it’s not apparent where Israel belonged under this reconfiguration, the answer is nowhere. The usual suspects, now in the Asia-Pacific group, were successful in continuing to keep Israel in bureaucratic limbo despite the new iteration of UN-style gerrymandering skullduggery. Once again, the rest of the UN didn’t care.

Incredibly, there the matter rested until the year 2000, when Israel became a temporary member of the WEOG in May of that year. In 2004, Israel obtained a permanent renewal of its membership in the group’s US headquarters but was granted only observer status at UN offices in Geneva, Nairobi, Rome, and Vienna — more UN skullduggery. Finally, in December, 2013, Israel became a full permanent member of WEOG. Thus, it took 65 years for the Jewish state to have the same rights as every other UN member! How many people knew that, I wonder? I hereby challenge Bill O’Reilly to run a “Watters’ World” segment on the question.

There are 28 countries in the WEOG: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Australia, Canada, Israel, and New Zealand. The US holds only observer status in the group.

Except Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and Switzerland (which is neutral), all 28 WEOG countries have been on the UNSC, even Malta and Luxembourg. It’s worth adding that several WEOG members have been on the UNSC three or more times: Italy (six times), Spain (five), Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand.

Two WEOG vacancies on the UNSC will open up in 2019. Initially, only Israel and Belgium applied. In a surprise move, Germany announced in 2013 it would compete. Group members would gladly push Israel aside in favor of Germany and Belgium.

Observers have rightly criticized Bonn for trying to spoil Israel’s chances and have urged the Germans to withdraw. But there is another alternative.

At the moment, the WEOG has three non-permanent members on the UNSC instead of two: Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands. This unusual situation occurred because Italy and the Netherlands tied in a contested race for a UNSC seat and were allowed to split a two-year term. Germany or Belgium could perhaps be persuaded to use this as precedent and make room for Israel. Germany has been a supporter of Israel at the UN and might go along. NATO is in Belgium, so President Trump would have clout if he decided the issue had high enough priority.

It’s by no means a sure thing that the State Department would go along or move quickly enough once President Trump made his wishes clear. The pro-Arab faction at Foggy Bottom is powerful, well-entrenched, and would resist a change of direction on a policy they managed to keep in place for decades. The new sheriff just sworn in, Rex Tillerson, will only be effective after some serious housecleaning.

The real fight will be on the floor of the General Assembly, where a majority of the UN’s 193 members will have to approve Israel’s assignment to the UNSC even if for only one year. The many countries that conspired over the decades to keep Israel in limbo or tried to destroy it are still around singing the same tune. Muslim populations all over Europe are expected to exert pressure on UN ambassadors, as will the mainstream media. And then there’s the fact that, aided and abetted by the outgoing Obama administration, the UNSC last December voted unanimously to condemn Israel’s settlement policy.

Some will ask why the US should get involved. These are the folks who think the Middle East is a quagmire and we should stay away because nothing good will come of it. They would add that the US secretaries of state during 1948-2000 — from George Marshall to Dean Rusk to Henry Kissinger to Alexander Haig to James Baker to Warren Christopher — were right to ignore the appalling treatment of Israel at the UN.

So, Mr. President, which side will you be on? What about House Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Schumer? This is an issue on which our most senior officials can speak with one voice.

UN Security Council Allows Iran a Free Hand in Yemen

 

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The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting on Sunday March 22nd regarding the rapidly deteriorating situation in Yemen. It heard a briefing from Jamal Benomar, the UN Secretary General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, describing Yemen’s descent towards a possible sectarian civil war. It then issued a presidential statement on behalf of all fifteen members that, in essence, told all parties to the conflict to behave, stop the violence, engage in peaceful political dialogue and obey past Security Council resolutions calling for the same thing. However, once again, the Security Council demonstrated its incapacity to deal truthfully and effectively with a crisis that has potentially far-reaching geopolitical significance.

