Saudi Arabia wants UN to condemn Russia

Saudi Arabia submits resolution to condemn Iranian and Russian intervention in Syria.

Ben Ariel ,

United Nations Headquarters
United Nations Headquarters

Saudi Arabia is pushing the UN General Assembly's human rights committee to condemn Iranian and Russian intervention in Syria, Reuters reported Tuesday, prompting complaints on Tuesday from the delegations of Iran and Syria.

The non-binding draft resolution, prepared by Saudi Arabia and co-sponsored by Qatar and other Arab nations, as well as the United States, Britain, France and other Western powers, was presented during a meeting of the assembly's Third Committee, which focuses on human rights, according to the news agency.

The Syria resolution and similar declarations on Iran, North Korea and Myanmar are expected to be put to a vote as early as next week, diplomats said. The vote would therefore come after a ministerial meeting on Syria in Vienna of the United States, Russia and other major powers scheduled for this coming weekend.

The draft does not explicitly name Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad which vetoed several resolutions on Syria at the Security Council. Instead, noted Reuters, the draft would have the committee saying the UN "strongly condemns all attacks against the Syrian moderate opposition and calls for their immediate cessation, given that such attacks benefit so-called ISIS (Daesh) and other terrorist groups, such as Al-Nusra Front."

The language, however, is aimed at Russia, which has been bombing opposition forces in Syria for over a month. Moscow says it is attacking Islamic State but Western officials say over 80 percent of its strikes have hit other rebel forces, include the Western-backed “moderate” ones.

In response to the resolution, according to Reuters, a Syrian delegate criticized it and said Saudi Arabia and Qatar have no right to lecture anyone on human rights. He added the resolution was an attempt to "politicize" the human rights situation in Syria.

An Iranian delegate echoed the Syrian remarks. Iran, like Russia, is a close ally of Assad though it repeatedly denies it has any fighters on the ground in Syria.

The Syria resolution would condemn the presence in Syria of "all foreign terrorist fighters ... and foreign forces fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime, particularly the Al-Quds Brigades, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (of Iran) and militia groups, such as Hezbollah."

The Iranian delegate complained about mention of Iran's IRGC alongside "terrorist" groups, according to Reuters.