Regional tensions and big power politics in Middle East can trigger wider conflict: Maleeha tells UN

New York, 26 June, 2018

At the UN, Pakistan warned the international community that divergences between major regional powers and big power rivalries could push the Middle East into a wider conflict.

Speaking in the Security Council debate on the Middle East and North Africa, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi said that the geo-strategic landscape of the Middle East is dominated by a complex interplay of multiple and intersecting fault-lines while the competing interests of regional and big powers have fueled greater instability and pushed the region into a vortex of turmoil and violence.

The situation, the Pakistani envoy said, necessitates a comprehensive approach to effectively address the multiple challenges - one that takes into account the underlying regional and historical contexts of each conflict and is consistent with the norms of international law.

“Anything less would not work – for we know all too well that unilateral measures driven by narrow interests and false assumptions, have only brought suffering to the people of the region”, she emphasized.

Ambassador Lodhi criticized those external actors in the region who were trying to shape it according to their own political preferences. “Nowhere is this unfortunate spectacle more apparent than in Palestine. The two-state solution is tragically being dismantled in full sight of the international community”, she commented.

Ambassador Lodhi referred to the latest report of the UN Secretary General that attests to a familiar pattern of systematic abuse of Palestinians at the hands of the illegal Israeli occupation.

She lamented inaction by the Security Council on the issue of Palestine and said this had only worsened the situation in the region.

She pointed out that when the Palestinians observed their ‘Great March of Return’, “the killing fields of Gaza were drenched in the blood of over 130 innocent Palestinians. Yet the Security Council stood as a bystander to the plight of the long-suffering Palestinian people”.

The Palestinian issue, Ambassador Lodhi said, is not a by product of conflict in the Middle East, it is the primary source of instability in the region.

“The road to peace in the Middle East lies in a just settlement of the Palestinian issue”, she emphasized and added that the edifice of peace cannot be built without the foundation of justice.

She recalled that on 13 June, the General Assembly was called upon, to reaffirm to the Palestinians, their right to safety and protection – a right expressly recognized by several Security Council Resolutions, which the Security Council Council had failed to endorse on 1 June.

Ambassador Lodhi termed the successful conduct of parliamentary elections in Iraq last month “as a successful model of inclusive and representative political participation”.

On the conflict in Syria she emphasized the urgency for an intra-Syrian process of political engagement. “Much as progress may be slow, every forward step on this path is a gain for peace in the country”, she said.

Calling for a political outcome to the grim situation in Yemen, Ambassador Lodhi said the urgent humanitarian assistance for over 22 million people necessitates a political resolution of the conflict there.