x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

GCC calls for unity on Syria

Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani, the GCC Seccretary General, hits out at the lack of unity on Syria in the United Nations Security Council during the Arab Media Forum.

People examine newspapers on the second day of the 12th Arab Media Forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai yesterday. Antonie Robertson / The National
People examine newspapers on the second day of the 12th Arab Media Forum at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai yesterday. Antonie Robertson / The National

The Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General yesterday criticised the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in the Syrian crisis.

Speaking at a plenary session during the Arab Media Forum 2013, in Dubai, Dr Abdullatif Al Zayani said that the Syrian crisis is 'complicated'. He also criticised the lack of unity on Syria in the United Nations Security Council and said the crisis was an international problem involving many segments.

The secretary general said the crisis was further complicated by different sects within the opposition, the regime, regional and international interests.

He added that the absence of a unified UN Security Council stance on the issue has further propagated the crisis.

"We are really hurt and in pain when we hear the word 'Syria' and the continuous killing and bloodshed there," Dr Al Zayani said.

"The GCC's position is the same as the League of Arab States, which is the entity dealing with the issue.

"We want a peaceful transition of power and stopping of bloodshed. GCC wants the settlement of the problem of refugees. At a donor conference in Kuwait, the country played an important role pledging assistance of US $1.5 billion."

His call for unity came ahead of the UN General Assembly vote yesterday, in New York, on a GCC constructed and Arab-backed resolution for a transitional government in Syria and an end to Bashar Al Assad's regime.

"Is there a solution? If there is it will [come] from the regime, Hezbollah or Iran. If there is a will among the people, then we will find a way," he said.

Dr Al Zayani yesterday told the audience that a move towards a unified GCC is currently under way. However, the final decision is to be taken by the councils respective heads of states.

"The movement from the stage of cooperation to the stage of union has been welcomed, and its seeds are there in the founding laws of the GCC," he said.

"The laws foresee the gradual movement towards unity. A committee was set up to study the proposal and its report was submitted to the Supreme Council who have referred it to the Council of Ministers."

He said that all things are positive and leading towards a fully integrated GCC that aspires to have an economic and financial unity as well as joint command, adding that the GCC talks to all blocs and any decision has to take into account the interests of the GCC and its partners.

"In 1984, GCC trade was US$60 billion. Now it is US$100 billion. There is free movement of citizens and equal treatment of all GCC citizens. There is the joint market.

Dr Al Zayani told the audience that they are currently in a process of restructuring the GCC Secretariat.

"The Heads of States are keen on protecting citizens and those staff that are weak. We have a budget to train them. Practical training is being provided by European Commission, the United Nations, as well as consultants."

He also added that the GCC initiative on Yemen was still alive one year later

"First the security situation had to improve and then economic prosperity will follow. Contractors and investors stress on security."

The Gulf initiative was focussed on unifying Yemen and provided support for all to secure the safety of all Yemenis, he said.

"From day one we tried to protect Yemen from sliding into civil war. The initiative called for a peaceful transfer of power. In that, we have been successful."

amustafa@thenational.ae