Kerry today met with Saudi Arabia's foreign minister for a two-hour lunch, where he assured the Saudi diplomat that Washington remained committed to preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon or continuing to destabilize the region. The two also "discussed the decision by Saudi Arabia to decline the seat on the UNSC," according to a senior administration official. "Secretary Kerry conveyed that while it is Saudi Arabia's decision to make, the U.S. values Saudi Arabia's leadership in the region and the international community and a seat on the UNSC affords member states the opportunity to engage directly on these issues."
Joshua Landis, a Middle East expert at the University of Oklahoma, said that the Saudis' latest decision to abandon their Security Council ambitions reflects mounting concern in Riyadh that the council seat could be a "trap" that will increases pressure on the ruling family to support diplomatic measures in Syria and Iran that it opposes.
"If the Saudis were to join the U.N. Security Council they would have to follow the U.S. and Russia's lead," Landis told Foreign Policy. "There would be heavy pressure on Saudi Arabia to stop subsidizing Salafist militias in Syria and they don't want to do it. Russia and America would say ‘Look, you are part of the United Nations and you have to sever your ties with the Syrian rebels and stop sending them arms and money.' But Saudi Arabia doesn't want to rein them in."