The bloc addressed a variety of topics, including the ongoing war in Yemen, developments in Lebanon, the illegal occupation of Palestine and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Gulf countries have declared their readiness to deal “seriously and effectively” with the Iranian nuclear issue among several others at the 42nd Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] summit Tuesday in Riyadh.
This emerges from the final communiqué issued by the Supreme Council of the GCC at the end of the high-level meeting in Riyadh, which was attended by leaders and heads of delegations from the Gulf region.
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani led his country’s delegation to the summit, the first to take place since the GCC reconciliation.
Iran’s regional role and nuclear activity were high on the meeting agendas as talks aimed to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] continue to take place in Vienna.
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According to Qatari press agency [QNA], GCC countries stressed the need to participate in any negotiations with Iran, including all regional and international discussions related to the nuclear issue, given its importance for the security, safety and stability of the region.
The bloc also condemned Iran’s nuclear advances, including uranium enrichment, which it called “non-compliance with its international commitments”.
The council discussed Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeting Saudi Arabia, describing it as a violation of international and humanitarian law. He also accused activists of using the civilian population in Yemen as human shields.
The GCC said the coalition has a legitimate right to take the necessary measures to combat Houthi-led terrorist acts, including the prevention of arms smuggling.
The bloc also praised the efforts of the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces to intercept missiles launched by the Houthi rebels, which represented more than 423 ballistic missiles, 834 drone bombs and 98 boat bombs.
In 2014, the Houthis invaded all government institutions in Sana’a and took control of the city, forcing the internationally recognized government to flee to Aden. The Saudi-led coalition then launched a military intervention to push back the rebels with the aim of re-entering the government of Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
However, six years later, at least 233,000 Yemenis have been killed in the past six years, among them 131,000 died from malnutrition, lack of care and medication.
At the last GCC summit, the Council renewed its support for member states’ efforts to achieve a political solution in Yemen while welcoming the decision of the UN Security Council to sanction the Houthi leaders.
He also expressed concern over Iran’s interference in Yemen’s internal affairs by arming Houthi rebels, noting that it is a violation of UN Security Council resolution 2216. .
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While Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have had their own rivalries with Iran, the two Gulf states appeared to be starting to change their foreign policies. Several meetings took place between officials from the two Gulf countries and Tehran.
The Palestinian cause was also on the agenda of the meetings, where the GCC countries reaffirmed their position in favor of the sovereignty of the Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Members of the bloc called on the international community to end the crimes of the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians and their forced dispossession of their homes.
They also rejected Israel’s ongoing construction of settlements in the illegally occupied Palestinian territories while calling on the international community to pressure the Zionist regime to end its settlement expansion decisions.
Despite statements made by all members of the GCC, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have maintained ties with Israel since the signing of the Abrahamic Accords last year. Since then, several Israeli officials have visited the area.
Most recently, newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett visited the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
The bloc discussed the ongoing war in Syria and reiterated its support for a political solution in line with Geneva 1 principles and Security Council resolution 2254.
The Gulf countries called for the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity while respecting its independence and sovereignty.
It happened amid a division of positions in Syria, with countries like Qatar continuing to rule out normalization with Bashar Al-Assad’s regime as the UAE engages more with the Syrian ruler.
Meanwhile, earlier reports confirmed that Syria will host the Arab energy conference in 2024, a move that raised questions about normalization with the Syrian regime.
The event brings together the oil-exporting states of the Middle East, including: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Syria.
The latest summit took place following a diplomatic split between Lebanon and several Gulf states following comments from former Information Minister George Kordahi.
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Kordahi had criticized the military intervention of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, calling the war “futile” and saying it was “high time it ended”. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have taken joint steps to expel their emissaries from Lebanon and withdraw their ambassadors from Beirut.
Qatar has maintained its role as mediator while condemning Kordahi’s comments.
In the joint statement, the GCC expressed its solidarity with the Lebanese people while calling on the Lebanese parties to assume their responsibility in achieving security and stability.
The bloc also condemned a press conference in Lebanon “for a terrorist group” with the support of Hezbollah, in which officials made comments against Bahrain.
He also called on the country to take the necessary measures to fight corruption and prevent Hezbollah from carrying out “terrorist activities” in the country in order to destabilize the security and stability of the region.
The United States designated Hezbollah, a major political player in Lebanon, as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997 and as a specially designated global terrorist on October 31, 2001.
Likewise, the GCC designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 2016.
Commenting on the developments in Libya, the council reaffirmed its concern to support this North African country in achieving security and stability.
The bloc also stressed the importance of fighting terrorist organizations in the country while supporting the UN efforts to reach a political solution to the situation in Libya.
This happened in the middle of the delay in the much-anticipated presidential elections in Tripoli, due to take place on December 24 of this year.
The dispute over the Grand Renaissance dam [GERD] remains a key issue for the Arab region.
Commenting on the dispute over the dam, Gulf countries reiterated the importance of water security in Sudan and Egypt, describing it as “an integral part of Arab national security”.
The GCC also expressed support for the steps taken to resolve the issue regarding Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, including reaching a fair and binding agreement in accordance with international standards.
The feud was sparked by Ethiopia’s decision to build the dam on the Blue Nile, which it shares with Egypt and Sudan, in order to create a large hydropower project to provide electricity to its people.
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However, both Egypt and Sudan have raised concerns about its construction for reasons that worry each country, including threats to water security and the flow of the dam.
The latest developments in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15 have been at the top of international discussions.
The GCC agreed to continue working to achieve a political solution for the country that matches the interests of all parts and components of Afghan society. Countries have also agreed to provide the crisis-affected country with much-needed humanitarian aid.
The bloc also condemned terrorist activities in Kabul, while stressing the importance of protecting the country from such actions and ensuring that Afghanistan is not used to export drugs.
About the 2022 World Cup
Qatar are counting the days to host the highly anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup after hosting the FIFA Arab Cup this year.
The GCC countries expressed their support for Qatar in all aspects that would contribute to the success of next year’s sporting event while praising its “exceptional” hosting of the Arab Cup.
The latest event brought all Arab countries together for the first time after years of regional crises, especially since the blockade in 2017.
Implementation of the Al-Ula Accord
At the 41st GCC summit on January 5 this year, the Gulf countries and Egypt signed the Al-Ula Declaration, marking a new chapter in relations in various fields following a three-year crisis which divided the region.
In 2017, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar and falsely accused it of supporting terrorism. Doha vehemently denied these allegations.
The previous GCC summit saw the reestablishment of ties between Qatar and the former blockade quartet.
In the final communiqué of the last summit, the council reiterated its commitment to the Al-Ula agreement by maintaining regional unity in various areas to protect it from all threats.