A coalition of Arab nations lead by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have cut their ties with Qatar over the latter state’s alleged support for terrorism in the region. As far as the ‘rich’ scale goes, this ranks up there with Kim Kardashian lecturing Mia Khalifa on modesty.
It’s no secret that the Middle East continues to be torn apart by a proxy war fought in destabilised regions including Syria and Yemen – with Saudi-backed Sunni groups like the “moderate” rebels of Syria fighting against Iran-backed proxies including Hezbollah. Ordinary civilians are routinely caught in the crossfire.
Which is why Donald Trump’s backflip on Saudi Arabia and his supposedly non-interventionist foreign policy stance by selling the gulf kingdom weaponry worth billions, is both frustrating and troubling. Especially considering that Iran-backed Shia militant groups do not pose nearly the same direct threat to the West as the Sunni-identifying groups which have claimed responsibility for a vast majority of recent high-profile terror attacks in European countries as well as Afghanistan and Iran.
The Saudis currently lead a coalition in Yemen responsible for a widespread bombing and airstrike campaign responsible for killing thousands of civilians. There is every possibility that the Trump-supplied firepower will be dispatched to continue the massacre. At least 4,125 civilians have been killed and 7,207 wounded since the campaign’s inception – a majority by Saudi coalition airstrikes, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – the very same United Nations whose Human Rights council features illustrious member states including – you guessed it, Saudi Arabia.
Boy, have the Saudis taken their role seriously – by pushing for and adopting resolutions condemning the Jewish state of Israel for its human rights record. You know that tubby guy at the gym whose favourite machine is the vending machine? Now, imagine if he insisted on giving training and diet advice to other gym members.
But in all fairness, perhaps it is just their religious establishment – one that continues to support institutions worldwide that promote hardline Wahabi/Salafi interpretations of Sunni Islam that is to blame. Perhaps the royal family offers a genuine opportunity for the kingdom to move in a (relatively) progressive direction. One of their many princes even opined recently that women should be allowed to drive. What a revolutionary hero for the feminist cause.
US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, recently took the unprecedented step of calling out the UN Human Rights council for failing to reflect on the widespread human rights abused committed by its deplorable membership – from Venezuela to Cuba to Saudi Arabia. Even the European Union has expressed concern – with a coalition of nations backing Israel against a Syria-sponsored resolution which stipulates scrutiny measures currently imposed on no other nation.
Geneva-based independent monitoring group UN Watch has echoed the concerns of Israel and the EU that a WHO report commending Israel for its human rights and public health record in the disputed Golan Heights region has been suppressed following pressure from the Syrian government.
Australia is often criticised for failing to take leadership on foreign affairs. It is a criticism often made by Labor supporters about Liberal governments. Now would be a great time for the Turnbull government to step up and join Haley’s calls for reform to how the Human Rights Council operates that could resolve the current charlatan’s charade. Aussie taxpayers contribute millions of dollars to the United Nations every year. We have every right to demand a better deal.
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