MENA Security at the 68th United Nations General Assembly Session

Middle East and North Africa

Government leaders and representatives from various MENA countries addressed delegates at the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York City this past week. Topics included the need to eliminate the existence of weapons of mass destruction in the region, the Syrian crisis, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Provided below are some remarks by the various leaders and representatives:


Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain

Despite ongoing protests, Bahrain’s Minister of Foreign Affairs championed his country’s history of political tolerance and respect for the rule of law. He asserted that the recent violence in Bahrain is the result of terrorism, not public dissatisfaction with the government. A video and transcript of his address can be seen here.

“All this has immunized our country against any sectarian tensions and conflicts witnessed in many other countries, notwithstanding the acts of violence perpetrated on our country by some extremist and terrorist groups targeting security officers, residents, and expatriates with the intention of spreading terror and discord and sabotaging the national economy and development efforts. Such acts are being dealt with in conformity with the law and justice system.”

“Convinced that Bahraini citizens have a role to play in the building and development of their society, we seek to cooperate closely with national and international civil society organizations in an ongoing dialogue based on exchange of experiences and opinions and in a spirit of cooperation, not confrontation.”


Nabil Fahmy, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nabil Fahmy, discussed political developments in Egypt. He also commented on the status of Palestinians in Gaza as well as Egypt’s historical and regional importance. A statement and video can be found here.

“All Egyptians are invited to participate in all phases of the political process, as long as they are committed to the renunciation of violence and terrorism, and of acts of incitement to them.”

“I have full confidence that the brave Egyptian people, who succeeded in imposing their will, can put an end to terrorism, within the framework of the rule of law. I trust that the international community, which has long rejected terrorism, will firmly stand by the Egyptian people in the fight against violence and its advocates, and will not accept any attempt to justify it, or tolerate it.”


Khudheir Al-Khuzaie, Vice President of the Republic of Iraq

Iraq’s Vice President, Dr. Khudheir Al-Khuzaie, addressed his country’s desire to meet the Millennium Development Goals and Iraq’s need for sustainable development. He stressed that attaining these goals is impossible without combating terrorism and achieving peace. A full statement and a video of his address are available here.

“Here I have to stress, ladies and gentlemen, that no pre or post 2015 sustainable development is attainable with the existence of organized terrorism thriving on the bloodshed of innocent people as it claims their lives.”

“Hence, we in Iraq, whose people suffered tremendously from the horrors of war caused by the recklessness and follies of the defunct Saddam regime, are deeply concerned by the worsening events and tense situation on our borders with Syria … This is why we consider the Syrian conflict a serious threat to our security, stability and the integrity of our land and people.”

“We reject violence, terrorism and aggression, irrespective of its sources. We have launched a call for tolerance, national reconciliation and cooperation with a view to attain communal coexistence, social peace, stability and prosperity.”


Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel

Prime Minister Netanyahu urged the international community to reject Iran’s recent diplomatic overtures and continue to put pressure on Iran’s nuclear program. Additionally, he spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The video and transcript of his address are available here.

“And it’s the brazen contrast, this extraordinary contradiction between Rouhani’s words and Iran’s actions that is so startling.”

“I have argued for many years, including on this podium, that the only way to peacefully prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is to combine tough sanctions with a credible military threat. And that policy is today bearing fruit.”

“A nuclear-armed Iran would have a chokehold on the world’s main energy supplies. It would trigger a nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, turning the most unstable part of the planet into a nuclear tinderbox. And for the first time in history, it would make the specter of nuclear terrorism a clear and present danger.”

“I want there to be no confusion on this point: Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.”

“I am prepared to make an historic compromise for a genuine and enduring peace. But I will never compromise on the security of my people and of my country of one and only Jewish state.”


Ali Ziedan, Prime Minster of Libya

Prime Minister Ziedan discussed the various steps that Libya has taken to promote democracy and the rule of law. Although Prime Minister Ziedan acknowledged the advancements made by Libya, he outlined the major challenges that continue to confront his country and how the international community can help Libya address these challenges. A video and transcript of his address are available here.

“A number of ministries has been restructured, especially the ministries of Defense and Interior. Work is under way to absorb the unemployed freedom fighters and reinstate them into the army and the police, and other State institutions."

“We also look forward to a greater understanding by the international community and the UN Security Council to the pressing needs of Libya’s security to impose control on land and sea borders by facilitating Libya’s access to appropriate weapons and equipment without delay, and to fully lift the ban on arms once requested by the Libyan government."

“Libya faces several security threats and risks including the smuggling of narcotic drugs and stupefacient substances, illegal immigration, and arms smuggling. It is known that addressing these risks requires a bilateral and multilateral response to strengthen the efforts made at a national level.”

