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.

Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

Syrian children are pictured at a refugee camp in the village of Mhammara in the northern Lebanese Akkar region on March 9, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 18 March 2019

Jumblatt expresses concern over torture of Syrian refugees

  • Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon
  • Jan Kubis: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible

BEIRUT: Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt has expressed concern about reports that Syrian refugees returning to their country from Lebanon face torture and murder.

This coincides with a debate in Lebanon about whether Syrian refugees should return without waiting for a political solution to the conflict in their country. 

UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis stressed after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Monday the “urgent need to ensure the safe, voluntary and dignified return of Syrian refugees home, according to international humanitarian norms.” 

Kubis added: “The UN and the humanitarian community will continue to facilitate these returns as much as possible. Another very important message was also to support the host communities here in Lebanon.”

Mireille Girard, representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday said: “The reconstruction process in Syria may not be enough to attract refugees to return. We are working to identify the reasons that will help them to return.”

She added: “The arrival of aid to the refugees is an element of trust that helps them to return. Their dignity and peaceful living must be ensured.”

Social Affairs Minister Richard Kouyoumdjian said the Lebanese General Security “issued lists containing the names of refugees wishing to return to their homes, but the Syrian regime accepted only about 20 percent of them.”

He added: “The solution is to call on the international community to put pressure on Russia, so that Moscow can exert pressure on (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’s regime to show goodwill and invite Syrian refugees to return to their land without conditions, procedures, obstacles and laws that steal property and land from them.”

Lebanese Education Minister Akram Chehayeb said: “The problem is not reconstruction and infrastructure, nor the economic and social situation. The main obstacle is the climate of fear and injustice in Syria.”

He added: “There are 215,000 Syrian students enrolled in public education in Lebanon, 60,000 in private education, and there are informal education programs for those who have not yet attended school to accommodate all children under the age of 18.” 

Chehayeb said: “As long as the displacement crisis continues, and as long as the (Assad) regime’s decision to prevent the (refugees’) return stands … work must continue to absorb the children of displaced Syrians who are outside education to protect Lebanon today and Syria in the future.”