Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, the Secretary General of the GCC, and the U.S. Secretary of State met today in New York for the fourth ministerial meeting of the GCC-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum (SCF). Since its establishment in March 2012, this Forum has served to enhance strategic cooperation and coordination of policies which advance shared political, military, security and economic objectives in the Gulf region. On the basis of today’s important discussions, the GCC and the United States reached consensus on additional concrete steps to combat Da’ish (ISIL), discussed the region’s central challenges, and considered ideas to bolster regional stability and security while further deepening political, security, economic and cultural cooperation.
Recalling United Nations Security Council resolution 2170 (2014) and the final communiques of Jeddah (11 September) and Paris (15 September), the Ministers reaffirmed their rejection of terrorism, violent extremism and sectarianism in all their forms. They condemned the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the recruitment of children to carry out attacks. The Ministers emphasized that the terrorist organization Da’ish poses a direct threat to our common peace and security. They condemned the barbaric crimes perpetrated by Da’ish, to include brutal murders, rape, slavery, torture, kidnapping for ransom, trafficking of women and girls, burning of homes, and destruction of critical infrastructure. They stressed that Da’ish lacks any religious authority, and its actions are contrary to all teachings of Islam. The Ministers called attention to the September 17 statement by Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Council of Religious Scholars condemning terrorism, and noted the importance of continued efforts to expose the falsehoods of Da’ish, Al-Qaeda, and other violent extremists. They agreed that the campaign against Da’ish is not a religious or sectarian issue, but rather a fight against terrorism and brutality. They agreed to follow up their discussion with concrete steps to destroy and ultimately defeat Da’ish and establish security and stability, including by cutting the group’s sources of revenue, blocking travel of foreign fighters, and sharing information on Da’ish activities.
The Ministers welcomed the conference, to be held in November 2014 in Bahrain, focusing on combating terrorist financing, to ensure that financial institutions and charitable organizations are not used to channel funds to terrorists and other illegal activities.
Welcoming the establishment of a new Iraqi government, the Ministers agreed to continue to seek mutually-respectful relations with the new Government of Iraq as it addresses the needs of all of its communities. They agreed to take steps to build relations with the new Iraqi government, including by re-opening embassies and facilitating diplomatic exchanges, as appropriate. The Ministers acknowledged an effective and inclusive Iraqi government and capable security forces are integral elements in the fight against Da’ish. They agreed to take steps to maintain Iraq’s security and stability, including through the provision of humanitarian assistance.
The Ministers reaffirmed their position that Bashar al-Assad and his regime have no legitimacy. They stressed the imperative of forming a new Syrian government that reflects the aspirations of the Syrian people and advances national unity, pluralism and human rights for all. The Ministers noted that the Assad regime has shown that it does not possess the will or the capability to confront terrorist safe havens inside Syrian territory, and therefore international action against terrorist threats in Syria is necessary and justified. The Ministers also noted that the atrocities inflicted by the Syrian regime continue, including murders, airstrikes, shelling and use of barrel bombs to terrorize civilian areas, and the heinous criminal employment of chemical weapons. The Ministers reaffirmed support for the Syrian Opposition Coalition (SOC) and agreed to take concrete steps to increase training and assistance to moderate opposition forces, shield civilians from regime and terrorist violence, and to hold those responsible for crimes against the Syrian people accountable. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to continuing efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people, whose lives have been deeply affected by this crisis, and called upon the regime to permit all needed deliveries of humanitarian assistance.
The Ministers praised the Government of Yemen and President Hadi for leading an inclusive, peaceful transition process in accordance with the GCC Initiative for Yemen. The Ministers strongly condemned aggression and threats by those who obstruct peace and violate agreements and United Nations Security Council resolutions, and called for immediate withdrawal of all their camps and militia members from Sana’a and other areas. They commended the Government of Yemen for completing the national dialogue and assembling the constitutional drafting committee, and emphasized the importance of maintaining the transition’s momentum, abiding by the GCC Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism, and holding a referendum in 2015 on the new constitution. The Ministers called on all Yemenis to seize this extraordinary opportunity to resolve their differences in a non-violent way, pursue meaningful reform, and commit to the principle of unity. They also pledged to increase foreign assistance to Yemen during this critical time, using mechanisms that promote greater transparency and achieve results that tangibly improve the lives of all Yemeni citizens. The Ministers also condemned outright the continued violent and destabilizing tactics of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), noting the threat the group poses both to Yemen and the region.