The Security Council presidential statement ritualistically called on all member states to refrain from external interference in Yemen’s affairs and reaffirmed its readiness to take further measures against any party in case of non-implementation of its prior resolutions on Yemen. However, the Security Council did not call out Iran specifically for its funding, training and arming of its Shiite Houthi allies, whom have continued to occupy government institutions in Yemen’s capital, threatened the duly elected president and his ministers, and expanded militarily into other areas of Yemen outside of the capital.

It is not as if Iran’s disruptive intervention in Yemen to expand its own sphere of influence is a secret. Iranian senior officials openly brag about it.

In January, Iranian Brigadier General Baqir Zada said that the “Houthis victory in Yemen” represented “a historic victory for the Iranian Islamic revolution.”

Also in January, Hojatoleslam (a Shiite clerical rank just below that of ayatollah) Ali Shirazi, representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, said, “Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon as a popular force like Basij (Iran’s militia). Similarly popular forces were also formed in Syria and Iraq, and today we are watching the formation of Ansarollah in Yemen.”

In February, Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, boasted: “We are witnessing the export of the Islamic revolution throughout the region. From Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen and North Africa.”

The Security Council’s public silence regarding Iran’s admitted active role in destabilizing Yemen as part of fulfilling its hegemonic ambitions is as deafening as it is revealing. At this delicate point in its nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Obama administration and its allies do not want to do anything at the UN Security Council that might upset Iran and cause it to back away from a possible deal.

Consider the fact that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, issued her own statement condemning the Houthis, but that she too left out any mention of Iran. Ambassador Power said that “the Houthis’ actions – taken in close collaboration with former President Ali Abdullah Salih – have consistently undermined Yemen’s transition.” Ambassador Power referred to “a series of violent actions perpetrated by the Houthis since they chose to overrun Sana’a, take over government institutions, and attempt to govern by unilateral decree.” She added that “all parties must refrain from any further unilateral and offensive military actions.” Unmentioned was the identity of the state party fueling the Houthis’ perpetration of violence – the same terrorist sponsoring state that the Obama administration is feverishly negotiating with to reach a nuclear deal by the end of this month.

Only the Yemeni representative had the guts to call out the elephant in the room. He implored the Security Council to “curb the drums of war” propagated by the promotors of the coup, fuelled by “Iranian ambitions” in Yemen.

Closed consultations among Security Council members followed the public briefing. A senior Western delegate told me that Iran’s involvement in the Yemen conflict did come up during the closed consultations. However, there was evidently no discussion on what steps might be taken to enforce prior Security Council resolutions vis a vis Iran’s role. There are prior Security Council resolutions related to Yemen that could be used, including Resolution 2140 (2014), extended until at least next year. Resolution 2140 had set up a mechanism for identifying and sanctioning individuals and entities responsible for, among other things, “providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen.”

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Yet Iran has escaped even the slightest slap on the wrist for its continued shipment of arms to its Houthi allies in Yemen, which is going on as the UN continues to spin its wheels rather than act. According to a March 21, 2015 report by StrategyWorld.com, for example, “An Iranian freighter recently docked at Yemen’s second largest port (al Saleef) and unloaded 185 tons of weapons and military equipment.”

More disturbing is the fact that, aside from the specific resolution regarding Yemen, the Security Council already has a ready-made vehicle to enforce against Iran but is ignoring it. Iran is openly violating a 2007 UN Security Council resolution that imposed an embargo on arms exports from Iran along with other constraints on Iranian arms imports. This and other resolutions, which Iran is seeking to have rescinded as quickly as possible as part of a negotiated nuclear deal, were passed as the foundation for declaring Iran’s nuclear program to be illegal and punishing Iran for its continued intransigence.

Security Council Resolution 1747 (2007) stated that “Iran shall not supply, sell or transfer directly or indirectly from its territory or by its nationals or using its flag vessels or aircraft any arms or related materiel, and that all States shall prohibit the procurement of such items from Iran by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in the territory of Iran.”

