RIYADH: GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN
Published — Wednesday 14 November 2012
Last update 14 November 2012 7:20 am
Interior Ministers of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) signed a security agreement here yesterday, which will make them a unified force in the region. The security pact aims at reinforcing security cooperation and coordination between the GCC member countries, said GCC chief Abdul Latif Al-Zayani. “The security pact will empower each GCC country to take legal action, based on its own legislation, against citizens or residents or organized groups that are linked to crime, terrorism or dissension,” said Al-Zayani.
The member countries will also exchange information and expertise to combat all forms of crime, said the GCC chief, while speaking on the sidelines of the GCC interior ministers’ meeting. The meeting was presided over by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Muhammed bin Naif at the local Ritz Carlton Hotel here.
Bahraini Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Sheikh Rashid A. Al-Khalifa, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; Qatari Minister of State for Internal Affairs Sheikh Abdullah N. Khalifa Al-Thani; Omani Interior Minister Hamoud bin Faisal Al-Busaidi; and Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmed Al-Hamoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah attended the meeting.
Asked about the features of the GCC security agreement, a GCC official said that the initial security agreement was announced in Manama in December 1994, but only Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Oman endorsed it at the time. Qatar entered the pact in 2009. The GCC leaders, at their 2010 summit in Kuwait, called for building on the understanding by putting it to a committee of experts and specialists from the GCC countries.
This committee finally came out with a strong GCC security pact, said the official, adding that the interior ministry undersecretaries discussed the final draft and it was forwarded to the interior ministers yesterday. The GCC is going through critical times that require a unification of the policies, plans and implementation strategies of security agencies of member states, he added, while referring to the new security pact.
He pointed out that “the security agreement would allow the GCC as a whole to deal more effectively with any negative consequences of events in the region on national security of member states”. He said the political situation in the region demanded that GCC states responded quickly and took appropriate preventive measures to confront potential threats to their security and stability.
He pointed out that the agenda of the GCC interior ministers meeting yesterday included many other topics aiming to enhance cooperation and coordination among the GCC States in the fields of internal security, combating crimes and protecting citizens. The GCC interior ministers also discussed the formation of a combined GCC police force. This proposal was also discussed by the last meeting of the interior ministers, who asked the GCC officials to study the proposal.
Meanwhile, GCC foreign ministers will hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov here today to narrow their differences on the Syrian conflict. The GCC aims to “put an end to the sufferings of the Syrian people through rapid political transition and a halt to the bloodshed,” said Al-Zayani.
The meeting with the Russian foreign minister follows the Gulf states’ recognition of the newly formed National Coalition following talks last week in Doha as the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people. In contrast, Russia on Monday urged the new grouping to spurn foreign interference and drop its rejection of a negotiated solution to the conflict with President Bashar Assad’s regime, a longtime ally of Moscow.