The Ministers expressed the desire for positive relations with Iran according to the principles of good neighborliness, non-interference, and respect for territorial integrity. They stressed the need for Iran to take concrete, practical steps to resolve its differences with neighbors by peaceful means. The Ministers highlighted Iran’s critical responsibility to honor its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions in order to reach a diplomatic solution that will fully address the regional and international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as well as regional environmental concerns resulting from implications of Iran’s nuclear program, particularly the Bushehr nuclear plant.
The Ministers welcomed the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in Gaza and urged all sides to continue talks leading to a sustainable, long-term framework that would promote economic development, including reconstruction efforts, the passage of materials for civilian use and humanitarian relief to the people of Gaza and avoid further violence and civilian casualties. The Ministers called for an immediate resumption of peace negotiations, aimed at bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and working towards a peaceful settlement based on a two-state solution according to the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. They affirmed their determination to support a comprehensive, just and long-lasting resolution of the conflict that creates a viable Palestinian state, resolves all permanent status issues, including settlements, provides for mutual recognition, and secures comprehensive regional peace and security.
The Ministers call on all parties in Libya to accept an immediate, comprehensive ceasefire and engage constructively in a peaceful and inclusive political dialogue to resolve the ongoing crisis, abstaining from confrontational acts that risk undermining it. They underscore the legitimacy of the House of Representatives as the sole legislative authority in Libya. The Ministers noted that they fully support the efforts of Special Representative of the Secretary General Bernardino Leon to secure a negotiated settlement. Strongly committed to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and national unity of Libya, the Ministers call on Libya’s interim government and all elected members of the House of Representatives to adopt inclusive policies that benefit all Libyans and meet the aspirations of the Libyan people for security, reconciliation, and prosperity.
The Ministers noted that the SCF serves as a parallel mechanism to and provides high-level policy context for the GCC-U.S. Defense Ministerial, and that these forums demonstrate the comprehensive, integrated, and GCC-U.S. multilateral approach the United States and the GCC employ to address the region's challenges. They welcomed the Defense Ministerial’s call, in May 2014, for enhanced GCC-U.S. security cooperation, especially on cybersecurity, ballistic missile defense, and maritime security, and look forward to its implementation.
In light of the serious challenges facing the region, especially the threat posed by Da’ish and violent extremism, the Ministers agreed that the GCC states and the United States would continue to take concerted and collective action under the framework of the GCC-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum to promote peace, security, stability, and prosperity throughout the region. The Ministers resolved to work cooperatively to:
1. Take concrete steps to degrade and eventually defeat Da’ish and violent extremists along discussed lines of effort, including by cutting off sources of funding, preventing recruitment of foreign fighters, countering Da’ish’s ideology through public messaging, and supporting Iraq’s state institutions to stabilize the country and combat Da’ish.
2. Build capacity of the moderate Syrian opposition to hold territory and protect Syrian citizens against Da’ish and other terrorist attacks and the Syrian regime.
3. Support President Hadi of Yemen against aggression by those who obstruct peace and violate agreements and United Nations Security Council resolutions, against the threat of AQAP, and against spoilers seeking to derail the country’s political transition, and to increase assistance to Yemen using accountable, effective, and transparent mechanisms.
4. Agree to elevate the importance of multinational maritime security initiatives, expand the capacity of the GCC Maritime Operations Center (MOC) in Bahrain to share information on the maritime domain in the Gulf region, and increase participation in exercises and forums focused on cooperative Gulf security.
5. Enhance GCC-U.S. security coordination, particularly on Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), continuing to move forward on development of a Gulf-wide, interoperable missile defense architecture.
6. Hold an additional meeting as soon as possible of the high-level Joint Committee for Security Cooperation, charged with issues of counter-terrorism and border control with special focus on issues such as countering money laundering and terrorism financing, strengthening border security, and cyber security, as well as countering violent and extremist ideologies.
7. Continue to advance the GCC-U.S. economic partnership in line with the June discussions of the GCC-U.S. Trade and Investment Forum.
8. Explore additional avenues for deepening GCC-U.S. cooperation, including but not limited to the economic, educational, scientific, cultural, and health spheres.
The Ministers reaffirmed the vital role that the GCC-U.S. Strategic Cooperation Forum plays in strengthening the participants’ collective capability to meet challenges to regional security. They pledged to sustain ongoing, multilateral interaction between senior representatives from the United States and the GCC countries as a complement to the strong bilateral ties than underlie our close partnership.
Source: U.S. State Department