UN Security Council
UN Security Council AFP photo

Jordan will replace Saudi Arabia on the United Nations Security Council for a two-year term starting in January, a UN diplomat said on Thursday.

The move comes after the Saudis rejected the seat last month, just hours after they were elected.

The diplomat, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal was made privately, said Jordan's UN Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein was flying to Amman Thursday night to discuss Jordan's new role on the UN's most powerful body.

Earlier this week, according to AP, Jordan dropped its bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, leaving Saudi Arabia a clear path in the now uncontested election next Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry issued a scathing attack on Security Council failures in solving the crisis in Syria and the Israeli-Arab conflict when it rejected its newly won seat on October 18.

Arab countries later appealed to Saudi Arabia to reverse its decision, saying it was crucial for the country to represent the Arab and Muslim world on the council “at this important and historical stage, specifically for the Middle East region.”

Saudi Arabia has been a key backer of rebel groups fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad since March 2011. The Security Council has failed to act on the crisis because Russia and China, two of Assad’s closest allies, have consistently vetoed resolutions that condemn the Syrian government.

One of the reasons for the Saudi decision to reject the Security Council seat may have been to send a message to the United States. Relations between Washington and Riyadh have reportedly been strained since the U.S. backed away from military action against Assad over recent alleged chemical weapons attacks.

Secretary of State John Kerry started his nine-day Middle East trip this week with a stop in Riyadh, in an attempt to placate growing tensions between the two nations.