x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Leaders brand piracy 'terrorism'

Member states urge global co-operation to protect shipping and brand piracy in the Gulf of Aden a "form of terrorism".

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden was branded a "form of terrorism" by GCC states at their Muscat summit. "The GCC leaders reject all forms of terrorism and piracy, a phenomenon they consider a form of terrorism," Abdulrahman al Attiyah, the GCC secretary general, said at a press conference yesterday. In the summit's closing statement, the GCC urged more regional and international co-operation to combat Somali pirates, who have attacked about 100 ships in the Gulf of Aden this year.

The GCC states also reiterated support for the UAE, which is trying to persuade Iran to negotiate over the Gulf islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs, which Iran is occupying. "The GCC repeats the UAE's call urging Iran to accept direct peaceful dialogue or to go to the International Court of Justice to resolve this matter," Mr al Attiyah said. GCC officials said they were looking forward to working with Barack Obama, the US president-elect, who takes office on Jan 20.

"We welcome his election and we have since received very positive indications from officials in his transition team," said Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman's foreign minister. A proposal to prioritise Gulf nationals for jobs across the Gulf states is going ahead as part of larger plans to create a Gulf-wide common market, Mr al Attiyah said. Under the proposal, job-seekers from all GCC states would be given preference over other expatriates for jobs anywhere in the GCC.

"This movement of citizens has been discussed and is part of the GCC common market track. It is there," he said. The GCC states are continuing to discuss plans to limit unskilled expatriate workers' stay in the Gulf to five years, Mr Abdulla said, although no decision had yet been taken. "In general, the number of expat workers in GCC countries will grow or decline according to these countries' development needs."

Plans to generate nuclear power in the Gulf are also proceeding in consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, with a new feasibility study planned next year, he said. "It is going ahead as planned. This is an important strategic project for us." And Yemen, which has in the past expressed a desire to join the GCC, has instead been invited to participate in four of the agencies within the GCC. Yemen, the only country on the Arabian peninsula that is not a GCC member, will join the council's standardisation committee, auditing committee, industrial consultancy and the planned Gulf-wide television station.