Dubai: The recent decision by Saudi Arabia to refuse a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council provoked a debate on social networking site Twitter, with Saudis and other Arabs expressing a mix of support, shock and, at times, mockery of the decision.
One of the most prominent tweets in reaction to the decision came from Qatar’s new foreign minister, Khalid Al Attiyah, who addressed the Saudi foreign minister saying: “My brother, your highness Prince Saud Al Faisal, when you get angry you baffle the world, so thank you. This is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, in apparent praise of the rare diplomatic stance taken by the kingdom. The tweet, which was retweeted almost 3,000 times, led to an Arabic twitter hashtag that read ‘Saud Al Faisal baffles the world’, prompting thousands of responses.
A twitter user with the handle Lombardi212 posted a picture of Hollywood actor George Clooney and the Saudi foreign minister, allegedly quoting Clooney as praising the minister as “a genius and a great personality”.
An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood supporter @ahmedelbeah responded to the hashtag saying the minister is “responsible for the killing of Muslims” in Egypt. @Moodeey3 posted a picture of the Incredible Hulk with the caption “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” with the hashtag.
Another user, @sebahmd wrote that he was a “seasoned politician” and that if it had not been for him, the Middle East “would have been lost”.
Several Saudi twitter users changed their avatars to pictures of the minister.
Another user, Nazem Al Qah’tani, however responded by lamenting the late Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden “who baffled the world and the greatest country in the world (the United States)”. Faisal Sa’ad wrote that “any anger that does not liberate Palestine or end the suffering of Muslims in Syria and elsewhere is theatre... a kind of tragedy”.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar had a tense relationship before the Arab Spring, but their differences were largely put aside when both took positions against the Syrian regime of Bashar Al Assad. Qatar, which had in the recent past taken a leading position in Arab diplomacy, has taken a back seat on the Syrian conflict since the abdication of former Emir Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani.