Tough re­sponse needed to counter UN re­port

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL - KHALAF AH­MAD AL HABTOOR [Khalaf Ah­mad al-Habtoor is a prom­i­nent UAE busi­ness­man and pub­lic fig­ure. He is Chair­man of the Al Habtoor Group - one of the most suc­cess­ful con­glom­er­ates in the Gulf. Al Habtoor is renowned for his knowl­edge and views on in­tern

IHAVE lost all re­spect for the United Na­tions. It has evolved into a largely im­po­tent en­tity dom­i­nated by a hand­ful of veto-hold­ing nu­clear pow­ers, which wield un­due in­flu­ence over its de­ci­sion-mak­ing. Not only has its lofty sta­tus been un­der­mined with ac­cu­sa­tions of cor­rup­tion, UN peace­keep­ers are al­leged to have sex­u­ally ex­ploited vul­ner­a­ble women and chil­dren in Haiti and the Cen­tral African Repub­lic. Most sig­nif­i­cantly, it is proven not to be fit for the pur­pose for which it was founded: “To main­tain international peace and se­cu­rity” and, if nec­es­sary by “tak­ing pre­ven­tive or en­force­ment ac­tion.” A glar­ing ex­am­ple of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s fail­ure to live up to its re­spon­si­bil­i­ties was the geno­cide that took place in Rwanda.

A re­port writ­ten in 1994 and re­leased in 1999 ac­cused se­nior UN of­fi­cials ig­nor­ing ev­i­dence that a slaugh­ter of mega pro­por­tions was un­der­way and of fail­ing to pro­tect the Rwan­dan peo­ple. Kofi An­nan is­sued an apol­ogy. Its record since has been no bet­ter.

It was just as use­less in Sre­brenica as the mass graves of Mus­lim men at­test and it has done prac­ti­cally noth­ing to end the blood­shed in Syria where over 150,000 have been killed and mil­lions have been dis­placed. Con­flicts blaze and all the UN does is hold high pro­file meet­ings that more of­ten than not achieve noth­ing other than give del­e­gates the ex­cuse to rub shoul­ders at cock­tail par­ties. It is one thing for the UN’s New York head­quar­ters to ex­ist as an ex­pen­sive and fairly use­less white ele­phant, but quite an­other for its secretary gen­eral to hurl un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tions at Saudi Ara­bia and nine of its Arab coali­tion part­ners in­vited by the in­ter­na­tion­ally-rec­og­nized Ye­meni pres­i­dent to help free his coun­try from Houthi rebels funded and armed by Iran.

It is one thing for the UN’s New York head­quar­ters to ex­ist as an ex­pen­sive white ele­phant, but quite an­other for its secretary gen­eral to hurl un­sub­stan­ti­ated ac­cu­sa­tions at Saudi Ara­bia and nine of its Arab coali­tion part­ners

Saudi Ara­bia and its prime part­ner the United Arab Emi­rates have sac­ri­ficed blood and trea­sure to this le­git­i­mate cause that has been sup­ported by the Amer­ica and Bri­tain. Al­most 1,000 coali­tion of­fi­cers and sol­diers have been killed and hun­dreds have been wounded. And now that the con­flict is wind­ing down, UN Secretary Gen­eral Ban Ki-Moon chooses to slap Ye­men’s res­cuers in the face with the an­nounce­ment that the Saudi coali­tion is to be equated with ter­ror­ists, mili­tias and Houthi mil­i­tants in the pay of ex­pan­sion­ist Tehran.

Black­list: For the first time ever it seems, an international coali­tion, in this case the Saudi-led Arab coali­tion, has been in­cluded in the UN’s an­nual re­port, de­signed to shame fac­tions that have en­gaged “in the re­cruit­ment and use of chil­dren, sex­ual vi­o­lence against chil­dren, the killing and maim­ing of chil­dren, at­tacks on schools and/or hos­pi­tals and at­tacks or threats against pro­tected per­son­nel and the ab­duc­tion of chil­dren.”

It seems, Ban Ki-Moon has ar­bi­trar­ily at­trib­uted 60 per­cent of al­most 2,000 child ca­su­al­ties of the con­flict to the King­dom’s air cam­paign while ac­cus­ing the coali­tion of strik­ing a hos­pi­tal run by Doc­tors with­out Bor­ders, which Saudi Ara­bia has ve­he­mently de­nied. Here it is worth not­ing that while the US has ad­mit­ted bomb­ing a hos­pi­tal in Afghanistan, also man­aged by Doc­tors with­out Bor­ders, the re­port disin­gen­u­ously blames that tragedy on “international forces” which are not be­ing black­listed.

Worse, the Is­raeli govern­ment is per­sis­tently left off the hook when over 1,000 Pales­tinian chil­dren have been vic­tims of Is­rael’s ag­gres­sion on Gaza alone. Rights groups have con­demned Is­rael for us­ing Pales­tinian chil­dren as hu­man shields and De­fense for Chil­dren International – Pales­tine (DCIP) main­tains 440 are cur­rently il­le­gally held in mil­i­tary de­ten­tion, three-quar­ters of whom claim they have been phys­i­cally abused.

To be frank, I was shocked and an­gered to read this dread­ful news. I am still struggling against dis­be­lief that the pow­ers that be within the United Na­tions could stoop so low as to in­fer that ten Arab coun­tries would de­lib­er­ately tar­get Ye­meni chil­dren. Our Arab chil­dren, we love and wish to pro­tect just like the young ones we cher­ish at home.

While ad­mit­tedly airstrikes are not al­ways 100 per­cent pre­cise but in any theatre of war there are civil­ian ca­su­al­ties and all of us wish that were not so. Wars are some­times nec­es­sary, but al­ways ugly. Just ask Iraqis who lost up to a mil­lion of their com­pa­tri­ots as a re­sult of 2003 US-led in­ter­ven­tion to de­prive Sad­dam Hus­sein of myth­i­cal weapons of destruc­tion or Afghans and Pak­ista­nis who have lost hun­dreds of their in­no­cent brethren to US drone at­tacks.

This damn­ing UN re­port reeks of bias, dou­ble stan­dards, in­sult and un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims. What is the game here? What is the agenda? What is the rea­son be­hind this un­just of­fen­sive clas­si­fi­ca­tion? I have dis­missed var­i­ous claims that the United Na­tions acts as the po­lit­i­cal tool of cer­tain na­tions.

But now I am per­suaded there might be some­thing in those as­ser­tions, es­pe­cially in light of the fact that there is a bill go­ing through US Congress, sup­ported by all pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, that would em­broil Saudi Ara­bia in court cases re­lated to the 11 Septem­ber at­tacks even though the 9/ 11 Com­mis­sion re­port com­pletely ex­on­er­ates the King­dom from play­ing any part in the 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

Firm re­sponse: What­ever the truth may be, I would strongly urge the coali­tion’s mem­ber states, the Arab League and the GCC to is­sue firm state­ments in re­sponse to this UN re­port. What is needed is for the King­dom and its al­lies to make a firm stand. We need to be strong and un­yield­ing. Di­plo­macy is a two-way street and since there is noth­ing diplo­matic about the coali­tion’s shame­ful in­clu­sion in this dis­gust­ing list, we are not bound by diplo­matic pro­to­col to pull punches.

—Cour­tesy: AA

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