U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
January 18, 2021
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo and Secretary-General Aboul Gheit, for your briefings today.
It has been 18 months since the UN established its Liaison Office to the League of Arab States in Cairo, and we support the ongoing efforts to enhance coordination between the UN and the League of Arab States. We hope to see increasing dividends from this coordination as both organizations engage on key issues such as peacebuilding, counterterrorism, conflict-prevention, post-conflict reconstruction, and natural resource management.
The United States also values our important partnership with the League. We thank the League of Arab States for working with us as we mutually seek a stable, prosperous, and secure Middle East. This includes the League’s ongoing engagement in a range of protracted conflicts that continue to threaten regional stability and create multiple complex humanitarian crises.
Across the region, the United States supports UN-led international efforts to resolve ongoing conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen, and we will always demand respect for international humanitarian law. We seek political solutions that allow the parties to establish legitimate, accountable, and effective governments that respect the rights of their citizens.
The Syrian conflict continues after nearly a decade with untold, and completely unnecessary, suffering and humanitarian need as the Assad regime continues its brutal campaign against the Syrian people. As we, and others on this Council, have made clear over and over, it is the Assad regime’s actions that starve the Syrian people and prevent assistance from getting to all those who need it. Not international or unilateral sanctions.
Despite the regime’s pretense that Syria has stabilized sufficiently for foreign assistance, the conflict is not over. There will be no reconstruction assistance until the regime has fully committed to a political solution as outlined in Security Council Resolution 2254.
We commend our friends and allies within the League of Arab States for standing firm against re-admitting Assad’s Syria and not normalizing relations until an inclusive political process is underway. A unified stance on this issue is essential to ensure the Assad regime realizes that there is no military solution to this conflict.
We thank the Arab League for its contributions as a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The Coalition has brought together 83 countries and international organizations to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS.
Mr. President, Iran remains the most significant threat to regional peace and security, engaged in malign activities across the region from Lebanon to Saudi Arabia. We welcome the League’s May 2020 statement that condemned continued Iranian malign actions, its aggressive behavior, and its provocative acts to undermine regional security and stability.
The current situation in Iraq shows the real damage that Iranian-backed elements can do to a country’s prosperity and long-term stability. Iran-backed militias routinely engage in widespread theft of Iraqi state resources, conduct targeted killings, and stoke sectarian violence.
To combat this, the UN and the United States have worked closely with the Iraqi government, helping Iraq strengthen its sovereignty. The UN Secretariat is currently in talks with the government of Iraq on how best to support its request for election observers. We stand ready to support the government of Iraq and the UN in providing the resources needed to hold a free and fair election.
We welcome greater cooperation between the UN and the League to ensure better outcomes for the Iraqi government and Iraqis. Success will give members of vulnerable minority communities the chance to thrive again. Success will also mean a sovereign Iraq that can defend its national interests and hold free and fair elections, fulfilling a key demand of Iraqi protesters who want to end Iranian malign influence.
The United States continues to aggressively press the Iranian regime to end its role in these conflicts and curtail its support for terrorist groups and militias. Individually, states are susceptible to Iran’s coercion, intimidation, and malign behavior, and these states should not have to go it alone. Indeed, Iran has deployed so many of its resources to perpetuate its revolutionary ideology and malign activities in the region that it can only be effectively countered by a strong, unified front. As such, we are encouraged by the breakthrough made at the January 5 Gulf Cooperation Council summit, which marks a positive step toward restoring Gulf and Arab unity, and we hope the Gulf countries will continue to reconcile their differences.
Finally, Mr. President, The Abraham Accords, and the decisions by the governments of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco to normalize relations with Israel, present an historic opportunity. After decades of division and conflict, these normalized relations offer new paths of peaceful diplomacy that can help promote greater regional security and widen opportunities for expanded economic growth and prosperity among all countries of the region. The Abraham Accords provide a foundation for further advances toward regional peace, and we encourage other League members to join their fellow Arab states in normalizing relations with Israel.
On every conflict in the world as we face them as a Council, I am reminded by the words of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., who we honor today in the United States with a national holiday. He said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
Mr. President, the United States thanks Tunisia for holding this important meeting and we look forward to continued cooperation with the League of Arab States.
Thank you, Mr. President.