x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ministers agree to Gulf-wide police force

Police chiefs to study all aspects of proposal to strengthen co-operation in fighting terror.

ABU DHABI // Gulf interior ministers meeting in the capital have agreed to set up a GCC-wide police force to tackle terrorism.

The ministers yesterday did not give any details about the tasks of the new force, or how it might be staffed or funded.

But they said police chiefs in the six Gulf countries would study all aspects of the proposal and present their findings at the next meeting of interior ministry undersecretaries.

Sheikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, the Bahraini minister of interior, said it would be "similar to models followed in Europe and Asia, which would strengthen our co-operation and security in fighting terrorism".

Although ministers and delegates refused to talk to the media, at the opening session chaired by the UAE Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, they said consultants had recommended a review of their security co-operation.

"The most important work for us today is the recommendations made by experts who studied security agreements between the GCC countries, which actually need to be renewed in the light of recent events," said Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the deputy minister of interior for Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Rashid praised GCC member Qatar for its key part in the recent foiling of a terrorist plot in his country.

"Thank you to Qatar security, which helped to unveil this plan," he said. "This stresses the importance and need for security co-operation in facing challenges."

With terrorism the main topic of the day, the ministers stressed their disgust at the plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US in Washington this year.

"This is completely unacceptable to all laws regionally and globally," said the Bahraini secretary general of the GCC, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

Dr Al Zayani spoke of the new UN centre to fight terrorism, which is to be established in New York.

The ministers said the idea for the centre came from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in 2005.

Prince Ahmed said his country had suffered from terrorism "in all its forms for many years".

"This was the goal of criminals who lost their path and they worked with the devil in an attempt to destroy the country," he said. "But Saudi Arabia managed to uncover their plans and get rid of these groups of people."

Ministers congratulated Bahrain for establishing a committee to carry out recommendations from the report of the independent committee into this year's unrest.

"This helped to bring back stability and security to the country," said Dr Al Zayani, who described the protests in Bahrain as painful.

Sheikh Rashid said any problems felt by one GCC country reflected on the rest of the Gulf.

"What happened in events no doubt needs increased security co-operation between us," he said.

Sheikh Rashid blamed the media for encouraging young people to commit crimes on Bahraini streets.

"Media supported the wrong usage of social media making youth commit unlawful crimes," he said. "Media has a role to play to make youth more aware."

The next meeting of Gulf interior ministers will take place in Saudi Arabia next year.