In a statement after the vote on that 2007 resolution, the U.S. representative reminded the world of “Iran’s continued well-known role as one of the world’s leading State sponsors of terrorism.”

The Iranian regime has not changed its stripes. In fact, it has gotten even worse. By its own admission, it is actively expanding its reach in the Middle East and beyond, and it is using more terrorist proxies on the Hezbollah model. Yet the Obama administration, in its attempt to whitewash Iran’s association with terrorism, actually removed Iran from the list of terrorist threats in the most recent Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community report published on February 26, 2015.

The Obama administration is also reportedly considering offering Iran a phased lifting of the UN sanctions as Iran complies with specified milestones. Not that it makes any real difference, given Iran’s flouting of Resolution 1747 and other Security Council resolutions related to its nuclear program, but lifting of the UN sanctions could potentially spill over into relaxing the embargo on Iran’s export of arms. And that would give Iran even more of a sense of international legitimacy in arming its proxies such as the Houthis.

The French, who are participating in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, are not in such a hurry to compromise on the UN sanctions. They want the Iranians to come clean on the past work they have done on nuclear warhead development before UN sanctions can begin being lifted. The Iranians are reportedly refusing to cooperate, as they continue to stonewall UN inspectors whom have been seeking information on Iran’s past military dimensions of their nuclear program. U.S. diplomats are for all intents and purposes running interference for Iran, trying to convince France not to worry so much about any past Iranian work on nuclear warhead development right now. In their zeal for a deal, Obama’s negotiators are willing to overlook any evidence of Iranian deception and stonewalling.

The UN Security Council’s inaction against Iran regarding its blatant arming, training and funding of the Houthis in Yemen, in violation of a prior Security Council resolution, is no accident. It is in keeping with the Obama administration’s own reluctance to offend Iran on any issue that might get in the way of completing a nuclear deal with the pre-eminent global state sponsor of jihadist terrorism.

Ukraine asks UN Security Council to protect it from Russia

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Armed servicemen stand in Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava March 1, 2014 (Photo: Reuters

Ukraine on Saturday asked the United States and other key members of the UN Security Council to help safeguard its territorial integrity after Russia announced plans to send armed forces into the country’s autonomous Crimea region.

“We can stop the expansion of this aggression,” Ukraine’s UN Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told reporters after addressing a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on the crisis in his country.

He said that Russia’s military aggression had violated a 1994 agreement on safeguarding Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on the other four permanent UN Security Council members to use their diplomatic powers to help his country.

“Now what we are doing is we are addressing for other guarantors (of Ukraine’s sovereignty) – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and China – to perform their guarantees,” Sergeyev said.

“Still there is a possibility for world leaders to speak with (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin and prevent … the further deterioration of the situation,” he said.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon planned to speak with Putin on the telephone.

“The Secretary-General reiterates his call for the full respect for and preservation of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Nesirky told reporters.

“He calls for an immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis,” he added.

The 15-nation council’s emergency meeting on Ukraine – the second in as many days – was convened at the request of Britain. British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters on the way into the meeting that he called for the meeting to learn “what justification Russia claims to have” for its actions in Ukraine.

Diplomats told Reuters that inside the closed-door consultations there was a heated debate on whether to hold a public meeting, as the US and other Western delegations are demanding, or to keep it all behind closed doors, as Russia wants.

The council met on Friday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine’s Crimea region but took no formal action, as expected. The meeting highlighted the deep divisions between the United States and other Western nations and Russia, which has a major Black Sea naval base in the Crimea.

At Friday’s session, Ukraine accused Russia of illegal military incursions onto Ukrainian territory, while US and European delegations warned Moscow to withdraw any new military forces deployed in neighboring Ukraine.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, however, said any military movements by Russian forces there were in compliance with its agreement with Kiev on maintaining its naval base there.

Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and, therefore, able to block any actions proposed by its members.

Reuters