Creating new perspectives since 2009

The United Nations has come under a great deal of criticism in the Arab World in the past week after it issued a report criticising the Saudi-led coalition’s offensive in Yemen and also after its aid convoy entered the opposition-held Syrian city of Daraya.

On 2 June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report criticising the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. The report stated that the coalition was responsible for 60 per cent of child deaths and injuries in the ongoing conflict. Ban initially added the Saudi-led coalition to a blacklist of military actors who violate children’s rights but retracted the decision in the face of intense Saudi pressure. Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Assiri said that the UN’s report “misleads the public with incorrect numbers and mostly relies on information from sources associated with the Houthi militia.”

The following day, a UN aid convoy entered the opposition-held Syrian city of Daraya. This was the first ever international aid delivery to Daraya, which has been besieged by Assad regime forces for four years. However the aid delivery was greeted by the city’s residents with outrage rather than gratitude. The convoy did not contain much-needed food and emergency medical supplies, but rather non-essential supplies such as mosquito nets. The Assad regime has successfully prevented the UN from delivering aid to besieged areas before and this time, it made sure that all of the aid which entered Daraya would be useless to civilians trapped in the city. There are over one million people living in besieged areas in Syria. The UN has warned that people in these areas will starve to death very soon unless they receive food aid. However, it recently backtracked from a plan to deliver food to these areas by air and what little aid gets through to the besieged areas remains subject to the whim and approval of the Assad regime.

Social media users have used the Arabic hashtag #The_UN_is_a_terrorist_organisation over 40,000 times since 4 June and the English hashtag #Ban_ki_moon_is_biased over 60,000 times in tweets. Following Ban’s decision to remove Saudi from the blacklist, a new hashtag #The_UN_yields_to_Saudi_Arabia trended very quickly. It was used over 18,000 times in the space of only a few hours.

Abdul Rahman Saud Al-Belli tweeted:

“In its black pages, history will record that the United Nations abandoned the Syrian people and left them defenceless in the face of a vile murderer.”

Syrian opposition activist Bassam Jaara wrote:

“For years we’ve been saying that the United Nations is participating in sectarian cleansing and the siege of cities and this was confirmed today when it backtracked from air dropping aid.”

Journalist Mohammed Majeed Al-Ahwazi tweeted:

“The United Nations blacklists the Saudi-led alliance for human rights, but how many children did the US-UK alliance kill in Iraq?!”

A twitter user calling himself Mr Citizen commented:

“[The UN] says nothing about Bashar’s, Russia’s or Iran’s massacres in Syria, or the Popular Mobilisation’s massacres in Fallujah [Iraq] or other massacres. #The_UN_is_a_terrorist_organisation.”

The hashtag #The_UN_yields_to_Saudi_Arabia was used by pro-Saudi Twitter users to celebrate the retraction of Ban’s decision to blacklist Saudi and by anti-Saudi users to express their anger at the move.

Saudi blogger Khalid Al-Juneidi called Ban’s retreat “a heavy blow to the United Nations, Iran and the Houthis”. While a Twitter user calling himself Denzel Washington said that this was “the fastest retreat from a strong resolution. [The UN] retreated in two days and this shows the strength of Saudi Arabia.”

However, Joseph wrote:

“[The UN] surrendered to Saudi money, you fools, not to your actual strength.”

Youssef Bourji  tweeted:

“#The_UN_yields_to_Saudi_Arabia and removes the criminal coalition which killed these children and thousands like them from the blacklist when the truth is clear,” with graphic pictures of child victims of the war in Yemen.