GCC foreign ministers meet this week to prepare for summit

Updated 14 November 2016
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GCC foreign ministers meet this week to prepare for summit

RIYADH: Foreign ministers from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will this week hold a meeting to draw up the agenda for a summit to be attended by the heads of GCC countries early next month in Bahrain.
Collective security, military affairs, regional conflicts and common market as well as falling oil prices will make the agenda of the ministerial meeting.
This GCC ministerial meeting, the first after the US elections, has added significance as it has also been entrusted with the task of finalizing the agenda of the GCC Supreme Council meeting. The ministers are also likely to discuss the proposal to transform the GCC into a “Gulf Union,” which was proposed by Saudi Arabia in 2011.
“Recommendations by ministerial councils and joint committees, as well as regional conflicts in the Middle East, will be reviewed by the foreign ministers as part of the preparatory meeting of the GCC summit,” said a reliable source. The ministers will also discuss the Syrian crisis, Iranian intransigence and the GCC initiative on Yemen, which is yet to be implemented in the war-torn
country.
“This ministerial session has been convened while the region is witnessing serious challenges that require vigilance, unity and hard work in order to preserve GCC solidarity and achievements,” he added. The GCC initiative in Yemen needs to be promoted with full strength and in cooperation with international partners.
A Saudi Arabian-led coalition of mostly Arab countries, backed by the United States, intervened in Yemen last March in support of the internationally recognized government.
The GCC is a strong regional political and economic bloc, which was founded in 1981. There have been discussions about the future GCC membership of Jordan, Morocco and Yemen in the past.
The Supreme Council, which comprises the heads of GCC member states, is the highest authority of the GCC. Jordan’s request to join the GCC was accepted in 2011, whereas Morocco was invited to join the bloc. A five-year economic plan for Jordan and Morocco was prepared and submitted by the GCC foreign ministers in September 2011. The plan was designed to boost political and economic capabilities of the two countries.
There is no timeline for accession to the GCC despite the fact that a plan for membership for the two countries are being reviewed.


Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria

Updated 44 min 39 sec ago
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Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria

  • Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets

KHAN SHEIKHUN: A young citizen journalist was among 11 civilians killed in air raids on Syria’s Idlib region Sunday, rescue workers and a monitor said, as he filmed the Russia-backed regime bombardment of the battered enclave.
Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets who also contributed to AFP.
He was killed in Russian air strikes in the town of Khan Sheikhun, rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The White Helmets, rescue workers in rebel areas named after their distinctive hard hats, said the group “mourns the fall of a hero Anas Al-Dyab, a volunteer and media activist with the Syrian Civil Defense Center in Idlib,” in a Twitter post.
An AFP journalist saw White Helmet members gather to bid farewell to their friend, whose body was laid on a thick red blanket.
The Damascus regime and its Russian ally have stepped up their deadly bombardment of the jihadist-run region of Idlib since late April, despite a September buffer zone deal to protect the region of some three million people from a massive military assault.
Khan Sheikhun, a town in the south of Idlib, has been particularly hit, forcing thousands to flee their homes there, according to the United Nations.
But Dyab “chose to remain with his fellow volunteers in Khan Sheikhun till today,” the White Helmets said.
Raed Al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, said Dyab was killed while “trying to show the world what’s going on in Syria.”
“It’s a great loss,” he said.
Dyab, who was single, leaves behind his parents and three brothers, one of whom is held by the Damascus regime, Saleh said.
The Observatory said Dyab was hiding in the cellar of a three-story building with two members of the Jaish Al-Ezza rebel group when the strike happened.
Also on Sunday, regime air strikes killed 10 other civilians including three children in other parts of the bastion, said the Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.
Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, although other jihadists and rebels are also present.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected by a September 2018 deal between Russia and rebel backer Turkey, but a buffer zone planned under that accord was never fully implemented.
The White Helmets, who are backed by the West, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.
But Moscow and Damascus accuse the group of backing rebels and jihadists.
Syria’s war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.