UN Security Council must focus on regional issues, not only Ukraine, Arab League head says

UAE hosts debate addressing UN-Arab League co-operation

Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit speaks at an event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in December 2022. Reuters
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The head of the Arab League urged the UN Security Council on Thursday to pay attention to conflicts around the globe and not only the war in Ukraine.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, said tension at the Security Council – where Russia and western members are at odds over Ukraine – diminishes “any opportunities to address regional conflicts”.

“It also comes at the expense of the world's attention … Don't let the Ukrainian crisis or any other crisis [take priority over] other conflicts around the globe,” he said, pointing to the humanitarian crises in Yemen, Syria and Sudan.

Mr Aboul Gheit warned that the world is “at the precipice of a nuclear confrontation” and lamented the “heightening tension between major powers and the ensuing polarisation and heightened international tensions”.

He made his comments during a UAE-hosted Security Council debate focused on UN-Arab League co-operation.

The UAE assumed the rotating presidency of the council this month.

The US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield praised the Arab League’s invitation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to a summit in Saudi Arabia last month.

She highlighted the “effects of Russia's brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine” on the Arab world, including the use of food as a weapon, leading to higher global food prices and increased food insecurity.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield called for Arab nations to “stand in solidarity with Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian aggression” and “join the rest of the world” in condemning Russia's use of Iranian drones against civilians.

The US diplomat also urged the Arab League to press the Syrian regime to accept a 12-month renewal in July of the Security Council's authorisation of the cross-border aid mechanism.

Khalifa Al Marar, UAE Minister of State, who led Thursday's meeting, asserted that “valiant efforts” have been made towards improving relations with neighbouring states in the region, citing Syria’s reinstatement into the Arab League.

“These rapid and positive changes could potentially pave the way for a significant breakthrough and a number of conflicts through encouraging practical and realistic solutions,” he noted.

Updated: June 09, 2023, 9:31 AM