37th GCC Summit issues final communiqué

A broad view of the 37th GCC Summit in Manama, Bahrain, on Wednesday. (BNA)
Updated 08 December 2016

37th GCC Summit issues final communiqué

MANAMA: The 37th Summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, held in Manama on Wednesday, issued its final communiqué stressing the significance of continuously propping up and beefing cooperation and integration among the GCC member states, leading up to the implementation of resolutions targeting full equal treatment among Gulf citizens in view of the joint market.
In a final communique issued after the summit, the GCC leaders said it is vital to share credit information as per a short-term plan and a comprehensive framework for a Gulf credit facilitation exchange mechanism.
They also agreed to build a GCC payments system, and entrust Gulf central banks to own, run and finance the plan by means of establishing an independent company. They approved an anti-fraud bill as a binding law, according to the concluding statement.
They further emphasized that the GCC member states have to commit to implementing a Gulf railway project, sending it to the economic and development committee for setting out a necessary mechanism in this regard.
It is also necessary to further promote and develop cooperation and coordination among the GCC member states in the military field, said the communique, while appreciating progress in the domain of mutual defensive cooperation in the face of various challenges and threats.
On terrorism, they reiterated their unshakeable position of rejection and condemnation of all forms and manifestations of terrorism, but emphasized that more efforts should be exerted to stop terror-financing sources and to fight attempts to distort the image of Islam.
In this regard, they sharply denounced recent explosions and bombings in Saudi Arabia as heinous crimes that have nothing to do with the tolerant religion of Islam or values and principles of humanity and ethics.
They reaffirmed their support to all regional and international efforts to fight Daesh and all other terrorist networks and organizations in Syria, Iraq and other regions.
On the recent US Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), the conferees condemned the law as a breach of the fixed principles of international law, mainly the principle of equality among the states.
They lashed out at the US act as a violation of the basics and principles of the relationship among the states and principle of sovereign immunity, calling on Washington to rethink this legislation due to its negative reflections on the relationship among the states.
However, they congratulated US President-elect Donald Trump, hoping that historic and strategic relations between the GCC member states and the US would be further promoted and cemented during Trump’s term of office.
They also vowed to work with him to ensure security, peace and stability in the region and the entire world.
They congratulated Antonio Guterres on having being elected as the new secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), reiterating support to UN efforts to maintain world security and stability, according to the communique.
Moreover, the GCC leaders voiced much satisfaction with fervent efforts exerted to push forward strategic partnerships of the GCC countries with Jordan and Morocco, reflecting fraternal close relations.
The leaders also blessed the recent resumption of free trade negotiations between the GCC and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
On meetings held in Manama between Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May, the conferees highly commended the outcomes of GCC-UK talks which focused on the latest regional and international developments.
They hailed the strategic partnership between the GCC and UK, which reflected historical distinguished relations between both sides and set out frameworks of bilateral cooperation with a view to reaching closer ties in all fields.
On Palestine, the GCC leaders reiterated that total, just and everlasting peace could be reached in the Middle East region only when Israel withdraws from all Arab territories it occupied in 1967.
They reaffirmed support to an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in line with the Arab peace initiative and relevant international legitimacy resolutions, the concluding statement added.
They also voiced support to the French initiative, together with other Arab and international efforts, to find a solution to the Palestinian state and to hold an early Middle East peace conference.
The GCC leaders further called on the international community to put more pressure on Israel to end its occupation of all Arab territories, including the Syrian Golan Heights, and appreciated a recent UNESCO resolution recognizing Al-Aqsa Mosque as a purely Islamic site.
On the Iranian-occupied three islands of the UAE, they reiterated their rejection of the occupation of the three islands, and supported anew the UAE’s sovereignty over the islands as an integral part of this GCC member state.
In this regard, they called on Iran to positively respond to UAE efforts to resolve the issue through direct negotiations or the International Court of Justice (ICJ), while denouncing Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of the GCC member states and the whole region.
They also urged Tehran to revise its policies in the region by means of honoring relevant international conventions and treaties, and stop harboring terrorist groups, including Hezbollah, on its soil.
They emphasized that Iran should abide by its nuclear agreement with the G5+1 in July 2015, urging the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to apply an effective mechanism to verify the agreement is put in place.
Regarding Syria, the statement reiterated the GCC’s unwavering support to maintaining Syria’s unity, stability and territorial integrity, while condemning nonstop airstrikes by the aircraft of the Syrian regime and its allies on the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The GCC leaders renewed backing of all efforts exerted by UN Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis, and vowed to continue work to ease out the sufferings of the Syrian people.
On Yemen, the conferees reaffirmed full support to Yemen’s unity, sovereignty and independence and rejected any attempt to interfere in its domestic affairs, according to the final communique.
They underscored the significance of finding a political solution to the Yemeni crisis in line with the Gulf Initiative and its Executive Mechanism, Output of the Comprehensive National Dialogue, Riyadh Conference and UNSC Resolution 2216.
In this context, they voiced much appreciation to Kuwait for hosting UN-facilitated peace negotiations among Yemeni political rivals, which began on April 21st and wound up on August 7th, 2016.
But, they condemned the formation of a new government by Yemen’s Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh as a serious blow to ongoing efforts to find a political solution to the Yemeni problem.
On Iraq, they renewed keenness on maintaining this Arab country’s unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, while vehemently rejecting interference in its internal affairs.
They voiced total support to the Iraqi government’s efforts to liberate Mosul from the grip of Daesh, emphasizing that IS-controlled Iraqi areas should be retaken only by Iraqi army and police forces.
However, they denounced crimes committed against civilians in the liberated areas on a sectarian basis, calling on the Iraqi government to live up to its responsibility by protecting civilians and ensuring a safe return of internally displaced persons.
Regarding Libya, the GCC leaders, according to the concluding statement issued after their summit in Manama, reiterated backing to UN efforts to ensure security and stability.

Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

Updated 19 January 2019

Houthi militia ‘must respect neutrality of aid workers’

  • The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah
  • Houthis were blamed for an attack on a UN convey on Thursday

 NEW YORK: UN experts monitoring sanctions against Yemen are recommending that the Security Council urge the Houthis to respect the neutrality and independence of humanitarian workers.

The Associated Press has obtained the nine recommendations the panel of experts made in their latest report to the council.

The recommendations came as UN monitors try to strengthen a cease-fire in the port of Hodeidah, key to the delivery of 70 percent of Yemen’s imports and humanitarian aid, and arrange a withdrawal of rival forces from the area agreed to by the government and the Houthis on Dec. 13.

While the agreement in Stockholm was limited, if fully implemented it could offer a potential breakthrough in Yemen’s four-year civil war.

The experts asked the Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against Yemen to engage with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s office, Yemen’s government and donors to “enhance” the UN mission inspecting vessels heading to ports in Yemen for illegal arms so it can “identify networks using false documentation to evade inspection.”

They also suggested that Guterres organize a conference with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank as well as other “key actors to best manage cash flows and imports of goods,” using the principles of the UN Global Compact on how companies should conduct business.

And the experts recommended that the secretary-general ask the UN inspection mission and monitors at the port of Hodeidah “to share information on potential cases of acts that threaten the peace, stability and security of Yemen,” including violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the UN arms embargo, and obstructions of humanitarian assistance.

The experts also asked the sanctions committee to consider sending three letters. One would be to Abu Al-Abbas, a militia commander in the flashpoint city of Taiz, asking him to transfer artifacts and items from the Taiz National Museum in his custody to Yemen’s government. 

A second would be to alert the International Maritime Organization to “the risks posed by anti-ship cruise missiles and water-borne improvised explosive devices in the Red Sea and to encourage it to discuss these threats with the commercial shipping industry with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”

The third would be to alert the International Civil Aviation Organization of the risks posed by drones and munitions to civil aviation, particularly near busy international airports on the Arabian Peninsula “and encourage it to discuss these threats with airport operators and airlines with the aim of developing suitable precautions and countermeasures.”