Stark UN bias comes to the fore under Secretary General Guterres

‘Falsified’ facts


Saudi Gazette report

THE United Nations is going through its most dangerous period since it came into existence. This international organization has faced many challenges in the past due to political conflicts and other difficult circumstances. But most UN chiefs have managed to overcome those issues by maintaining neutrality, on the one hand, and rejecting, on the other, any one-sided agendas that many of its members sought to impose on the world body.

The European and Arab delegations have noted that current Secretary General Antonio Guterres is managing the United Nations uneasily. They maintain that his administration has been avoiding two issues: the UN tradition of maintaining neutrality and the observance of political and professional standards dictated by a position such as his. There is no clearer proof of this proposition than Guterres’s adoption of the report that condemns the Arab Coalition fighting terrorism in Yemen. Rather than welcoming the efforts of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to liberate Yemen from the Houthi militia — thus bringing stability to the country and the region — we have found that the UN chief is attempting to ignore the larger issue and focusing instead on accusing the coalition of killing children.

Which children is the secretary-general talking about in the incomplete report that turns a blind eye to devastation caused by the Houthi terrorists, as well as Al-Qaeda and the fighters of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh? Together, these groups are responsible for the loss of millions of lives in Yemen, including those of women and children, deprivation of education and regular bombardments of civilian areas. Despite the media reporting on this indiscriminate shelling daily, Guterres has chosen to turn a blind eye to this bombardment and considers them to be inconsequential.

From a purely professional point of view, the UN report is incomplete and unfair, because the source of the information was the UN office in Sanaa, which receives its information mainly from Yemeni hospitals in this area and is under the control of the Houthis. All ‘facts’ are falsified by terrorists and revolutionaries to tarnish the coalition’s reputation. Further, the UN also did not commit itself to opening an office anywhere outside Sanaa in an effort to supplement the one-sided information it was given. Rather, it chose to remain in the terrorist-held areas, where civil society organizations are financially backed by Saleh secretly as a means of defaming the Arab Coalition.

The current secretary general is no stranger to trouble. A look at his autobiography sheds light on his life in Portugal days when he was looked down upon by his own people. He became Portugal’s prime minister and then resigned to avoid responsibility for the failure of his political and economic programs, thus sparking a wave of discontent in his country. His administration was deemed weak, turbulent and incapable of good management.

We must also remember that in his role as head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Guterres’ work was associated with racial discrimination.

The secretary general’s biography is important, because it gives us an opportunity to learn about his professional and political shortcomings, which allowed him to accept a report that ignores the facts on the ground. It is a biased and politicized report. These failures are not new, as we see them in the secretary general’s professional biography. His notable weaknesses, which have been confirmed by those who knew him in Portugal and at international institutions, include his inability to confront difficult issues and a tendency to succumb to pressure and prejudice He is known for hesitation rather than action and lacks awareness of how politics are managed. Perhaps the most striking example of his inadequacies came during his tenure as Portugal’s prime minister, when he acted with ambiguity, arrogance, hesitation and confusion in his relations with the leaders of the country and with his ministerial staff. These shortcomings brought about his downfall.

The world remembers the resignation of the well-known former Jordanian minister, Dr Rima Khalaf, from her post as assistant secretary general of the UN and executive secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) in March 2017. Her resignation was accompanied by a public message addressed to the UN, accusing Guterres of bias against Arabs and Palestinians and preventing them from issuing reports that support the oppression of Palestinians. This, in and of itself, is an indication that the secretary general is manipulating any logical and sensible UN agenda. If we analyze the text of her message, we will understand that Guterres’s actions toward the Arab coalition, his apparent support for the terrorists and anyone else causing havoc in the region are aimed at creating divisions and confrontations, and at standing against the victim in favor of the perpetrator.

The role of the United Nations and affiliated organizations, in principle, is to resolve disputes between nations, be impartial and to adopt a policy of neutrality, because the UN is meant to serve every country and people in the world, without bias or prejudice. However, the UN report, which is unjust to the Arab Coalition countries, is a flagrantly inaccurate report, one that shows no evidence of being impartial or based on statements of all those affected — children and families — and ignores the actions of terrorists in Yemen, even when it comes to recruiting thousands of children as soldiers.

It’s no secret that Houthis have exploited children in their operations against the groups fighting for ousted president Saleh. Yet there was no comment or condemnation by the UN.

The coalition has repeatedly given the UN and all other international organizations an opportunity to verify the events and facts on the ground in Yemen, but the UN has been satisfied only with the assessment by its office in Sanaa and the media war led by the Houthis and the terrorists. This is unacceptable as those testimonies are false and aim at influencing foreign public opinion.

Were it not for the Arab Coalition and their humanitarian and relief campaigns – from medical treatment and education to food and rehabilitation – we would have lost thousands more children in Yemen. These campaigns are not aimed at attracting publicity and reputation but to serve the needy and the oppressed. Similarly, Saudi Arabia, through specialized programs, has saved more than 2,000 Yemeni children, who were forcibly recruited by the Houthis. They have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.

Guterres’s report, therefore, undermines the reputation of the United Nations by kowtowing to one party in the conflict. It clearly bears the marks of the secretary general’s failed political experience. It’s time for the nations of the world to reconsider the credibility and legitimacy of Guterres as UN secretary general.