8600th Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security Part 1

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20-Aug-2019 03:42:53
United States, Iran trade accusations during Security Council debate on causes of conflicts, instability in Middle East at 8600th meeting.

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Amid recent developments in the Persian Gulf and the wider Middle East, the Security Council discussed today how to ease tensions and contribute constructively to the resolution of conflicts in the region, as many speakers described the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the core of regional instability.

In opening remarks, the Secretary‑General’s Chef de Cabinet briefed Council members on current developments, from the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the recent maritime incidents in the Strait of Hormuz, the critical waterway between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. “The list of challenges is long, but this should not deter us,” she said, recommending several steps, among them preventing the most acute flashpoints in the region from boiling over, keeping channels of communication open and fostering confidence-building measures to bring the relevant parties towards dialogue.

Although the Middle East has many fault lines and divisions, she continued, within such challenges lies the opportunity to build upon the words and intentions of the Charter of the United Nations towards action that will bring real change and a bright future to the region’s people. The United Nations, for its part, is addressing challenges on multiple fronts, from supporting preventive diplomacy to nurturing capacities for tackling climate change, she said. Meanwhile, the Council’s role in maintaining international peace and security remains indispensable, she emphasized.

As Council members shared many of her concerns, some offered practical solutions, others focused on the need to address the root causes behind the conflicts in the Middle East, and still others described their actions in the region.

The Secretary of State of the United States said his country’s accomplishments of the last six months include the dismantling of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh). Washington supports meaningful and effective multilateral efforts, he emphasized. By contrast, Iran continues to escalate tensions in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, he said, pointing out that, in July alone, Tehran defied its nuclear commitments, threatened further expansion of its nuclear intentions, detained several tankers and fired a ballistic missile in defiance of Security Council resolutions.

Iran’s representative said the United States is responsible for prolonging the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and its involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen has contributed to support for terrorist groups. Describing that country’s military presence in the Persian Gulf as one of the main causes of instability and insecurity in the Middle East, he said another destabilizing factor is the unbridled flow of American weaponry into the region. “We should not lose sight of the destabilizing nature and impact of the ‘divide-and-rule’ strategy of the United States,” he cautioned.

Similarly, the Russian Federation’s representative said the policy of removing regimes that are inconvenient to certain Governments has led to bloodshed in the region, adding that his delegation cannot be satisfied that calls for Iran to sit down at the negotiating table are punctured by unilateral threats and insults. “We cannot overlook the fact that 80 per cent of [Iran’s economy] falls under the illegitimate unilateral sanctions of the United States” aiming to force Tehran to bow before Washington, he emphasized. The Secretary of State used many negative words and “cooperation” only once – and then only in the context of a coalition against Iran, he pointed out.

The State Secretary of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office said that political dialogue and, if need be, coordinated sanctions, could help in dealing constructively with Iran, cautioning, however, that unilateral actions would do the opposite. “Only if all outside actors look beyond self-interest can we make progress towards a peaceful Middle East,” he added, stressing the need to respect international humanitarian law.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative cautioned against efforts centred on regime change, interventionism and interference in the internal affairs of State, pointing out that the dire consequences of such practices in Libya continue to spill over into Central and West Africa.

Syria’s representative said that some Council members derailed the debate with the aim of distracting attention from the real root causes of conflict, which include occupation and the fabrication of crises that undermine the people’s welfare and security. To change this trajectory, the Council must adopt a serious approach to resolving conflicts and identifying their real root causes, he said.

Also participating were Poland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, as well as speakers representing China, Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Peru, Kuwait, South Africa, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire, Bahrain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, United Arab Emirates (for the Arab Group), Qatar, Lebanon and Jordan. Others represented the State of Palestine, as well as the European Union delegation and the League of Arab States.

The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 7:40 p.m.

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