The UN Security Council meets about the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, at UN headquarters in New York on Dec 22, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)
UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council on Monday convened an emergency session to address the escalating conflict in Gaza, a situation that is exacerbating tensions throughout the Middle East and posing significant risks to regional peace and security.
The UN political affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, said that as everyone in the diplomatic world is all too aware, "the tensions that have engulfed multiple countries in the Middle East continue to rise".
On Jan 28, a drone attack killed three US service members and injured 40 others at a US base in northeast Jordan, she said, adding that on Feb 2, the US carried out 85 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against reported Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Forces and affiliated groups.
DiCarlo described the febrile situation elsewhere in the region, including the tensions between Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah, the continued exchange of rocket fire over the Golan Heights occupied by Israel, alongside airstrikes conducted by Israel in various parts of Syria, as reported by Damascus.
DiCarlo also noted the Houthi drone and missile attacks against ships in the Red Sea and the retaliatory strikes by the US and Britain.
"I reiterate the secretary-general's call on all parties to step back from the brink and to consider the unbearable human and economic cost of a potential regional conflict," she urged.
"I appeal to the Council to continue to actively engage all concerned parties to prevent further escalation and the worsening of tensions that undermine regional peace and security," she said.
Russia's permanent representative to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said the US actions in the region were just the latest in a litany of unlawful and irresponsible attacks against the backdrop of an unprecedented escalation of violence.
Massive airstrikes by the US once again demonstrated to the world the aggressive nature of US policy in the Middle East and Washington's complete disregard for international law, he continued.
Britain's participation should not create the illusion of some kind of "international coalition," he said.
In this photo released by the US military's Central Command on Feb 3, 2024, US Central Command forces, alongside UK Armed Forces and with the support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets at 13 locations in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. (PHOTO / CENTCOM VIA AFP)
Nebenzia said the US was deliberately trying to drag the largest countries of the Middle East, including Iran, into a regional conflict.
He strongly condemned the US aggression against sovereign nations, which has increased the level of instability in an already "burning" region.
He called on the international community to unconditionally condemn the reckless actions of Washington and its allies in the Middle East, which have violated the sovereignty of both Syria and Iraq.
China's permanent representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, said that action taken by the US was creating new turmoil in the Middle East.
History has shown that using military means would not solve the problems roiling the Middle East. He said US action would only exacerbate a vicious tit-for-tat cycle.
Zhang urged the various parties to remain calm, abide by the Charter and international law, cease illegal military operations and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control.
In this photo released by the US military's Central Command on February 3, 2024, US Central Command forces, alongside UK Armed Forces and with the support from Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, and New Zealand conducted strikes against 36 Houthi targets at 13 locations in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. (PHOTO / CENTCOM VIA AFP)
He said that the fundamental reason for the current situation is the failure to implement a ceasefire in Gaza, which is a prerequisite for any progress, calling on all countries concerned to stop acting out of self-interest.
"We are standing at a critical crossroads" and should not forget that "we are all in the same boat," he said, noting that all nations must remain committed to the common goal of regional stability.
Syria's permanent representative to the UN, Koussay Aldahhak, said the arguments heard at the meeting were the "same flimsy pretexts and misleading claims the US administration is promoting to justify its repeated attacks".
This included presenting a "distorted and wrongful interpretation" of the provisions of the Charter, especially Article 51, and that the root causes of conflicts, suffering and instability in the Middle East region are the "wrongful and destructive policies" of the US, he said.
This includes Washington's "blind and unlimited" support for the Israeli occupation and the atrocities Israel is committing against the Palestinian people, he added.
The ambassador stressed that Syria completely rejects all the "pretexts and lies" that the US administration is trying to use to justify its aggression, which aims to protect its agents in the region.
Syria also categorically rejects that the territories of member states become a platform for US election campaigns and for displaying a brute force that undermines the principles of collective security on which the UN was founded, he said.