UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, caused a stir a few days ago when he admitted publicly that he had agreed to remove a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia from a list of armies attacking civilians, because the Saudi government and its allies had threatened to stop funding UN humanitarian activities in Palestine and elsewhere.
As the Saudi-led air strikes against the Houthi rebels in Yemen were starting on 26 March 2015, Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, issued a statement saying that she was convinced that military action was not a solution. Did anybody listen? Apparently not the UK and France, who along with the US are providing support to the Saudi-led coalition. In view, though, of the risks and inconsistencies involved, Europe should be taking the lead in bringing armed hostilities to a halt and convening the international community and the Yemeni parties for immediate negotiations within fair parameters.
Shlomo Ben-Ami is an old hand in Israeli and international politics. He has been Minister of Internal Security and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, and now serves as Vice President of the Toledo International Center for Peace in Madrid. This is a summary of a 30-minute discussion with him following the 17 March 2015 Israeli election. He talks about Mr. Netanyahu’s reelection, the state of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and possible steps by the international community to move things forward under the current circumstances.
Three recent developments, two from the US and one from Europe, give us some reason to believe that a gradual end to hypocrisy and double standards may be coming about in the world of international affairs and diplomacy. They concern Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. In the latter case, you may have heard that the Swedish government decided not to renew a military cooperation agreement with the oppressive kingdom despite protests by the Swedish business community.
This week Saudi Arabia decided to recall its Ambassador to Sweden after Margot Wallström, the Swedish Foreign Minister, critized Saudi “human rights and democracy” standards. Wallström had been particularly vocal about the case of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger and activist sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for setting up a website called “Saudis Free Liberal Forum”. The Swedish Foreign Minister had described Badawi´s punishment as “medieval methods”.