“My country attaches great importance to human rights issues, where the process of safeguarding and promotion of those rights, and the prevention of any violation in this area come on the priorities of the Libyan interim government, which has taken, in coordination with the General National Congress, a number of steps to achieve this.”


Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine

President Abbas’ comments addressed the ongoing Israel-Palestine issue. He discussed the nature and historical context of the conflict as well as the need to take advantage of the latest rounds of negotiations. The speech given by President Abbas can be seen and read here.

“Our objective is to achieve a permanent and comprehensive agreement and a peace treaty between the States of Palestine and Israel that resolves all outstanding issues and answers all questions, which allows us to officially declare an end of conflict and claims.”

“History teaches us- and it is the best teacher- that waging war, occupation, settlements and walls may provide temporary quiet and a momentary domination, but they certainly do not ensure real security nor guarantee a sustainable peace. Such policies may create a specific reality on the ground, but they certainly do not create a right, nor do they provide legitimacy.”

“Time is running out, and the window of peace is narrowing and the opportunities are diminishing…. Merely thinking of the catastrophic and frightening consequences of failure must compel the international community to intensify efforts to seize upon this chance.”


Walid Al-Moualem, Deputy Prime Minster and Minster of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Syria

Mr. Walid Al-Moualem discussed the political and security challenges facing his country, specifically those emanating from armed “terrorists.” He voiced his opposition towards nations that sought to take action in Syria without the consent of the international community. A transcript and video of his address are available here.

“Political hypocrisy increased to intervene in the domestic affairs of states under the pretext of Humanitarian Intervention or the Responsibility to Protect.”

“There is no civil war in Syria, but it is a war against terror that recognizes no values, nor justice, nor equality, and disregards any rights or laws.”

“What is happening in my country has become clear to everyone. Yet, some countries do not want to recognize that Al-Qaeda, the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world, and its offshoots, like Jabhat Al-Nusrah, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the Brigade of Islam and many others, are fighting in Syria.”

“Syria has repeatedly announced that she embraces a political solution of its crisis; it is now for those who claim to support a political solution in Syria to stop all hostile practices and policies against Syria, and to head to Geneva without preconditions.”

“The war on terror is not only Syria’s war. One day, those terrorist will return to their respective countries, and then no country in the world will be immune of this terrorism which recognizes no border nor geography.”


Mr. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, President of Tunisia

President Marzouki discussed Tunisia’s role within the context of the greater “Arab Spring.” He also spoke about the specific challenges facing his country and shared his thoughts on other regional actors. His remarks can be found here.

“I would like to address the current authorities in Egypt and call on them to release President Muhammad Morsi and all political detainees. Such a brave initiative alone is likely to put an end to political tensions and stop the violence and return all parties to dialogue.”

“We face 3 challenges: terrorism through the killing of Chokri Belaid on 6 February and Muhammad Brahimi on 25 July is a major political challenge. The second challenge is slowing foreign investment; third, the need to learn democracy at the same time when we are building and defending it. It has not yet taken root in political and social traditions.”


Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Abdullah voiced his concern for several events transpiring in the region, specifically addressing the Iranian presence on the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs. A video and transcript of his address are available here.

“In the Arab Gulf, we see how extremism and terrorism in the Kingdom of Bahrain are seeking to sabotage security and stability, and destroy a history of tolerance free from any sort of sectarianism.”

“We… call upon the international community to take all necessary measures to punish the Syrian regime for its massacres against its civilians.”

“The UAE believes that the sovereign measures taken by the Egyptian Government to protect national security as well as the steps taken for implementing the popularly supported roadmap give grounds for optimism and enhances the credibility of the Egyptian Government.”

“We emphasize that all actions and measures taken by the Iranian occupation authorities are null and void, and are contrary to international law and to all norms and common human values.”


Mr. Abubakr Al-Qirbi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Yemen

Foreign Minister Qirbi celebrated the accomplishments of his people and stressed the idea that the ongoing National Dialogue in Yemen could serve as a unique model for the region. He also offered his thanks to the various international actors who are contributing to Yemen’s ongoing political transition. A video and transcript of his speech can be located here.

“We are also forging ahead with the enhancement of security and stability in our country and the restructuring of the military and the security institutions, so as to discharge their main task, namely of protecting the state away from any allegiance of parties or of individuals.”

“These acts require the right measure in order to deter and punish all those who are trying to fail this unique model in the region. There are a multitude of factors in play: especially the increase rate of unemployment, poverty, and services for the poor. All of these factors do not help stability and they create a fertile environment for the actions of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda.”

“We need the help of the international community in the implementation of our national strategy to combat terrorism. This is why we need to accelerate the fulfillment of pledges by donors, particularly that the government of Yemen has prepared in partnerships with to earmark and allocate all of these funds in different aspects of development.”


This post was written by Transparency and Accountability Intern Eddie Bejarano